September B&R List Update

Posted in Latest Developments on September 3, 2003

By Aaron Forsythe

Before I get into the meat of this article, I want to welcome John Carter to the Magic team. You'd never know it by reading his Saturday School columns, but John was hired by Wizards of the Coast to replace Paul Barclay as the Magic Rules Manager. John moved into his new desk this past Monday.

Carter, 29, has been a level 3 judge for almost five years, and has certified hundreds of judges during that time; the Mid-Atlantic region is populated almost exclusively with judges that John has trained. He worked on the infamous “Delphi” judge tests, and was on the governing body for the “5-color” format prior to being hired. He gave up an IT career to come work for us, and we're delighted to have him.

Paul Barclay, for those interested, is still working in R&D on what we call “New Business”--the part of the department responsible for coming up with new exciting products. Paul will certainly still have his hand in Magic.

On to the main course…

Banned & Restricted List Announcement

If you haven't seen the DCI's announcement, you can read it here. I'll go over it piece by piece.

Magic Online Formats

Banned in Tribal Wars:

Banned in Prismatic:

Skullclamp getting the axe in Tribal should be no big deal; in a format necessarily about creatures, the card was insane.

As for Prismatic, we got rid of Sundering Titan (the most complained-about card in the format), and fourteen of the best tutor cards. Randy Buehler explained what we planned to do with the format in his Magic Online article late last month, and as you can see, we followed through. The format is meant to be fun, and having more variation in game play and less “toolbox” feel should help increase the randomness back to a level that one might expect in a format when 250-card decks are mandated. Not every single tutor was banned--Bringer of the Black Dawn, Long-Term Plans, and Trinket Mage are a few examples of ones we left alone--but we are willing to consider more changes to the list as time goes on.

Extended

The following cards are now banned in Extended:

Skullclamp is like a bad rash for us here at Wizards--it keeps hurting us and won't go away.

We discussed separating the “paper” Extended banned list form the Online Extended list, but we felt there wasn't a need to do that here. Skullclamp's dominance in Online Extended is well-known--the Worlds qualifiers online were plagued by the card. But the card is also way above the curve in regular Extended, where there is far more combo potential than there was in Standard or Block. By banning the card in Extended (as well as the new “1.5,” as you'll see later), we hope that we have heard the last Skullclamp horror story.

Metalworker has long been at the top of the “hit list” in Extended, and we let it go as long as we could. The card was crazy when it first came out in Urza's Destiny, and the introduction of Mirrodin made it even more powerful. We banned cards around it (like Tinker and Ancient Tomb), but with the releases of Darksteel and Fifth Dawn, the potential for quick wins fueled by Metalworker could no longer be ignored.

Vintage


Welcome back!

Yes, we're going to call it “Vintage” from now on.

Many cards were discussed for restriction in this format, but in the end we decided to keep all the current cards legal and actually expand the format ever-so-slightly by removing some of the less egregious cards from the list.

The following cards are unrestricted in Vintage:

Braingeyser is expensive and slow. If you can generate infinite mana, there are better cards to kill with. Doomsday was at one time the centerpiece of a bizarre combo deck that could set up an eight-card library and go off with Timetwister, generating infinite mana. That hardly seems like the best thing going right now in Vintage. Earthcraft was only restricted in the first place to help balance Type 1.5 (which presents a fine argument for why the two lists needed to be separated). And Fork has the drawback of costing RR and not doing anything productive on its own.

As with any time we unrestrict cards, this announcement comes with the caveat that if we were wrong in judging their impact (or lack of it) on the format, we reserve the right to re-restrict them.

“Type 1.5”

We finally split the B&R lists up, and gave “Type 1.5” its own banned list. I will state for the record that this list is a work in progress. I have no doubt that our efforts move the format in the direction we feel it needs to go, but at the same time I'm sure that all of our research, testing, and discussion did not nail down all the problems that a format with this many cards is bound to have. Creating a new format--which is basically what is happening here--will require time and effort, and with that we will need your understanding an patience. We will be revisiting this list over the next year as a metagame forms around it.

