Magic: The Gathering has banned my beloved Meathook Massacre

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(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

On October 10, Wizards of the Coast announced (opens in new tab) that The Meathook Massacre card was being banned from Magic: The Gathering's Standard format in Arena, Online, and tabletop play, making it the only card currently banned in Standard (opens in new tab). (A ban for Yorion, Sky Nomad (opens in new tab) in Modern format was announced at the same time.) It's the first time a card's been banned from Standard since January.

Black decks enjoyed a boost with the release of Dominaria United in September. As I said, it's a good time to be a goth in Magic: The Gathering. New cards in that set like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and a reprint of the classic planeswalker Liliana of the Veil were both good for black, but The Meathook Massacre arrived in the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt expansion released in September of 2021. It's long been an essential pick in most black decks, especially the mono-black midrange decks that rose to the top of the meta following Dominaria United's release.

That's because The Meathook Massacre is an excellent sweeper (a card that lets you wipe multiple cards from the battlefield), as every creature takes a point of damage for every extra point of mana you spend casting it. While that applies to your own creatures as well, it also has the ongoing effect of giving you a point of life when one of your creatures dies, and on top of that it takes a point of life from your opponent when one of theirs dies. I don't even run a mono-black deck, but my vampire-themed black/red/blue deck had two Meathook Massacres anyway.

Wizards of the Coast explained the ban by saying, "To provide a small push against the color black's play rate among competitive decks, we're choosing to ban one black card. We discussed several different options, as no single black card stood out as a major power outlier played by all decks containing black. Ultimately, we decided that banning The Meathook Massacre was the best choice, as it's one of the most powerful black cards in the format, is especially powerful against specific archetypes (decks relying on a lot of small creatures), and has had its time to shine in Standard for over a year."

I can't be upset about The Meathook Massacre going away. I played a couple of matches the night before it was removed and won both without even drawing the card, so it's not as if decks without it will suddenly be non-viable. And the change has been effective in shaking up the meta, with untapped.gg (opens in new tab) showing that mono-black decks have dropped behind white/blue/black Esper Legends and mono-white aggro in terms of winrate. 

That said, even when mono-black decks were dominant plenty of other archetypes were being played. Everyone's experience will be different based on where they're ranking, and I personally saw a lot of green and red/green decks running Silverback Elder (opens in new tab) immediately after Dominaria United was released. I'll just have to find other ways of dealing with the flood of wedding guests who arrive on the battlefield thanks to Wedding Announcement (opens in new tab).

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.