Meat’s Back Off the Menu: The Meathook Massacre Banned in Standard MTG

Today, Wizards of the Coast announced two new cards added to the banned and restricted club. For many players, the big news will be Yorion, Sky Nomad banned in Modern. We’ll have plenty of content about that from our Modern experts rolling out here on ChannelFireball.com over the next week or two. But for now, I’ll discuss Standard, where The Meathook Massacre was banned.

The Meathook Massacre

Let’s unpack the news point by point.



Black Midrange is Dominant

Prior to the banning, black midrange decks, in a variety of forms, dominated Standard. When I’d write the Power Rankings, the top 10 decks would typically shake out to be roughly eight black decks, plus about two niche strategies that had put up a good finish here or there. Black midrange had the highest card quality, great sideboard options, and no clear weaknesses. 

The Meathook Massacre appeared in virtually every single black deck, in some numbers between the main deck and sideboard. Taking away one good card from the strongest archetype should slightly balance the scales. I can’t yet say exactly how much impact it will have, but it can’t hurt, and should at least nudge things in the correct direction.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Remains Legal

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki

If you were to poll Standard players about the best card in the format, I’d be willing to wager that Fable of the Mirror-Breaker would be the most popular answer. Black was the best color in the format, but many of the black decks were R/B/x, and virtually every deck with red mana plays four main-deck copies of Fable. It’s a surprise to many, myself included, that Fable of the Mirror-Breaker remains legal. 

In fact, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Wedding Announcement – also one of the top cards in Standard – arguably become stronger with the Meathook ban. There’s now one less way to kill multiple creatures at the same time. However, most of the midrange decks that play Fable or Announcement will probably get weaker overall. 

Rakdos Sacrifice

The Meathook Massacre was good both in and against Rakdos Oni-Cult Anvil decks. For a strategy that centers around small creatures dying turn after turn, the passive ability of the legendary enchantment was extremely powerful. 

You’d often need your own Meathook to offset the effect of the opponent’s Meathook. I guess it’s a good thing that we’re free of that annoying pattern. Overall this should weaken Rakdos Sacrifice and give more decks an opportunity to combat the strategy.

Red and White Aggro Improve

Finally, the single most important consequence of The Meathook Massacre being banned will be that aggro improves. Specifically, red and white aggro decks full of small creatures. 

Prior to this, I would’ve called beatdown a “Tier 2” or even “Tier 3” strategy in Standard; it could win some games, but I wouldn’t really have chosen it for a serious tournament. This was largely because there was no good plan for beating Meathook.

Now we can take a closer look at sweet white creatures like Hopeful Initiate, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Anointed Peacekeeper. Red burn decks using Kumano Faces Kakkazan will now have a fair chance. There might even be tribal or token synergies in the Cabaretti colors that will be unlocked for the first time in competitive Standard. 

Where to Go From Here

I’ll be competing in the World Championship at the end of October, which features the Standard format. This banning doesn’t exactly feel earth shattering, but it ought to shake things up enough that exploring the format will be fun and interesting. 

Yesterday I was thinking about it in terms of choosing the best black midrange deck. That still feels like a strategy that could get me pretty far, but now things feel substantially more balanced, and I’m excited to try out a whole world of other decks. And I’ll be sure to share some of that exploration here on CFB!


3 thoughts on “Meat’s Back Off the Menu: The Meathook Massacre Banned in Standard MTG”

  1. Meathook was a bad ban. Never stopped aggro from being top tier last format. Problem was ordinary post-rotation nonsense. Small pool, limited choices. Solution was more sets, not banning interesting cards.

  2. Everytime I manage to put together a deck that doesn’t get a mudhole stomped into my a–, WOTC takes away my best cards! This has happened to me three times already and I e only been playing a handful of months now. I’m sorry I can’t afford to buy the cards necessary to build your $200+ Legendary tournament level decks,but don’t punish me for using actual wit and strategy to build playable decks with affordable cards instead of using my bank account to actually win some games.

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