Wizards of the Coast is bringing sweeping changes to Modern play with the banning of key cards found in some of the format’s most popular and powerful tech types: Urza and Tron.
The first card to get the ax is Oko, Thief of Crowns. After being banned in nearly every other format, Oko is now also banned in Modern. WotC’s Ian Duke says this is in part due to its prevalence in the format as it’s the most-played card in Modern with an inclusion rate of nearly 40 percent. The card is seen as being detrimental to metagame diversity.
“In order to improve the health of game play and to weaken Urza decks, Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned in Modern,” states Duke.
Another card commonly found in (but not solely) Urza, Lord High Artificer decks is Mox Opal. The card, which is a source of fast mana in the early game, has proven to have the potential to contribute greatly towards strategies that can abruptly end the game, whether through explosive attacks, one-turn win combos, or by locking opponents out of the game. While such payoffs typically don’t warrant a card’s banning, the card’s presence in Urza decks has proved problematic in Modern.
“As the strongest enabler in the recent Urza artifact decks, and a card that has been concerning in the past and would likely cause balance issues in the future, Mox Opal is banned in Modern,” comments Duke.
Looking beyond Urza decks, WotC has taken a stand to reduce the overall power level for Tron decks. To do this, the card Mycosynth Lattice is being banned from Modern play. This is due to its interaction with the War of the Spark planeswalker Karn, the Great Creator.
“This combination, popular in Eldrazi and other Tron decks, can completely lock the opponent out from casting further spells,” explains Duke. “While decks featuring this combination often win in other ways, the deckbuilding cost to include this interation is low, causing it to show up more often than is fun in competitive play.”
With these ban list changes for Modern, WotC is keeping an eye on other formats as well. Specifically focused on Pioneer, WotC says that they’re aware of the interaction between Walking Ballista and the soon-to-see-print Heliod, Sun-Crowned from the upcoming Theros Beyond Death set. The company says that if “this combination is a long-term threat to the health of the format, we’ll consider changes at this time.”
The aforementioned bannings are effective Jan. 14, 2020.