“No Changes” to the Banned & Restricted List

No Changes.

Sometimes you sense that your significant other is upset, ask what’s wrong, and receive the response “nothing.”  That’s kind of what this “no changes” feels like.  

What happened to the newest world order of slower rotations and more bannings?

First, under pressure from fans worried about investment horizons into new formats, Wizards walked away from what seemed like an interesting idea—faster format rotation.  Then Copter and Emrakul and Reflector Mage got canned, leaving some of us wondering whether a new era had begun.  This new era might see a lower bar on bannings so that format health could be maintained over a longer rotation cycle.  Well, “no changes” is some evidence that this isn’t what the Copter et al. bannings meant.

Even if the banning bar remains very high… have they played much against Gideon and Copycat?

When Gideon was spoiled, I immediately purchased 4 copies.  It’s one of those cards.  Oh, and it’s better than I thought it was (I thought it would be a 4-mana Glorious Anthem something like 40% of the time but it turns out that the other modes are game-ending enough of the time that you don’t even go for the Anthem much).  You’re telling me Reflector Mage was too much but Gideon is just right?

CopyCat (Saheeli + Felidar Guardian) is a stupid mistake that warps everything around it.  I don’t think I’m being particularly harsh.  It’s not really what Standard ought to be about.  It just won both GPs, which doesn’t prove that it’s oppressive or anything, but does prove it’s a tier 1 strategy, even within the warped world it creates.  That’s a problem.

What is the current state of Standard?

Given “no changes” I’d say it’s pretty grim.  There is Mardu, Copycat, (gap), BG, Temur Tower…   but really there is Mardu or Copycat if you want to consistently do well in this format.  That’s not the worst imbalance of power we’ve ever seen (at least there are two decks), and there does seem to be a good amount of strategic depth to many if not most games.  I don’t think the format is a complete disaster, but I also have no desire to brew decks in it, which leaves me with no desire to play it.

Standard will be fine.  It’s late in the format now, there is tuning to be done still (how many Ballista do we put in our Mardu deck?) and there is a chance someone can figure out the right Aetherworks Marvel configuration to actually beat both decks.  

The biggest win from No Changes

The biggest win is an uptick on the stability meter.  Remember, “my deck will be gone too fast” is the exact fear that made them walk away from fast-rotation in the first place.  A climate of frequent bannings creates even more instability (potentially much more) that punishes people who can’t invest in all the decks or quickly pivot when the format changes.  So, while Copycat is an annoying win condition that’s bad on coverage and the online platform, and Mardu is a punishingly consistent aggressive deck that’s hard to disrupt, at least the people who invested in this format can continue to play it. Assuming they still want to.


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