Banned And Restricted Announcement For May 13th, 2024

Format Breakdowns

  • Standard
    • Despite Esper Midrange’s domination of the meta share, the sub 50% WR of the deck and the diversity of the Top 8 are seen as signs of a healthy format.
    • The next B&R announcement on June 24th will be focused on Standard, as the current philosophy is to only make changes once a year to this format, barring an emergency.
  • Pioneer
    • Rakdos Vampires, Izzet Phoenix, and Waste Not decks are all seen as important to what WotC views as a healthy format.
  • Modern
    • Given the expected impact of the impending release of Modern Horizon 3, no changes are being made to Modern at this time.
  • Legacy and Vintage
    • All cards that bring a sticker or an Attraction into the game are Banned.
      • The article lists the intended effect of making some of the Unfinity cards legal was so they could be played in Commander, however _______ Goblin turned out to be a power level outlier that became a reasonable Legacy card. As this necessitated even players not intending to play this card to bring sticker sheets, the play patterns and onus of such an action is viewed as both unhealthy for the format and unfun.
      • As a result of this change, Name Sticker Goblin has also been banned on MTGO but will remain part of the current iteration of Vintage Cube. It is unclear if it will return once the Vintage Cube Polish Pass goes live later this month, however.
  • Pauper
    • All That Glitters has been banned.
      • Gavin’s article lists this card as a reason Pauper has remained a faster format than they’d prefer, as well as a card that is keeping other viable decks out of the format because they simply can’t deal with All That Glitters. Additionally, All That Glitters has started creeping outside of Affinity decks and encourages unfun play patterns.
    • All cards that bring a sticker or Attraction into the game are Banned.
      • This mostly affects ______ Goblin, although some paper-only Sticker Stompy decks will also be leaving the format due to this change. Similar reasons to the ones given in Legacy and Vintage were used here.
    • Gavin also mentioned that it is very likely a card from MH3 will be banned shortly after the release of that set. Of all the Pauper Format Panel, only Gavin sees the card file for unreleased sets, so the rest of the panel hasn’t seen the card in question yet. However Gavin says this card is similar to a card that has been banned in Pauper before.
    • Gavin also mentioned that there has been talk of unbanning Prophetic Prism, but have not taken that action yet as they want to see if All That Glitters leaving the format will slow the meta down enough for Tron to emerge as a contender again before they do so. He expects MH3 to shake up the format quite a bit as well, but thinks an unbanning of Prophetic Prism in the near future is likely.
  • Alchemy
    • Alchemy is seen to be in a healthy place, and with rotation coming up soon the format will be redefining itself naturally.
  • Explorer
    • As Explorer grows closer to Tournament Pioneer, no unique action needs to be taken at this time.
  • Historic
    • Modern Horizons 3 is expected to see a large increase to the number of viable Historic cards. There will be cards pre-banned, with an announcement coming once the MH3 full image gallery has been revealed.
  • Timeless
    • Much like with Historic, Modern Horizons 3 is expected to bring a lot of new cards into the format. However, unlike Historic, nothing will be pre-banned or restricted and the format will be looked at again post set release.
  • Brawl
    • The team recently spent time reviewing Brawl balance and making sure their matchmaking-focused approach is working as intended. While Mana Drain and Paradox Engine are powerful cards in the format the team is happy with the current approach and no actions will be taken at this time.

Weekly MTG B&R Show Notes

  • Blake Rasmussen hosts with guest Andrew Brown.
  • Andrew says they discussed any kind of side deck (Stickers or Attractions, for example) but there were too many messy details logistically. How would MTGO handle it, how would they word things in Gatherer, etc. Banning the cards themselves was a much easier and cleaner fix.
  • They’re glad they tried pushing the boundaries behind making some of the Un set cards legal, but given how this played out they don’t expect to repeat this in the event there is another Un set down the road.
  • Blake asks how they view the Un set side decks as different from Dungeons or The Initiative.
    • When Andrew looks at the Commander sets being legal in Legacy and Vintage, the big difference is that all of those cards are legal. With the Un sets its very clear all of those cards are intended to be played together, and since the acorn cards aren’t legal it leads to an inherent disconnect in how the set functions outside of its own self-contained biome.
  • “Was it ever considered to simply ban ______ Goblin?”
    • Andrew: We considered it, but didn’t want to go that route due to the messaging behind it. While it’s probably unlikely, if another card that cares about stickers ever finds a way into a deck there would be the exact same problem they currently have.”
