Banned deck still comes out on top in MTG tournament

Rakdos Scam has won the first MTG tournament since its best card, Fury, was banned - showing that the Modern deck has surprising staying power.

The MTG card Grief card art

The terror of the Modern format, Rakdos Scam, has won the first Modern MTG tournament after the bans that were supposed to curb its dominance. Mariluz Garcia piloted her Rakdos Midrange deck to victory at Grand Open Qualifier (GOQ) Barcelona on December 10.

Yes, the terror of the Modern format might not be done upsetting Magic: The Gathering players just yet.

Thanks to the MTG banlist changes which saw five cards wiped out across a range of formats, Fury, a key part of Rakdos Scam, could not be played in the deck. But the other painful card from this archetype, Grief, is still very effective at disrupting an opponent’s game plan with targeted discard. In particular, it’s the bane of combo decks looking to win on turn two or three.

The MTG card Grief

However, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because we only have to look at the meta breakdown on Day 2 of the tournament to see that Rakdos Scam is not the format-warping force it once was. While Garcia was able to beat out top-tier decks like Living End and Temur Rhinos, it’s notable that she was the only Rakdos player there.

Compare that to the 11 players with Temur Rhinos decks looking to cascade into Crashing Footfalls, or the six players running cycling creatures and Living End, and it’s obvious that MTG Cascade and not Evoke, is the new problem mechanic for Modern.

A meta breakdown from GOC Barcelona

Grief and Fury are both Modern Horizons 2 cards, printed in the same (busted) MTG set in 2021. They were considered problematic because it’s so easy to bring them back from the graveyard. You see, their board wiping or card discarding ETB effects wouldn’t be so bad on their own, since you have to discard a card to pay the Evoke cost, and Evoke means you sacrifice the creature once it enters play.

However, it’s incredibly simple to play a one mana instant like Feign Death to bring them back from the dead, allowing the Evoke elementals to trigger twice and stick around on the board. This meant that, until recently, Rakdos Scam was by far the most popular deck, which lead to Wizards of the Coast banning one of the elementals, Fury, on December 4.

Since the ban, some players have tried switching up the MTG color combination of the deck, trying Orzhov Scam. This gives you access to a different Evoke elemental, Solitude. The strategy hasn’t really broken through yet, however.

For more Magic content, check out the MTG release schedule for 2024. Or for some Standard tips, here are the best MTG Arena decks right now.