No, you aren't reading that title incorrectly. There were an insane 15 cards banned across four different formats this Monday, along with two other changes. 17 total changes took place this week, and I can't even imagine not talking about them.
This week, though, with so many changes, we're going to talk about this from format to format, and we'll try and cover each card within. I may skip an in-depth analysis on some that I'm less familiar with, but I'll definitely have an opinion on most.
Let's dive in!
Outside of Standard, Historic had the fewest number of cards banned, but the ones that were banned make total sense. Both Omnath, Locus of Creation and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath got the axe. This is interesting because I think a lot of people presumed Tibalt's Trickery was going to get hit, but it did dodge the ban hammer this time. I assume this is because, unlike a format like Modern, your only real way to hit a Trickery is to naturally draw it, and having only four copies in a deck just isn't that many. Sure, you can mulligan until you hit Trickery and an enabler, like Tormod's Crypt, but let's be honest, that's not a very resilient strategy.
I don't think anyone is going to be surprised by Omnath and Uro being banned. Uro is basically illegal in every format, and Omnath is quickly following. He's currently still legal in Modern, but I honestly don't know how much longer that will last. The fact that these two cards are staples in much more powerful formats means they likely have no place being in the Standard+ format, Historic.
This one was a doozy, and is sure to shake up the Pioneer metagame. Again, as a format that isn't as powerful as something like Modern, it's no surprise that Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath had to go here as well. Two other busted cards from Standard also got hit here in the form of Teferi, Time Raveler and Wilderness Reclamation. Both of these cards are pretty miserable to play against, with one of them removing an entire interactive element of the game and the other allowing players to generate an unreasonable amount of mana. The card was already banned in Historic, and Pioneer doesn't feel that much different a lot of the time.
The other combination of cards that was banned were Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informant. These two rogues were basically the engines of the Oops! All Spells deck. Without these two, it becomes increasingly difficult for the deck that was putting up impressive records to mill itself effectively. I think it's also pretty safe to make sure Pioneer doesn't have too strong of a Dredge-esque deck in the format, especially one that "goes off" in a single turn.
What I mean is, modern Dredge decks usually add some creatures to their yard, dredge some cards, add some more creatures, and bring some creatures back. It can be a slow-but-powerful process. Oops! All Spells, however, gets the entire library in the graveyard in a single turn, and usually wins on the following turn. And this all happens relatively early in the game. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Modern is tied with Pioneer for the most cards banned this announcement. Just like every format before it, Field of the Dead and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath are now banned in Modern as well. As we all know by now, both of these are unfun cards that allow you to include recurring threats in your deck with minimal cost to deck-building. These were the two most unsurprising of the banned cards.
The real surprise here was Simian Spirit Guide. This is a card that has been in Modern since the beginning, always helping to power out one degenerate combo or another. Like Mox Opal before it, I'm actually surprised this card has been legal in Modern for as long as it has. Like... there's no reason Modern needs an uncounterable Lotus Petal that can also be cast as a threat and doesn't trigger cascade from cards that cost threee mana. I think Wizards finally saw that Simian Spirit Guide was the glue that was holding a lot of the combo decks that kept getting banned together. This is a real situation where you can look at Simian Spirit Guide and say, "why was that legal?" I mean, Rite of Flame was banned. Why wasn't the ape?
Tibalt's Trickery is also gone, which makes sense. Unlike formats like Standard and Historic, Modern has access to cascade, which essentially gives you 8-12 copies of Trickery, which makes your deck a lot more consistent. The strategy is still very glass cannony, but putting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play on turn two simply isn't healthy for any format (other than maybe Vintage Cube).
Finally, Mystic Sanctuary. This was a soft lock with Cryptic Command that was neither fun nor difficult to assemble. The fact that this was also an Island that you could search out with any fetch land didn't help at all. I will mention that it's super weird to see innocuous commons like this and Arcum's Astrolabe being banned so frequently, but here we are. Maybe it really is just too difficult to prepare for every possible eventuality when there are tens of thousands of cards in specific formats. Either way, another good call here. Mystic Sanctuary wasn't the glue holding any decks together, it doesn't hold financial value, and its banning encourages more fair game play. (That's also the second "glue holding something together" reference in this article, for those counting.)
I'll be honest: I don't play nearly enough Legacy to know whether or not Dreadhorde Arcanist needed to be banned, but my gut reaction is... no? This is a creature that dies to every piece of Tier 1 removal in the format including Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, and Abrupt Decay. This is also a card that has to actually untap and attack before it does anything. That being said, the decks that played the Arcanist had the following cards to take advantage of:
That's not bad, but it also doesn't seem back breaking. I'm not sure that a 1/3 creature for two-mana that can recur a Ponder or a Lightning Bolt is really breaking the format, but as I said, I don't play enough Legacy to really make that claim.
What I can definitively say is that banning Oko, Thief of Crowns was the correct play, and if Modern was any indication, banning Arcum's Astrolabe was also just fine. There was a deck in Legacy called Snowko that was playing several Uro, several Oko, and the full suite of Astrolabes. To say people playing this deck are going to be sad seems like an understatement.
This one is simple and logical. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is unbanned. This makes sense since they hadn't revisited Lurrus since the companion change. Having this in your main deck or as your companion that costs three to put into your hand is significantly different, and while still a powerful card in the main deck, Lurrus deserves a place in Vintage.
Cascade Rules Change!
Finally, cascade is now changed. Not in any meaningful way, however. Just that now, when you cascade into a card, you're allowed to cast the card if it has a lower CMC than the card that did the cascading. This just means that you can't cast a seven-mana Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter off of an Ardent Plea. You can, however, still cast a Valki, God of Lies. In all honesty, while I loved the power-level of the "cascade into Tibalt" interaction, there was no logical reason it worked that way. It wasn't intuitive at all. I think this is a good change.
Well, those are the changes! This was a huge announcement and there's a ton to digest. Let me know what you guys think! Did they get anything wrong? Did they nail it? Are there still cards you think need to be looked at? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks as always for reading, I love you guys, stay safe, and I'll catch you all next week.