Since the release of Dominara United in 2022, Standard has been in a bit of a bad way. Plagued by overpowered cards and unenjoyable strategies, the once-loved format was becoming worryingly stale. It was so bad, in fact, that Wizards utilized bans to try and spice things up for MTG players.
Unfortunately, however, this optimistic plan from Wizards didn’t exactly work. As, instead of revitalizing the format, dominant mono-black decks were simply replaced by Rakdos Midrange. Similarly powerful and frustrating to play against, Standard has once again been struggling. Luckily for players, however, there is hope on the horizon.
Recently, Wizards of the Coast has set out on a new mission to save Standard. Promising more support, a monumental rotation change, and reworked bans, Wizards had a lot up their sleeves. Whether or not any of these would work, however, remained to be seen, as none of these plans had been implemented. Until now…
At long last and after weeks of anticipation, Wizards of the Coast has unveiled the latest bans for the Standard format. So, without any further ado, let’s get right into what’s been banned and why these cards simply had to go.
Three Cards Banned in Standard
The announcement is here! The bans are upon us! Coming into effect on the 29th of May (right now) for paper, and on the 30th for MTG Arena, three cards are being banned in Standard, these cards are as follows:
- Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
- Invoke Despair
- Reckoner Bankbuster
With two of these cards being leaked ahead of schedule, it’s completely unsurprising to see these cards being banned. Nevertheless, Wizards of the Coast didn’t just drop this announcement and disappear into the night. Instead, MTG Principal Game Designer Andrew Brown discussed why these specific cards are being banned.
Throughout the new Banned and Restricted announcement article, Brown stated these bans are specifically to curb Rakdos Midrange’s incredible strength. This should supposedly “reduce the win rate of the dominant strategy in the format and create an exciting shake-up and entry point to the format preceding the summer and release of Wilds of Eldraine.”
Getting into the specifics, Brown highlighted what we all already know, cards like Fable and Bankbuster are unmatched in efficiency and versatility. As Brown points out, deck-building strategies are simple, as these cards are practically auto-includes. Furthermore, both these cards also give players a significant amount of card advantage, which leads them to being played at very high rates.
Alongside these powerhouse cards, Invoke Despair is also, somewhat surprisingly, getting banned. According to Wizards, this card is simply too good to stick around for another year in Standard. Providing up to three for one removal or alternatively card draw, Invoke Despair has been “excellent for shoring up some of black’s weaknesses,” Brown states. Subsequently, in order to shake up the format and improve card diversity, it has been banned.
There’s More to Come
As we mentioned at the start of this article, the new MTG bans aren’t the only change coming to Standard in 2023. Subsequently, even if these bands don’t spice up the format as hoped, there is still reason to be excited. The biggest upcoming change, which is technically already in effect, is that 2023 will have no rotation.
Instead of the usual Rotation and Renewal cycle happening in September, Wizards is delaying proceedings by one year. This will allow around 1000 cards to enter the Standard environment, hopefully creating a more diverse and interesting card pool. Alongside this, old cards sticking around should also prolong their usefulness, making purchasing a Standard deck somewhat more viable.
Alongside this substantial change, Wizards of the Coast is further changing up the typical ban schedule. Rather than happening at any time, MTG bans will now predominantly be a fixed yearly occurrence. Happening around the release of the Fall set (which is Wilds of Eldarine this year), these bans will be for all formats where it’s needed. This year, the ban will take place on the 7th of August, 2023.
While this approach should help provide some consistency, Wizards also allows mini windows after MTG set releases for additional bans. These consistent windows will allow Wizards to crack down on problematic cards and combos that arise. For better or worse, according to Wizards, it will be rare that these mini-ban windows are utilized.
Last but not least, Wizards of the Coast is also changing up their Standard philosophy somewhat. Thanks to the three-year rotation, Wizards is planning to develop archetypes over time, similarly to how blocks did things. This should hopefully allow for a more synergistic format that isn’t just a midrange soup.
Only Time Will Tell
While all of these changes, as well as the bans above, are certainly promising, currently, it’s too early to tell if these changes will work. As good as they may seem on the surface, making a format successful likely can’t be done overnight. Subsequently, it may still be some time before Standard can truly return to its former glory.
In the meantime, there are certainly plenty of reasons for players to be excited, however. After all, it seems that Wizards of the Coast really does care about making the format successful once again. This should mean that it’s only a matter of time before Standard is the premier format across both digital and paper play once again.
If, for whatever reason, Wizards’ changes and plans don’t work, however, we have a few suggestions of our own. If you want to read those thoughts, you can do that here.