Huge Bans in Modern, What do they Mean?
Fury is Banned in Modern. Up the Beanstalk is Banned in Modern.
Both these cards have been discussed at length for a long time. Fury has been in the discussion for banning for more than a year as it is the only pitch-elemental that can trade up on cards positively. For example, Solitude when evoked costs two cards and removes one card. However Fury, depending on the toughness of creatures, can kill between one and four creatures, and as a Yawgmoth player, I have been frequently blown out by a Fury killing four one-toughness creatures.
While this is powerful, Fury did not simply get evoked to kill creatures or get cast fairly for 5 mana. Instead, Fury was a key part of the Rakdos Scam archetype, Rakdos Evoke as referred to by Wizards of the Coast, in which it was frequently cast for the lost cost of pitching a red card and then being targetted by Not Dead After All or Undying Evil to return it to the battlefield as a 4/4 double striker. On turn one Fury served as a 3-turn clock and later on it was a board wipe dealing 8 damage divided as chosen and posed a major threat.
Fury was banned by Wizards of the Coast as they were worried that Fury kept low-toughness creatures out of the format.
The banning of Fury was not in a vacuum though. The card new card Up the Beanstalk from Wilds of Eldraine is absolutely broken and created a new form of four-color control that was all in on ‘the Beans’. The deck ran no cards below three mana value other than Up the Beanstalk and Shardless Agent as a way to have essentially eight copies of the card in the deck. To make the 8 copies of the card amazing the deck ran four Solitude, four Leyline Binding, and between two and four Fury. Each of them replaced themselves or went up on cards due to Bean triggers. Beans being so good that it is reasonable to cascade into means that it is just obscenely problematic.
The banning of these cards is not as drastic on the meta as some have been led to believe though. Many players thought that the banning of Fury would be the end of the deck. In Europe on Sunday, Mariluz García won the Grande Open Qualifier with Rakdos Scam cutting the Furys and replacing them with Fable of the Mirror-Breakers, a Seasoned Pyromancer, and a Kolaghan’s Command. It likely did well in the event as people simply did not expect to be Grief scammed anymore but to win the entire thing demonstrates that the archetype is not completely eliminated as some claimed. The eight total players that showed up with Rakdos Scam had a 65% win rate. Beans will not be around but four-color control will always be a deck as free spells and The One Ring are a great combo.
Brief Thoughts on Meta-Implications
Yawgmoth is great now as Fury, arguably the best commonly played card against the deck, is gone. Zero mana to kill a Yawgmoth or keep the board clear so it has no creatures to sac meant it was great largely all the time. Yawgmoth also ran no cheap removal spells making a turn one 4/4 double-strike very hard to deal with. Yawgmoth was four of the top eight in the Friday challenge to demonstrate how strong it now is.
Titan and Tron are great as a lower amount of turn-one grief scams means the two decks can assemble their kills with much less interruption.
Living End also significantly improved as it struggled heavily against main-deck Dauthi Voidwalkers, Grief Scams, and the relevant line of pitching Fury just to get it in the graveyard.
Merfolk may be able to contend as previously a Fury Scam destroyed their board and ended the game on the spot.
Murktide shouldn’t be impacted too greatly as Scam was a fine matchup, not too terrible not too good. A rise in Titan is good while a rise in Tron is bad. Despite these early meta-fluctuations, Murktide will be fine. It is so flexible in its lists that no matter what it will adapt and be playable.
Rhinos has recently gotten the addition of Tishana’s Tidebinder which is an incredibly versatile card. Countering fetchland activated abilities, Amulet triggers, and Yawgmoth abilities means that the merfolk improves plenty of matchups. A rise in Yawg is good for the deck, although it lost fury because Yawgmoth struggles to deal with such a fast clock.
Decks like Hammer and Scales with a previously positive Scam matchup may end up falling behind as the rise in Yawg does not bode well for them.
Detailed Impact of Yawgmoth Lists
Ignoble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise: While both are more viable as Fury isn’t around the presence of Bowmasters makes them significantly worse. I would not recommend more than two one-toughness dorks.
Endurance: Living End and Murktide are very weak to Endurance as the graveyard hate is incredibly relevant against Living End and against Murktide the combination of being instant speed, graveyard hate, and a reach threat means it serves multiple key purposes of taking out delirium. At least two in the board and I think that it is a viable contender for one of the few main deck slots.
Fulminator Mage: Fulminator Mage used to be fringe playable as a tutor target. That is not the case anymore. Agatha’s Soul Cauldron has made Fulminator Mage become an absolute beast against Titan and Tron as once it is under a Cauldron they can barely get more than a few lands. I ran it in the Saturday RCQ at Eternal Weekend North America this weekend with one in the sideboard and one in the main and won after facing Tron and Titan twice each.
Eldritch Evolution: With a decrease in Scam, Eldritch Evolution being an innate two-for-one becomes less of a threat and instead a more reasonable spell to find Yawgmoth. Despite this fact, a decrease in Strangleroot Geist and Eldritch Evolution has been a very good thing for the deck as each are relatively bad cards, and playing better ones, like Orcish Bowmasters and Agatha’s Soul Cauldron, is a good thing. Playing two is defensible but more than that is going to be wrong.
Reclamation Sage: Rec Sage is the most important sideboard card for the deck right now because Cursed Totem is now a very popular sideboard card and it can not be dealt with by a Mite. It needs to be in the sideboard.
Final Thoughts on the Bannings:
Fury shouldn’t have been banned. Grief is the only proactive elemental while all the other 4 are defensive. Though Fury can kill multiple creatures the cards that claim to be suppressed by it are already unplayable. There is little difference between losing to Fury and losing to Orcish Bowmasters and Yawgmoth or Bolt and Unholy Heat. Fury was a key card to keep Yawgmoth in check.
Up the Beanstalk needed to go and good riddance. The fact that people realized it was good to cascade into was the beginning of the end of its time in modern. Four-color will be significantly worse now but the idea of just playing the best cards in modern supported by Solitude, Leyline Binding, and Omnath will persist.
Play Yawgmoth and tune your main deck and sideboard to the meta don’t just copy lists. It is the best deck in the format now and while a target will be on its back, it is still very good.