Hey there everyone, and warm welcome to another Banlist Analysis! Unmistakable here to give you the full run down of the shakeup that has come with the most recent banlist updates. It’s been a while since I last did one of these (June last year in fact, with the shelving of Aetherworks Marvel and co), but once again I find myself talking about Standard. While it felt weird to say at first, I’m pretty sure this is a really hard learned lesson for Wizards: If you’re going to push archetypes, make their sideboard cards playable (or even allow them to exist. Energy.)!
Attune with Aether – BANNED
If you had gone back in time and told me a few months ago there was definitely going to be a banning in Standard, I wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, this was the one card I said to the guys that was going to be banned in a recent discussion. Energy is plain not ok, commanding roughly 50% of the standard metagame in its different variants: Temur, Sultai, 4 colour, Grixis, Gruul. All of these have carved a share of the meta, and there is a reason there is only one without green (Besides Bristling Hydra and Longtusk Cub, admittedly): Attune with Aether is way too good for what it does. At one mana it is a Traverse the Ulvenwald, which is a playable rare at worst. Then, with no additional cost penalty (This IS comparing a common to a rare, after all), you gain energy. That completely uninteractible resource that fuels the deck, as well as fixes mana with Aether Hub. That one. These two effects combined fixed mana for the Energy decks long after turn 1, and allowed them to be the greediest decks in the format. Want to be Temur, but splash for The Scarab God? Go right on. Be my guest. Attune with Aether is an easy set of cards in any Energy deck running green, and may hamstring the mana base of an Energy deck to be slow enough so the rest of the format can compete.
Rogue Refiner – BANNED
…and while we’re on the subject of ‘Kicking Energy while they’re down’, let’s take one of the most valuable energy producers! An unassuming uncommon from Aether Revolt, the Refiner aided in Energy Midrange’s supercharging after the banning of Marvel last Summer by providing two energy on top of a decent aggressive creature and card draw. This allowed the Energy decks to increase their longevity somewhat through seeing more cards while playing on curve, and is subsequently why most Energy decks are both Green and Blue (Once again, save Grixis). While a slightly more shaky ban candidate than Attune with Aether, I agree with this one as well – When looking to clip the wings of a deck without utterly destroying the archetype, you hit the mana first, then the card advantage engine. Both have been systematically dealt with here.
Ramunap Ruins – BANNED
Well well well. Amongst all of these bannings, we have the first banning of a land in standard since Mirrodin, with the sweeping bans of all of the Artifact lands. Ramunap Ruins was a surprising ban for me, considering it currently only occupies around 10% of the standard metagame. I can’t say it’s completely unwarranted though. With Energy potentially packing up and leaving the meta for good, it leaves the door open for our good friend Red Deck Wins to sneak in at night and do unspeakable things to the family pets. The Ruins in question, being a land and the most uninteractible part of the deck’s strategy, seems to be the first on the chopping block. I’d have entertained giving this card a chance in a meta with Blood Sun, as this seems like the exact kind of card that the red-headed step child of Blood Moon is built to suppress. Though, nobody really knows how that would impact the format, as of yet. If 3 months of Field of Ruin has proved to be completely fruitless, then there may well be no hope for this card. You heard it here first, Wizards: We need better land destruction in Standard (/s, probably)!
Rampaging Ferocidons – BANNED
This ban was a true head scratcher for a lot of people, including myself. On the face of it, instead of hitting one of the 4x pieces that see use in the stock Red list, the ban hit a card that doesn’t usually see the whole set in play, perhaps post-sideboard. It’s a keen hate card, but why the ban? I have a couple of theories on this one:
1) First off, using Wizards primary reasoning, it was harming other decks an extraordinary amount. The article which explains the changes cites the Ferocidons as a card designed post Copycat combo, intended to be sideboard tech against them. However, this was handed off before the Felidar guardian ban was finalised, and the purpose of such a pushed hate card was nullified. However, in there it remained. Fast forward to Ixalan crashing into standard, and we see decks like UW monument stagger, and then eventually die out. With such an easily usable and broad hate piece creeping into maonboard for one of the most powerful decks in standard, something had to be done.
1b) While this is linked to the first point, I feel it’s tangential enough to be included in its own point. The Ferocidon existing aggressively bullies out every other deck that looks to flood the board. We had some premium aggressive cards in Ixalan, but the meta stayed safe with creature-light control and combo variants taking root. While this is not completely due to the Ferocidons (poor matchups versus said archetypes may be a factor), but any deck that can’t put out creatures that are more valuable by themselves than the raptors can put out are severely wounded from the get go.
2) Now, tinfoil hats at the ready: this ban could also be slanted towards helping Rivals of Ixalan out of the gates. With several chase mythics relying on large boards (Kumena, Tyrant of Oracza, Huatli, Radiant Champion, and Polyraptor, to name a few), as well as the only new keyword in the set being geared towards a lot of permanents (Ascend), a format where Rampaging Ferocidons is an acceptable mainboard inclusion could leave these cards dead on arrival. This could leave us with Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar syndrome, where the event that should showcase the new meta-defining archetypes created ends up being slammed full of decks filled with pushed cards from the past. It’s not an ideal situation to be in, especially since even Amonkhet block even put up results at their protours with all new decks (both sets spawning decks such as mono black zombies, Approach, Gift, and Ramunap Red, some of those even in the shadow of Aetherworks Marvel). Wizards may or may not have cottoned onto this, and as such prioritised this for banning over Earthshaker Khenra and friends.
Other formats have been mercifully silent this ban season, including the EDH rules committee (Cheers for leaving my Protean Hulk in peace, Mr Menery). The other formats are looking vibrant, and I’m enjoying watching the renaissance of the UR combo deck in Modern. What the future holds is uncertain, but I sure hope this is the last you hear from me on the subject of Standard.
That’s it for this instalment guys! What do you reckon? Fair bans? Am I a potentially dangerous lunatic? Either way, be sure to let us know! If you want more, be sure to Like us on Facebook for more in the latest and greatest tech (and hopefully not Standard bannings)! For now, Unmistakable out.