Magic: the Gathering may have 5 colors of mana, but if you are playing Standard there are only 2: green and white.
The results from both of last weekend’s Grand Prix (Pittsburgh and Taipei) put an exclamation mark on an already well established trend about Standard:
Bant Collected Company decks and GW Tokens decks are much better than the rest of the field.
In case you were wondering, “How much better?” the answer is: “By a wide and oppressive margin.”
Of the 16 total Top 8 slots between both Top 8s, there were a combined 14 Bant CoCo and GW Tokens decks. Roughly 87.5% of the Top 8s were Bant CoCo or GW Tokens.
Between both Top 8s:
- 10 Bant Collected Company decks (5 Bant Humans, 5 Bant CoCo)
- 5 GW Tokens decks
- 2 Other (RG Ramp and Sultai Midrange)
If you need further evidence that green and white cards are DOMINANT, of the 9-32 finishing decks in Pittsburg, there were 8 GW Tokens, 6 Bant Company, and 10 other decks. Nearly 60% GW decks.
It is also pretty absurd that of the 2 best archetypes in the format that both are primarily GW decks and are centered around different cards.
One is a creature-based synergy deck with the powerful spell Collected Company as its centerpiece and the other is a GW planeswalker-based synergy deck.
So, both of the best decks are GW decks and they don’t even revolve around using most of the same cards? Yeah, GW is that deep!
Of the cards that overlap between both archetypes, the biggest offenders are:
Basically all of these decks play 4 Dromoka’s Command. The Bant Humans variants of Collected Company don’t typically play Advocate in lieu of more Human-based synergies—however, my teammates and I actually played a Bant Human Company deck that incorporated Sylvan Advocate because we felt it was that good.
Do We Need a Standard Ban to Fix This Problem?
Based on the results it is hard to argue that Standard is a healthy, diverse, and vibrant Magic format.
Looking at the problem decks and what they share in common, it actually seems like the most logical card to ban might be:
The card is basically an auto-include as a 4-of in all of these various flavors of Selesnya decks, and for good reason—the card is absurdly powerful.
Let me try and convince you as to why I think Dromoka’s Command is such a problematic card. For starters, Wizards has stopped printing evergreen 2-cost removal spells in black and has even scrapped 2-mana 3-damage burns spells like Lightning Strike in red.
The heroes Innistrad both needs and deserves?
Oh, and the spells also kill enchantments and counters all burn spells (even sweepers). Not a bad deal for 2 mana.
Dromoka’s Command would be a fine Magic card in other formats, but the reason it is so absurdly OP in Standard is the lack of other cheap removal. Dromoka’s Command allows the GW player a cheap, flexible removal spell while none of the other colors have access to cheap, versatile, instant-speed removal to punish GW mages from fighting creature to creature.
It's also possible to make a case that Collected Company is unfair and unhealthy. The card does things for 4 mana and at instant speed that a card shouldn’t be able to do. Dropping 6 mana worth of creatures onto the board at the end of your opponent’s turn or in the middle of combat is pretty obnoxious.
I’ve heard people make the argument that banning Company would allow people to play decks that line up better against GW Tokens. Part of the problem may be that GW 'Walkers and CoCo really just spread other decks too thin because their method of attack requires answers that are too precise.
I’ve already hypothesized that Collected Company will, at some point in the far off future, need to be banned in Modern simply because what the card does is fundamentally broken.
My biggest hope is that the release of Eldritch Moon will provide the other decks in the format with new tools to fight against these tier I strategies so that a banning isn’t necessary. Or, even better yet, Eldritch Moon may provide some completely new awesome strategies that really turn the format on its head!
Personally, I would be flabbergasted if the DCI banned a card from Standard on the heels of a new release and I hope the tools are in the set so that something like that isn’t necessary for 2 distinct reasons:
- A new set changes the format dramatically. New cards offer new possibilities to be explored and potentially answers to help other decks fight against the Selesnyapocalypse.
- Even if Eldritch Moon doesn’t really solve the Selesnya problem, the next set arriving in September will cause Dromoka’s Command and Collected Company (both of the cards I think are potentially ban worthy) to rotate gracefully and naturally out of Standard forever.
If they don’t ban something now (which I am 99% certain they won’t), then natural rotation will wipe away all of the mess anyway. That is certainly one of the upsides of the new 2 set rotation cycles—the cards don’t stick around quite so long.
I’m optimistic that a full set worth of new cards will be able to shake up some of the stagnation that has been settling into Standard. The Pro Tour will be very telling. If it is all GW Tokens and Bant CoCo, we'll know what the next few months are going to look like! It might be as simple as bringing back Lightning Strike or Doom Blade.
It is kind of comical that Emrakul is about to show up to Innistrad and Standard, and she will be a gigantic underdog to the GW Gatewatch!