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It appears that the Wizards of the Coast website has a banned and restricted announcement article queued up and ready to go for May 19th, which usually goes live at 8 AM Pacific Time. The speculation is that we would just get a 404 “page not found” error on visiting this page, but instead as a placeholder it says “Access denied” and we’re not authorised to access the page. This method has been used in past ban announcements to speculate ahead of time, when Omnath, Locus of Creation was banned last year.
Currently in the Magic: The Gathering world, competitive focus has been mostly on Standard and Historic, and with the Strixhaven Championship coming up on June 4, Wizards will be reluctant to make any significant changes unless it is urgently required. The announcement can be expected to affect either format – and there are arguments that can be made for a few specific cards.
Tainted Pact Combo
Currently, the most obvious target to be added to the Historic suspension list is the two card insta-win combo dominating Historic, Tainted Pact and Thassa’s Oracle:
Despite having a deck building restriction to be mostly singleton, similar to Companions this is proving to be less of an issue as long as the payoff is powerful enough and the format card pool has enough depth to have redundancy. The dominance of the deck was shown in the latest May Strixhaven League Weekend, where it represented over 50% of the field combined for both the Dimir and Grixis versions.
The results from the league matches also suggests that the win rate of the deck also supports its tier 0 status in the format:
Another issue is how the combo is clunky to pull off on MTG Arena due to the length of the turn allowed. This meant that although a turn 3 kill was technically possible, players could not execute the combo fast enough to actually win the game. There are clever ways around it, however:
There are even ways to disrupt the combo in your favor if you have Baleful Mastery in your deck:
As for which part of the combo might get the chopping block, we have a similar precedence last year when Inverter of Truth was banned from Pioneer, also pairing up as a two card combo with Thassa's Oracle. Tainted Pact being suspended from the format tomorrow means that it will completely remove the deck from the format, but it has only recently been introduced to Historic so there is a chance that it might stay.
Banning Thassa's Oracle would keep the deck alive and allows the use of other slower and easier to disrupt win conditions such as Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Stifle is also being introduced in Historic Anthology 5, which gives us another cheap and efficient way to deal with such triggers in addition to Nimble Obstructionist. Either way, it will be hard to rationalize the same combo existing in the same form after tomorrow.
Winota, Joiner of Forces
A case could be made for the unbanning of Winota, which is currently legal in Standard. When it was banned last year in July, the Historic format was very different and the power level was still low. Players have been comparing it with
Suffice to say, Strixhaven has not had a huge impact on Standard. Although Throne of Eldraine has been plaguing the format for almost 2 years now, it will soon be rotating out in September 2021. Cards have been banned very close to their rotation last year such as Teferi, Time Raveler, Wilderness Reclamation and Growth Spiral. Having said that, the format is a little bit stale, but still relatively stable as different decks fluctuate back and fourth between the top tiers. We do not expect the format to undergo any changes tomorrow.
Current Historic Banned Card List
For your reference, below is the current Historic banlist; no cards are suspended as of today.
The following cards in the Mystical Archive are also banned, though you can still find them in booster packs:
In early July Wizards of the Coast are experimenting the digital side of Magic: The Gathering with the Mirror, Mirror event, where they are featuring rebalanced versions of some of Historic’s iconic banned cards (such as Oko, Uro, Omnath). Do you think this is the way to go for the future, and more prompt changes to the format? What do you predict will happen tomorrow?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!