October 12, 2020 Banned and Restricted Announcement: Standard, Historic, and Brawl Changes + Commentary
This will be effective from today, October 12th, so get crafting before the Arena client update comes out soon! Remember that anything banned (but not suspended) will incur a wildcard refund, but you can only receive one refund per copy of a card (so if you had 4 Teferi, Time Raveler when it was banned in Standard, you won’t receive 4 rare wildcards yet again). Suspended cards only incur refunds at a later date, if they are banned properly – so nobody will have received a wildcard refund for Burning-Tree Emissary, because it was only ever suspended.
Here are the list of all changes, please scroll down for the official announcement transcript with Wizards’ explanations.
|Standard||Omnath, Locus of Creation||Banned|
|Standard||Escape to the Wilds||Banned|
|Historic||Omnath, Locus of Creation||Suspended|
|Historic||Teferi, Time Raveler||Banned|
|Brawl||Omnath, Locus of Creation||Banned|
All three of these cards have been featured in the same deck, the Omnath Adventures deck, which has been running roughshod over the meta, and it looks like they’ve chosen to ensure that the Adventures strategy is crippled going forward, losing its best card in Lucky Clover and its main card advantage and ramp mechanism in Escape.
Omnath, Locus of Creation is a card that has always felt like it does far too much, and is a victim of the design approach where it feels recently as though Wizards has been trying to make cards that do absolutely everything, and where there’s no investment for playing them because they have so much immediate effect. Omnath alone refunds the card you spend on it and gains a bunch of life, but once you throw Fabled Passage into the mix, it also pays for itself the turn you play it, allowing you to have some incredibly busted turns. Even after you pass the turn back, your opponent absolutely must kill this card that has already refunded you the mana and card you spent on it, meaning that removing Omnath is always a losing proposition. In a format full of Triomes and Pathways, where one of the best Adventure cards in Beanstalk Giant doubles as absurd fixing, 4 colours was never nearly enough of a limiting factor. Even the recent Uro ban barely slowed these decks down, and thankfully it seems as though Wizards has decided to hit the problem directly this time round.
Lucky Clover is an absurd card, immediately doubling most of your spells in the Adventure deck, being cheap enough to sneak onto the board under countermagic and then summarily making it worthless afterwards. Clover leads to the most busted openers the Adventure decks are capable, namely t2 Clover t3 Fertile Footsteps; that’s all you need, but is just as good later in the game – no opponent looking to win a mid or late-game can allow it to stay on the board for very long, and by the time they do kill it, often it’s created a colossal advantage already. Last year, we saw the Temur Adventures steal multiple tournaments seemingly out of nowhere, trampling right over metas far more powerful than this one, with cards like Fires of Invention and Wilderness Reclamation on the prowl, and it’s not at all hard to imagine that happening again if Wizards didn’t resort to getting rid of it now – Omnath’s throne would still be warm by the time Temur Adventures planted itself upon it.
Back in the old days, we’d pay 5 mana just to draw three cards, and we were happy with our lot! Escape to the Wilds is the best rate on card advantage we’ve pretty much ever seen from a 5 mana draw spell, being an incredible ramp payoff while furthering your ramp – it enables and speeds up your land drops, so that you have the best chance to play all the cards you can from it, and you have so much time to do so! It’s still a bit of a surprising ban, since it’s less obviously the problem than the other two, but I do think it homogenised to a large degree the style of late game decks people played, and it was hard to counterplay it with any other midrange or control strategy, since five cards is just so many and it sets up your Genesis Ultimatums and other payoffs so well. I’m happy that it’s gone, since I foresee people having to play late game decks that have more counterplay to them and are harder to attack, rather than just having one strategy that’s so much better than the rest.
Standard was certainly not the only format Omnath was ruling. It turns out returning all your investment, gaining a bunch of life, and being a busted threat that they must deal with is still good in other format! (I definitely anticipate seeing a Pioneer ban for it at some point here too, and Modern isn’t impossible either). Omnath’s enablers were much better in Historic, where Uro, Growth Spiral, and Explore are all available to make playing two lands in a turn absolutely trivial. Omnath was heavily represented and did well in the Historic portion of the Grand Finals, and I suspect it would have been dominant in Historic going forwards.
For info on Teferi and Wilderness Reclamation, check out my commentary when they were first suspended; I won’t rehash my points here. It’s no surprise to see them fully banned, and I’m glad.
Burning-Tree Emissary is a card that I’m happy to see come off the suspension list; it was a powerful card within the Gruul and Mono Red decks, but encouraged them to play mostly fair small creature-based strategies rather than just having tons of burn (which is all Mono Red does now!), which isn’t as interactive and leads to less interesting gameplay. Many of the Gruul decks were even moving away from it into playing bigger stuff when it was first suspended, so it struck me as odd then. Nowadays, Historic has become a lot more powerful, and I suspect the Gruul decks will still lose to decks like Jund Sacrifice and Sultai Mid even with Burning-Tree Emissary; I don’t see it as a problem card at all.
