Answering prayers with a godly banhammer has the consequence of diminishing the perceived agency of those on the ground.
-Jeff Cunningham, Another Look at the Recent Standard Bannings
I played Four-Color Saheeli at a PPTQ over the weekend. This exact list, as a matter of fact:
It's a very good deck. The sideboard can be reworked (I don't know what Verdurous Gearhulk does), but the deck served me well all day, dragging me to a first-place finish kicking and screaming. That's not why I'm here, though.
A common refrain from my opponents after getting comboed out for the second time in as many games was "yeah, that deck's really cool, but I can't really buy Saheeli Rai or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; it just seems like those decks are going to get banned sometime soon." Cunningham touched on this in his piece on the recent Standard bans, citing the column Aaron Forsythe filed clear back in December 2004, in an effort to justify not banning Affinity (the deck got banned by March). Forsythe stated, "we like to avoid having to solve problems by banning cards, as that leads to a culture of fear. We certainly don't want people to start believing that all the good cards they own are in the crosshairs of the DCI." Which brings us to today.
The January bans and the subsequent announcement has yielded more questions than answers. The "mid-season ban window" reads like something R&D came up with to insulate themselves — it's not an emergency ban, it's a mid-season ban! The optics of a midseason ban in the first place is that R&D's clearly more willing to ban cards; why else would they need a mid-season ban window? In 2017, the "culture of fear" is here, and it's earned. I certainly couldn't blame anyone for not wanting to buy Saheeli Rai or Heart of Kiran right now.
On to the Magic cards that sold well.
The prices on Zendikar Marsh Flats and Scalding Tarn are both trending up. That is not what I would've expected, and I'd love to hear some theories on this as to why. More on this as it develops.
It's difficult for me to talk about Goblin Guide without invoking the history of the card. As someone who cast a lot of Slith Firewalkers (in Legacy!) and then took a break from the game from Morningtide till Scars of Mirrodin, coming back to a version of Magic where Goblin Guide existed was baffling. Clearly, this card was far, far too good to print... what were they thinking?
Goblin Guide didn't break Magic, but rather gave a classic archetype the power to stand up against the busted cards to be printed. There's a lot going on with ol' Goblin Guide. It made Modern Burn into a deck all by itself. Goblin Guide is great.
It's a little unintuitive, but if you've been following this column, you've seen it for awhile now: The name of the game is uncommons. They're the cards that reliably sell the best from every set, and in the case of Modern Masters 2017, they're Modern staples whose price has plummeted thanks to the reprint.
This is all Corbin's fault.
The shining pinnacle of Good Uncommons for the near future, Fatal Push is, uh... it's good. What else is there to really say? It fell out of the #1 spot for a minute, but it didn't take long for it to regain its spot.
Amonkhet spoilers are up. Gotta go.