Companions have been warping Magic: The Gathering formats since their release in Ikoria, and today Wizards of the Coast took steps to change that. In the June 1 banned and restricted announcement, Wizards made sweeping rules changes to the companion keyword, forever changing the power and usability of creatures with this ability. Players had expected a change to occur for some time, or that certain companions would be banned. While Wizards of the Coast did ban two cards, a rule change was unexpected.
The companion ability now reads: “Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.”
This is a huge change from simply casting it from outside the game. Companion creatures now require an additional three mana to pay for the special action, and it then still has to be cast. Suddenly these cards are vulnerable to discard effects, and they tie up more of your mana in casting them. The one upside to this is that this is considered a special action and cannot be countered or prevented by cards like Phyrexian Revoker.
Today's updated to the Banned & Restricted list features changes to Standard, Historic, and the Companion mechanic. Read the full update here: https://t.co/IFeTiY3TDA
— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) June 1, 2020
How did Magic make the decision to change companions?
Wizards of the Coast spoke at length on how the rules change was decided on. Decks featuring companions had high win rates through multiple formats and were dominating the meta in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern. Legacy and Vintage had previously seen targeted bans. Instead of trying to ban each card in each format, Wizards decided to reduce the power of all companions across the board. This rule goes into effect today, June 1 for tabletop and Magic: The Gathering Online players. In Arena the change won’t be in effect until June 4.
Sweeping rules changes are fairly rare in Magic. The announcement stated that other rules changes were considered, but in the end, Wizards felt that having an additional cost was the best. It gives players more time to prepare for a powerful card next turn or to deal with it in the player’s hand. For all the latest on Magic: The Gathering bans, news, updates, and more, make sure you’re following Daily Esports.