Once upon a Time - I think this card will be banned

Modern forum

Posted on Sept. 9, 2019, 3:30 p.m. by ToolmasterOfBrainerd

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This card is Ancient Stirrings on steroids. I honestly think almost every green deck (that has creatures) will play this. If you play Noble Hierarch , this card gives you 5 more chances of having one in your opening hand. Or 5 more chances at a prison creature. It fixes your mana: if you have a 1 land in hand, this is pretty reliably a 2nd land. And if you have enough mana already, this gives you gas. And I definitely think this is way way too good for Tron in modern.

What gets me is that you can play this on turn 1 for free. And on later turns it's only 2 mana to cast and it's still a great effect.

I have no idea how this card made it through the testing process. It looks insane. I will be shocked if it is not banned in modern within months. I suspect it will find its way to the ban list in legacy as well, but I'm not as confident.

SynergyBuild says... #2

In Coco lists, this is a miss with Collected Company , in mono-green tron it is a miss with Ancient Stirrings and misses all of the walkers, stirrings, spheres/stars, maps, and walkers.

It seems really good, possibly too good, honestly, too good, but it doesn't make any deck that didn't already exist as a good deck get a ton better...

Except Devoted Druid combo. That deck may make this busted. Turn one dig for Druid or Vizier of Remedies , rarely a bad topdeck either. This deck that just got Giver of Runes for protection, as well as Finale of Devastation and Eladamri's Call ...

That deck is the only one I see this card singlehandedly making busted. There is a chance other cards in the set will make this card too powerful as well. Imagine it is a cycle ;-;.

September 9, 2019 3:38 p.m.

I was thinking about building into devoted druid this morning..... This spoiler just confirmed that it will probably be the best deck in the format until it's banned. Or neoform...... That list looks terrifying with this.

But seriously there's no way this last a month before eating a ban... Remind me again why Green is now the color of card advantage?

September 9, 2019 3:50 p.m. Edited.

SynergyBuild says... #4

SeekerofSecrets *card selection xD

Also, I could easily see Neoform using this, but because really only one of its pieces can be found with this, and some lands, and that piece could already be Summoner's Pact ed for, I doubt this is anything too special for that deck.

September 9, 2019 3:53 p.m.

shadow63 says... #5

After turn 0 it's just a strictly worse Ancient Stirrings

September 9, 2019 4:50 p.m.

shadow63 no it's not at all. Ancient Stirrings can't find colored creatures.

It's definitely worse than Eladamri's Call (ignoring color restrictions) after turn 1, but the ability to fix your hand on mana or dig for a turn 1 creature is insane.

September 9, 2019 5 p.m.

"once upon a time, revealing arclight Phoenix. Cast faithless looting, discard 2 Phoenix. Gut shot you. Go to combat, attack for 6"

I bet that deck would have been extremely janky, but thank god looting is banned.

September 9, 2019 5:03 p.m.

shadow63 says... #8


I missed that part. But still outside of your opening hand I'm not sure how good it is at 2 mana. Itll help out some decks but I'm not sure if it's enough to push those decks to the top. Theres already so many cards in the format that do the same or very similar thing minus the first spell effect and they see zero play. It's a good card but I dont think it's close to ban worthy.

Funkydiscogod a lot of decks that would want this play a lot of stuff at sorcery speed the only deck that this.would be worth trying it in that runs stirrings would be like an odd blue green tron build.

But I could be completely wrong about everything I just said and the card could be a beast. We will have to wait and see

September 9, 2019 7:46 p.m.

SpammyV says... #9

I don't believe that it is too good.

I'm not sure if it's going to be an auto-include in Green Tron, but there is a case that makes this card good. Starting hands that have Once Upon a Time, one Tron land, and either Egg+Scrying or Expedition Map can be keepable since Once Upon a Time gives you a shot at getting another Tron land on turn 1. Not sure that could happen enough or work enough to be worth it, but it does slightly increase the number of keepable hands you can get.

September 9, 2019 8:02 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #10

So the first thing I think of are the Leylines, such as Leyline of Vitality . Those allow you to cast them for free, in a way. You are not casting it, rather starting off with it.

