First “leaked” by Redditors who stumbled across the URL over the weekend, Wizards of the Coast dropped a major Banned and Restricted announcement on Monday. Early speculation was that the hammer might be dropped on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or some other important Pioneer card. Few expected Standard and Modern bans.
On The Chopping Block
First up on the chopping block is Standard superstar The Meathook Massacre. Anyone who’s played Standard since rotation knows just how ubiquitous this enchant has become in the format. Meathook is at least a two-of in just about any deck running black – which in this Standard means a substantial part of the metagame. It’s played in so many decks that Meathook shot up to nearly $80.00 at one point. As of the time of this article’s writing, Meathook had dipped a whole $4 for the day – down to around $66.00. Still a silly price, in my not so humble opinion.
Look how they massacred my boy!
WotC’s rationale for banning Meathook is thin at best. The ban is to push against black’s prevalence in the meta, they say. And then right after they add that despite all the decks running the same three black mythics (Liliana of the Veil, The Meathook Massacre, and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse) the format is healthy and engaging. Deciding that black needed “push back” and going so far as to ban a major card in the color seems to signal otherwise.
What’s confounding is that the WotC statement reads like they literally put the names of all of the major standard cards from Mono-Black, Rakdos, Esper and Grixis in a hat and had some poor intern pick one blindfolded. At X + 2 black, Meathook is fast and easy removal for small creatures that stays on the field with a payoff for aristocrat type decks. Giving it the ax should at least in theory open up the door to weenie aggro decks and token decks – though those archetypes are still going to have to contend with Lili, Sheoldred, Sorin and Invoke Despair. I’m reserving judgment until I get to see the change in action at my Wednesday/Friday Standard League.
Bye Bye Birdie
Yorion saw a lot of play in Modern four color Omnath. That’s a lot of potential ETB triggers, deck searching, and reshuffling to worry about. It led to some Modern turns feeling more like Pokémon, with little to no interaction for minutes at a time while opponents twiddled their thumbs. Formats with more limited card pools, like Standard, can tolerate trigger-intensive decks better than Modern or the eternal formats. Wizards can more closely control how long a player is going to spend on their turn resolving ETBs, death procs, and so on in rotating formats.
Long story short, a competitive MTG match is only 50 minutes long. It’s not in anyone’s interest if a single game goes to turns because of shuffling, reshuffling, and painstaking trigger tracking.
Monday’s ban of The Meathook Massacre and Yorion, Sky Nomad will doubtless have a major impact on the secondary market. More than the price fluctuations though, I am excited to see how this shakes up the Standard and Modern metagame. Will this have the desired effect on those formats? Or will another contender arrive on the scene, stronger and more terrible than what is going away? Is there something about Meathook that needed to be gone before The Brothers’ War drops? Drop your comments below with your juicy conspiracy theories and speculation! And remember to tune into Game Talk Network’s MTG Rundown on Friday for hot takes on these bans and more from Andrew, Happy and Nick!