Krark-Clan Ironworks, you will (mostly) not be missed.
Review the banned and restricted list announcement and write-up here.
This is a narrow ban that touches the most offensive deck without touching the most offensive cards (Ancient Stirrings, Mox Opal, Faithless Looting). The announcement of no other changes is the other significant piece of news. Nothing is unbanned in Modern (Stoneforge), U/B Delver is untouched in Pauper, and it’s still legal to use Sivitri Scarzam as your Commander (for now, but they’re watching).
The ban of KCI alone is actually a vote of confidence for the state of Modern, which is a bit weird for an announcement that a card is banned. What do I mean? Well, they could have hit Opal, but they believe other decks can keep up with Hardened Scales. They could have banned Stirrings but they must think Tron is in a healthy place. They could have unbanned Stoneforge but they must know that Path is already good, Aether Vial is already good—so why take a chance?
Among the reasons for saving Ancient Stirrings was that it constrains your deckbuilding to use it as your card selection. Does it? Amulet Titan, Hardened Scales, Tron, Lantern Control… Combo, Aggro, Ramp, Combo Control… you feeling constrained yet?
And what about Faithless Looting? Yes, again there are constraints, and it’s better to have constraints than to have Brainstorm, but isn’t it still possible that the rate is too good, the impact on what people are doing too large to be healthy? I regard that as the big downside in not taking a larger swing. The decks that use Stirrings, Opal, and Looting constrain everybody else because they get to be so fast and so consistent.
I have to say, however, that Wizards’ logic makes a lot of sense. Despite what’s been happening in these combo and combo-ish decks, it’s not that hard to locate a Path or a Lightning Helix in a Top 8. It’s certainly not difficult to find Aether Vials. So at the end of the day, maybe the format is simply best left (mostly) alone. Time will tell.
I don’t play Pauper but my friends tell me something from U/B Delver will have to go eventually. Time will tell.
Modern just got a bit more fun for the non-Nassty among us. A new set full of gold cards just hit the shelves, so that might shake something up. And like Eggs before it, even if KCI was not absolutely mandatory as a ban, it’s a pretty miserable experience, so I’m glad they killed it.
At Magic Festivus Oakland I watched Greg Hatch try to demonstrate the loop and I’m still having nightmares about it three weeks later. Now we can get the Opal Stirrings combo players back onto Lantern Control, a deck everyone feels great losing to. Modern is great.