The point I am making is that we already have established cards that cost you nothing on the first turn that give you some surprisingly strong benefits. While it is true that the card Once Upon A Time... is rather strong in what it does, it's also not game breaking. You may find something you absolutely can not use. You may also find literally nothing if you have a bad start to the game.

I don't think it'll be banned.

September 9, 2019 8:19 p.m. Edited.

TypicalTimmy says... #11

Putting Once Upon A Time... in brackets links to a 9 year old deck.

How do we correct this? What's the additional text we use to link the card instead?

September 9, 2019 8:21 p.m.

TypicalTimmy add card: before the card name inside the brackets to specifically reference a card.

September 9, 2019 8:50 p.m.

TypicalTimmy It was spoiled recently. It isn't on the site yet.

The 'cast for free' clause is what makes it seem insane for me. If it didn't have that I wouldn't think it's that scary. I think it's too powerful because of the consistency it brings to turn 1 hands. It's also just fine off the top of the deck on a later turn.

September 9, 2019 9:36 p.m.

Flooremoji says... #14

I probably will update Neoform with it. I'm not expecting great things though, because with Neoform, you really want to have all the pieces in your opener, not just a dig 5.

As for tron, it feels almost like a replacement for Stirrings if they ban it, but nothing extraordinary, it will probably show up though. I wonder what they'll cut?

It dosen't feel like a meaningful enough upgrade to Vizier combo to me, which was described to me as 'going to be bad when the meta gets more interactive', it dosen't shore up that weakness meaningfully, just acting as another Eladamri's Call .

September 9, 2019 11:21 p.m.

wolfhead says... #15

I could see it breaking in devoted druid,
Possibly even a become immense infect build,
Maybe it will see play in hardened scales, or eldrazi? Possibly even zoo or shadow,
But I think more likely it will just provide a slight power boost to being on the draw.
Personally I'm excited to try this in all kinds of lists,
Especially creature-centric combo decks.
I dont see it breaking,
But my track record for these guesses is pretty horrible

September 10, 2019 12:35 a.m.

wolfhead says... #16

The first places I'm going to test this:
1. Delver: we all know it's going to take another Treasure Cruise to make modern delver real
2. Soulherder + Stonehorn Dignitary
3. Some ridiculous zoo deck with goyfs and probably Mishra's Bauble and way too few lands
3.5: some kiln fiend deck or prowess of some kind that also plays way too few lands
4. Assault Formation decks: dont judge me. I've got a long history with doran
5. Eldrazi
6. Freed from the Real combo
7. Kiki decks?
8. 8-whack. Seems sweet
9. Infect
10. Through the Breach /raze-boar decks
11. GW Value-town?! I'd love to see it come back

And since it looks like I'm stretching I want to end this with where i think we wont see it:
1. Tron: it misses planeswalkers and artifacts. Instant deal-breaker
2. Elves. They got searching on lock, though the Land Grant mode could come in handy
3. Neoform: it doesnt fit their playstyle, they go off much more like a legacy Belcher deck and a top 5 cards cantrip wont save many of their openers
4. Stoneblade: while turn 1 find a hierarch and play it be an awesome opening line,
The midrange uses of this card are pretty low powerlevel.
5. Crazy 5-color shenanigans: I dont think this will be enough to break some crazy ridiculous manabase deck or fragile combo deck.
cough (jeskai ascendancy) cough
6. Puresteel: drawing one of these during the beginning of the combo when you're still able to fizzle seems backbreaking, so maybe as a <2 of?

So naturally, the card is probably going to completely revolutionize one of those decks

September 10, 2019 1:32 a.m.

plusARGON says... #17

I think this card will see play in Primeval Titan decks. RG Valakut and Amulet Titan, mainly. I know you really want Amulet of Vigor , but the rest of the creatures and land package will love extra looks; and it makes their mulligans even better.

September 10, 2019 6:52 a.m.

Eledain says... #18

I think that Ancient Stirrings will eventually get banned and Once Upon a Time will be the "replacement" for Tron players.

September 10, 2019 7:22 a.m.

clayperce says... #19

Green Creature decks get a new potentially broken toy: Once Upon a Time. Blue Artifact decks get a new potentially broken toy: Emry, Lurker of the Loch (in case you haven't seen some of the early chatter, it seems absolutely INSANE).

