Wizards of the Coast on Monday made an unexpected Magic: The Gathering banned and restricted announcement, banning several powerful cards that have dominated the standard format for months. Wizards is banning the cards Wilderness Reclamation; Growth Spiral; Teferi, Time Raveler; and Cauldron Familiar in the Standard. Wizards also suspended Wilderness Reclamationin the Magic: The Gathering Arena-exclusive Historic format and Teferi, Time Raveler is suspended in Historic and banned in the Brawl format. In the Pioneer format, Wizard is banning Inverter of Truth; Kethis, the Hidden Hand; Walking Ballista; and Underworld Breach. These bans all go into effect today.
According to Magic: The Gathering designer Ian Duke, the bans in Standard come after reviewing the decklists from the most recent Players Tour events. He also says these bans are an experiment for Magic: The Gathering brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and increased Standard play in MTG Arena and Magic Online.
"This set of changes is a deviation from our usual banned-list philosophy for Standard, and as such, we consider it an experiment," he writes. "Outside of the very top levels of competitive play, including throughout most of the MTG Arena traditional Standard ladder, we're seeing a good distribution of deck diversity and win rates. However, at the skill level of our most competitive tournaments and the Mythic ranking on the Arena ladder, we do see a small number of decks with high win rates and play rates that have remained in that metagame position for quite some time.
"Under our usual approach, we would have allowed Standard rotation to provide a natural and predictable shift in the metagame with the release of Zendikar Rising. But in an era of social distancing, the proportion of Standard play occurring on digital platforms has increased substantially. As the rate at which players can rack up games of Standard in digital is higher than in tabletop, we believe it's correct to enact metagame change at a faster rate as well.
"Therefore, we're making bans targeted at weakening decks that have been strong and popular at the highest levels of competitive play and at some cards and combos that have overstayed their welcome in the eyes of much of the Standard community."
The bans to Growth Spiral and Wilderness reclamation come as ramp decks utilizing them have dominated the recent Standard metagame. Cauldron Familiar is a critical card in sacrifice decks, a strong archetype. The announcement suggests its removal from play has as much to do with the sheer number of triggers the card can set off regularly, slowing play. Teferi, Time Raveler has been a staple of control decks since it debuted in War of the Spark. Players have often complained about the card, which prevents opponents from casting instant-speed spells, being oppressive, and creating repetitive play patterns. That seems to be the motivator behind banning it now.
What do you think of this ban announcement for Magic: The Gathering? Let us know in the comments.