November 4, 2019 Pioneer Banned Announcement

Posted in News on November 4, 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: November 4, 2019


Felidar Guardian is banned.

Leyline of Abundance is banned.

Oath of Nissa is banned.

Tabletop Effective Date: Nov 8, 2019

Magic Online Effective Date: Nov 5, 2019

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

Next Pioneer B&R Announcement: November 11, 2019

Over the past weeks, we've been thrilled to watch the community embrace the launch of the new Pioneer format. As we've previously stated, our plan is to watch the evolution of the metagame closely and make agile changes as needed, with possible updates each Monday for the time being. Our goal with these early changes is to promote diverse deck strategies and healthy gameplay, whether or not there is a clear overpowered deck.

In this case there are two decks that are head and shoulders above the field: Four-Color Copy Cat and Green Devotion Ramp. These two decks have earned the most 5-0 league finishes on Magic Online and have problematically high win rates against the field. Both decks feature play patterns that would reduce metagame diversity over time. Based on Magic Online data, we don’t believe that regular metagame pressure alone will be enough to keep these strategies in check. As a result, we are banning Felidar Guardian, Leyline of Abundance, and Oath of Nissa.

The Felidar Guardian/Saheeli Rai combination threatens metagame diversity by requiring decks to present specific types of early interaction while developing their own strategy or else immediately lose the game. Rather than allow this combination to warp deck building and the metagame around it, we're choosing to ban a card. Of the two options, Felidar Guardian is the most likely to break again with existing or future cards.

Leyline of Abundance not only enables explosive ramp starts on its own but also provides two devotion for no mana cost to power up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Our hope is that in the long term, Nykthos can add diversity to the metagame as a part of fun and healthy devotion strategies. Therefore, we're choosing to ban Leyline of Abundance as the card that enables the deck's fastest, most powerful opening turns.

As a powerful card-selection tool that also brings other synergies by leaving a permanent on the battlefield, Oath of Nissa has been a strong contributor to the strength and consistency of these and other strong decks. It's likely that Oath of Nissa would continue to exacerbate problematic strategies going forward. It also greatly contributes to the consistency of strategies that utilize a large number of three-mana planeswalkers in a way that can create unhealthy play patterns. For these reasons, we believe Pioneer will be a more fun and diverse format without Oath of Nissa.

Note that we will continue to make Pioneer announcements every Monday—whether or not we have changes—for the time being. Eventually, Pioneer updates will become aligned with our normal banned and restricted announcements. We'll announce when that switch will take place in the final weekly Pioneer format announcement.

We'll be watching closely for the next steps in the development of the metagame. We look forward to watching you all continue to enjoy this amazing new format!

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