Wizards of the Coast on Monday made it's latest banned and restricted announcement for Magic: The Gathering. The decisions span various play formats and effects five new banned cards. In the Magic: The Gathering Arena-only Historic format, Nexus of Fate is now banned. Wizards also suspended Burning-Tree Emissary, meaning it is temporarily illegal and may face a permanent ban after Wizards examines the effects of the suspension on the Historic metagame. The previously suspended cards Agent of Treachery; Winota, Joiner of Forces; and Fires of Invention are now banned. The decision to ban these cards in the Historic format comes after Wizards announced that the next Arena Open tournament, where players can win up to $2000, will be held on August 1st and will be Historic format. The format is about to see the influx of 300 new cards when the Jumpstart set joins Magic: The Gathering Arena on Thursday, the same day that these bans go into effect. Senior game designer Ian Duke explains in the announcement that Wizards hopes the bans will curb the dominance of Nexus decks and Gruul Aggro decks in the Historic metagame.
"While [Gruul Aggro] has often been the most-played deck, the separation between it and the other top decks has widened significantly in the last month," Duke says. "Gruul and Nexus are each now played more than three times as much as their closest competition in best-of-three, and Gruul has one of the highest win rates in both best-of-three and best-of-one. After considering the deck and the surrounding meta, we feel like the best card to act on here is Burning-Tree Emissary. While the explosive starts it enables are a factor in the deck's rise, its removal should leave the deck with ample power to remain competitive, just at a more balanced level with other aggressive options.
"Unlike Nexus of Fate, we do see a strong possibility that the Historic meta could shift in a way that allows Burning-Tree Emissary to find a balanced, fun home. However, as the meta stands today, the power it brings to Gruul Aggro is overall reducing the number of balanced, interesting, and varied deck options in format. For this reason, Burning-Tree Emissary is suspended in Historic."
As for other formats, Arcum's Astrolabe is banned in Modern because it makes it too easy for players to access the best cards across all five colors. In Pauper, Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary are both banned in an attempt to curb Tron decks' popularity. Pioneer sees a reversal of fortune for Oath of Nissa, which Wizards decided to unban. Each of these changes is effective immediately.
While this announcement brought no new changes to the Standard format, Wizards notes that it is aware that ramp decks utilizing Growth Spiral "have recently represented a larger than ideal portion of the metagame." They're keeping an eye on it, but believe the metagame is shifting away from ramp deck dominance.
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