Did this feel weird to you?
This is the part of what Ian Duke said about [scryfall]Rampaging Ferocidon[/scryfall] that I don’t quite agree with:
Two strategies that have historically been effective against aggressive red decks have been flooding the board with small creatures and gaining life. >Over time we’ve seen the rise and fall of decks designed to counter Ramunap Red, like Abzan and Esper Tokens variants and Oketra’s Monument decks like Mono-White Vampires. Initially these were unfavorable matchups for Ramunap Red, but as the red decks adopted more copies of Rampaging Ferocidon in their sideboards and even main decks, they were able to turn these matchups positive again.
My problem with this is that I don’t really want to see the Token strategies thrive. Those decks are slow, especially in the mirror match, and they are very frustrating to play against. If that deck does become more popular, it will bring problems to tournament play, where those matches will take extraordinary amount of time and since they are quite hard to pilot, those extra turns might turn out particularly long, as there is so much to calculate and decide.
I do get that Ramunap Red (or I guess it’s just RDW again) needed to be taken down a notch, because, as the data showed, it was very dominant, if Energy didn’t come into consideration. Still, I do feel Ferocidon was an important part of the puzzle. We’ve been shown that decks need strong answers. Ferocidon would have indeed been an excellent tool against the [scryfall]Saheeli Rai[/scryfall] / [scryfall]Felidar Guardian[/scryfall] combo and as such, a similar card should have been in the same set (although, they have already admitted that the combo did come as a surprise to them) and I do feel their numbers would have been smaller if Energy isn’t as big a player, because one of the reasons people play it, is that it discourages making Thopters with [scryfall]Whirler Virtuoso[/scryfall]. So, if those aren’t everywhere any longer, perhaps Ferocidon isn’t as important anymore.
Of course, it’s existence does hinder other decks besides the token ones as well. [scryfall]Drake Haven[/scryfall] decks would often be at a quite low lifetotal when they get their engine running, which would put them into a pretty poor situation, if they can’t make those anymore. In both cases, they do often play [scryfall]Fumigate[/scryfall], which is a fine answer to Ferocidon (and you do get to gain the life).
I guess it is the one card that makes most sense, if you are going to nerf the deck through creatures. You don’t want to kill the deck by taking out both [scryfall]Ramunap Ruins[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Hazoret the Fervent[/scryfall]. Taking out too many of the lower drops in the deck would also be detrimental to Hazoret, because you couldn’t empty your hand fast enough (although I’m not sure I would be against that nerfing). If we do take that stance, it would be either [scryfall]Ahn-Crop Crasher[/scryfall] or the Ferocidon, so I guess it’s the Ferocidon, although the Crasher does make blocking more awkward because of it’s Haste.
I think in hindsight, this is one of those banned cards, that is going to be quite hard to explain. When looking back, its hard to get why this is one of those few cards that got banned, so is it really as powerful as [scryfall]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/scryfall]? Obviously not, but explaining the whole context might be quite difficult and it’s banning might therefore also lead to strange discussions in the future.
I do like the policy of taking out something that doesn’t necessarily destroy the deck outright instead of taking out the key piece. Of course, you do that sometimes as well (like the Guardian), but in general, we are looking for a healthy environment, where many decks can thrive. For this purpose, this filing down decks is much more preferable approach. Although I do wish they would finally get rid of UR Storm in Modern… (even if I usually beat it without much of a problem).