Eye of ugin

Banlists and you, SoI Release

Unmistakable here with another update,

Today i’m going to comment on the biggest thing on players minds; the Banned and Restricted update of 4th April, 2016. While there hasn’t been much movement in most formats, the formats that I have a good knowledge of have some telling signs for the format in the coming months.

EDH

First, the format that I know in the most depth. Today this is notable in that there are no changes. Looking through the list and while I see no good candidates to open the format up with an unbanning (Prime Time players despair); whats notable is the amount of cards reviled by the community (at least the player-base with some level of resistance to turn 2 Ionas (Sorry not sorry)) that have avoided even discussion around this time;
Iona, Shield of Emeria: The elephant in the room here. If I ever see complaints about anything in commander, it’s this babe. Hands up, I admit that I make extensive use of her abilities to shut combos (and players) down, particularly by cheating her in as soon as possible by various means. The drums of the Iona ban brigade remain quite quiet on this front, as even though she has her blowout moments, sometimes she’s just not as bad as everybody blows her out to be.
– Deadeye Navigator: The other format Boogeyman, Deadeye Navigator is almost (almost) Ghave-levels of infinite breakability. Any creatures that untap creatures generate infinite mana, which can be channelled into flickering of any creatures with ETB effects (such as Acidic SlimeInferno Titan or Coiling Oracle) or infinite activated abilites (such as that of Tasigur, the Golden Fang or Oona, Queen of the Fae) to kill a table or assume complete control of a game. He’s a large amount of the format complaints given by the players, but to me he’s no more different a win-con enabler than Sun Titan or Altar of Dementia. If we ban one to make an example to the rest, where does the line get drawn?

–  Consecrated Sphinx: The final part of my ‘Why not ban?’ in EDH section (and the third on this list that I have used before to win in the past); The sphinx represents a large amount of blue’s power in EDH; evasive threats that generate an obscene amount of value from the word ‘go’. Not to mention the (completely optional) loop in the case of two players controlling one each, The sphinx warps the game around it in the same way that Primeval Titan, Emrakul or Sylvan Primordial does. But at the same time, its a utility creature, like Sheoldred, or any of her other praetor pals. (Barring maybe Jin-Gitaxias). Consecrated Sphinx is at the forefront of power (but even then there are worse), and in my eyes it represents the closest a card can get to warping before the rules committee breaks.

Modern

Now, here are the changes everyone’s talking about. Mostly because it spells the end of the ‘Eldrazi winter’ that descended on the format, but the unbannings provide interesting targets for speculation on the future.

Bannings

Eye of Ugin: Here’s the one I kind of expected. There was a brief debate between this and the associated temple; however this was the only real candidate in my mind (And Crazy’s, from the point of view that he has a Kozilek EDH deck). This was the true source of the Eldrazi aggro’s power if you ask me; an exponential source of advantage, it was a main enabler of the deck’s more explosive kills. Not only that, it allowed the playing of the long game, allowing instant speed tutoring of colourless threats (Read: Reality Smasher, World Breaker or Drowner of Hope, depending on colours) and THEN allows them to be cast for a discount. However, the question is raised; how will this affect traditional Tron builds? Previously the Eye has been used to great effect to provide a steady streams of Wurmcoil Engines and Ulamogs. Upon consideration I think tron has been hurt,  but it isn’t anywhere near as crippling as, say, having an incredibly explosive deck that pumps out reality smashers before you can get tron online. If tron is to recover as an archetype, it’ll look more or less the same as it did before Oath: Four Karns, Four Wurmcoils, with Ugins and Eldrazi top end. It does lose some inevitability however; the deck made great use of the activated ability in order to create a steady stream of resilient threats to close out against control, a very relevant characteristic given our changes.

Unbannings

– Ancestral Vision: A pretty spicy addition to the new modern metagame. Since the banning of Twin, control has been dwarfed by an influx of Affinity, infect, and ahem, Eldrazi Aggro. In the wake of this, control has needed some kind of boost to help it keep up: Enter Ancestral Vision. A remake of an old classic, it has been banned since the inception of the format due its potential for abuse with cascade cards, such as other banlist mainstay Bloodbraid Elf. The banning of Bloodbraid Elf lead to Ancestral Vision being less of a cornerstone for abuse cases, given that the rest of the cascade cards kind of, well, suck for this purpose. The other ones are either overcosted (Bituminous Blast), comparatively weak (Captured Sunlight), or not legal in this format for reasons other than bannings (Shardless Agent). All of those things considered, this could be a solid inclusion to grindy control builds that aren’t quite there. UW ControlBlue Moon or even variations on my personal favourite Grixis Control could benefit from a suspended Vision. Will it be the push control builds need? Time will tell.
– Sword of the Meek: Here is the source of perhaps MORE heated discussion than the Eye ban. Sword represents the return of an old combo; Thopter Foundry + this card makes a loop that gives you as many thopters and life as you put in mana. This has opened up the race to find the optimised build; it is unquestionable that it may make waves in the format; Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas has already spiked hard in the last 24 hours, for its ability to make an easily accessible win condition from a large amount of 1/1s without haste. However, the good old Tezzerator builds aren’t the only way forward. While slow, Krark-Clan Ironworks enables the loop to become infinite, and all three pieces can be tutored for/cast for free off of the minus ability of Tezzeret the Seeker(Interesting to me that he happened to just get a reprint, but then again this was reprinted in the same set as Splinter Twin); once infinite mana, life and 1/1s is achieved, win conditions can include Ghirapur Aether Grid and Thopter Engineer in a jeskai build, or even turning the Ironworks back on the tokens with Disciple of the Vault to instantly kill the opponent. Or, once the loop is online, just creating an arbitrarily large amount of tokens and your opponent’s end step then swinging for the kill is also fine.
That’s it for now folks, thanks for reading and feel free to leave feedback!

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