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Is the Banhammer Broken?


About a month ago, Wizards announced they were banning two cards from Standard, which caused a riot of both enjoyment and dread from different sides of the Magic community. Everybody wondered what would happen to Standard, what would happen to Caw-Blade, and what would happen to control. Our unfortunate answer to these questions was: NOTHING! Caw-Blade is still winning every tournament, it is still posting the best match-win results, all of the best players are still playing it, and there are still no real direct answers to the deck. So the question I bring to you is, “What went wrong?”

Other Cards to Ban

The other cards that players are saying should have been banned are Squadron Hawk and Celestial Colonnade. While I think that Colonnade would indeed stop the deck from working, I think that the card that needed to be banned was Squadron Hawk. I think that Colonnade being banned would have forced the Caw-Blade deck to have not only a worse mana base, but also a significantly lower number of win conditions. This would have made the deck hiccup sometimes, but the deck would have still been the best deck. Without Squadron Hawks, Caw-Blade has no real win conditions, and is therefore just another U/W control deck that loses a ton of card advantage and, most of the time, its only win condition. It takes away the Swords from the deck and takes away nearly every form of turn-two play.

Should Jace Have Been Banned?

I think that while Jace was a broken card, it wasn’t ban-worthy; it was good in many different decks, and gave a bunch of decks fighting chances against Caw-Blade. Jace was an unfair card that let you do unfair things, but the planeswalker-uniqueness rule kept the card in check and didn’t make you feel as hopeless as did such things as a turn-two Stoneforge Mystic, turn-three Batterskull.

Should Stoneforge Mystic Have Been Banned?

YES! I think that the card was printed without Wizards realizing how ridiculous equipments were going to be with it. It was originally a card that could put out a mediocre Sword and was okay with Sword of Body and Mind, it became a bit more ridiculous when they printed Sword of Feast and Famine, and then the card got out of hand by the time they printed Sword of War and Peace along with Batterskull. All of a sudden, you had a tutor to deal with combo, control, or aggro, all for just 2 mana.

What Should Have Been Banned?

I think that I would choose Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk; the card advantage of these two cards together made this type of control deck out of this world, and I think that with three Jaces now in the format, it found answers to itself. I loved that Jace gave card advantage and a win condition with many ways to deal with it, whereas Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk have few to no answers and needed to be shut down to make this a more diverse format.

I hope you will think about this and discuss it with our GatheringMagic community; what do you think could have been done to prevent Caw-Blade from still being such a dominant deck? While this article is kind of brief, this is to allow you to share your own opinions on the subject. I will be checking in all week to read your responses, and I’ll be personally responding to many of your posts in the forums.

Let me and the rest of the GatheringMagic community know what you think about this subject. In Magic, the best thing to do is to have civil discussions to share the various ideas about a topic.

Hope to hear from all of you this week!

Harrison Greenberg

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