The Hullbreacher Ban - What Now?

Mike Carrozza • July 12, 2021

The Hullbreacher Ban

Today, July 12th 2021, a mere 234 days since its printing in Commander Legends, Hullbreacher is banned, the Rules Committee announced. A Hullbreacher ban less than a year after it was printed came as a surprise to many.

I'm Mike Carrozza, and I've been following the Hullbreacher saga since the beginning. When Hullbreacher was previewed, we all knew it was a big deal. Lots of discussion about this card was had. “This should have been white!” “This has nothing on Opposition Agent!” “It’s just Narset, Parter of Veils with ramp, it’s no big deal.” Or “This card is busted.”

Turns out, Hullbreacher was ban worthy and the reaction on Twitter seems to be positive overall. A few Facebook groups I’m part of have gotten pretty toxic and vulgar about it, decrying “I’m still playing this and whoever disagrees can [redacted] my big fat [redacted]. I’ll warn whoever I’m playing before the game.” With others saying “This is how you Rule 0,” which, let me tell you, not really.

Hey, if you want to keep playing Hullbreacher, be ready to swap it out and to have that conversation with who you’re playing against. It’s not just “warning” somebody that you still play a banned card. It’s a permission given that, as of today, the expectation is that Hullbreacher is no longer eligible for Commander deck inclusions.

Why Was Hullbreacher Banned?

There are many people saying you can play Hullbreacher fairly. Sure! You can! But for the most part in my experience and from what I’ve seen online (Twitter and the higher powered builds I see in the Facebook groups), Hullbreacher’s use is in locking players out with wheels.

“But you can remove Hullbreacher!”

Sure, yeah, but hard to do that without a hand and when you’ve just made so much mana you can interact with our only spells at instant speed before they get wheeled away. Hullbreacher’s biggest problem is that it creates mana for each denial of resource (draw). Narset, Parter of Veils does a similar thing, but she doesn’t give you a pile of Treasures to use for all the Counterspells you’ve got ready for whatever Swords to Plowshares gets tossed at it.

Honestly, I was really hyped for Hullbreacher and the first game I played with it was also the last.

I recommend you get familiar with the Commander Sphere podcast. It’s funny and fantastic. They have a lot of conversations surrounding what it means to have fun playing Magic and how that changes from person to person. Their episode of Steak vs. Sizzle can help understanding my mentality around playing Hullbreacher and giving it up immediately.

Hullbreacher in my first evaluation was a value piece that could easily be taken care of. However, in practice, it ended up grinding things to a halt and gave me such an advantage it felt great but also awful.

My play style is to get people to play the game they want to. I have played games where someone watch assembling an eight-card combo that I had never seen go off before and rather than countering the spell, I let it resolve. That’s the excitement for me and that group I was playing with at that time. However, I recognize that in another group, they’d ask me why I wasn’t playing “optimally” or why I would favor flavor over function.

The answer is because it’s fun for me.

People in this community have been incredibly vocal about how Hullbreacher has impacted their fun. Whether it means the card’s ubiquity at high levels of play or its rare appearances at Sizzle tables causing games to be less exciting than they’d intended.

I personally didn’t play Hullbreacher. I have a few copies that have significantly dipped in value (extended foil RIP). But frankly, I’m so thrilled I don’t have to worry about being surprised by this Merfolk Pirate popping up again.

I know there are people who are upset about it, but it seems like the same people as Paradox Engine, aka the same folks who found ways to make equally crazy competitive and strong decks with an extremely strong piece missing.

If you’re upset about it, it’s okay. Be upset. It will all be okay. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Mike Carrozza is a stand-up comedian from Montreal who’s done a lot of cool things like put out an album called Cherubic and worked with Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, and more people to brag about. He’s also been an avid EDH player who loves making silly stuff happen. @mikecarrozza on platforms