December 16, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Posted in News on December 16, 2019

By Ian Duke

Ian Duke is a developer in Magic R&D and has been with Wizards of the Coast since 2012. A gift of an Ice Age starter deck in 1995 sparked Ian's lifelong passion for Magic. He also enjoys math, physics, board games, and puzzles. To the surprise of few, his favorite guild is Azorius.

Announcement Date: December 16, 2019

No changes to any formats.

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

Next B&R Announcement: Read below

In recent years Magic has undergone growth in digital play, tabletop and esports events, and the number of product releases and supported play formats. In that time, it's become increasing challenging to schedule B&R change windows in advance such that we can avoid disruption to major events while still implementing timely changes as needed for each format.

Going forward, we'll no longer be making a commitment in advance to when the next B&R update will be. While we still expect changes to come in a similar pace, and will always announce changes on a Monday, we'll be allowing some flexibility in the exact week of changes. This will let us be more agile and responsive with changes when needed while respecting the needs and timelines of competitive events. We'll still do our best to avoid making changes to a format too soon before a major event so as not to negatively impact players' plans and preparations. That said, given the number of major events now being held nearly every weekend around the world, and the need to make sure we're addressing the health of formats in a timely manner, some conflicts may arise. We'll do what we can to give advance notice if we're able.

As an example of what this helps us accomplish, consider the case where we had planned a B&R change window for the week before a Modern Grand Prix. Under the previous system, even if the metagame were unhealthy, we may have avoided making changes to Modern so as not to disrupt players' travel plans and preparation for that event. Now, we'll be able to position that announcement earlier if urgent changes are needed, or shortly after the Grand Prix if we need to collect more data before making the right change.

We've also learned that, yes, some players may be affected by having their planned deck change or no longer work shortly before an event, but we've found another consideration to be more impactful. The most likely result of an imbalanced or unfun format is that players simply don't play. They cancel plans, skip side events, or don't engage in a format that isn't healthy. Attendance numbers at MagicFests for formats that later received bans bear that out.

We understand that there is value to players knowing in advance when B&R changes can or cannot happen. But as Magic continues to grow, this change will help us strike a better balance of providing the best play experiences at the right pace. We want to emphasize that this will not result in a difference in the number of changes or the philosophy behind them, only when we choose to implement those changes. And as always, we'll be watching and listening to community feedback.

Our next B&R update will likely be in January. From that announcement onward, we plan to sync up Pioneer updates with the rest of our B&R updates, and expect Pioneer changes to occur at a similar cadence to the rest of our nonrotating formats.

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