The Banning of the Ages

Hello folks! If you’re reading this then you may or may not be totally aware of what has happened today in the Legacy format.

That’s right. Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe have been banned in Legacy.

For quite a while I’ve been of the mind that these cards should be removed from the format. Deathrite Shaman has proven to be a real problem with reducing diversity in the format to the point that there is simply no downside to playing DRS in any deck that supports it, which as it turns out is quite a lot. Deathrite’s power has always been referred to as a one mana planeswalker, and it’s nice to see that Wizards is finally recognizing the impact the card has had on the format.

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Gitaxian Probe is another good ban in my mind. The card adds nothing of value to the format, instead providing an outlet for free information that removes much of the bluffing and psychological aspect of the format. I am super glad to finally see this card gone.

So What Happens Next? What Gets Better, What Gets Worse?

This is the real crux of these banning when they happen. How does the format adjust when something that was so ingrained in it goes away? Here’s ten shower thoughts for the peanut gallery to consider.

  1. Grixis Delver gets depowered a bunch, but the core of the deck is still pretty strong. This probably topples it from its spot as “best deck” in the format, but otherwise I think the deck still holds some power to it. Gurmag Angler is still insane, and so is True-Name Nemesis.
  2. Czech Pile on the other hand, dies a painful death. The deck cannot survive on its manabase without DRS, so it either dies outright or reverts to a 3-color control deck.
  3. Splash damage across other archetypes can be mitigated. Decks like Elves / Maverick, etc all ran Deathrite Shaman, so those decks can adjust with other mana dorks like Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves. These decks existed before DRS and will continue to exist going forward.
  4. Miracles perhaps climbs back up to a more powerful deck where it doesn’t need to run Back to Basics anymore to combat the Czech Pile menace.
  5. RUG Delver climbs back out of obscurity and the Goose does indeed become loose.
  6. Random combo decks like Monored Storm and anything else that heavily relied on Gitaxian Probe get a lot worse when they can’t get the free information provided by Probe.
  7. Death and Taxes / Stoneblade decks get much better, since the removal of Czech Pile from the format means far less Kolaghan’s Command running around.
  8. Dredge actually possibly gets worse in the metagame. This sounds odd, but Dredge’s game plan in Game 1 is actually pretty solid vs DRS because DRS is the only hate they actually see (and decklist construction allows Dredge to simply beat the card). Because of DRS most decks have been skimping on mass gy hate, allowing cards like Silent Gravestone to beat the card. It’s wholly possible that decks start playing more mass gy hate or cards like Grafdigger’s Cage to combat any rise of Dredge in the wake of DRS being gone.
  9. Blood Moon gets better in the face of Deathrite being gone. As it stands, Czech Pile was playing Blood Moon itself because it could use Deathrite to get around it. The presence of decks like Dragon Stompy will force these control decks to go up in basic count in their mana base because of the strength of Blood Moon.
  10. Aggressive stompy decks like Eldrazi / Steel Stompy possibly get worse in the face of the uptick in Wastelands from decks like DnT, RUG Delver, and also Terminus from decks like Miracles. It’s hard to say how these decks will adjust to a world without the 1-mana elf, but it could potentially be for the worse.

Where We Go From Here

The best course of action from here on in is to start analyzing the data on the format, and how it starts breathing out on Magic Online. MTGO is often fairly indicative of what ends up being powerful in the format and what doesn’t, so it’s going to be interesting this weekend to see how the format shakes out with the first Legacy Challenge.

Either way, it’s definitely going to be an interesting Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.

Until next time, may all your Magic be ETERNAL!

Joseph is an avid player of eternal Magic formats, including Vintage and Legacy.  As a Nic Fit player who will tell anyone who will listen about his deck, Joe spends his time analyzing and playing on Magic Online and various online platforms, while prepping for competitive events.  To follow more Joe, check out his Twitter!

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