This last week, a new card was announced to be added to the ban list in Bridge from Below. With so much talk surrounding the banlist, I figured I might as well chip in and offer my thoughts on what I feel is safe to ban and unban. I was inspired to do this by the Masters of Modern podcast, so if you want to hear their thoughts on the banlist go check them out here. I’ll be going through the list alphabetically, and analyze why the card is on the banlist and whether it deserves to be there or not. Let’s dive right in!
Upon a first glance, I would say that these lands should never come off the banlist. However, in the Masters of Modern podcast, they said that these lands should come off the list. These cards have been banned in Modern since the beginning of the format, and for good reason. With cards such as Arcbound Ravager, getting to go full atog and sacrifice your board for one big swing can enable much faster kills for the affinity deck. On the other hand, these lands were first printed in a format that lacked cards like Stony Silence and Collector Ouphe. As someone who has played Pauper affinity and got to watch my opponent slowly pick apart my mana base with Ancient Grudge, these lands are a real cost to play. Getting the right colors is also not easy when you’re effectively playing basics. After considering the situation, and the current state of the format, I tentatively want these cards unbanned. They can still be extremely powerful but could enable some really cool decks such as old school affinity with Myr Enforcer and maybe other brews such as a Phylactery Lich deck. If Mox Opal ever does end up getting banned, I full heartedly support removing these from the banlist.
When Birthing Pod was banned, it was removed from Modern for 2 reasons. First, Pod was winning a lot of Grand Prix’s at the time. It was doing well and was taking up more of the metagame. The second reason Pod got banned, and the more problematic reason in my eyes was that Pod was pushing other creature decks out of the format. If you played a green based creature deck, you were obligated to play Pod. Pod’s banning achieved what it wanted and made creature decks more diverse but there is no such thing as a toolbox creature deck anymore. As more creature tutors make their way into the format such as Finale of Devastation and Eladamri’s Call, Pod isn’t the only way to tutor for creatures anymore. Unbanning Pod could end up homogenizing the creature decks, but with the most commonly played creature based decks being Humans and Devoted Vizier, 2 decks that are unlikely to play Pod, I think that unbanning this would just add an old classic back into the format.
Blazing Shoal enables a turn 2 kill with an infect creature when you can exile a 9 mana red card and just one shot the opponent. Untap, hold up a Remand and swing and there is very little your opponent can do. At the time that this card was banned, there was very little that could stop the deck. Over the past 8 years, thousands of cards have been added to the format, and some of them are capable of stopping the combo. Fatal Push, Force of Negation, and Lava Dart just to name a few. Turn 2 kills are pretty crazy, but this deck requires a lot to go right to enable that. Turn 1 infect creature, turn 2 have Blazing Shoal and a 10 mana red card that your deck is incapable of casting. Draw any of the pieces separately and the cards look pathetic. Hearing all of this talk about turn 2 kills reminds of a card that just released in M20 in Colossus Hammer. With Kor Duelist or an infect creature, Sigarda’s Aid, and Colossus Hammer you can relive turn 2 kills in Modern. However, in this current Modern this deck isn’t being taken seriously. If after 6 months, Colossus Hammer is a staple of the format, Blazing Shoal should stay right where it is, but if Colossus Hammer is a flash in the pan, I’d go as far as saying that Blazing Shoal might be safer than we think. Ultimately, even if it were safe to unban, it doesn’t provide the kind of gameplay that Wizards likes to promote so I’m happy if it stays on the banlist.
Bridge From Below
This card has been proven to do broken things, and just got the axe this week. Getting free value from the graveyard, and doing nothing on the battlefield has been shown to not be a cost in Modern. This card was never doing anything fair, but was never really broken until Hogaak and Altar of Dementia showed it’s combo potential. Personally, I believe that if Altar of Dementia had never made it’s way into Modern, we wouldn’t have seen the dominance of Hogaak at all, and I fear that Altar is way more powerful of an enabler than Bridge, but Wotc wants to see their new Horizon cards shine, so Bridge gets the axe this time. I see no reason to take it off the banlist now that it is there, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Altar of Dementia join its ranks in the future. (Personally, I believe that they should have printed Goblin Bombardment instead of Altar of Dementia, but that’s just my opinion).
Chrome Mox is a card that has been on the banlist since the inception of the format, so it’s hard to say whether the Mox would be safe to unban. Trading cards for mana is an effect that Modern is not a stranger too. Simian Spirit Guide is the traditional source of mana acceleration, with Mox Opal only seeing play in dedicated artifact decks. Chrome Mox would offer a source of mana acceleration for many different decks in Modern and could enable many different combo decks. Chrome Mox is a very dangerous card, however, and even though it has been unrestricted and unbanned in Vintage and Legacy, that doesn’t mean that Chrome Mox is safe for Modern. When the main decks it enables are combo and prison, I don’t really see a reason for Wotc to unban it.
Imagine if Tron could cast Emrakul instead of Karn. That’s the Modern of a world where Cloudpost is unbanned. Without cards that can attack manabases very well in Modern, Cloudpost would become extremely degenerate as it’s main resource is difficult to attack. And considering that Tron is already an extremely good deck and is significantly easier to disrupt, I’m fine with this staying on the banlist.
I love lands decks as much as the next guy, but the same issue we had with Cloudpost rears it’s head again with Dark Depths. Without sufficient ways to attack lands, Dark Depths is simply too strong. Path to Exile is one of the few cards that can take out a Marit Lage token, and anything without an answer to the 20/20 would get pushed out of the format. Unless we get Wasteland, this should stay out of Modern.
The one mana planeswalker that can do it all. Deathrite Shaman was a quiet culprit and was one of the main reasons Jund was as powerful as it was, for as long as it was. Having a dork that isn’t a dead draw in the late stages of the game is very powerful. The current best mana dork in Modern is Noble Hierarch, and it’s still a terrible top deck in the late stages of the game. Deathrite Shaman wasn’t much better, but it provided so much value that it ultimately didn’t hurt that much. Unbanning Deathrite Shaman could prove to be very interesting, considering we are in one of the most graveyard focused metagames of all time, but this card just got banned in Legacy which means we won’t be seeing this in Modern again anytime soon.
Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time is an instant speed London Mulligan for 2 mana. Getting the best 2 cards in your top 7 is crazy powerful, and we all know that filling up the graveyard with 6 cards is trivial these days. Dig Through Time traditionally saw more play in control and combo decks more than anything else, and in the past, control could have maybe used the shot in the arm, but with the past year of sets, control has gotten a huge new toybox and is performing extremely well. Combo certainly doesn’t need the help either, so I’m more than happy with this staying on the banlist.
I’m all for getting better reanimation spells in Modern, but this is something I am more than happy with having on the banlist. Flashing this back for the measly price of 3 creatures means that decks like Dredge can easily bring back whatever finisher they want. No fair deck is going to use this card, and the only things I expect to see come out of the graveyard with this card are Griselbrand and Flayer of the Hatebound. With Bridge getting banned it’s a lot harder to break this card, but the power level is still there and I would not like to see this card in Modern.
This is only the beginning of the banlist, but with so many different cards to talk about it’s going to take me a lot of time to work through. I’m going to splitting this up into 3 parts, with part 2 talking about Eye of Ugin to Preordain. Let me know what you think of my thoughts, and whether I missed some reason why a card should totally stay banned, or whether you think more cards should be unbanned. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!