By: Travis Allen
I was originally going to write about Oath of the Gatewatch as a set, a topic I’ve been wanting to cover for three weeks now, but this banned list change is too juicy. Maybe next week!
By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom are banned in Modern. The day this article goes live, Wednesday, is two days after the official announcement was to be made Monday morning.
What you may have missed is how we found out. Friday night, news rapidly began to spread that Twin and Bloom were banned in the MTGO beta. The question was whether Wizards had been pre-empted by its own lack of foresight and planning on a digital product, or if the software was encountering one of it’s uncountable, nonsensical bugs and erroneously indicating the cards illegal. Considering both possibilities were predicated on Wizards mishandling its digital product, Occam’s razor was of no help.
WotC either accidentally preempts B&R update with beta, or beta is buggy piece of shit and thinks two cards are banned. Both 100% plausible
— Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) January 16, 2016
It wasn’t long before Wizards accepted that the jig was up and officially confirmed the news: Twin and Bloom are out. The latter of those was a foregone conclusion; anyone that wasn’t emotionally invested in the deck knew it was coming after watching Justin Cohen trounce people at Pro Tour Fate Reforged a year ago. The deck regularly violated the “turn four rule” while still able to play a long, grindy attrition game. Defenders of the deck will point out that it hasn’t taken over the format the way combo boogeymen have in the past, but this is more a result of the deck’s extremely challenging lines of play more than anything.
I first noticed the deck when Gerry Thompson mentioned it in an article, and after loading it up in Magic Workstation, was struck by just how difficult the deck was to pilot. I mentioned as much to Gerry on Twitter, and he confirmed that it was possibly the toughest deck he had ever played. Success requires a skilled player investing considerable time and effort into learning the intricacies of the various lines, especially in the face of opposition. That any average Joe couldn’t pick up the list and pop over to his nearest SCG Open and wreck house is a major reason Bloom wasn’t dominating the format.