What’s good, Spirit Squad!

Today, as promised, we’re gonna talk a bit about the recent update to the Banned and Restricted list. This time the affected cards are Fury and Up the Beanstalk, cards that any Modern player should be very familiar with now… even if most will remember them not-so-fondly.

First, let’s talk about the cards and why they caught the dreaded Ban Hammer(™).

First, let’s complain about Fury real quick.

While Fury went into a lot of decks, the biggest abuser of its ability to freely remove creatures and present a very real clock as early as Turn 1 was Rakdos Scam. This deck used Fury (and Grief, but that’s a whole other can of worms) to evoke on Turn 1, and with the Evoke trigger on the stack, cast an effect like Not Dead After All to gain absurd advantages. You’d get to get a second iteration of the Enters the Battlefield (ETB) ability and you got to keep a 4/4 Double Strike creature around!

Because of this, the Rakdos Scam deck saw as much as 20% of the Modern metagame share, and it’s not even like the deck was performing at average rates. The deck had close to a 54% win rate and just about every relevant event had multiple copies of Rakdos Scam in the Top 8.

Also, the existence of Fury meant that decks like Spirits went from “hard to play but could get results” to borderline impossible.

Next, just like Pioneer, let’s talk about the exciting new unban Modern saw:

Just kidding. Twin is not happening.

But let’s talk about the other card that was banned in Modern:

Up the Beanstalk is just the newest tool in a series of new card advantage tools we’ve seen recently. The One Ring, Omnath, Locus of Creation, and Wrenn and Six have all given control players ways to get far ahead of their opponents, and the payoffs for each of these cards has proven to more than negate their costs.

Also of note: 3 out of the 4 of these have been banned in at least one format (and the other nerfed on Magic: the Gathering Arena).

Specifically in Modern, Up the Beanstalk gave hilarious amounts of value to a few decks. The primary offender was 4- or 5-Color Control, which got to pair Up the Beanstalk with cards like Fury (seeing a trend here?), Solitude, and Leyline Binding. This combination of cards made it not only very easy to remove just about any Creature for one or even zero mana, but you’d even replace the cards used to do it.

There’s even an Affinity list that played 4 copies of Up the Beanstalk and paired them with Thought Monitor, Myr Enforcer, and Sojourner’s Companion to present large amounts of power but also cycle through the deck at frightening speeds.

Beans stacked as well: for example, if you have 3 copies of Up the Beanstalk on the battlefield, you could exile a Red card in your hand to Evoke Fury, draw 3 cards for casting the card (whether it resolves or not), and remove at least one of the opponent’s Creatures. This line of play was not only devastating to deal with, but also super-common. This happened all the time.

OK, yeah. That sucks. So where does Modern go from here?

First and foremost: Creature decks are “allowed” back in the format! Decks like Hammer Time and Yawgmoth Combo still existed with Fury and the Beans, but now it’s a lot more palatable to play decks like Merfolk or even Spirits (yes, I’m basically sweating copium by saying this)!

Another thing to consider is that the absence of Fury and Beanstalk gives players room to consider Control options that aren’t the 4-Color deck that used both of these cards. Decks like Azorius Control and Dimir Control, featuring cards like The One Ring or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria might be able to re-enter the Modern metagame. I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that Dimir, especially, becomes a relevant deck once more.

I also think that Izzet Murktide makes a strong comeback into the Modern metagame. Previously, Expressive Iteration was the best card advantage engine in the format, and it was even good enough to be played in Vintage and banned in Legacy! With the absence of Beanstalk, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that (alongside The One Ring) Expressive Iteration goes right back to being the best card-advantage engine in Modern.

I, for one, am very much looking forward to seeing where this format goes from here. I’ll be testing everything from Merfolk to Murktide to even Spirits, and I’m hoping to be right about Creature decks feeling like a viable way to play Modern again. Hopefully one of you reading this takes Modern in a new direction, but until then: I’ll see y’all on the next one!

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