1, Dec, 23

Players Outraged by Poor Timing of Ban Discussions!

Article at a Glance

With the upcoming ban announcement on Monday, December 4 looming, players have had a lot to say about the situation. In the WeeklyMTG stream this week, Andrew Brown and Dan Musser, two members of the Play Design Team for Wizards of the Coast, led a lengthy discussion regarding the implications of the ban announcement. Within this discussion, it became very apparent that there would, in fact, be changes to both Pioneer and Modern. Many players have been sure to vocalize their opinions about these upcoming changes.

First of all, there were hints within the stream that displayed the likelihood of Geological Appraiser and Karn, the Great Creator getting banned in Pioneer, as well as something from Rakdos Scam getting banned in Modern. Given Andrew and Dan’s emphasis on the lack of one-toughness Creatures in Modern in its current state, Fury seems like the most plausible ban from Rakdos to occur. There was also plenty of discussion regarding the potential for unbans in both formats and plenty of players have been speculating on exactly what changes might occur.

Of course, any ban announcement is set to come with controversy. Some players like the current state of Pioneer or Modern, or only want some specific cards banned while wanting others to remain untouched. What’s interesting about this particular situation, though, is that players were essentially given a preview of the ban announcement nearly a week before the official announcement itself. Not only that, but the official announcement is set to release less than two weeks before the Regional Championship in Atlanta. This situation has left players frustrated for a multitude of reasons.

Issues for Content Creators

One of the most awkward parts about giving a preview of the upcoming ban announcement with this level of detail is that it messes with the potential schedules of content creators. Players who regularly stream Pioneer or Modern events now have their schedules thrown out of whack. For the next week, it’s tough to showcase any intriguing innovations whatsoever until each specific ban is made official. If you were planning on featuring Discover combo and trying to further adapt it to the metagame, this ban preview discussion likely put a wrench in your plans.

That said, there is an opportunity for content creators to try to get a head start on the format. Showcasing mono-green Devotion without Karn, the Great Creator or exploring potential unbanned cards by facing off with other streamers is definitely on the table. Still, the ban previews have made content creators react on the fly.

Beyond that, because the bans haven’t fully taken place, even loading up Karn-less mono-green might not be ideal because you could just queue into Geological Appraiser combo repeatedly and learn very little. There isn’t exactly a good way around this until the official ban announcement is made.

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Regional Championship Prep

In addition to affecting content creators directly, this ban preview discussion has made it quite tough for competitors in the upcoming Regional Championship. Similar to the issues presented above, testing for the Regional Championship in any capacity is tough until changes are made on Monday.

For instance, the player above posted an undefeated record in a Magic Online Pioneer League with Boros Convoke. Three of the five matches were against Discover combo, however, which is extremely likely to see an upcoming ban in some capacity. The Pioneer and Modern metagames are bound to shift post-bans and unfortunately, it’s very difficult to predict or prepare for these shifts ahead of time.

Once Monday’s announcement comes, players are given less than two weeks to figure out exactly what decklists they want to run for the Regional Championship in Atlanta December 15-17. This is not a lot of time to prepare or for the metagame to settle, so players will likely be going into the event with at least some level of uncertainty.

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Assembling Decks for the Event

This may actually sound intriguing, as players are forced to innovate prior to a major event. The problem is that lots of players had already purchased cards for the event prior to the ban discussion. For players who bought cards for Discover combo, a ban would likely result in some cards tanking in price. Trumpeting Carnosaur has already dropped in price to under $5 according to TCGplayer market price, while the buylist market price is down below $1, likely in anticipation for the bans.

Beyond being out money, though, players need to scramble to figure out a deck as quickly as possible. Part of the reason many players rushed to buy Discover combo in the first place was to avoid shipping delay problems and make sure the cards they wanted for the event were in their possession by the time they were needed.

The reality is, it can be difficult to get all of the cards you need for the event, even with vendors on site, so many players are essentially being punished for their decisions to plan ahead for such a big event. Now, everyone will be in a rush to both figure out the metagame as well as assemble their decks in time.

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Potential Solutions

Geological Appraiser

As frustrating as these issues might be to face, there aren’t perfect solutions available for any of these problems. With regards to the Regional Championship in Atlanta, this is extremely unfortunate timing. Given that all other Regional Championships occurred before ban discussions took place, it may have made the most sense to make bans happen after the event in Atlanta had finished.

This would’ve involved needing to move the ban announcement until a few weeks later and likely would’ve resulted in an unhealthy metagame with a ton of Discover combo being represented. While obviously not ideal, there’s an argument this is still better than creating massive change right before the event.

As for content creators, it’s certainly awkward to have a detailed discussion before bans actually take place. The thing is, it does give players an even bigger chance to prepare and speculate for potential changes. It’s unclear if dropping a ban announcement with massive changes to two key formats on Monday would’ve been better or worse overall without the WeeklyMTG discussion.

Ultimately, the most sensible thing to do may have been to simply announce the bans this week. Sure, it would have been a bit sudden, but it would solve the issue of killing Pioneer and Modern for a week. Content creators could feature the new formats and competitors would have another week to prepare.

After the complete lack of discussion associated with the October ban announcement, at least we are getting a bit more transparency. It’ll be worth monitoring how ban announcements continue to get handled in the future and if these preview discussions become the norm.

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