In their most recent Banned and Restricted announcement, Wizards of the Coast decided to act decisively on multiple formats. Across almost every format (with Pioneer coming later this afternoon), there were cards banned.
Standard’s Banned Cards
Standard saw the most action with three bannings. Oko, Thief of Crowns, Once Upon a Time, and Veil of Summer all got the axe. Oko also got banned in Brawl, a smaller played multiplayer format. Notably, these were all green cards from the two most recent sets. Standard was plagued with Oko decks for most of the time that Throne of Eldraine has been legal. The most recent Mythic Championship was the tipping point. At that event, almost 70% of the field was running Oko in some form or fashion. Those are unprecedented numbers. The three mana planeswalker was proving too much to handle for standard with the efficiency with how it played. It was the best offensive and defensive threat for the decks that it went it.
Following that, we have Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer. Veil of Summer most recently saw the door in the Pioneer format, and Once Upon a Time has been talked about as an effect that is too good at what it does. Veil of Summer is a pushed version of past color hosing cards that weren’t quite good enough. These three cards meant that the green decks of the format were lethally efficient and would be able to find their lands or threats and be able to protect them.
Some might say that these cards weren’t the right choices, but you can’t completely nuke the color green from orbit in Standard. Balance is needed in standard, and these green cards were tipping that scale way in it’s favor. Hopefully this means a more balanced format coming forward.
Legacy and Vintage See Changes Finally
I’m not much of a Vintage player or really a Legacy player. I like playing Humans in Legacy, but I don’t pay as much attention to the format as others. Luckily Wizards of the Coast does (sort of, not really). In a stunning turn of events, more cards from 2019’s design team are being banned across formats that are supposed to be able to handle crap like this. Narset, Parter of Veils gets restricted in Vintage. Restricted means that instead of the normal four copies you can run, you’re allowed one. Wrenn and Six’s stranglehold on the Legacy format is over as well.
I have played a couple Legacy events with Wrenn and Six legal in the format, but I actually haven’t played against it much. My opinion on the card is probably skewed a little bit, but from everyone else playing the format (besides Lands players, you all know who you are), the card needed to go. It was Deathrite Shaman levels of mana fixing combined with removal and a way to win the game. Vintage I have no experience with at all. I know blue cards are good, and drawing extra cards is also good. So a planeswalker that stops you opponent from drawing extra cards while finding your own seems too good for the format.
The Bigger Issue At Hand
I, like most of you, are GODDAMN TIRED of bans. I’m tired of talking about them, I’m tired of reading about them, I’m tired of thinking about them. You know what I want to do? Just play Magic. Is that too hard? For most people it seems like it is. Whether it’s blowhards on Facebook telling people about how big their Magic IQ is or people who aren’t happy about anything involving Magic and just have to crap on it. Banning cards is a necessary part of a game, but it seems like 2019 has just been a torrent of broken, untested, and unfair cards coming from the Design team at Wizards of the Coast. Maybe it’s a couple bad apples on the team, one with the initials AB in particular, who knows.
All I know is that they need to step up their game if they want to keep the growth and fun of Magic going. It’s a huge game that is the best in the world. Keep it strong, and design and test the cards. People want to play. They don’t want their investments getting blown up every three months because the new blood at Wizards of the Coast wants to design the most busted things possible without repercussions. Something needs to get fixed up at Wizards of the Coast headquarters.
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