A History Lesson

Understanding the past – to prevent repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

The official B&R announcement wasn't the only awkward news yesterday, as the people behind the unofficial Commander banned list tried to eclipse the official announcement with an even worse one.

Commander Banned list changes:

APRIL 24, 2017

BANNED Leovold, Emissary of Trest

UNBANNED Protean Hulk

RULES No changes.

"We had hopes for Leovold and gave him every opportunity to prove that he would be strong but safe in the format. He simply wasn’t. Leovold violates the tenet of creating undesirable game states by easily locking other players out of the game. We prefer to encourage situations in which everyone gets to play, and it’s too easy for Leovold to create the opposite, even unintentionally.

On the other hand, we feel as though it’s time to let Protean Hulk off the leash. A number of factors led to this decision. Support within the community has been tilting toward Protean Hulk for quite some time. Inside the Rules Committee, we have been leaning in that direction for a while as well, but didn’t have enough of a consensus. Now we do. We acknowledge that the card will be strong, but are of the opinion that it won’t be the centralizing factor it once would have been. Back when Protean Hulk was banned, both creatures and graveyard control were nowhere near as strong as they are today. We know combo possibilities exist with the card, but they need to be specifically built around, so to us it becomes a great value card instead of a dangerous combo piece in casual environments. We suspect that Protean Hulk will be much like Kokusho, the Evening Star when it was unbanned: powerful but not broken in the current Commander landscape."

Banning Leovold is fine, as I can imagine him to be very annoying when he comes back over and over again from the command zone. Unbanning Protean Hulk is completely wrong though.

A Blast from the Past

As you may remember from my profile, I was a member of the committee managing the banned list of the „Highlander“ format for some years. “Highlander” is basically the same as Commander without using a Commander card, played by a more competitive crowd. In 2007 Wizards removed a bunch of card erratas to make the cards work the way they were written once again. Shortly after that there was GP Columbus which was completely dominated and won by a deck based on combo killing with Protean Hulk and Flash potentially as early as turn 1 (but usually on turn 2), resulting in a instant ban of Flash in Legacy and a restriction of Flash in Vintage one year later. There was a “Highlander Grand Prix” (an unofficial but large Highlander event) planned very shortly after the Legacy GP, so the Highlander committee had to consider a panic ban on Flash as well. We were warned by players like Simon Görtzen (whom you might know for his later PT success) to do so, but we didn't decide to act. We thought that there was a world of a difference between having access to full playsets of Hulk and Flash in Legacy (backed up by playsets of Brainstorm, Force of Will, Daze and so on) and having one copy each in a 100 card Highlander deck. We thought the combo was not going to be consistent enough to wreck that format as well.

I probably have never been so wrong about a strategy game at any point in my life as I was on that day.

Between Mystical Tutor, Summoner's Pact and all the other tutor and filtering cards available, it wasn't a problem at all to find the combo consistently even in a 100 card deck. I made my way into the Top8 of the Highlander event with a “fair deck”, only to be completely annihilated by Hulk Flash in two very quick games in the Top8, despite knowing exactly what to look for with the powerful Spoils Mulligan.

Obviously both cards were banned after the event, as the deck was not even remotely fair in comparison to the format. Winning at instant speed on turn 2 doesn't make any sense when everybody else is winning on turn 5 at the earliest.

This is why Protean Hulk will break the Commander format and will be banned again very soon (or at least Flash will be).

Sell any copies you own into the current spike and google for all the possible combos you can do with it. I am sure that there are more possible lethal creature combinations to find with Hulk now, ten years later. Those cards may spike as well and should be sold into the hype.

In our small Magic universe this event can teach us about something we should try to apply to just about every issue in life:

This is why you should learn about and try to understand the past – to prevent yourself and other people from repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

On to brighter news: Glorybringer has taken off already. I guess seeing this dragon winning games at the Prereleases left and right has woken up a bunch of people to the fact that this is going to be a real Standard card. I told you about its potential when it was selling below 1 € - hopefully you acted on that because it is now selling for 6 €! Despite of this being an early spike, I would not bet on receiving camera time and actual tournament results to push the dragon further. It is just a rare card, which will have a Game Day promo as well. Sell now to lock in your ridiculous profits.

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