Banned and Restricted Lists updates for February 2014
Ding, dong, the shaman's gone. Monday night at 12:01AM Wizards of the Coast updated the Banned and Restricted list for all formats of Magic the Gathering, and Deathrite Shaman has gotten the ax in the Modern format. Also the following cards are once again unbanned in Modern; Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl. In Commander, Sylvan Primordial has been placed on the banned list. So let's bang this out card by card.
Deathrite Shaman – Saturday at the pre-release I was talking with friends and I called that this would be the card to get banned. Scavenging Ooze is a lot more fair in that you can only get a bonus if the exiled card is a creature and it doesn't ramp your mana. I'm not too upset with this banning. Jund just had too much graveyard hate in the deck and removing Deathrite Shaman also made it safe for Wild Nacatl to come back, because if it came back with Deathrite Shaman legal the two would be played in Zoo together.. I think at this point Jund has been nerfed to death and it's going to need a few new cards for it to make a comeback. I really think we are going to see a shift of the Jund players going over to playing Zoo. As for the Melira Pod players, we're just going to switch back to running Wall of Roots until we get another one drop mana dork on the same level.
Bitterblossom – This was first banned just because of how powerful the known Fae deck was at the time. I was playing a UB Ninja/Faeries brew in Extended before the nerfing and rise of Modern. It was a fun and awesome deck to play that used a number of the Faeries tools with the ninja to just tempo the games out. Bitterblossom was sweet because you paid one life each turn to block your opponents largest dork and you could use the rest of your air force to power over their ground troops. Granted I hate the the card has shot up to about $90 each and that I sold mind off years ago. Granted I think the price jump was just knee jerk that it got unbanned and player started scooping up every copy they could find in hopes of cashing in on it. I hope we see an adjustment to this prices because of a reprint in Modern Masters II. This could even be the kind of card to get put in a dual deck. At this point Modern is starting to turn into Legacy with card prices and we need reprints.
Wild Nacatl – Yes, Zoo is back. Turn one fetch up a Stomping Ground or Temple Garden to play this, then on turn two fetch up Sacred Foundry, cast Lightning Helix on their blocker, and swing with the cat. This was first banned because Zoo was the best aggro deck in the format, but when it got banned we lost a fully tuned aggro deck that could allow the format to stabilize that pillar on. Affinity, Infect, and RDW, while they did pick up the slack for Zoo, weren't able to fill it's shoes. Every non-Affinity deck runs a number of artifact hate in their sideboards because of the deck being the boogieman you need to be ready for. Infect is hated out by the Melira Pod decks in their main deck, and any blue decks are going to have bounce effects for your infect dorks. RDW was never as fast as Zoo was and has always been the budget deck of any format. I agree that a skilled RDW pilot can win events, but RDW is a dull deck to play in Modern and you don't have many ways of delaying with combo decks other than just hoping to be faster.
Sylvan Primordial – I know what you are thinking, it's just a ramping Acidic Slime that has reach instead of deathtouch. Here's the thing, in Commander ramp can get out of hand so that you are dropping this a number of turns early. Also you can find a number of ways to cheat this into play early. When that happens you just start nuking lands, artifacts, planeswalkers, and enchantments from your opponents, and in Commander you are looking at having between two to six opponents. In a five player game cheating this out on turn three means you just jumped ahead five lands of your opponents, and then if you are in white you get to blink it next turn. It's just not fun when you get the combo online. That's the reason behind this banning, it's the word on high from the fun police. After all Commander should be the fun format. You want to be a jerk, go play vintage or legacy.
So here's my thoughts. Zoo's back to party and Jund is gone for a while from the meta-game in Modern. Buying into Bitterblossom right now is just a risk. I mean 4x Qasali Pridemage is played in Zoo and Faeries doesn't have all it's card draw engine to back it up. That $90 price tags is mostly hype and it will come down. Wait, don't we have the Modern event deck coming this summer? Oh, god yes, that deck needs to be Faeries. As for Commander, I'm okay with the banning. That format needs to stay being just about the fun and not about the power. Well that's all I got to say about things, this has been...
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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