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Seemingly out of nowhere, we have another Banned and Restricted announcement! This time, the announcement focuses mostly on Pioneer, but as Explorer is looking to eventually recombine with Pioneer, this affects it as well. To that end, Winota, Joiner of Forces and Expressive Iteration are banned in Pioneer, and consequentially, Expressive Iteration is banned in Explorer.
According to Wizards, the justification for banning Winota in Pioneer is very closely aligned to why it was banned in Explorer. First off, the play rates and win rates simply exceeded healthy levels which is a very good reason to ban it for that alone. However, they even pointed out how frustrating it can be to play against it as Winota provides the very uncompelling game play of have a removal spell to stop me or die. Initially when Wizards banned Winota in Explorer, it was mentioned that as more Pioneer cards come to Arena this decision may be reversed. Now that it’s been banned in Pioneer as well, that will no longer be the case.
In a bit more of an unexpected move, Expressive Iteration was taken out of Pioneer as well. The reasons cited have to do with the power of the card itself and how strong it was with the Delve spells. In terms of the card’s power level, Iteration allowed substantially better card selection than pretty much anything else available in Pioneer and Explorer making it hard for other decks to match up in an attrition battle.
Furthermore, the Delve cards – Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time – are emblematic of the Izzet deck’s identities in Pioneer, but their power levels are supposed to be gated as there are no fetch lands and not too many cantrips. However, Expressive Iteration seemed too powerful in conjunction with the Delve spells, and as a result, caught a ban in both Pioneer and Explorer.
Beyond these two bannings, Wizards expressed that they were pretty content with how the other formats are going along right now as well. The most contentious area to look out for and one that Wizards acknowledges is that Jeskai decks are growing a lot in popularity, but still remain within an acceptable win rate range. They also note that other aggressive decks have become less popular with time, however, Mono Green Aggro seems to be really strong against the metagame despite the low play rate.
|Pioneer||Winota, Joiner of Forces||Banned|
- Balustrade Spy
- Bloodstained Mire
- Expressive Iteration
- Flooded Strand
- Felidar Guardian
- Field of the Dead
- Inverter of Truth
- Kethis, the Hidden Hand
- Leyline of Abundance
- Lurrus of the Dream-Den
- Nexus of Fate
- Oko, Thief of Crowns
- Once Upon a Time
- Polluted Delta
- Smuggler's Copter
- Teferi, Time Raveler
- Undercity Informer
- Underworld Breach
- Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
- Veil of Summer
- Walking Ballista
- Wilderness Reclamation
- Windswept Heath
- Winota, Joiner of Forces
- Wooded Foothills
Announcement Date: June 7, 2022
Winota, Joiner of Forces is banned.
Expressive Iteration is banned.
Expressive Iteration is banned.
(Note that feedback. Winota, Joiner of Forces was already banned in Explorer.)
Effective Date: June 7, 2022
The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.
As noted in previous updates, we want Pioneer to provide as diverse an experience as possible, built out of an ever-growing collection of Standards past.
Over time, it has become clear that Naya Winota is suppressing diversity as its power and consistency have drastically reduced incentives to play other linear creature-based strategies. Not only is it a resilient midrange deck that can leverage many of the powerful mana creatures available in the format, but its explosive draws involving the deck’s namesake can create unassailable battlefield states as quickly as turn three.
Due to its large metagame share, high win rate, and ability to create frustrating removal-check gameplay, Winota, Joiner of Forces is banned in Pioneer.
Expressive Iteration has been a multiformat all-star since its release in Strixhaven: School of Mages. It has fueled a variety of highly successful Izzet Strategies in Pioneer by both providing card selection and card advantage at a much higher rate than what is available to other decks, making it extremely difficult for other strategies to engage them in wars of attrition.
Although we recognize that there are several other powerful card-draw spells in the format, notably Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, we currently believe that delve spells contribute to blue decks in Pioneer having a unique identity among Eternal formats. As Pioneer’s card pool has fewer strong cantrips and no fetch lands, we’re hoping many delve cards can continue to be a part of the format at a more moderate power level compared to how they would play in other nonrotating formats.
To lower the win rate of the wide variety of Izzet decks and bring them further in line with other strategies in the format while maintaining what makes them special in Pioneer, Expressive Iteration is banned.
It’s worth noting that we will continue to align Pioneer ban announcements with action in Explorer. This means that Expressive Iteration will also be banned in Explorer. Winota, Joiner of Forces was previously banned in Explorer. When we made that change, we noted that we would revisit that ban with the release of Dominaria United. However, now that Winota, Joiner of Forces is banned in Pioneer, we plan to leave it banned in Explorer going forward.
While we’re choosing to make changes only to the Pioneer banned list at this time, we did examine and discuss the health of each of our competitive play formats. For each of those other formats, we found the metagames to be in a generally healthy state, characterized by moderate play rates and win rates among the most played decks, and good variety of choice among competitively viable decks. Below is a short summary of our “no changes” decisions for several formats.
Our data from the platinum and higher MTG Arena ladder shows the Standard metagame as being in a healthy spot. Various three-color mid-speed decks are the most played archetypes, the most popular of which (Esper and Grixis) each occupy about 10% of the ladder metagame. Jeskai variants (featuring either Hinata, Dawn-Crowned or Lier, Disciple of the Drowned) have been growing in popularity at higher levels of play but remain with healthy populations and win rates. Conversely, Runeforge Champion decks and Mono-White Aggro have become less popular over time. Mono-Green Aggro, while not one of the most popular decks, shows promising win rates against many of the more popular archetypes.
All in all, this indicates potential for the metagame to continue evolving, and the current state already reflects good levels of diversity.
The Modern metagame continues to show great playstyle diversity, with aggro, tempo, combo, control, and ramp all represented in the ten most played decks. The most played deck, Izzet Murktide, represents about 10% of the Magic Online metagame and hovers right around a 50% win rate. The top decks show strengths and weaknesses against each other, and there looks to be plenty of room for less popular “rogue” decks to be successful.
Since the ban of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in January, the win rate of Izzet Delver has come down, and the deck now shows appropriate strengths and weaknesses against the other most played archetypes. Reanimator, control, resource denial, combo, and aggro are all additional macro-archetypes that are seeing success. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for potentially unhealthy or unfun play patterns, but otherwise natural metagame forces currently look sufficient to handle any short-term shifts in deck popularity.
As always, data on Vintage tends to come in relatively small sample sizes, but we’re not currently seeing anything that indicates changes being necessary. Recent Magic Online Vintage Challenge events show generally good diversity in decks and strategies. New additions from Modern Horizons 2 and other recent sets continue to show up, and there appears to be healthy potential for experimentation at the individual card level. As always, we’ll continue listening to community feedback.