Today, Wizards of the Coast announced that it was banning Bridge from Below in Magic’s Modern format. While many expected some action would be taken to stop the bleeding after Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis completely warped the metagame, few predicted that Bridge from Below would be the victim.

“In recent weeks, Hogaak Bridgevine has been the most played Modern deck on Magic Online and has earned over three times as many 5-0 League trophies as the deck with the next most,” Wizards said. “It has only two unfavorable matchups among the other ten most played decks and a high win rate against lesser played ‘rogue’ decks. Especially telling is its Game 1 win rate of roughly 66%, requiring most decks to sideboard heavily against it.”

“With several high-profile Modern events coming soon and Hogaak Bridgevine continuing to be problematic for the health of the metagame, we’ve determined now is the right time to take action in order to allow players enough advance notice to prepare for those events.”

None of that should surprise anyone who has been following the shifting metagame since the release of Modern Horizons just a few weeks ago. The set brought both Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Altar of Dementia into Modern, which synergize well with Bridge. But the question remained, why Bridge from Below?

“[W]e identified Bridge from Below as the card most likely to cause metagame imbalance again in the future,” Wizards wrote. “Because Bridge from Below doesn’t cost mana or other resources to use and isn’t reliant on being drawn naturally from the library, its power level is highly sensitive to the cards that synergize with it. As new card designs that have synergy with the graveyard are released over time, Bridge from Below is the most likely key card in the deck to become problematic again.”

“Without Bridge from Below to continually produce Zombie tokens with which to convoke,” the continued, “The interaction between Hogaak and Altar Of Dementia should become more about stocking the graveyard for value over multiple turns rather than completing a one-turn win combo. This should open additional avenues for other decks to interact via creature combat, creature removal, or graveyard removal, and may also force graveyard decks to include more interactive cards, further slowing themselves down.”

Wizards said that their “goal is not to eliminate graveyard strategies from the Modern metagame, but rather to weaken this version of the graveyard combo archetype that has proven too powerful for other decks to reasonably adapt to.”

Bridge from Below was originally printed in the Future Sight expansion over 12 years ago and has long since been a dominant part of graveyard recursion decks in every format it is played in including Vintage, Legacy, and until now Modern. Wizards has previously flowed the strategy of banning combo enablers like Bridge, rather than payoffs like Hogaak, with the decision to ban Second Sunrise in Modern a few years ago.

Despite numerous cards in the format that are designed to battle graveyard-based strategies, Bridge from Below joins Golgari Grave-Troll on the Modern Banned list as Wizards continues to try to rein in one of Magic’s most versatile combo engines.

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