Announcement Date: January 28, 2013
Effective Date: February 1, 2013
Magic Online Effective Date: February 6, 2013
Bloodbraid Elf and Seething Song are banned.
Magic Online Pauper
Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, and Invigorate are banned.
Standard, Extended, 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.
Explanation of January 28, 2013, B&R Changes
It has been a year since the last time a card was banned in Modern. Over that period of time, one card, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, was unbanned. In the meantime, Jund has been the most successful deck at high-level tournaments. Yuuya Watanabe won the Magic Player's Championship playing Jund. Then, Yuuya came in 2nd at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica by playing Jund again.
At that point, it was clear Yuuya was dominating, but the status of Jund in Modern was less clear.
Since then, we have had four Modern Grands Prix. Jérémy Dezani won Grand Prix Lyon playing Jund. Jacob Wilson defeated Josh Utter-Leyton in a Jund-on-Jund finals to win Grand Prix Chicago. Willy Edel won Grand Prix Toronto, also playing Jund. And, finally, Lukas Jaklovsky came in 2nd, playing Jund, at Grand Prix Bilbao. Beyond that, Jund took six of the Top 16 decks at Bilbao.
While the rest of the format is quite diverse, the dominance of Jund is making it less so overall. The DCI looked to ban a card. We wanted a card that top players consistently played four copies of in Jund, but ideally was less played in other top Modern decks. That would give the best chance of creating a more balanced metagame. The card that best fits our criteria is Bloodbraid Elf.
The DCI's other primary goal for Modern is to not have top tier decks that frequently win on turn three (or earlier). Looking at the results of the recent tournaments, Storm is not the most played deck, but it is among the top tier of decks. Four of the players to get at least 18 points at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica were playing Storm, and Olivier Ruel had a Top 8 performance at Grand Prix Lyon playing Storm. On Magic Online, Storm is the second-most-frequent high-finishing deck in Modern events, at 11.42%, behind only Jund. These results indicate that, while far from dominant, Storm is a top tier deck.
Looking at the results of games, turn-three wins are frequent for Storm, contrary to the DCI's stated goals for the format. The DCI looked for a card that was very important to the turn-three wins but not one of the cards that make this deck unique. We decided Seething Song is the best choice. Even with no other mana acceleration, one can cast Seething Song on turn three and it gives a net acceleration of +2 mana. While there are other options for fast mana, none appear as efficient and reliable on turn three as Seething Song.