Just Omnath, yet again! It is no surprise that Omnath was by far the most played Brawl deck with the highest winrate; previous best decks like Niv-Mizzet, Reborn, Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, and Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God were all doing far too weak a thing to keep up with the massive mana and card advantage Omnath gave you. Brawl is at its best when many different Commanders are viable and powerful options; homogenisation is at its worst and most crippling here, so this is a much-needed change.
It’s worth noting that Omnath is still legal in Historic Brawl; it’ll be interesting to see whether it nets itself a ban there too after a couple of events. I would certainly expect so.
Thanks for reading! My colleague Robert Lee will have a post soon, where he predicts where the Standard and Historic metas will go from here, so stay tuned and I’ll link it to this post when it’s ready!
Omnath, Locus of Creation is banned.
Lucky Clover is banned.
Escape to the Wilds is banned.
Omnath, Locus of Creation is suspended.
Teferi, Time Raveler is banned.
Wilderness Reclamation is banned.
Burning-Tree Emissary is unsuspended.
Omnath, Locus of Creation is banned.
Effective Date: October 12, 2020
The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.
Historic and Brawl Sections by Jay Parker
With last month’s Standard banned and restricted update, we highlighted that we’d continue to monitor the Standard metagame as well as Omnath, Locus of Creation decks and would make further changes if necessary. Observing ladder play and tournament results over the following weeks, as well as the field of the Grand Finals over the weekend, we’ve concluded that additional changes are necessary.
The two most popular decks in the Standard metagame, Four-Color Ramp and Four-Color Adventures, both feature Omnath, Locus of Creation as a key component. While we did see a marked decline in the win rate of Four-Color Ramp after the banning of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, particularly against red and green aggressive decks and Blue-Black Rogues, Omnath ramp decks continue to have a warping effect on the metagame. Moreover, Four-Color Adventures has become the deck with the highest overall win rate and has a favorable matchup against 9 out of 10 of the other top decks that don’t play Omnath.
This metagame dominance manifested itself in players’ deck choices for the Grand Finals. While it’s common in a small-field invitational tournament for players to test together and converge on a few decks, in this case the field was a striking 23 Omnath decks out of a total of 32.
To address the dominance of Omnath, Locus of Creation, it is banned in Standard.
Without Omnath in the environment, ladder play data makes it clear that Adventure decks would remain as the strongest strategy. Therefore, we’re also choosing to ban Lucky Clover as a powerful and difficult-to-interact-with part of that deck’s engine. We expect that individual creatures with adventure and decks using Edgewall Innkeeper will continue to show up but that after this change, a greater number of other decks can successfully compete with them.
Finally, as a further step to ensure that ramp decks don’t continue to dominate the Standard metagame, we’re also choosing to ban Escape to the Wilds. This card plays a unique and powerful role as a bridge between strong ramp enablers, like Lotus Cobra, and powerful payoffs, like Genesis Ultimatum and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Of nonland cards in the Grand Finals, Escape to the Wilds was played in the second greatest number of copies. As the card common to many ramp variants, this is the most straightforward way to weaken that strategy as a whole and ensure a shift away from recent Standard metagames.
Much as we’ve seen in Standard, Omnath, Locus of Creation is proving to be a powerful contender in Historic as well. Though win rates for these decks are lower in Historic than Standard, we are still seeing the meta share of decks using Omnath, Locus of Creation increasing steadily, particularly in Best-of-Three (where it is currently the most played deck). Historic also provides a wider range of tools for enabling the multiple land drops the deck is looking for, such as Explore and Growth Spiral. To ensure greater diversity and health for the Historic meta, Omnath, Locus of Creation is suspended in Historic.
We also have three current suspensions in Historic to resolve. Looking at how the meta has developed as a result of these suspensions, we feel that the removal of Teferi, Time Raveler and Wilderness Reclamation have increased the diversity and interactivity of the format, improving overall health and balance. As a result, both Teferi, Time Raveler and Wilderness Reclamation are banned in Historic.
Burning-Tree Emissary is a different case. Since that suspension, the power level of Historic has increased considerably with the release of Jumpstart and Amonkhet Remastered, and we have seen the meta share of Gruul Aggro fall off notably. After considering the overall power level of the format and the matchups for Gruul Aggro, we think there is room for Burning-Tree Emissary to be a healthy and interesting addition to the format again. Burning-Tree Emissary is unsuspended in Historic.
Omnath, Locus of Creation is, by far, the most played Commander in Brawl and currently has the highest win rate. Brawl is a format where we particularly value diversity, so Omnath, Locus of Creation is banned in Brawl. Omnath, Locus of Creation will remain legal in Historic Brawl events on MTG Arena, however, we will be using our Commander weighting system so that he will more frequently be paired against other, similarly powerful Commanders.