August 3, 2020 Banned and Restricted Announcement
Announcement Date: August 3, 2020
Effective Date: August 3, 2020
The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.
Historic and Brawl sections by Jay Parker
In the last banned and restricted list update, we chose not to make any changes to Standard. At that time, the environment had just seen the results of Players Tours 3 and 4, the companion rules change was recent, and Core Set 2021 had just entered the format. While we saw new decks emerging, ultimately the top decks were able to adapt and retain their metagame share. After watching the environment progress for several weeks and reviewing the decklist entries for the Players Tour Finals, we've decided to make some changes to shake up the metagame.
This set of changes is a deviation from our usual banned-list philosophy for Standard, and as such, we consider it an experiment. Outside of the very top levels of competitive play, including throughout most of the MTG Arena traditional Standard ladder, we're seeing a good distribution of deck diversity and win rates. However, at the skill level of our most competitive tournaments and the Mythic ranking on the Arena ladder, we do see a small number of decks with high win rates and play rates that have remained in that metagame position for quite some time.
Under our usual approach, we would have allowed Standard rotation to provide a natural and predictable shift in the metagame with the release of Zendikar Rising. But in an era of social distancing, the proportion of Standard play occurring on digital platforms has increased substantially. As the rate at which players can rack up games of Standard in digital is higher than in tabletop, we believe it's correct to enact metagame change at a faster rate as well.
Therefore, we're making bans targeted at weakening decks that have been strong and popular at the highest levels of competitive play and at some cards and combos that have overstayed their welcome in the eyes of much of the Standard community.
Ramp decks using
Another archetype that has maintained a high win rate over a long period of time is Black-Red (or Jund) Sacrifice, featuring the
Finally, we'll also be removing
We note that
We emphasize that these changes are, to a large degree, a product of the times and the current focus on digital play. We look forward to hearing community feedback on this approach and will continue to keep an eye on the metagame going forward.
With the last banned and restricted list update, we chose to unban
Although we continue to see many different decks have success in Pioneer, and no decks with problematic win rates against the field, we do see that combo decks as a group make up a large portion of the competitive metagame. We've heard feedback that the frequency at which one finds themselves facing an opposing combo deck restricts deck-building options and can make play experiences unenjoyable. While win rate data may not point to change being needed, a different, more important set of data does: player participation.
While the reduction in tabletop tournaments due to the need for social distancing shortly after Pioneer's launch earlier this year is certainly a factor, we've also seen a decline in Pioneer play rates on Magic Online throughout the course of the year. It's clear that many players who have been, or could be, interested in Pioneer are ready for a change. Ultimately, how much fun players are having with the environment is the most important driving force behind B&R updates, and so we're choosing to ban four cards to shake things up and push the competitive metagame away from combo decks.
These bans are primarily aimed at disrupting
Therefore, we're choosing to ban
We did consider several other cards as alternative bans aimed at these same decks.
We understand that this represents a large change to the Pioneer environment, and, frankly, that's the intent. While we're past the phase of frequent weekly updates to Pioneer, we're still in a period where changes are necessary to help shape the format in its initial launch year. We want to ensure that Pioneer can deliver an enjoyable play experience to players who are looking for an accessible, nonrotating format that's closer to Standard in power level and offers a variety of archetypes and decks to choose from. We're dedicated to actively supporting Pioneer and will continue to incorporate both data and community feedback.
The Historic metagame is moving quickly right now; the addition of new cards through Jumpstart is having a large impact, as will Amonkhet Remastered when it arrives soon. There are many of these new decks we are watching closely, but our strong preference in times like this is to give the meta time to develop naturally. We want to see which of these new decks turn out to show enduring strength versus merely making an initial splash. That said, there are two places where we feel we have enough information that we should take action:
We touched on
For Teferi, Timer Raveler, we get much the same feedback in Historic that we get in Standard. In Historic, we also find that the power of the reduced capability for interaction that
On Announcement Timing and Effective Date
In the past, we've given a one-week advanced notice for updates to the banned and restricted list. Because of the increased focus on digital play environments during this time period, we're choosing to forgo that advanced notice and roll out these changes as soon as possible. This isn't necessarily indicative of how we'll announce and implement in the future, and we're continuing to look at how we balance giving players advance notice versus staying agile with respect to changing metagames.