At long last, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis has been banned from Modern in Magic: The Gathering.
From its release within the Modern Horizons set in June this year to just yesterday when five Hogaak decks made Top Eight during MagicFest Las Vegas, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis has been a powerhouse in the Modern circuit. During MagicFest Las Vegas, Simon Nielsen, the player who took second place in the Modern event in Birmingham, managed to win with his list. It seems that Hogaak was determined to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper.
As with the United Kingdom and with Minneapolis, Hogaak seemed to have been an unstoppable force in Las Vegas. Somehow Hogaak only appeared to get better the later in the Magic: the Gathering tournaments that it performs in. Whereas in Birmingham the frequency ratio of Hogaak decks practically doubled between Days One and Two, so too in Vegas, where, according to MagicFest coverage site and sponsor ChannelFireball, "It was the most-played deck on Day 1, and even with the field gunning for it doubled its metagame share from 10 to 20% on Day 2 en route to putting five copies in the Top 8." It seemed only natural that Hogaak would meet its demise at the hands of a ban after a showing like that.
Alongside Hogaak, Faithless Looting has also been banned from the format. The card is easily capable of enabling graveyard-based strategies similar to Hogaak, and as such, mostly seems to have been banned as a failsafe for the future.
However, in addition to these bans, the infamous Stoneforge Mystic has been unbanned, leaving speculators to wonder whether or not this Modern Magic shakeup will mean the card sees play in a meta far past its original prime.
For those unaware, Stoneforge Mystic was one of the cards which, when Modern became an officially-sanctioned format, was banned from the very start. It had an intense presence in Standard at that time, most notably during the span when both (the original) Zendikar block and Scars of Mirrodin block were together. In turn, this had such an impression on Wizards' development team that they banned it alongside the infamous Jace, the Mind Sculptor from Standard altogether. Needless to say that when Modern first was created, this was among the first things on their chopping block.
So, who knows? With Hogaak out of the meta for the foreseeable future, Modern players can breathe easy knowing they can play Magic: the Gathering with less fuss… But is Stoneforge Mystic coming back into the meta too steep a price to pay?
If you want to look into Wizards' reasoning for the shakeups in various formats (not just Modern!), this link to their philosophy regarding these announcements is here.
All the while, congratulations to Simon Nielsen for winning MagicFest Las Vegas's Modern event!