Explanation of September 20, 2010 B&R Changes

Posted in Feature on September 20, 2010

By Erik Lauer

Erik Lauer is a senior game designer who works on final game design and development. Recently, he has led the Return to Ravnica, Modern Masters, and Theros development teams.

Rather than wait until Tom LaPille's column on Friday to offer an explanation of the banned & restricted list changes, we've given Erik Lauer a platform to explain them right away.

For the Banned & Restricted Announcement, click here.

The DCI tries, among other goals, to maintain banned and restricted lists which keep a diversity of decks in competitive tournaments. One way to do this is to ban or restrict cards which are leading to overpowered decks. Another way is to unrestrict cards which may allow new competitive decks, and then hope that those won't crowd out more decks. While the lists for Eternal formats do tend to grow over the long run, the DCI has been making a particular effort to make changes by taking cards off the list more than by adding cards.

For instance, in 2004 the Legacy banned list was separated from the Vintage banned & restricted lists, and that initial Legacy banned list had 63 cards. The current Legacy banned list has only 61 cards—the smallest Legacy banned list since before the separation of the Legacy and Vintage lists—and the results of the latest Grand Prix had eight unique deck types in the Top 8.

Modern Vintage dates back to a massive change October 1, 1999, after which the banned & restricted list had 59 cards. With Frantic Search and Gush unrestricted, the current list drops to 57 cards. This makes it the shortest list in the modern Vintage period. While the current Vintage format is reasonably diverse, we are willing to take some risks to try and improve the format.

Both Gush and Frantic Search have been in overpowered decks in the past. However, it is not clear that either fits easily in the best performing decks of late, such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor control or various Mishra's Workshop decks. Frantic Search has been restricted for 10 years, and the DCI thinks it is time to see what it can do as a 4-of. Gush was restricted a few years ago. Brainstorm and Merchant Scroll were restricted at the same time, however, and the DCI would like to revisit whether Gush decks can be a healthy addition to the diversity of the format if you can play 4 Gush, but not 4 of either of the other cards.

At worst, we suspect this is an experiment worth running again with other restricted cards.

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