December 2, 2019 Pioneer Banned Announcement

Posted in News on December 2, 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 2, 2019

Pioneer:

Once Upon a Time

Field of the Dead

Smuggler's Copter

The list of all banned cards in Pioneer is here.

Effective Date: December 3, 2019

Next Pioneer Banned Announcement: December 9, 2019


Over the last several days, a series of Pioneer PTQ tournaments were held as a part of Magic Online's Pioneer week. The results of these tournaments, and data from league play, show how the environment has evolved under further competitive pressure.

While the results look promising and changes so far have been moving the format in a good direction, our data shows three outstanding issues that are preventing the metagame from arriving at a better balance. These are:

  • The strength of Mono-Black Aggro and other aggressive decks featuring Smuggler's Copter
  • That Field of the Dead ramp decks are suppressing controlling and reactive decks
  • The general prevalence and dominance of green decks as a group, with Once Upon a Time being a key common factor to those decks' success

As a result, we're choosing to ban Smuggler's Copter, Field of the Dead, and Once Upon a Time in Pioneer. We believe that these changes will result in greater diversity among aggressive decks, a clearer role in the metagame for reactive and controlling decks, and a push toward better color balance among competitive decks.

This weekly, rapid iteration of the banned list in the early days of Pioneer as an alternative to launching the format with a pre-populated ban list has been an interesting and positive experiment thus far. We've been able to use real-world data and results to arrive at what we believe is a smaller and more accurate ban list that we hope will provide a more fun, dynamic metagame compared to a preemptive approach. Our plan remains to slow the pace of changes as we approach the new year, and we hope to sync up Pioneer changes with the regularly scheduled B&R announcements for all formats starting early next year. After that time, we expect the frequency of changes to Pioneer to be closer to that of other nonrotating formats.

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