The June 7th ban list has been announced, and there is a lot to take in. Two surprise bans came out of nowhere for Wizards’ flagship format Pioneer. The bans there will also be passed on to Explorer, hosting this month’s qualification for the Arena Championship and the upcoming paper pro tour. There is an equal concern with what didn’t get banned with Wizards’ most recent announcement. Where will this leave all of the formats affected? Here are the MTG new bans.
Winota, Joiner of Forces is Banned in PioneerWinota, Joiner of Forces is banned in Pioneer. This doesn’t come as too much of a shock, as the meta has been warped considerably by the presence of this creature. Winota allowed for a deck that plays an aggressive early game with a combo-like potential to explode after casting Winota. This results in a sudden burst of tempo that is impossible for most decks to overcome. As a result, this caused Pioneer to become a format where having an option to remove Winota, at instant speed, available in the first three turns was a requirement. You also need to keep this option open as long as your opponent can get value off casting their Winota. If you don’t and Winota comes out, it’s your loss.
Because of the polarizing nature of the Winota deck, it is banned in Pioneer.
Since Explorer is an Arena version of Pioneer-Lite, the temporary Winota ban on Explorer is now permanent. Wizards of the Coast has stated repetitively that they want the Explorer ban list to match Pioneer’s as closely as possible.
Expressive Iteration is Banned in Pioneer and ExplorerExpressive iteration‘s ban comes from the spike in power that Pioneer has seen in UR decks. UR Prowess and UR Control are top-tier picks within the format. Expressive Iteration also sees play in other meta contenders like Jeskai Ascendancy Combo, Niv to Light, and other UR control decks. Expressive Iteration allowed these decks to generate massive card advantage for a relatively low price.
The first thought of many MTG Pioneer players is that some other card draw spells in the format may be more potent than Expressive Iteration. Pioneer is one of the only formats where Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are still legal. The official ban announcement from Wizards of the Coast addresses this. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time allow Pioneer to present a ‘unique identity among eternal formats.’ The Delve ability on these cards is a lot less offensive in Pioneer due to the absence of Fetch Lands. The speed of Pioneer tends to slow down the reward of Delve as well when compared with other eternal formats. Most Pioneer grinders agree that Expressive Iteration is the more offensive card in this format. Thus, it has been banned in Pioneer.
As a slight aside, since Pioneer and Explorer are deemed to have matching ban lists, Expressive Iteration has been banned in Explorer as a side effect of the MTG new bans. Regardless, this will impact the quality of Izzet decks in Explorer even more than Pioneer because Explorer does not yet have access to the powerful Delve alternatives.
How is Pioneer Affected?
Pioneer’s most polarizing deck is gone. There is going to be a colossal meta shift as a result. My prediction is that the meta may become more hostile over time than it already was. This is because Winota kept the format’s other polarizing deck in check.
The Winota decks were one of the only things consistently keeping Lotus Field from dominating the entire format. While the deck does have other bad matchups in the form of Mono-Red and wish board decks that can fetch up hate, players have been adapting. Winota was the most challenging matchup for Lotus Field because Winota can consistently beat Lotus Field‘s clock without much effort. Now that Winota is out of the way, Lotus Field‘s game plan will become more challenging to outpace. As a result, this deck’s success will depend on how effectively other well-positioned decks can interact with it. Lotus Field is a tough deck to interact with. Because of this, Lotus Field may hold a more polarizing position over the metagame than Winota did.
Izzet decks will feel the hit of losing Expressive Iteration. This ban hits the Narset Control decks the hardest. The deck will likely see a small amount of restructuring as a result but should still be viable in some form. I predict that Narset Control will fall out of being in the top tier for the Pioneer format as a result of the MTG new bans.
How is Explorer Affected?
The impact that Expressive Iteration‘s ban has on Explorer will become more evident as time passes. Explorer is still in its infant phases as a format, and people are still learning how to deal with the obvious powerful things happening at ground zero. Greasefang, Okiba Boss, is the main offender at the moment. Expressive Iteration is not seeing a ton of play in these ground zero decks. Its impact on the current Explorer format, as a result, will be minor. As the format becomes more explored and strategies become more fleshed out, the absence of Expressive Iteration will become more apparent. This is a devastating blow to UR decks in Explorer.
Wizards of the Coast have issued no other bans in these MTG new bans. This may be a bigger problem than the bans that were announced.
Modern is a healthy eternal format compared to most other MTG formats, but there’s a boogeyman lurking in the shadows. Four-color Elemental Blink has consistently won paper and online tournaments in recent times and is beginning to show signs of becoming a problem. This deck isn’t dominating all levels of Modern play but is incredibly prevalent at the higher levels. This suggests that the Elemental deck has a higher requirement of the pilot and that it matches up very well with the other most powerful decks in the format. Judging from the outcries of the Modern players, not addressing this at all in their ban announcement was a mistake.
Standard is also showing signs of unhealthy trends. Recently, one deck has been completely dominating all Standard tournaments. It’s to the point now that it’s the only deck even seeing play in these tournaments. I don’t think that Jeskai Hinata is strong enough to warrant an immediate ban, considering this trend is very recent. If these play patterns continue, this is a problem that Wizards will need to address.
Overall, these are good MTG new bans from Wizards of the Coast. This will result in positive changes for the formats that are affected. These changes may not stay positive, but we need time to gauge that. Four-Color Elementals should have at least been mentioned, but missing one thing isn’t so bad. I hope that Wizards will continue monitoring formats closely.