Faithless Looting needed to be banned in Modern, but Bridge from Below got the axe instead.

The one-mana red sorcery has defined the metagame for too long. Modern is a fast format pretty much always, and it often teeters on the edge of being too fast. Cheap spells that churn through the deck get the ball rolling for explosive starts, and lately we’ve been feeling the heat from graveyard decks fueled by Faithless Looting.

There was a time when folks debated whether Faithless Looting or Ancient Stirrings was the dominant spell of the format. Arclight Phoenix and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis have answered that question, with assists from various degrees of pyromancer and an enchantment that for some reason only works in the graveyard.

We tolerate this sort of format-warping cheap card velocity in Legacy, where Brainstorm has been the card-that-probably-should-be-banned-but-we-like-it-too-much for at least a decade. Legacy gets a pass for all sorts of nonsense because the competitive significance of that format is low. Modern demands more scrutiny.

Format-warping cards make a lot of other cards look broken. Maybe some of them are. Bridge from Below is not being played in “fair” decks. The design experiment that it represents has run its course long enough, so it is easy to ban. But Hogaak looks more like a souped-up Tombstalker—good but not that good. Arclight Phoenix facilitates a more interactive version of Storm combo. That sounds like a welcome addition to a healthy Modern metagame, but a menace in Looting’s world.

Faithless Looting is the problem. It’s basically the same card as Brainstorm. The Legacy powerhouse moves five cards between zones for the low price of one mana; Looting moves four. When you actively want to put some of your cards in the graveyard (or on top of your deck, shuffled away, etc) the downside becomes upside. Bazaar of Baghdad comes to mind, and that card defines Vintage.

Faithless Looting moves four cards for one mana, and flashes back for three mana if you still haven’t won yet. It is too good for Modern, it has warped the format for too long, and it’s about time we recognized that.

Brendan McNamara (Twitter: @brendanistan) is Editor in Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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