It appears that the Wizards of the Coast website has a banned and restricted announcement article queued up and ready to go for Monday October 10, 2022, 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 we get an access denied page as a placeholder which says “You are not authorized to access this page.” This method has been used in past ban announcements to speculate ahead of time.
The competitive Magic community is discussing the possible bans in their respective format, as it is always something controversial and fun to have a go at guessing! Although each one has their most powerful meta decks and there certainly are arguments for certain cards, major bans have been far and few between since Winota, Joiner of Forces in Pioneer and other MTG Arena-specific bans in between.
The next major constructed formats are Standard and Explorer in the Magic World Championship XXVIII on October 28, 2022, and the next tabletop Regional Championship in November is Pioneer. What cards could get the axe (or even an unban)? Rather than opinion from one person, our team here on MTG Arena Zone weighs in!
Our Team’s Thoughts
Standard: Before the rotation, we discuss many times on my stream that the first card that probably would get ban post-rotation was going to be Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Clearly it is one of the big three (Fable, Wedding Announcement, and Liliana of the Veil), however, being Black so dominant, after the release of DMU, things change a little.
Liliana of the Veil and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse seems like the stronger cards Black had at its disposal; nevertheless, other cards like The Meathook Massacre, Graveyard Trespasser, and Invoke Despair are pillars of Black-based archetypes.
Like many times said before, is very improbable that WotC ban a card from the latest set. With this in mind, Lili and Sheoldred should be safe. On the other hand, despite how strong Invoke Despair is, this sorcery is a card that demands an archetype build around casting it without worrying about four black mana in its casting cost. This makes me think that is also safe.
This leaves us with just two possible viable ban targets for Standard for holding Black back: The Meathook Massacreand Graveyard Trespasser. I know that it could sound so adventurous, but Trespasser could be a viable ban. Just as in Fable of Mirror-Breaker and Wedding Announcement, this werewolf is a card that makes you trade 2×1 most of the time, something that makes any deck run low on resources for fighting back when Lili or Sheoldred comes into play. Furthermore, The Meathook Massacre is the main reason Black can hold back any aggro attempt without worrying too much. My partners here at MTG Arena Zone already make some clear statements about this enchantment; without a doubt, they are solid reasons for considering this card for this next Monday’s ban announcement.
Pioneer: Besides how powerful Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is, I don’t think we are going to see this card banned. Is clearly one of the powerhouses of the format, but it does not even enter in the top 10 most played cards in Pioneer. I didn’t see a ban on this format nearly future, and if this happens, WotC probably should aim for lowering Rakdos Midrange’s presence.
Modern: Despite how strong Izzet Murktide is, I think that this format is in a very healthy state right now. Having made this clear, Izzet Murktide is a deck that you could attack in many ways, and every other archetype has cards that can help navigate this matchup, however, its popularity is getting closer to an unhealthy % of the meta. I don’t think WotC is going to ban something in Modern, but if this happens, a central card in the Murktide Regent strategy could get the axe.
Now, we should remember that we also could get an unban when this announcement happens. A few years ago, when Modern Horizons 1 and 2 were released, I wrote a comment on social media about how many cards of this Eternal Exclusive sets started surpassing in power level many of the already banned cards, and with this in mind, think about unbanning cards was not illogical.
This could be polemic, but, in my opinion, probably the safest card to get unbanned shortly is Birthing Pod I know that this card enables many two creatures combos, and provides enormous value turn after turn, nevertheless, the format is two steps ahead in power level than the moment when Birthing Pod was banned. We got many new tools to answer this artifact and letting this card go out again to the playground would be, in my opinion, just a way to diversify the meta a little bit more.
I would be shocked to see anything in Standard, not enough data and no real boogiemen. Pioneer is oddly close to the upcoming RCQ right next to a new set release, but maybe that would be the point.
The Meathook Massacre probably makes the most sense not in an absolute value kind of way, but in a “if you had to ban one thing” kind of way. I don’t think banning it changes anything about the format and I doubt the incentive to ban anything in Standard even exists.
Standard: I think it’s unlikely that anything gets banned in Standard as a new set will be dropping soon. Beyond that, while Black is clearly the most dominant color in Standard, that doesn’t mean Standard has been stale. I have seen a lot of mobility within the top tier of decks as different midrange decks rise to prominence depending on that weeks metagame. Furthermore, non-Black strategies such as Bant, Mono White (midrange and aggro), and Boros Reanimator have been performing well. If they are going to ban anything, it would likely be The Meathook Massacre as it is extremely punishing to the aggressive decks (despite Mono White performing well anyway).
Pioneer: Pioneer is a tough situation as Rakdos and Mono Green have been on top of the format for awhile. Mono Green is simple to fix if they like (and I believe it’s likely) as Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or Karn, the Great Creator would be easy targets. I think Karn is the more interesting card for the format, so Nykthos is likely the most likely choice. Rakdos is a much harder situation to solve as none of the cards are particularly outstanding, it’s just the deck performs really well. If the play and win rate for the deck is problematic (hard to say without data), you’d probably have to target Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Thoughtseize. That said, it would be weird to go after Thoughtseize as its not an inherently unfair card, just a powerful one, and Fable is in the same boat. The issue is, if they ban something from Mono Green, then Rakdos risks being the lone S tier deck. Maybe just nerfing Green is safe as you can then play other decks that look to play to the late game which Rakdos can struggle with, but it would be risky. That said, considering none of the cards in Rakdos are problematic, I think the most likely scenarios are either no bans, or just Nykthos and they keep an eye on Rakdos’ play and win rates.
