Wizards of the Coast released a brutal Banned & Restricted update on Monday, shaking up several Magic: The Gathering formats by banning multiple high profile cards. Some of the biggest headaches for players were banned, including Teferi, Time Raveler, and Wilderness Reclamation in the Standard format. Standard wasn’t the only format to take a hit though, as Pioneer, Historic, and Brawl all lost powerful cards. The MTG bans were sudden and off schedule for Wizards, but they were necessary to keep each format running smoothly.
New MTG bans
- Wilderness Reclamation is banned.
- Growth Spiral is banned.
- Teferi, Time Raveler is banned.
- Cauldron Familiar is banned.
- Inverter of Truth is banned.
- Kethis, the Hidden Hand is banned.
- Walking Ballista is banned.
- Underworld Breach is banned.
- Wilderness Reclamation is suspended.
- Teferi, Time Raveler is suspended.
- Teferi, Time Raveler is banned.
Today's update to the Banned & Restricted list features changes to Standard, Pioneer, Historic, and Brawl. Read about the cards impacted and analysis from the Magic development team here: https://t.co/1M86PgkdM1
— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) August 3, 2020
Standard Magic and the problem with balancing
The Standard MTG bans came on the heels of the Players Tour MTG Arena where ramp decks, particularly Temur Reclamation, had a dominating presence in the event. According to data collected by Wizards of the Coast, ramp decks took up an oppressive 68% of the meta, which is incredibly unhealthy for a format. Banning both Wilderness Reclamation and Growth Spiral was necessary for Wizards to keep the format from being dominated by just one deck.
Teferi, Time Raveler, the three-mana planeswalker from War of the Spark has consistently been on the verge of being banned since its release. Wizards admitted that they have known that Teferi has not been good for Standard for some time. By keeping Teferi in Standard, Wizards had hoped to keep Wilderness Reclamation in check.
The choice to ban Cauldron Familiar is more of a preemptive ban to continue to have a healthy meta as the Standard format balances out. Jund Sacrifice decks and the combo between Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Cauldron resulted in high win rates. Interestingly, Wizards cited multiple triggers causing frustration in digital formats like Magic: The Gathering Arena as a reason for the banning.
As many players have pointed out, the Standard bans felt odd given that Teferi, Wilderness Reclamation, and Growth Spiral were due to rotate out once Zendikar Rising releases. Wizards of the Coast addressed this as well, stating that they wanted a diverse Standard with the current cards in Standard before a major rotation.
Pioneer and combo woes
The decision to ban these cards came from concerns that combo-based decks had become too powerful in Pioneer. After seeing a decline in players on Magic: The Gathering Online, Wizards of the Coast wanted to reduce the chances of players losing early on into a game. By banning Kethis, Inverter of Truth, Underworld Breach, and Walking Ballista, several consistent combo based strategies have been taken out of the format. While the change is big, Wizards wanted to ensure that the shakeup to Pioneer would be enough to entice more players into the format.
Rounding out the bans with Historic and Brawl
Many of the same reasons that Wizards chose to ban Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi in Standard led to them to be suspended in Historic. With both cards now suspended, there is a chance that they could return if there is minimal impact on Historic with them leaving. Teferi, Time Raveler can’t catch a break as it is also banned in Brawl. Wizards revealed that more than 10% of all Brawl decks featured Teferi as the commander, which was a little too much to be healthy for the format.