January 18 Ban List Updates

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Odds are that you've already heard this news, given that the Magic Online Beta caused this information to be released early, but in case you somehow missed it the Modern ban list update wasn't exactly what we were expecting.

Effective Date: January 22, 2016

Magic Online Effective Date: January 27, 2016


Summer Bloom is banned.

Splinter Twin is banned.

The popular consensus was that something from Amulet Bloom would be banned, and beyond that people were wondering what would be unbanned. WotC looked to shake things up in a different way. Interestingly, while I was working the prerelease the local players seemed completely satisfied with the Twin ban and confused about the Amulet ban. Twin is basically present at every Modern tournament, and they're tried of it, whereas Bloom was a very small percentage of the metagame leading up to this announcement. Their opinions were completely contrary to everything I heard leading up to the announcement, yet they made total sense when I heard them.

I was expecting some kind of unban personally, though I thought it was pretty clear that a Stoneforge Mystic unban would be ludicrous- a case that I've made in my insider content. If you invested in Mystics hopefully you were able to move them before the announcement, as they have already lost most of the value that they gained leading up to it.

We're already seeing significant price movements in the wake of the Twin banning. Tron, Burn, Infect, and Affinity look to be the biggest gainers in terms of relative power in Modern. Karn Liberated has certainly exploded.

There have been other price movements that make less sense. Voice of Resurgence has taken off despite the best blue deck in Modern being banned, so my assumption is that this is just the regular Modern movement we were seeing anyway. As I stated above, Burn, Affinity, Infect, and Tron are where we want to be looking. All of these decks get better given these bans, and to my knowledge at least Tron and Affinity off that list give fits to our new Eldrazi overlords.

As a matter of less importance to most, there was another ban list update.


Cloud of Faeries is banned.

This change bans Sage's Row Denizen combo out of the format, which stands as part of a long line of bans that seem to be covertly intent on removing any viable combo deck from Pauper. The reason given was that blue is disproportionately represented in Pauper, which is absolutely true, though this ban won't change that. It does remove one of the good blue decks, but there will still be plenty of Monoblue Delver and Dimir decks in the format. Banning Cloud removes a card from the stock Delver lists, but it's extremely replaceable in that shell. The fact of the matter is that much like in Modern before it, Ponder, Preordain, and other draw spells allow the blue decks to sculpt great hands while other colors are reliant on weaker card draw and random cards off the top.

For the record I don't think that the correct move is to weaken blue. I 100% prefer to combat power with power in non-rotating formats. Typically there's no reason to ban things if you can just make them weaker in different ways. Pauper in particular is a format that gets a bad reputation for being "low power" because of the fact that only commons are legal, and the best way to get people interested is to feature very powerful interactions. At the end of the day I'm not the person in charge of Pauper, and I am fine with this ban, I just don't think that it achieves the stated goal in the announcement and I don't believe that bans are the best way to pursue this. I like the idea of reprinting cards in more Modern Masters and Vintage Masters sets as common for the first time as the best way to shake up the format. Perilous Research and Battle Screech are great examples of such reprints, and honestly it isn't too difficult to design new powerful commons.

5 thoughts on “January 18 Ban List Updates

  1. I’m curious about something. Why would WOTC hype up, and produce MM2015, charging ridiculous prices, and then ban one of the most popular cards in the set six months later? It makes them look like the don’t know what they are doing.

    1. The decision to reprint it had to be made well before the decision to ban it. I’m sure it was a factor in the ban discussion, but they can’t marry themselves to something like that.

  2. “It makes them look like the(y know exactly) what they are doing.”

    There, fixed that for you. They print Splinter Twin in MM2015 to make money off it one last time before the ban. Makes perfect sense.

    1. They’re selling those booster packs regardless, so they’re not “making money off of Twin” in any appreciable way.

      The secondary market is where we see a company “make money off of singles”, but WotC is not that company.

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