December 16, 2019 Pioneer Banned 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

Pioneer:

Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned.

Nexus of Fate is banned.

Tabletop Effective Date: December 17, 2019

Magic Online Effective Date: December 17, 2019

The list of all Pioneer banned cards is here.

Next Pioneer Banned Announcement: January 6, 2020


Since the last set of Pioneer changes, we've seen the metagame approach a better balance, with most of the top decks having a mix of favorable and unfavorable matchups against each other. However, two decks proved to be outliers: Simic Food Ramp and Simic Nexus.

Over the past weeks, Simic Food Ramp has had a nearly 60% non-mirror match win rate on Magic Online and has earned more than twice as many 5–0 league finishes than any other archetype. It has favorable matchups against most of the other top decks and no strongly unfavorable matchups.
In considering possible changes to bring the deck in better balance with the rest of the field, Oko, Thief of Crowns stands out as a powerful threat that is difficult to answer and shores up many natural weaknesses of ramp decks. In addition, Oko, Thief of Crowns appears in several of the other strongest decks and would likely continue to contribute to metagame balance problems long term. Therefore, we are banning Oko, Thief of Crowns.

The Simic Nexus deck has had the second-highest win rate and a number of 5–0 league finishes among top decks. As Simic Food Ramp was one of the Simic Nexus deck's only unfavorable matchups among top decks, we're taking the additional step of banning Nexus of Fate. The potential for Nexus of Fate decks to lead to frustrating play patterns and long matches is an additional factor in this decision.

Given the continued improvement in metagame health and the upcoming holidays, our plan is not to make further changes until the new year. The next update for Pioneer will be Monday, January 6.

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