  • “Was there any talk about borrowing a page from MTGO and changing the physical card to match Name Sticker Goblin?”
    • A: We didn’t really talk about that, but to me one of the big issues where if we did go with dice rolling the design isn’t really what we want for tournaments.
  • “Why do Artifact lands continue to be legal at the expense of other cards like All That Glitters?”
    • A (who is not on the Pauper format committee, but has spoken with Gavin about this): The top level not is that the Artifact lands have always been a staple within the Pauper format, and are entrenched in a lot of people’s collections and view of the format. Taking out all of those would be a larger shake-up that the Pauper format committee wants to take a lot more time to consider before actually taking this level of action.
  • “Gavin also mentioned another card in MH3, will that card be pre-banned?”
    • A: Pre-banning is a very very difficult thing for us to do. It really conveys a level of understanding that we don’t really have, claiming that we know better than the entire Magic community after they’ve played hundreds of thousands of games. We’re just here in a basement…(Blake chimes in with “Our office is very nice, we’re not in a basement.”) …sorry, an 8th floor basement. That whole concept is fraught with issues of confidence, and we can never really know how something will shake out once it’s out in the wild.
    • B: But, that card that Gavin was alluding to will be previewed by a Pauper format committee member, Saito.
  • Blake says the next B&R Announcement will take place on June 24th, and the PT is June 28th. He says they typically do the announcement after the PT, but because of when Bloomburrow previews start, and the fact that the WotC 8th floor basement is closed the week after PT:MH3 for Summer Break, there isn’t another time that makes sense for this announcement. How is that going to affect the Pro Tour?
    • A: The Modern format, and the PT shortly after that, will not be affected by the June 24th B&R announcement. This announcement will primarily be for the Standard format.
  • “You mentioned that the June 24th announcement will focus on Standard, and Standard will be rotating with Bloomburrow, so why don’t you take a moment to talk about how you all are viewing the Summer B&R announcement?”
    • A: This is going to be our second banning window for the larger 3-year Standard window. One of the things we’re looking forward to is hearing from the community about how they view the format now, how they want us to approach bannings during this window, and how they feel about our current cadence of bannings being once a year.
    • B: It’ll be interesting because it’ll be the first-ish time we’ve done a B&R with the larger window. We sort of did one with Fable and Invoke last Summer. Standard has been pretty great since then, but this is the first time with the larger 3-year window in mind.
    • A: Yeah, lots of foresight. All the upcoming sets were designed with the 3-year Standard window in mind, so we’re very in tune with what’s happening on the ground and want to hear from the community as much as possible.
    • B: Does that mean you’ll only take action on Standard with this announcement, or just that it’s more likely than with other formats?
    • A: The one thing I’ll say is that Standard is the focus. And also with the release of MH3, which will have an effect on Modern and possibly Legacy and Vintage, it’ll be more unclear for us for those formats. The focus will be on Standard and possibly Pioneer.
    • B: The Pro Tour will be a big data point there.
  • Blake moves on to talk about specific Modern cards in a rapid fire sort of segment:
    • The One Ring
      • A: We view The One Ring as having a lot of positive effects on the format. We like that it will extend games once it’s resolved. There’s some things we don’t like, the pure invulnerability it gives you is not the most fun play pattern, same with being able to “reset” it by casting a second copy. But on a macro level I think the effect it has on the format is a positive.
    • Grief
      • A: As a card that’s not generally the most fun, we like to look at the numbers break down. How much is it played, what’s the win rate? It’s currently in the acceptable range right now, but we’re going to continue to keep an eye on it with MH3 releasing. It’s also propping up an entire deck, the Black Red Midrange “…or Scam, if you will…” so propping up an entire deck has a higher bar on us taking the action of removing it from the format.
    • Orcish Bowmasters:
      • A: Unlike Grief, Bowmasters doesn’t have an entire deck it’s propping up. Kind of like with The One Ring it does encourage a longer game, but then again it pushes out a lot of 1 toughness creatures, which we’re not happy with. It also has some unsavory play patterns. We’re slightly happy with it currently, but it’ll always be a card we have our eyes on.
    • Leyline of the Guildpact
      • A: Largely we’re very happy with Leyline of the Guildpact right now. If there’s one nitpick I have with the card it’s that it works with all the pitch Elementals. Which is largely a negative in our eyes, but on the whole the new decks and content it’s produced has been a positive for us.
