August 28, 2017 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Posted in News on August 28, 2017

By Ian Duke

Announcement Date: August 28, 2017

Vintage:

Thorn of Amethyst is restricted.

Monastery Mentor is restricted.

Yawgmoth's Bargain is unrestricted.

All other formats:

No changes

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Magic Online Effective Date: August 30, 2017

The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.

Next B&R Announcement: October 17, 2017


Recently, both the paper and Magic Online Vintage metagames have been in an unhealthy place due to the prevalence and performance of two decks: Shops and Mentor. Data from twelve recent Vintage Challenges reinforces this, with 40% of the Top 8 decks being Shops and 30% being Mentor. Both decks feature strategies that are powerful, stifle diversity, and can be frustrating to play against.

Monastery Mentor has emerged as the clear best win condition for blue decks, and can be difficult to combat and recover from due to the number of powerful zero- and one-cost noncreature spells available in the format. In an effort to weaken such strategies and allow for more diversity in choice of win conditions, Monastery Mentor is restricted.

Mishra's Workshop–based decks have been dominating the Vintage metagame with explosive mana, powerful threats, and artifacts that disrupt the opponent's ability to cast spells. This has been especially evident on Magic Online. In order to weaken the Shops deck in a manner that promotes more interactive gameplay and reduces the impact of being on the play versus on the draw, we've chosen to look at this third category of cards. Thorn of Amethyst and Sphere of Resistance were both candidates for restriction in this case.

Thorn of Amethyst is the more powerful disruptive tool in the Shops deck, as it allows the deck to continue applying creature-based threats unimpeded. The case for restricting Sphere of Resistance instead is to avoid splash damage on other archetypes—other non-Shops creature decks also use Thorn of Amethyst. However, given the strength of Shops in the current metagame and a restriction weakening the other top deck, we decided to make the more impactful change.

As we observe the Vintage metagame evolve, we also re-evaluate cards already restricted to see if they might be safe to unrestrict. With Vintage, one of our guiding philosophies is to let players play with as many cards as possible—it's the only sanctioned format where cards like the Power Nine and Library of Alexandria are legal, after all. We discussed two cards as candidates for unrestriction: Yawgmoth's Bargain and Windfall. Since these cards were restricted, other more powerful draw engines have been introduced, such as Griselbrand and Paradoxical Outcome.

In this case we've decided to unrestrict Yawgmoth's Bargain as a safer first step. Windfall has a heavy reliance on play versus draw and is pitchable to Force of Will. It would be a greater risk to unrestrict, especially at a time when we are weakening Shops, a natural predator of Storm decks. It's still a card we'll continue discussing in the long term, and we'll be listening to community feedback on that point.

Finally, the next B&R announcement date will be October 17. We wanted to balance the needs of Pro Tour competitors to test for Pro Tour Ixalan against those of making sure we have our fingers on the pulse of formats if anything does need fixing. Any time later and we risk disrupting the Pro Tour or the Standard Grand Prix that follow. Any earlier and we wouldn't have the right data to make the best decisions. Publishing on Tuesday allows us to take the results of Nationals tournaments into consideration before finalizing any potential changes.

Editor's Note: We’re aware of the proximity of the next B&R window to Eternal Weekend, which is why we’ve chosen to make necessary Vintage changes in this window. We don’t currently anticipate more changes to Vintage with the next B&R window, but in the event that they are needed we’ll have a solution for communicating changes in a way that respects the preparation of Eternal Weekend players.

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