Players from all over the world have been calling for such a separation for years, claiming that a format cannot hope to have its own identity if the legality of its card pool is a slave to another (very different) format. In the past, we felt that the format would never be popular enough to necessitate burdeing players with another list of banned cards to memorize, so we were content to essentially manage both Vintage and “Type 1.5” with one list. But with the impending rotation of the Extended format next year, we felt the need to make sure there was a reasonable format available where players could use their old cards (everything from dual lands to Ice Age cards to Rebels) that was not just a toned-down version of Vintage. We tried to strike the fine balance between accessibility and, well, balance of play.

What are our plans for the format? Our Organized Play department is still sorting that out. We do hope to use “Type 1.5” more somehow, especially after Extended rotates in 2005. Exactly where and how often is still being discussed. In the meantime, I urge shop owners to give the format a try by running smaller tournaments at your stores. We'd love to hear about them.

The full banned list for “Type 1.5”:

What's on there:

Ante cards and dexterity cards: These two categories include cards like Contract from Below and Chaos Orb. It is generally accepted that cards such as these have no place in tournament Magic.

The Power Nine and other cards that are restricted in Vintage on their own merits: This section includes stuff like fast mana (Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Channel, Tolarian Academy, etc.), card drawing (Wheel of Fortune, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Windfall, Necropotence, etc.), and lots of other cards that have proven to be problematically strong, such as Strip Mine, Dream Halls, Mind Twist, Balance, Mind's Desire, and Yawgmoth's Will.

Dominant cards that have been considered for restriction in Vintage: Here's where the list departs from what it was previously. Some cards exist at power levels that are on the brink of acceptability for even Vintage, which makes them dominant in “Type 1.5.” Worldgorger Dragon, Bazaar of Baghdad, Mishra's Workshop, Mana Drain, and Illusionary Mask all fit into this category. Note, too, that the power level of many of these cards, combined with their scarcity, presented a major barrier to entry to the format for many players.

Cards that are/were banned in Extended: Not every card that has ever been banned in Extended is banned in this new format, but we felt the most powerful ones had no place here. These include Earthcraft, Goblin Recruiter, Hermit Druid, Land Tax, Oath of Druids, Replenish, and newly exiled Skullclamp and Metalworker. With “1.5” now a little less like Vintage and a little more like Extended, it makes sense that the banned list is a compromise between the two. Most of these cards are very cheap combo enablers that are hard to defend against.

What's not on there:

The second-tier fast mana cards: We left off cards like Ancient Tomb, Dark Ritual, Mox Diamond, and Lotus Petal to give aggressive creature and combo decks the tools they'd need to battle control. Time will tell if this is too much fast mana, but it is a good place to start.

The second-tier tutors: Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, and Demonic Consultation may be banned, but Mystical and Enlightened Tutor are both legal.

Various other powerful cards: Fact or Fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Regrowth, and Goblin Lackey are all extraordinarily powerful cards that we decided to make legal. We want to keep the format healthy and balanced without making it overly weak and without having a banned list that is five pages long. These cards (as well as a few others) will be on our radar as this new format finds its legs. Hopefully they will add excitement without upsetting the proverbial apple cart.

There you have it. Hopefully these changes make you happy and tempt you to give one or more of these formats a second look. Our goal is long-term health for all of our formats, and I believe we've taken some great steps in accomplishing that with this announcement.

You Name The Format

Why did I put quotation marks around the term “Type 1.5” every time I mentioned it in the article? Because that's not what the format's official name will be. The problem is, we don't know what the name will be. So we need your help. We're taking submissions for the new name of “Type 1.5.” We'll select about ten that we like, and then put those ten up for a vote

Things to remember:

The format allows every card from a tournament-legal expansion set in Magic's history, minus the cards specifically called out on the banned list.

The names of other formats are Vintage (sometimes called Type 1), Extended (Type 1.x), Standard (Type 2), Block, Open (online format), Classic (online format), Prismatic (online format), Singleton (online format), and Tribal Wars (online format).

We'll begin taking submissions next week, so start thinking about what you'd like to see the new format called.

Last Week's Poll:

How many theme decks have you purchased (ever), both paper and online?
4-10 4246 34.4%
2-3 3733 30.2%
I buy one or more every set. 1546 12.5%
1 1452 11.8%
0 1373 11.1%
Total 12350 100.0%

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