    • Primeval Titan
      • Amulet Titan is another deck we keep an eye on a lot, because it has an extremely high skill ceiling. If you’re very skilled with the deck its win rate can be a lot higher. One thing we see a lot with this deck is that when the win rate goes up the play rate goes up, but because it’s a skill intensive deck that tends to lower the overall win rate. We always keep an eye on this deck because it’s such an enigma.
  • Blake moves us to a “pure Q&A” portion. Andrew jokes that he would like every question to be about Splinter Twin.
    • “Have you ever talked about format panels for Eternal formats that are not closely monitored like you have with Pauper?”
      • A: We’ve considered it before. One of the big differences is the accessibility of data for us. In the building we can use MTGO and Arena data to disseminate out to a committee is something we’ve wrestled with for a while. We’re open to it, but some of the nuences need to be ironed out before we can make a move like this.
    • “Is there any momentum on unbannings?”
      • A: There’s always momentum on unbannings. The goal of the ban list is not to be as small as possible always. Just because a card is past its prime, we don’t always want to unban it due to a lot of factors. But there’s always caution there as well. (Blake brings up Golgari Grave-Troll)
    • “How do you all feel about the Violent Outburst ban?”
      • A: After looking at all the data we’re seeing the right amount of shake-up. Last time we saw the Rhinos deck gaining too much of a meta share and too high of a win rate. Our goal was mostly to taper that a little bit but not remove that entirely, and that’s what we’re seeing.
    • “Atraxa banned in Standard would be awesome.”
      • A: Mmmhmm. Yep. Love getting those data points.
    • Blake takes a minute to find a question, so Andrew jumps on the opportunity to vamp about Splinter Twin and how good he used to be at Magic.
    • Blake says they should talk about Pioneer a bit, and Andrew says that the Pioneer RCQ season is going on right now, and when that’s happening during a B&R event they’re sensitive to taking actions for decks people have already put together and started registering.
    • “What’s the thought of keeping Treasure Cruise in Pioneer? The card has been banned in a few formats.”
      • A: With Treasure Cruise, a little bit like Grief, the data and the numbers are very essential to a card like that. Right now we’re not seeing any sort of numbers that would incite us to take action against Treasure Cruise. But know that it’s always on our mind. It’s a very fun card to resolve, and Arclight Phoenix is a very fun deck to play, so that also goes into our reasoning as well.
    • “Has there been any more discussion on Amalia in Pioneer, and specifically the weird draws that can happen?”
      • A: Yes that’s definitely on our mind. It’s not our favorite thing that can happen, for draws to be…the fact that one of the games in the PT Top 8 had two draws in it is not our favorite. But it is that good spot of a creature toolbox deck, so we’re always going to be looking at Amalia because going to game 5 in a 3 game set isn’t our favorite.
    • “Would you ever do substitute ban/unbans for format health? Such as trading Lotus Field for Inverter, Kethis, Ballista, etc.?”
      • A: You mean like doing it at the same time? We will always consider taking and adding things at the same time, that’s always an option, but it involves a lot of confidence intervals that we don’t always have. When we ban something we look at the range of possibilities that could stem from that, and the more actions you take the more timelines there could be. I’m not saying it would never happen, but it’s going to be a lot more rare.
    • “For Legacy Bowmasters is the 5th most played card after Brainstorm, Force, Ponder, and Daze. Is that a card that is concerning is becoming too ubiquitous in macro-archetypes?”
      • A: Yes. If there is a card we’re taking a look at the most in Legacy it’s Bowmasters. More people play more cantrips in Legacy, so it’s more of a danger, and it pushes out smaller creatures. It’s not at a level quite yet that we’re ready to take action, but it’s always on our mind. My general take on Legacy is that it wants to be a format where you can play a lot of card manipulation spells and take a lot of actions and have a lot of agency. With a card like Bowmasters it’s direct counterplay to that so we need to keep an eye on it.
    • “How do you feel about Pioneer post-Karn banning?”
      • A: One thing we are seeing is the format condense a little bit at a top with Amalia, Phoenix, etc. We’re waiting for Bloomburrow because we want the data from the RCQ season before we start taking actions in the format.
    • Next week is the Modern Horizons 3 Debut Stream. Blake, “We’re finally there. You guys are finally going to get to see cards for the first time that you definitely haven’t seen before.”