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How Will the Ragavan Ban Affect Legacy?

It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer has finally gotten the axe in Legacy. There was a lot of talk about different cards that might be joining it or alternatives to Ragavan overall, but when all is said and done, it is the Monkey alone that is removed, and that’s what we’ll be talking about here. Before I talk about specifics, let me say I’m really happy with the Ragavan ban. I think the presence of Ragavan specifically made it challenging for decks to plan against. Control decks in particular had to jump through some hoops to successfully answer it and the very presence of Ragavan created a cascading effect on how removal worked, since Prismatic Ending couldn’t consistently answer it. This change will limit the tactical options of Izzet decks and overall make it quite a bit easier to create a plan against those decks.

 

 

Header - Why Ragavan?

Ragavan, Nimble PilfererDeathrite ShamanDreadhorde Arcanist (Timeshifted)

Like Deathrite Shaman and Dreadhorde Arcanist before it, Ragavan put the onus of interaction firmly on the first turn or two of the game. The advantage it generated was significant with the Treasure alone and if you ever stole a card early, it would be tough for opponents to recover from. Add to that the dash cost, which provided the Ragavan player a ton of tactical options, and Ragavan really made a lot of games quite challenging to navigate.

In addition, Ragavan was so potent that it essentially spawned a range of “Non-Delver-But-Basically-Delver-Ragavan-Decks” that are all but completely dead with this change. These decks not only made up a significant portion of the metagame, but homogenized the format a fairly significant amount. Losing these decks will hopefully open up the format a reasonable amount, as players no longer have to try to force Ragavan into every fair archetype.

 

Header - Is This Enough?

It doesn’t take much time on the internet before you see outcries of the Ragavan ban not being sufficient. These reactions are in direct response to the impact it will have on the Delver archetype, which many view as a multifaceted issue. Between the power of Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent, the card advantage of Expressive Iteration and the pure efficiency of Daze, a fair amount of players (at least in the spaces I exist in) don’t think this ban will do enough. Add to that the fact that Ragavan was actually fairly ineffective against a significant amount of non-blue decks in the format (I frequently sided out all of my copies against Death and Taxes and Elves), and this ban will likely enhance Delver’s matchups against those decks.

The truth is that they are correct and Delver will still maintain a significant portion of the top of the metagame. However, as I have said many times, unless they decide to pull the rug out from under it and ban foundational cards, such as Daze (a decision I have frequently pushed back against), Delver will always be at the top of the format. We have seen this pattern with every ban from the archetype in the past and it will continue with this ban announcement.

However, none of this is new. I’ve written about this in the past, but a powerful, fair blue deck will always be the best deck in the format. Having Delver be the best deck is not a bad thing and, with the banning of Ragavan, there will be more opportunities for counterplay against the archetype. Prismatic Ending is a lot better than it was before against Delver and this will have a significant impact on the format development. 

 

Header - How Will the Format Change?

I think Control decks will get quite a bit better since their removal will now be more effective overall. Decks are no longer going to have to adapt to Ragavan early, so cards like Gut Shot are going to fall out of favor. Initially, I do think decks like Elves and Death and Taxes will get a bit worse, but those archetypes have some meaningful adaptations they can make to improve that matchup (additional copies of Endurance, more spot removal). Decks that relied on using Wasteland to lock opponents out, such as Lands, will likely get even better since Ragavan can’t sidestep that plan anymore. Each of these changes will have a cascading effect on the format, so predicting future changes gets a bit more challenging, but it will certainly be an exciting time at the top of the format!

 

Header - Will There Be Future Changes?

In their announcement, they suggested that while this is a large change to the format, they wanted to avoid making any other sweeping changes until they were able to see how the metagame would pan out. I like this decision a lot, assuming they are willing to make future adjustments. While Delver will still be among the best decks in the format, losing Ragavan does legitimately hurt the archetype and make it easier to answer. The control matchup will likely be much more challenging and it will likely have cascading effects on the rest of the format. I’m optimistic that Legacy will be a lot better going forward but if it isn’t, I trust Wizards of the Coast to stick to their word and make another change. 

 

Header - Concluding Remarks

There is one final point I want to make. It’s very clear that a significant amount of players dislike the F.I.R.E. design that has impacted Legacy over the past few years, with Modern Horizons 1 and 2 being the poster children for that. Legacy of years past was a haven for nostalgia and old cards, where people could play the same archetype with no changes for years. That’s not the world we live in anymore and while that is initially what drew me into Legacy, I’ve grown to really enjoy the power level increases and more frequent format churn. I understand that this isn’t appealing to anyone but it has significantly increased my enjoyment of Legacy over the past few months.

There are no amount of bans that will return this format to the “old Legacy” and I think that’s a good thing. Things change and with that change comes new experiences and moments for growth. I think embracing the new paradigm of Magic design will overall increase enjoyment of the game, even if it’s very different than what we’re used to/started playing the format for. Regardless, I’m happy to see this change and I will remain optimistic about its impact on the format until given a reason otherwise.

I will be writing about Delver changes in my usual article this week and talking about the future direction of the archetype after I’ve gotten the chance to play in the new format a bit.

 

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