Shardless Agent
6, Mar, 24

Wizards of the Coast Implies Major Upcoming MTG Bans

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Article at a Glance

Within the great ecosystem of MTG, bans are an incredibly important tool that Wizards can utilize. Most of the time, bans simply stamp out overly problematic MTG cards and combos that are devastating formats. Alongside this, bans can occasionally be used to provide an ailing MTG format with a much-needed shake-up.

After implementing a fixed ban schedule back in May of 2023, MTG bans have become a lot more regimented. Technically this is all upside as players aren’t caught out, however, there is still room for disappointment. Previously, some of the fixed ban windows have left formats untouched, despite the obvious need for change.

Initially announced back in December, the next ban window, on March 11th, is fast approaching. With most formats looking rather healthy, this post-set ban window isn’t so urgently needed. That being said, it nonetheless seems that Wizards has something up their sleeves judging by recent statements.

Explanation Worthy Changes

Unexplained Vision | Throne of Eldraine
Unexplained Vision | Throne of Eldraine

During the latest Weekly MTG livestream, Wizards of the Coast’s Blake Rasmussen confirmed the upcoming banned and restricted announcement. As we mentioned before, this is set to take place on Monday, March 11th. On its own, this confirmation is nothing new, however, Rasmussen also mentioned one important detail.

Alongside the expected ban announcement, Rasmussen revealed that during next week’s Weekly MTG, Wizards will explain any changes made. Unfortunately, while this follow-up livestream was confirmed, details about what will happen are scarce. During this week’s stream, Rasmussen only stated “They’ll talk about it,” but this certainly sounds like there’s something to discuss.

Sadly, at the moment, there’s no telling what will get banned. There’s even the real possibility that nothing will get banned at all. In theory, the follow-up stream seems to make the lack of any changes rather unlikely. That being said, Wizards could take this time to discuss format health and elaborate on why nothing was changed.

Ultimately, we don’t know anything for certain, so we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. Before that livestream happens, MTG players have already begun speculating about what they’d like to see banned, unbanned, and restricted. Alongside these theories, there was a very real fear Wizards could repeat the worst B&R announcement ever.

Back in October, Wizards didn’t change a thing in the post-Wilds of Eldraine window. On its own, this wouldn’t be so bad, but the announcement lacked any information. Worse than this Wizards directed players toward information about Play Boosters rather than explaining themselves. Unsurprisingly, this move was seen as Wizards hijacking their own B&R announcement to push products instead.

Thankfully, even if this were to happen again, we at least have the follow-up stream to look forward to.

What Will Get Banned?

While we don’t know anything for certain quite yet, it nonetheless seems like changes will be made next week. Unsurprisingly, this has led to plenty of speculation, from ourselves included, about what might be on the chopping block. So, let’s take a quick run-through of all the major formats and what could be changed.

Standard

Raffine's Tower

For better or worse, Standard is still the same ol’ midrange soup that it has been for some time. With no deck proving overly dominant, this MTG format isn’t in any dire need of bans at the moment. That being said, there are a lot of players who want something to change since the format is so stale.

Unfortunately, while Standard may need to change, there’s no standout card that really needs to go. Cards like Deep-Cavern Bat and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse are prevalent, but they’re not overly format-warping. Despite this relative stability, if we were in charge we’d ban the Streets of New Capenna Triomes.

Sadly, while this hypothetical banning would massively shake up Standard, a ban of this scale is incredibly unlikely. Overall, we doubt WotC will even touch Standard during the next ban announcement. While players may be disgruntled, the three-year rotation is designed to promote stability and value, which bans would go against.

Pioneer

Vein Ripper

Following the deck’s appearance at Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor, Rakdos Vampires is everywhere right now. Consistently topping tournaments, this inherently meta-breaking deck is proving its worth and then some. Potentially, this deck’s newfound dominance could lead to it being banned surprisingly quickly.

While there’s definitely the possibility for action, ultimately, we don’t expect Wizards to crush Pioneer’s latest fun new deck. Sure, it might be powerful, but the meta could still adapt and evolve to this new threat. Surprisingly, this deck is more of a problem in Explorer. In this digital format, Rakdos Vampires is overwhelming, taking up over 25% of the meta.

Ultimately, if anything is to be cut from Rakdos Vampires, we’d suggest Vein Ripper goes on Explorer. While banning Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord is arguably more suitable, that ban would completely kill this archetype. As for the whole Explorer thing, we recommend the ban happens here first to test the waters before making it official.

Alongside Rakdos Vampires, there have long been discussions for Izzet Pheonix to have its wings clipped. To do this, banning Treasure Cruise would be an almighty and effective blow. Sadly, while many MTG players want this to happen, the format is healthy enough that we feel it’s unlikely. This would also go back on Wizards’ previous statements regarding how the Delve cards help give Pioneer a unique identity.

As if Wizards didn’t have enough options already, there’s also cause for Amzan Amalia decks to be affected. Unfortunately, since this deck’s combo is so simple, cutting one card like Wildgrowth Walker completely kills the deck. Considering the deck’s impressive win rates, especially on Arena, this may still be warranted.

Modern

Violent Outburst

Recently, the Modern metagame has been plagued by one mechanic in particular; Cascade. Since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, this mechanic has surged in popularity, reaching newfound dominance. This deck was so dominant, in fact, that Wizards partially dealt with it already by banning Up the Beanstalk.

Despite being hit by bans back in December, Cascade MTG decks are still alive and well in Modern. Looking at recent data, decks utilizing this strategy are still the most popular by quite some margin. Thanks to this, it’s no wonder that many players want something to be done about it… again. Unfortunately, finding the right card to ban is a lot easier said than done.

In theory, simply banning an integral card like Violent Outburst could mitigate the archetype’s problems. If you ask most MTG players, this is the real problem card that needs to go. Unfortunately, while many players have made their minds up, Modern bannings aren’t exactly easy.

As the recent ban to Fury proved, bans in Modern can have massively unintended consequences. Despite aiming to fix things, there’s a very real chance that you may end up with a worse format should the wrong card get banned. Sadly, since something really needs to be done, we might just have to live with this risk and hope WotC picks wisely.

While Wizards may have a tough decision ahead of them for Modern bans, something definitely needs to be done. Like Standard’s stagnation, the state of Modern is causing a lot of upset at the moment. In theory, Modern Horizons 3 will shake up the established order in June, but waiting until then is a massive risk.

The Wait Is Almost Over

While there are a lot of cards that could be banned next week, there’s no telling what Wizards has planned. At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait until the official announcement rolls around. Hopefully, since this announcement is just five days away, the wait shouldn’t be too agonizing.

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