Although I’ll mainly be focusing on Legacy’s huge change announced this morning, I’d like to discuss Standard and Modern as well. Let’s dive in!
In a surprise move, Goblin Chainwhirler didn’t bite the dust like so many of its vocal opponents had cried for. Mono-Red and RB will continue to have a large share of the metagame for the next few months, with everything being shaped around their power level. Quick glances at the Top 8 finishes for GP Pittsburgh and GP Singapore will show well enough that these decks can be taken down with the right tools. As well, the Goblin has a good amount of time left in Standard to keep whirling the ol’ Chain. We still have a chance to see Chainwhirler’s ban post-Pro Tour. According to today’s announcement, WOTC anticipates the prevalence of this card slow down after rotation in the Fall, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the three drop performs over the course of the year. Until that time, it might be best to leave your Llanowar Elves in the binder.
Similarly, Modern also saw no changes. Many players were almost sure that Stoneforge Mystic would be a legal Modern card as of today, which I believe would be fine overall. Some people were so convinced of this that they decided to order nearly every copy we had in stock! In a format where RB Hollow One can put anywhere from 4 to 16 power on the board on its first turn, Storm can go off on turn 3, and KCI is allowed to exist at all, is a turn 3 Batterskull really all that dangerous? Modern does not have powerful countermagic like Daze and Force of Will to back up tapping out on turn 2 for the Kor Artificer. All the common removal spells answer it, such as Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, Lightning Helix, Terminate, Abrupt Decay…the list goes on. Kolaghan’s Command and Abrade are Modern-legal cards that many decks have in the main that solidly answer Stoneforge. What legitimate reason could there be to keep this card banned? At any rate, I believe Stoneforge is definitely a card worth picking up, as I think there is still a good case for it to come off the banned list in Modern eventually. Hopefully, we see that sometime soon.
Finally, we come to Legacy, my favorite format. The boogeyman that so many Legacy players bemoaned on Reddit is gone (for now). Deathrite Shaman is finally banned. After the frustration I experienced with the last Banned and Restricted announcement in April having no changes in any format, I’m glad that seeing enough Grand Prix Top 8’s being comprised of nearly 50% Deathrite decks convinced WOTC to actually get rid of it. The way that this card homogenizes what most fair decks look like was obnoxious. More egregious is the fact that it is incidental graveyard hate, ramp, and color fixing all at the low cost of one mana. Wizards was smart to ban this card in Modern many years ago, and I feel they took far too long to follow suit in Legacy.
Gitaxian Probe was also banned today! While not as offensive at Deathrite Shaman was, this card is definitely a design mistake that looks innocuous enough, but is actually terrible for the format overall. In decks like Ad Nauseum Tendrils, you can get perfect information (for relatively no cost) in order to know if the coast is clear to combo off, add to your Storm count, and move through your deck one card faster. In decks like Grixis Delver, it allows you to fuel Delve at a faster rate while letting you know what kind of removal or countermagic you’ll be dealing with, and making it far easier to execute your game plan. Both of these decks got the same disgusting utility out of this card when used in conjunction with Cabal Therapy. Being able to open the game with a Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy and pitch several of your opponent’s cards is probably one of most devastating synergies in Legacy. Even more offensive is the synergy with Young Pyromancer, being able to create two elemental tokens while simultaneously stripping your opponent’s hand. And sure, similar plays are still possible with Cabal Therapy, but they will be far more skill testing and rewarding of the player’s format knowledge.
Overall, I’m very pleased with today’s announcement, and I’m very excited to see how the metagame will shake out in Legacy with such a drastic change.
So, what does everybody think about the changes? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter @chroberry. Be sure to check our Strategy section for more articles. Peace!