This morning, Wizards of the Coast banned both Hogaak, Risen Necropolis and Faithless Looting from the Modern format, effective August 30, 2019.

Don’t miss our stories on today’s other Banned and Restricted updates: Stoneforge Mystic was unbanned in Modern; Rampaging Ferocidon was unbanned in Standard; and Karn, the Great Creator, Mystic Forge, Mental Misstep, and Golgari Grave-Troll were restricted in Vintage, while Fastbond was unrestricted

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Ever since its printing in Modern Horizons this past June, Hogaak has dominated Magic: the Gathering’s Modern format. Just in the last month, Hogaak decks made up 19.3% of the Day 2 metagame at Grand Prix Minneapolis and put five copies in the Top 8, made up 21.9% of the Day 2 metagame at Grand Prix Birmingham and but three copies in the Top 8, and made up 22.1% of the Day 2 metagame at Grand Prix Las Vegas and put five copies in the Top 8.

These performances came on the heels of Hogaak decks not only being the most-played archetype at Mythic Championship IV Barcelona, but also having the best Day 2 conversion rates and the highest win percentages at the tournament (despite only putting one copy in the Top 8).

And all of these events were after Wizards banned Bridge from Below on July 8, 2019 to try and reign in the Hogaak decks.

Mark Rosewater says that Hogaak was a mistake.

Hogaak was so dominant that Mark Rosewater, Magic’s Head Designer, said that Hogaak was a “mistake” and players were calling for an emergency ban. But after GP Minneapolis, Aaron Forsythe, Magic’s Vice President of Design, said that Wizards would not be emergency banning given the proximity to today’s Banned and Restricted update.

Today, Wizards officially acknowledged that Hogaak had an “oppressive effect on the metagame,” and given the “variety of successful ways to build [a Hogaak deck]”, it was clear that Hogaak was “the crux of the problem.”

Faithless Looting

While the entire Magic community expected the banning of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, few expected that Wizards would go so far as to ban Faithless Looting, as well.

Faithless Looting has been one of the most important cards in Modern over the last year. In enabled graveyard-centric decks like Izzet Phoenix, Dredge, Hollow One, and Bridgevine (both pre- and post-Hogaak) to easily dump cards cards into the graveyard and draw cards at the same time, creating an engine so powerful it became a format-defining card. According to Wizards, “[O]ver the past year the winningest Modern deck at any given point in time has usually been a Faithless Looting deck.”

This led to a Modern metagame that was dominated by graveyard strategies to the point where deck diversity was being negatively impacted. This was evident in the fact that cards like Surgical Extraction, Leyline of the Void, and Rest in Peace—cards whose use is solely to combat the graveyard—became important cards in the main deck of many Modern decks. Wizards was concerned that the card would only get stronger as time went on, scaling incredibly well with every new graveyard, discard, or cheap spell, and “would be a likely eventual addition to the banned list in the near future.”

By banning Faithless Looting, Wizards hopes “to shift gameplay a little bit away from the graveyard and back toward the hand and battlefield.” For that same reason, Bridge from Below (which was originally banned to try and slow down Hogaak) will remain banned while it seems likely that Ancient Stirrings will remain legal, despite posing many of the same problems as Faithless Looting.


Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting will be banned in tabletop Magic effective August 30, 2019, while the ban will come to Magic: the Gathering Online a few days earlier on August 26.

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