January 19, 2015, Banned and Restricted Announcement
Announcement Date: January 19, 2015
Effective Date: January 23, 2015
Magic Online Effective Date: January 28, 2015
Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Birthing Pod are banned.
Golgari Grave-Troll is no longer banned.
Treasure Cruise is banned.
Worldgorger Dragon is no longer banned.
Treasure Cruise is restricted.
Gifts Ungiven is no longer restricted.
The complete list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.
Next B&R Announcement: March 23, 2015
Explanation of Changes
Wizards of the Coast examines tournament results from each competitive Constructed format. When a format becomes imbalanced, we examine the cause. Sometimes, a card-drawing card can be too efficient. The decks that draw cards so efficiently push out many other decks, limiting the field to the strong decks that best use those card drawers and decks that don't play in interactive games with those strong decks. In that case, the best option might be to ban the overly efficient card drawer.
Since Wizards looks to limit the number of cards banned, each format is evaluated on its own merits. The same card might be banned in some formats, and not others, in a way that might appear uneven. That happens because the card is banned in the formats where, in practice, it is problematic.
Here are our changes:
Decks playing the powerful card drawers have been winning a lot, and pushing a lot of other decks down in competitive play. Blue-Red Delver decks, playing efficient creatures, card drawers, burn, and some permission spells have been the most successful. Also, decks focused on more burn, or combination decks using Jeskai Ascendancy, have done well. However, as these decks have occupied a large portion of the competitive metagame, the overall variety of successful decks has been suppressed. It is imbalanced enough that Wizards of the Coast has decided to act. In Modern, these cards are easy replacements for one another—while a Delver deck might use Treasure Cruise over Dig Through Time, banning one but not the other would do little to change the deck. Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise are banned.
Over the past year, Birthing Pod decks have won significantly more Grand Prix than any other Modern decks and compose the largest percentage of the field. Each year, new powerful options are printed, most recently Siege Rhino. Over time, this creates a growing gap between the strength of the Pod deck and other creature decks. Pod won five of the twelve Grand Prix over the past year, including winning the last two. The high percentage of the field playing Pod suppresses decks, especially other creature decks, that have an unfavorable matchup. In the interest of supporting a diverse format, Birthing Pod is banned.
When cards are banned from a format, Wizards investigates whether there is a banned card that, if not banned, might add new decks to competitive play. We look for cards that are unlikely to add power to existing top decks, but instead add new strategies or augment decks that are not currently as successful. Golgari Grave-Troll is very powerful in a deck based on getting a lot of cards into its graveyard. Replacing a card draw with dredge 6 is a terrific rate. However, that type of deck has not been as successful in Modern tournaments recently. While taking such a card off the banned list has some risks, this is a good time to see what happens. Golgari Grave-Troll is no longer banned.
Blue-Red Delver decks have been so successful at tournament play that they are hurting the diversity of the format. While other decks can have some success, the diversity is significantly less than it had been. Treasure Cruise is banned.
Worldgorger Dragon has a strange and powerful interaction with Animate Dead. This used to be too powerful for Legacy. It is not clear that this is more powerful than animating Griselbrand, and this interaction may add an interesting variant. Worldgorger Dragon is no longer banned.
Again, Blue-Red Delver decks have been so successful at tournament play that they are hurting the diversity of the format. Treasure Cruise is restricted.
Years ago, Gifts Ungiven was dominating Vintage tournament play. However, this has not been the case recently, and the card might invigorate some less-played Vintage decks. Gifts Ungiven is no longer restricted.