Announcement Date: February 3, 2014
Effective Date: February 7, 2014
Magic Online Effective Date: February 12, 2014
Deathrite Shaman is banned. Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl are unbanned.
Standard, Legacy, Vintage
Changes to Magic Online-only formats are now announced monthly in the Magic Online Community Group blog.
For the complete list of all banned and restricted cards by format, click here.
Next B&R Announcement: April 28, 2014
Explanation of February 3, 2014, B&R Changes
Different flavors of black-green decks have recently been among the best-performing decks in Modern. These decks play many very efficient ways to trade cards one for one with their opponents, such as Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Abrupt Decay. Strong mana acceleration helps these decks trade one for one efficiently enough that they can keep up with the other decks in a large format such as Modern, but normally playing mana acceleration comes at the cost of playing cards that are less powerful in the late game. Deathrite Shaman, however, is powerful at all stages of the game. Having a strong attrition-based deck as a large portion of the metagame makes it difficult for decks that are based on synergies between cards instead of individually powerful cards. We believe that removing Deathrite Shaman from the format will leave more room for future innovation.
At the time Wild Nacatl was banned, we hoped that this would allow room for other aggressive decks to shine. Artifact-based aggressive strategies have remained popular and a few other aggressive decks have emerged, but the Zoo decks eventually disappeared as a result of the ban and nothing else emerged as a viable traditional aggressive deck. We expect that with the return of Wild Nacatl, those decks will return as a viable option.
At the time of Modern's inception, the dominance of Faeries in Standard was at the front of our minds. Therefore, we took the conservative approach of including Bitterblossom in the initial banned list. After observing the evolution of the Modern format, we feel that it is of an appropriate power level to compete with the other powerful strategies in the format.