Red Graveyards decks? We get get our best card banned.

I mean, we'll see how it goes once the cards hit MTGO and actual tables. But I'm not a happy person atm ...

September 10, 2019 9:08 a.m.

Lame_Duck says... #20

Well, I won't pretend to be knowledgeable enough to be able to predict whether this will be banned or not but I do think this kind of "better in your opening hand" design sucks; all it does is introduce additional variance to the game in a completely uninteresting way.

September 10, 2019 11:47 a.m. Edited.

wolfhead says... #21

i agree, i really dislike this "opening hand" design cycle theyre venturing into

September 10, 2019 3:02 p.m.

lukas96 says... #22

Its defenitely not a tron card. Cant grab planeswalkers and cant grab ostone and other artifacts. Its defenitely worse than stirrings in tron and there is nothing that can be cutted for this.

Could be good in neobrand for example

September 12, 2019 8:58 a.m.

Darkened1 says... #23

This is not at all as good as Ancient Stirrings. Big Tron will not replace Stirrings for this card at all, as it missies artifacts and walkers, which is vital, so Stirrings is strictly better.

On the other hand, I can definitely see G/x Eldrazi decks running this- a huge upside being turn 2 TKS happening a lot more consistently, which is a big deal.

September 15, 2019 10:44 a.m.

Eledain says... #24

Will tron adapt IF stirrings eats the hammer?

September 16, 2019 4:13 p.m.

dingusdingo says... #25

39.95% chance of starting with one in the opener (~40% or 1/2.5) in a 60 card deck.

You have a 60.1% chance of having or finding one SPECIFIC creature/land that is a 4-of in your deck with a turn 0 Once Upon a Time (Starting 7 cards with 5 effective "draws" off OUAT in a 60 card deck)

The draw filtering advantage is ~20% on turn 0, in every third game. To be more accurate, 20/2.5=8%. So running this card is going to bring up your turn 0 odds of hitting whatever specific creature/land you need in your opener from 40% to 48% while also improving all subsequent draws due to a reduced deck size.

So how much is that 8% better card quality worth? Lets cook up a scenario in which you win all games in which you hit a specific creature X for your deck on turn 1, and lose all games you DON'T have specific creature X. 40% of games you will start with it in hand and win, while 60% you don't have it and you lose, causing your opponent to win 1.5 games for every 1 that you win. Change it to a 48% chance to start in hand and a 52% chance you don't, and your opponent wins 1.08 games for every 1 that you win. Obviously this scenario makes some assumptions but I think it illustrates the point. For a deck that needs a specific creature or land available to use, having a free better chance to draw your winning creature can make a difference.

Deckbuilding limitations aside (creatures and lands for a Green deck oh no!), it is also worthwhile to compare to another Green "free" search card, Summoner's Pact . Lets use the same scenario as before, having X creature in our turn 1 hand will lead to a win. We have a 40% chance of starting with the card in hand, and we have a 40% chance of starting with a Pact in hand which directly leads to the creature. We can do 40% + 40%(60%) to find the chance that we have EITHER our creature X or a pact in hand, which gives us 64%, meaning we win 1.77 games for every 1 our opponent wins . Compared to the Once Upon a Time chances, Creature + Pact is going to be absolutely superior. You can replace Summoner's Pact with any creature tutor and the numbers will be the same.

Of course there are some caveats here. Once Upon A Time is actually free to cast for your first spell, whereas pact always costs 4 the next turn. You can sidestep the pact cost by winning same turn, but that isn't available turn 1 like OUAT. Pact only hits green creatures, whereas OUAT hits creatures of any color and lands. The place where I think Once Upon A Time really wins out design wise is its flexibility. You wouldn't spend Summoner's Pact on a turn 1 Llanowar Elves but you could spend Once Upon a Time on it. It also grabs lands, meaning extra opportunities for color fixing for free, or getting to a specific nonbasic land faster. After its no longer free, the card is still playable, but those turn 0 free spells are extremely nice. I think the best application for this spell is seeing those turn 1 mana dorks while running less of them. Noble Hierarch in half your games as opposed to once every 2.5 games makes a difference.

