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Field of the Dead Banned in Standard

Field of the Dead is now banned from the Standard format and events, in both best-of-one and best-of-three play – effective in MTG Arena as of October 24, 2019. As previously announced, the date of the banned and restricted list announcement has been brought forward from November 18 to today, signalling an emergency banning.

Field of the Dead (M20)

Reasoning of the Ban

The metagame of the now concluded Mythic Championship V tournament consisted just over 40% of the decks playing a combination of Field of the Dead and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to create an endless army of zombies. 9 of the top 16 decks were a variation of this deck archetype (“Bant Golos” or “Golos Fires“). Despite this, Wizards’ stance on the banning is not solely due to this tournament. Below is the official reasoning given by Wizards of the Coast.

Since the Standard rotation, one of the strongest and most metagame-defining decks has been a ramp deck that uses Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to find Field of the Dead. The deck has not only maintained a high win rate and metagame share, but has also restricted the space of viable competitive strategies in Standard.

Field of the Dead’s ability to produce a constant stream of Zombie tokens for little resource investment gives the strategy an often-inevitable win condition in long games, making it difficult for traditional control decks or other ramp decks to go “over the top” with a more powerful late game. On the other end of the spectrum, ample anti-aggro tools and fast ramp enable the deck to defend itself against traditional attack decks before shoring up the ground with defensive Zombie tokens. This has forced the metagame into extreme positions, with hyper-aggressive red decks and planeswalker-heavy decks being among the only archetypes to consistently put up favorable results against Field of the Dead decks.

Beyond just the strength of the strategy, Field of the Dead presents a number of other problems for the metagame. The repetitive, on-board nature of its effect can cause games to frequently play out in a similar, deterministic way. Since Field of the Dead is a land, it can be difficult for many archetypes to interact with, further limiting the metagame’s ability to adapt. Finally, the long-term advantage Field of the Dead provides often leads to prolonged games. We’ve observed a marked increase in matches going to time in tabletop tournaments and in average game length in digital play.

Field of the Dead ramp decks represented 42% of the field at Mythic Championship V and maintain both a high play rate and win rate on MTG Arena and Magic Online. Due to the strength and prevalence of the archetype, its warping effect on the metagame, and the undesirable play patterns it creates, Field of the Dead is banned in Standard. (This includes both Best-of-One and Best-of-Three Standard on MTG Arena.)

In this case, I want to be clear that the outcome of Mythic Championship V did not affect this B&R decision. In order to collect and analyze a large sample of data, discuss a decision, and communicate that decision to our partners in rules, digital, and organized play, B&R changes require a certain amount of lead time. Therefore, while the metagame leading up to and including Mythic Championship V was a factor in our decision making, this change is not a direct reaction to the results of that event. In general, a single tournament is only ever a part of the bigger picture when we consider B&R changes.

Finally, we’re aware of a few other community concerns regarding the Standard environment, including that early acceleration into planeswalkers can be frustrating and that the color green is strong across a variety of Standard archetypes. We’ll continue to monitor the health of the environment, but feel it’s important to allow the metagame to adjust to the absence of Field of the Dead before further evaluation. As a philosophy, we prefer that players’ deck-building and metagaming choices drive the evolution of the environment whenever possible, rather than B&R intervention.

  • The next banned and restricted announcement is to be made on November 18, 2019, and they will keep a close eye on Standard.
  • The official list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.

Implementation of the Ban in MTG Arena

The last ban affected to MTG Arena players happened in February, with the banning of Nexus of Fate in best-of-one games. The Wildcards were refunded according to how many copies you crafted. The same is to happen here, with rare Wildcards to be refunded to players who own Field of the Dead.

Players who have Field of the Dead as a part of their in-game collection on MTG Arena prior to 1.01.00 game update on October 24 will receive an equal number of rare Wildcards to their collection as part of the update. These additional rare Wildcards will be automatically added to player collections, and there will be no in-game notification of this grant.

Players can still redeem rare Wildcards for Field of the Dead for play in non–Standard formats. There will be a confirmation message reminding players that the card is currently banned in Standard.

We will be adjusting the Core Set 2020 pack collation to change the rate in which Field of the Dead appears in booster packs. After the 1.01.00 game update, players will only receive Field of the Dead if they have collected playsets of every other rare card available in Core Set 2020 boosters. We will also be removing Field of the Dead from individual card rewards (ICRs).

This change will not impact the collation of cards in Limited boosters used in Core Set 2020 sealed and draft events (Field of the Dead will appear at its original distribution rate).

A Note on Standard Events
If you were participating in a Traditional Standard and/or Standard Event using a deck that included Field of the Dead prior to the 1.01.00 game update, you will still be able to complete the event with your current deck. Please note that your deck will be flagged as invalid because of the ban, however, this will not prevent you from finishing a previously entered event. Once you have finished the current event, you will no longer be able to submit decks that contain Field of the Dead.

Source: MTG Arena Forums – OCT 21 – Banned and Restricted Announcement
  • If you already have Field of the Dead in your collection, you do not lose them.
  • If you craft Field of the Dead now before the Thursday game update, you will still receive the Wildcard refund. You can still play it in other formats like Historic and Brawl, so we recommend you do so.
  • This weekend’s Mythic Championship VII Qualifier Weekend, takes place in the new metagame. This leaves qualified players less than two days to test what decks to play (unless you’re doing in-house testing).

Effect of the Ban on Standard

Prior to the announcement, the banning of Field of the Dead was expected by most but some players were also voicing their concerns for other cards. In Mythic Championship V, a very high proportion of decks played green – with cards like Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Oko, Thief of Crowns, Hydroid Krasis and Once Upon a Time being ubiquitous.

As we see it now, a lot of players will likely flock to the Bant Ramp or Simic Food decks, which were almost just as powerful as the Golos decks. This deck was especially powerful against creature and aggressive strategies, which Golos decks were weak to, forming a rock-paper-scissors sort of metagame with aggressive decks.

As a result, the banning may see the rise of control decks again! As soon as we know what decks are on the rise, we will be sure to update it on our new Standard metagame tier list and potentially theorycraft some decklists for everyone.

Wrapping Up

What do you think about the banning? Do you think Wizards have justified the banning? Do you feel other cards are the problem? Let us know in the comments below, reach out on our Discord, Twitter or our Forums!

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