- Show and Tell is unbanned.
That’s it! The updated ban list is in effect from 3rd October (as first announced at the European championships).
Show and Tell has been on the banned list since the birth of the format, largely because Yawgmoth’s Bargain was not, but also as a general safeguard versus quick non-interactive combos. Yawgmoth’s Bargain has been banned for quite some time now, and as the format has grown and matured, it’s also easier to assess what other potential targets may be used with Show and Tell, and what impact those interactions may have on the format.
The most important aspect that I’ve considered is whether allowing Show and Tell would enable a too strong deck, both in terms of raw win percentage and the impact on how other decks must be built in order to deal with it. To sum it up, I don’t think this risk is significant.
The deck that seems to be most dangerous is Dream Halls combo, also known as TurboZvi, named after its original creator and legendary deck-builder Zvi Mowshowitz. If you’re not familiar with this deck, it basically tries to sift through the deck by casting cards like Opportunity and Meditate for free with Dream Halls, whereafter the opponent can be finished with e.g. Brain Freeze. With a land that gives two mana, such as Ancient Tomb or Saprazzan Skerry, Show and Tell can enable a turn 2 Dream Halls, and hence, in theory, a turn 2 win, which is somewhat disturbing.
Based on testing, as well as arm-chair reasoning, I don’t predict that this deck will be too strong, though. First, besides needing two cards to get started (unless Dream Halls is hard-casted), the combo engine is quite fragile in itself, frequently fizzling because failure to draw into the next draw spell, or simply drawing into a bunch of lands. Turn two, or even turn three goldfish wins are rare in practice. Second, Dream Halls itself is quite easy to stop for the opponent, either by putting a permanent into play off Show and Tell, or casting a spell for free using Dream Halls (as it also affects both players). This means that a range of cards that already see extensive play can be used to stop the combo, e.g. Seal of Cleansing, Naturalize, Counterspell and sideboard cards like Pyroblast.
It’s likely that the Premodern hive mind comes up with better version of the deck than I have, but if worse come to worst and it become too strong, then there’s always the possibility of banning Dream Halls, as it appears to be the more degenerate card anyway.
To a larger extent, I expect seeing Show and Tell in Reanimator and Sneak Attack decks, to add some redundancy and dodge specific hate cards. But the most exciting decks are of course the not-yet-thought-of ones, and I know there are some very creative deck builders out there that love to go really deep. Surprise me! 🙂
Potential targets for Show and Tell?
In the last ban list revision in 2019, I raised some concern over the Devourer combo deck, but as far as results have shown since then, the deck has not been dominant, nor does it appear to have warped the way other decks are built. The major development in the meta since then is the evolution of the Elves deck to include Survival of the Fittest. The deck is fast, consistent and resilient, and hence some concern has been raised about it. I do share this concern to some extent, and although the “Watch list” for cards is no more, we should keep an eye on this deck. With that said, I do think that the Premodern card pool has the tools to deal with it. Marc Eric Vogt’s well-tuned Oath Parfait, which he took down the European championships and multiple Elves decks with last weekend, is a case in point. Actually, he took down the Sunday tournament too with the same deck (and not surprisingly, some are concerned about this deck too). But we should get back to that some other time—if you want to check out all the decks from the Euro champs, you find them here.
As far as results go, the field is very diverse and we have not seen dominance of a single one deck even among the top finishing decks. Now, this is not the whole story of course, as deck choice is largely determined by preferences as well, and we have to consider a deck’s win rate etc. But as a first approximation, if you’ve played in a Premodern tournament in the last couple of years, you could expect to face a little bit of everything.
A final point is that most of the results data during the past couple of years is from the Online monthlies. Due to their consistency and impressive number of participants, this is of course a great source. Still, I’d also like to see more results from IRL tournaments, as the selection of both players and decks can be quite different. It will be interesting to analyze in more detail the results from the Euro champs, but also from, e.g., the upcoming national championships in Spain and Italy later this year.
Until next time!