Banning My Favourite Card
Bloodbraid Elf is my favourite card. This probably comes as no surprise to most, but there I said it. As such, I have had to endure numerous questions (and an unfortunately high number of dagger mentions) about my thoughts on the ban list update. Obviously I hate it from a personal perspective but it didn’t take me long to understand it. Here’s how I managed to break it down, in no specific order:
Deathrite Shaman: No way they ban that card, it’s in RTR. Card is very very good but not broken the way Mental Misstep was. Certainly a potential candidate down the road, but it would definitely need a few more sets to be released and a prolonged dominance.
Tarmogoyf: Modern Masters. I actually think this card would be an interesting card to ban, although I feel it is unnecessary. I won’t act like format accessibility isn’t on my list of reasons (also see: the reason Jace will never be unbanned), but I don’t feel it’s the only reason either. Hands were definitely tied on this one.
Dark Confidant: This was the card I felt would have gotten banned if they were banning a card from Jund. The first thing that came to mind when I saw Bloodbraid Elf was banned was that not banning Confidant basically locks it in to Modern Masters.
Bloodbraid Elf: Dan Lanthier recently played Jund in a PTQ and said BBE was the worst card in his deck. Lucas Siow has been saying it since BEFORE GP: Toronto. Obviously I love the card and was very sad to see it on the list, but if you can’t ban either of the first 3 cards and you absolutely must ban SOMETHING.. well here we are. To me this card is a casualty of a desire to have Modern be a format where you can’t just lock in on one deck and play it forever. It has been proven over and over that they are going to change Modern just for the sake of change, so now we get to see what the new old Modern format looks like.
So we’ve gotten to a point where we can, at least, reasonably defend banning Bloodbraid Elf (ok, maybe “reasonably” is a stretch…), now Seething Song. This should have been done like a year ago, when they were on their push to make Modern a “turn 4 format”. The fact that they are doing this now when the deck isn’t even particularly good (puts up results on MODO because it’s the entry level deck of the format, and even then the results aren’t great) is REALLY weird timing to me at the very least. I find it hard to believe Storm is still playable without Seething Song, but then again they said that about Rite of Flame also. If there is anything I know about “combo players” it’s that they certainly don’t give up. Seems to me like plenty options still exist, but maybe people will have to hang up their Rituals.
And one last thing about Jund: It’s almost certainly going to be wrong to try and look to “replace” Bloodbraid Elf. I have heard any number of people suggest any number of cards as if you can just slot them in and go. Bloodbraid Elf let the deck get away with a few things that other cards simply will not do. The core of the Jund deck is very strong, which is why I can’t really see it going anywhere (24-25 land / 4 Deathrite, 4 Bob, 4 Goyf / 6-8 disruption / 8-10 discard, with the numbers on disruption/discard being based on how good Liliana is on a given week) but Bloodbraid Elf was very good at either locking up games you were ahead or giving you a chance to catch in games you might be falling behind. Kitchen Finks was already starting to gain traction in successful Jund lists and I can only imagine its stock going up even more now. The thing with Jund, and the reason I have always went back to it is that if you understand what you need to beat it is very easy for you to have the best deck in the room. I suspect this hasn’t changed, but Bloodbraid Elf makes the puzzle a lot tougher to figure out.