Primordial Updates Summer 2021 – Banlist Changes and More!

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since the last update, and as a result we have a whole host of Primordial updates!

Strixhaven Tournament Results

Congratulations to DozenLegs for taking the tournament in close tiebreaker! Runner-ups Skydroid and Janah also performed well as well, getting the same 2-1 record as Dozen but just missing out on the tiebreakers. Overall, while the brewing and theorycrafting period proved to be fun, Strixhaven within itself proved to be a very grindy format, with few ways to break out of classic limited board stalls. It’ll be interesting to see how it fares against some of the more aggressive decks from other formats!

Before we get to future events, however, we have some banlist changes to look at! These decisions were come to after the past year of Primordial events, as well as individual testing on specific standout cards. Without further ado, lets get to them!

Banlist Changes

Zenith Flare

IKO Cycling has been far and away one of the best decks in the format, due to its aggressive, early starts, ability to overcome board stalls by either outsizing or out-widing the opposition, and its access to a free recursion engine. While the last of those is being addressed later, ultimately it does not do enough to mitigate the deck’s trump card: Zenith Flare, and its ability to completely swing races/win the game on its own. I extensively tested the deck post-Lurrus, as I’m reticent to outright kill decks, but Zenith Flare made cycling far and away the best thing to be doing in the format, especially after its nemesis were nerfed. Therefore, in order to enable meta diversity, Zenith Flare is banned.

Run Away Together

Another one of the top decks in the format was ELD’s MonoU Mill. Mill has always been strong in Primordial due to the 40-card nature of the format combined with the limited (or nonexistent) number of tools available in each set to cleanly counter the unorthodox angle of attack. However, ELD’s MonoU Mill took it a step above with its ability to cleanly answer early aggressive boards that would normally pressure mill; this was due to the 1-2 punch of the cheap wall that was Merfolk Secretkeeper and the devastating tempo hit of Run Away Together. While Merfolk Secretkeeper was considered and tested for banning, that would ultimately kill the deck; removing Run Away Together tempered the deck’s ability to always outpace aggro while still letting it exist. Additionally, the concerns that other decks from ELD, like UR Tempo, would appreciate having it available as a tool is not borne out, given the lack of those decks in the history of Primordial. Therefore, in order to mitigate ELD’s MonoU Mill’s strength against aggro, Run Away Together is banned.

Ardent Electromancer

BR Party is a powerful aggressive deck on its own, but its ability to have lines where it chained Ardent Electromancers into Shatterskull Minotaur as early as t3 created situations that were infeasible for most Primordial decks to deal with. For that straightforward reason, Ardent Electromancer is banned.

On Dark Ritual:

One question people may have is “wait, if Ardent Electromancer doesn’t fly, why is the much more famous and eminently Primordial playable accelerant Dark Ritual okay?” The answer is: it might not be, but there are two reasons why it is more likely to be. The first of those is that while Ardent Electromancer is slower in terms of when it can accelerate, it isn’t card disadvantage like Dark Ritual; you’re still getting a body out of it, so even if your opponent answers what you ritual in, you went card even and not negative, while still being tempo positive. The second reason is that while Dark Ritual is terrifying in a larger card pool, Alpha and Beta don’t have as strong targets to turbo out. While t1 Hypnotic Specter is still deadly as ever, the other targets, such as Drain Life or Sengir Vampire, are still quite pitiful even if you chain multiple rituals to get them out. And while the Hypnotic Specter line is still worth keeping an eye on, if it gets answered it is still a clean 2-for-1. Ultimately, while Dark Ritual is still being monitored, it is not being hit this season for these reasons. 

Wishes (and the Companions with them)

Primordial is no stranger to issues with wishes; ultimately, they’re one of the easiest ways to subvert the rarity restrictions of the format, and there’s really no way to address that without either removing the unique aspect of Primordial’s sideboarding or nipping wishes in the bud altogether. Given the recent performance of Companion decks, as well as the addition of cheap, low rarity wishes in the form of Strixhaven’s learn, the latter option was chosen – now, only cards with an uncommon or lower rarity can be wished for. Now, wishes can hopefully still be flexible, toolbox-y answers to a given situation, without them also being an obvious way to circumvent the restrictions of the format. 

On Kroxa:

One concern that has been previously brought up is that in the wake of these bans, the THB Rakdos Kroxa deck will rise up to fill a similar gatekeeper role in the meta due to its ease of finding and repeatedly casting the titular card, in addition to having a grindy yet aggressive gameplan in the fail case. However, unlike the other decks on this list, the deck only has an event of gameplay data to show for it. Additionally, the main strength/explosive potential of the deck is in the singleton rare – despite the rest of the deck being strong at finding and enabling it, ultimately the dynamic of a bomb-based deck is one that can be seen and imitated in other decks in the format, particularly WAR. For that reason, it’s being left untouched for now – though if those concerns show any sign of being borne out within the next event, it’ll immediately be addressed in some form. 

On the Future of these Bans:

Ultimately, the goal of these bans is to encourage further brewing, diversification of the metagame, and a return to viability for pre-WAR sets. However, the last goal may not be sustainable if limited environments continue to be pushed as they have been in the past two years. Given that caveat, it’s possible that these bans will be revisited at a later date and undone, probably in conjunction with a formal format split. 

Primordial Discord Tournament #8

With all that being said, Primordial Discord Tournament #8 is now open for signups! It’ll start a week from today, and unlike previous tournaments, it has a special, additional tournament – Primordial Masters! This is a sub-format I’ve been wanting to host a tournament for for a while, and the release of Modern Horizons 2 provided the perfect opportunity. Essentially, it’s Primordial, except instead of the legal pool being all previously Standard-legal sets, its every Masters set plus both of the Horizons sets! I think this’ll be a unique and powerful environment, and I’m excited to see what new brews people come up and which old contenders from MH1 make a reappearance!

You can find and sign up for the event here: https://challonge.com/events/m2eW#/

Custom Card Primordial: Quasar!

Many of you might not know this, but outside of regular magic, I’m also heavily into the custom magic community as well; in fact, that’s how I originally found Primordial in the first place, through a post on r/custommagic! Now, several custom set designers have hosted Primordial tournaments for their sets, independent of the Primordial community, mainly for testing and iteration. One of those events is going to be happening soon for the custom set Quasar. You can see the full set spoiler here: http://www.planesculptors.net/set/quasar#cards and join the Custom Magic discord server, where the event will be hosted, here: https://discord.gg/vP2DpHkX48 Hope to see you there!

And that’s about it for now. Hope to see you at some of these events, and as always, excited for the future of Primordial!