Don’t Ban Deathrite Shaman

Don’t Ban a Fair Card

As Brian DeMars wrote in his last article, Deathrite Shaman might be the best fair card ever printed. Fair cards are what keep formats healthy. A format that isn’t fair isn’t fun to play. We need proper answers if threats are as overpowered as the ones in Legacy.

If you have the option to reanimate a Griselbrand as early as possible, you also need to have free counters like Force of Will and Daze, and maindeckable graveyard hate like Deathrite Shaman.

If you have cheap land destruction like Wasteland (and to some degree, Stifle), you also need to have way to catch back up on mana like Deathrite Shaman.

If a fair deck is the best deck in the format, the format is healthy.

When Wizards has to ban something, it’s usually because those decks were doing something broken, like Felidar Guardian in Standard or locking opponents out with Sensei’s Divining Top + Counterbalance.

Deathrite Shaman is a well-rounded, powerful card that fits perfectly in the fair decks.

Lands, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, and Reanimator decks are kept in check thanks to this card. While the most recent successful versions of Reanimator are trying to adapt, going all-in as quickly as possible, Deathrite Shaman is still beating them in the post-sideboard games, where they slow down because of permission cards, and they need to adapt by playing Grim Lavamancer.

Lands historically claims a good matchup versus Delver and Czech Pile, but a turn-1 Deathrite Shaman needs to be answered ASAP, or it’ll make it impossible for the Lands deck to function properly.

Does this stop these deck from winning? No. Ewlandon, with B/R Reanimator, is still the undisputed trophy leader, and I’m 0-5 lifetime against him.

ANT, while no longer tier 1, still won the Legacy Challenge and I soundly lost to it at GP Birmingham at 6-0. Lands is one of the best decks out there and puts up good results whenever a master pilots it.

If Deathrite Shaman is banned, fair decks would get weaker and they would lose a main deck way to interact with their combo opponents.

Fear of the Ban

In sports, if you support a team you want your team to win. In Magic, it’s ironically become the opposite, because fear of the ban is taking over.

Last year, when I wanted Sensei’s Divining Top banned, I was actively looking for Top 32s of GPs and hoping for results showing Miracles all over the place so that my thesis could be supported.

On the contrary, if you were a Miracles player, you wanted all other people playing it to lose so that you could keep on winning with your broken deck.

In Modern, more than most formats, this holds true, and after last year, Standard was contaminated as well, with five cards being banned.

Wizards made great progress in Standard, hiring a play design team to make sure that the format will always be as great as the current one with Dominaria, but Modern and Legacy will be left to their own devices, and fear of the ban is a reality.

Last weekend, from the coverage of the 262-person MKM Hamburg: “No Delver and none of the blue Deathrite Shaman decks made the cut, even though they showed up in droves,” but we also saw GP Toronto, Team Unified Constructed, where two Czech Pile and one Grixis Delver made the Top 4.

There is no solution to this problem. Wizards can’t hire a team to solve Modern and Legacy for the future. The formats will be driven by events, and we’ll keep on rooting against the decks we love because that’s the cruel nature of this game.

Legacy Cards Are Too Expensive

Another main reason why a huge percentage of people want Deathrite Shaman banned is because the main way to cast it is off Underground Sea, and Underground Sea is worth $450 USD. You need at least three Underground Sea in your deck, and that is a lot of money.

Legacy has a high barrier to entry, and this will not stop. It will very likely keep rising.

I’m not here to discuss whether the reserve list should exist. I’m not here to say that’s not right or argue that Legacy is a great format. Most people who watch my Legacy videos tell me that they would love to play, but it’s too expensive.

I’m here to say that keeping budget decks in check is not a reason to ban Deathrite Shaman.

Deathrite Shaman Makes Greedy Mana Bases Look Great

Let’s take a look at GP winner Lucas Siow’s 4-Color Control deck.

4-Color Control

One Force of Will? Two Swamps? To the Slaughter? This deck is a mess! If we ban Deathrite Shaman, nothing like this would have ever happened!

That’s definitely true. This deck is made possible by the existence of Deathrite Shaman, but what’s wrong with that? Some of you might remember Khans of Tarkir Standard, where playing four colors was regular, and that was a great format!

Wasteland-based decks and Blood Moon-based decks are winning GPs and still decks like this one have great success. That shows how diverse Legacy is, more than how much Deathrite Shaman oppresses the format.

Deathrite Shaman is a powerful card, just like many others in Legacy that make the format intricate and decision dense.

Some decks ignore it, like Miracles or Sneak & Show, and decks struggle against it, like Lands.

The format is healthy and diverse. Every strategy (combo, aggro, prison, midrange, control) viable. We should enjoy this game more, and not spend our time looking for the next ban.


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