April 24, 2017 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Posted in News on April 24, 2017

By Aaron Forsythe

***Please note there was an addendum to this announcement published April 26 that additionally banned Felidar Guardian in Standard. You can view that article here.

Announcement Date: April 24, 2017

Standard:

No changes

Modern:

No changes

Legacy:

Sensei's Divining Top is banned.

Vintage:

Gitaxian Probe is restricted.

Gush is restricted.

Effective Date: April 24, 2017

Magic Online Effective Date: April 24, 2017

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

Next B&R Announcement: June 14, 2017 (Effective date for that announcement will be June 19, after Grand Prix Las Vegas)


With Pro Tour Amonkhet on the horizon, R&D met earlier this month to discuss multiple formats, including Standard. First, let's address the changes.

In Legacy, Miracles—a deck that is focused on combining Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top to control what opponents can or (mostly) cannot resolve—has been the best deck in the format for some time. We were hopeful that this would change over time, but it has not. That alone is not necessarily enough to move to ban a card from the deck, but Sensei's Divining Top comes with its own host of issues that center around the timely conclusion of matches in a tournament setting. The necessity of repeated Top activations to play the card slows down match play and leads to tournament delays. Coupled with the power of the Miracles deck, this is reason enough for us to take action on Top. Therefore, Sensei's Divining Top is banned in Legacy.

In Vintage, the metagame has come to a bit of a standstill as Monastery Mentor decks face down their main predator, Workshop decks. The primary issue seems to revolve around the prevalence of free draw spells for the Mentor deck that let it churn through its library for no mana while creating an abundance of tokens. We believe by removing these free draw spells—and the perfect information that comes with Gitaxian Probe—we will significantly weaken Monastery Mentor–based strategies. Hopefully the move away from "free" spells in the Mentor decks will lessen the impact of the Workshop deck's various Sphere of Resistance effects, opening up the metagame.

Of note is that Legacy is currently the only tournament format where we have not taken action against Gitaxian Probe. Currently, the data does not support doing so in that format, and we examine each format individually.

In Modern, Death's Shadow continues to be the best deck, but technology like Condemn is starting to emerge, and the format appears to be in a safe spot at the moment. While deck diversity is good, we're keeping an eye on color balance. If there's an easy change to the banned list that could open up more decks in the future, we will examine it when other formats have less pressing needs.

In Standard, as we stated in the last Banned and Restricted Announcement, we are still watching the format closely—particularly the interaction between Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai, as well as the dominance of Mardu decks featuring Heart of Kiran. We have not seen the movement in the format we had hoped for with the Grand Prix in the latter half of the season, but we still believe we need to gather more data—particularly with an eye toward the effect of Amonkhet on the Pro Tour. Amonkhet has a number of exciting and powerful cards, both proactive and reactive, and too much can change with the introduction of that set. We don't want to ban something that might ultimately not have been a problem, or, worse, create a potentially worse problem due to lack of information. We need to let the players loose on this format and hope things turn out well—an outcome we believe is possible. However, if that does not happen, we will re-evaluate the situation a few weeks after the Pro Tour.

—Aaron Forsythe
Senior Design Director, Magic: The Gathering R&D

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