Also worth noting you can Once Upon a Time if your opponent goes first during their turn to get a card like Faerie Macabre or Simian Spirit Guide . I foresee that kind of application being better in Legacy/Vintage, but I don't think this card will make a splash in that meta.

September 24, 2019 2:21 p.m.

dingusdingo says... #26

I've had a few days to think more about this card, and I think that every single person in this thread missed the most absolutely busted part of this card. It gives a huge advantage with mulligans, especially with the new London Mulligan

  • First hand, you've seen 7 cards + 5 OUAT
  • Second hand, you've seen 14 cards + 5 OUAT
  • Third hand, you've seen 21 cards + 5 OUAT

Once Upon a Time serves as the missing link in whatever you need during mulligans. It provides immense flexibility because it hits multiple useful card types, and even if you mull down to 1 you're still seeing more cards than an opponent who has taken 0 mulligans. With former mulligan rules, OUAT would see you the same amount of cards when you mull to 2, and less if you go to 1. With the London mull, you're always going to be starting the game having seen 12 cards deep into your library no matter what how many mulls you take

I believe this card will either become restricted in Vintage or cause the restriction of Bazaar of Baghdad . I don't know how it will impact Modern, but the card it will probably be run alongside Serum Powder is also Modern legal.

Let's take a peek at Serum Powder with the new mulligan. Before you use Serum Powder , you get to decide which cards from your hand go on the bottom of the deck. After you've taken a couple mulligans, seeing a Serum Powder means you get to make choices about card selection and deck size on turn 0, and you get to follow up with turn 0 filtering with Once Upon a Time . It would also be possible to exploit Serum Powder with Pull from Eternity , which would be a Modern Entomb if used properly. Another thing to note about the Serum Powder usage is that the cards are exiled face-up, meaning it gives you information about your future draws and draw chances (read:more info about your odds to draw combo/hit with OUAT).

To put it more succinctly, its possible to build a deck that exploits mulligans and performs better after taking mulligans.

I think the new mulligan in tandem with OUAT and Serum Powder gives a very large margin to be exploited. Giving up 1-2 cards in hand but having a 50 card deck with a 10 card wishboard while having higher card quality than your opponent could very well make a splash. In Modern I see this being used in a value/grind situation, with Dark Confidant to recover from mulls and Tarmogoyf being a reliable cheap beater, and Snapcaster Mage for value removal/reusing OUAT. I do think that the vast amount of information and choices that are made on turn 0 that there is the potential for another Hogaak situation, with an incredibly dominant deck emerging rapidly and requiring bans.

(I was afraid to post this because I don't want to see this deck happen)

September 27, 2019 4:03 p.m.

Note that you don't get to use Once Upon a Time until after you decide if it's a mulligan or keep. But I agree that the consistency it brings to your opening hands is bonkers. I'll be playing it in a Naya zoo / toolbox deck, where it has felt very very powerful.

September 27, 2019 8:20 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes says... #28

I think it's restricted...

December 3, 2019 2:21 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes says... #29

Wait. I'm actually pretty sure it's banned.

December 3, 2019 2:23 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes It's currently banned in pioneer and standard, but not in modern. So I wasn't far off the mark. I don't think it will see a modern banning anytime soon, but I sill won't be surprised if it finds its way to the banned list in the next few years.

December 3, 2019 3 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes says... #31

Yeah... It is a powerful card.

December 3, 2019 4:07 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes says... #32

BAM! It's been banned!

December 12, 2019 2 p.m.

dingusdingo says... #33

Faelix_Drakes are you talking about the standard/pioneer ban on Dec 2nd or has there been a more recent change?

December 12, 2019 3:20 p.m.

Faelix_Drakes says... #34

Yeah that one. No recent changes, yet...

December 12, 2019 3:40 p.m.

Darkened1 says... #35

I think Once is safe in Modern for the time being. On a sidenote, has anyone noticed their control deck competitive meters at "50%"? My stuff dropped and I can't get the number back up. No idea.

December 12, 2019 7:09 p.m.

It happened. This card is banned in modern.

March 9, 2020 11:21 a.m.

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