Modern: Modern is in a pretty healthy place so I’m doubtful of bans, but if they were taking out anything, I would guess Wrenn and Six. The card does a lot for a very small mana investment and can create frustrating play patterns. Is it too strong for Modern? That’s a lot more debatable, but it’s close. In terms of unbans, I feel that the only one that would be safe is Hypergenesis. While the card can create some really insane turns, the deck seems insanely inconsistent as this isn’t Crashcade or Living End. Crashcade can play a mostly normal game and then push a bunch of bodies where Living End has cycling to make itself consistent. Hypergenesis requires lands, the cascade card, a relevant threat and for that to not get countered, discarded, or even just generally beat.
No Ban Needed for me.
Standard: I think the general consensus should there be any standard banning at all that the card most likely to go is The Meathook Massacre Many strategies are currently built the way they are in order to beat meathook due to a need to be big enough to survive it on curve. There has been very little success from aggro in the format, mostly due to the dominance of midrange, and perhaps Meathook getting an axe will help free up some space to breathe?
Pioneer: I don’t really expect any changes in this format – pioneer seems fairly sweet right now, coming off the back of a mostly successful RCQ season. While there is a few known powerhouses that we should keep an eye on, such as Treasure Cruise, Nykthos and most things Rakdos, I’d be suprised if the data suggested much had to change here.
Modern: I expect Wrenn and Six to head the way of legacy, and I mostly expect another card from 4c to join it, probably Omnath. 4c has continued to put up incredible results by just being the best “I can do everything” pile the format has ever seen, and Wrenn continues to get stronger the more utility lands such as Boseju see print. If he doesn’t leave us now, Wrenn will continue to feel like they’re on borrowed time as the powerful, hard to answer glue that holds a lot of the format together. In my dream world, Yorion finally eats the axe, so we can get closer to eradicating companions from the format forever – but that seems unlikely. Lastly, I could see UR Murktide getting lightly adjusted, but I hope it’s not done via hitting Murktide itself.
Modern: Yorion, Sky Nomad ban, mention of a few other cards being watched. Companion continues to be the most problematic mechanic ever printed, moreso than Dredge and Storm, and Yorion has had a negative impact on the format, more than any other card. The existence of a deck jokingly referred to as “Money Pile” that revolves around Yorion increasing costs is just toxic, and a bad look for the game and format.
Legacy: Expressive and Murktide bans. Wizards listens to the Legacy players again who insist the problem is new cards, and not the actual broken cards (Brainstorm, Daze, Wasteland). This won’t fix the problem, Delver will remain the best deck in the format by a mile, but it’ll get players to stop complaining about these two new cards and instead move on to complaining about the next two new cards.
Legacy Bans and Unbans:
I think it is fairly obvious Legacy needs to change. The format has been really stale for over a year now, and like most of us suspected, banning Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer did literally nothing. It seems like every new set adds cards that fit best into the Delver shell and sooner or later get banned. But why should we keep banning these new cards if they are just going to print similar ones?
Unfortunately, we will most likely either get no bans or just Expressive Iteration, which I highly doubt will do much to make Delver more bearable.
For a while, I have made my opinion pretty public that Daze needs to get banned. Non-Legacy players often say to us “Just play around Daze”. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy, at least not anymore. Most decks can’t afford to play around it; waiting to try to remove a threat often means letting yourself get Time Walk’d, and getting Daze‘d can be game ending. It makes for really one-sided gameplay. People often say if you unban Daze, combo will be too good. As a combo player and someone who has experience with most legacy decks, Daze is best against fair decks. Dark Ritual decks can easily play around it without wasting a turn. I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating playing against Daze is. At this point, I propose banning Daze and maybe even Murktide Regent too. Murktide is possibly fine, but it feels awful to face on a lot of decks.
As for unbans, I feel they are even less likely to happen than bans. That being said, I feel the following are safe unbans for Legacy:
Twist is typically the first card brought up in Legacy unban discourse. I don’t think this card would see much (if any) competitive play in 2022 Legacy. Non-combo Black decks are mostly all already poorly positioned and this card wouldn’t help much with that.
Another card I think everyone says is a safe unban. These days, we have Echo the Eons and even Day’s Undoing which are both likely much better in Legacy.
This is likely the 3rd or 4th most asked for unban, though some feel it is still risky. Earthcraft is a 2 card combo with Squirrel Nest for infinite 1/1 creatures. I personally feel it would be pretty safe with the format now gaining Force of Negation, Force of Vigor and Boseiju, Who Endures.
Last one that is highly requested. Frantic Search works really well with High Tide but that deck died years ago. New printings such as Narset, FON and Hullbreacher have made it a lot worse. I think this card could see a small return of High Tide and potentially some other decks may try it.
Next 5 are slightly less safe but I believe would still be fine to unban:
Bargain used to be completely broken and still potentially is but is likely just worse than a lot of other existing engines storm decks enable these days.
I know a ton of people are going to disagree with me on this one and I could be very wrong here, but I think this card is completely ok to unban. As the 2nd best Oops player, I don’t even know that we would run this card. The only other existing deck that could run it is Cephalid Breakfast, which would need to splash for it. Both Oops and Breakfast are not very weak to removal and Druid just is. Druid having to survive a turn to win makes me feel it is on power level for today’s format.
Don’t get me wrong, this card is very good. Survival can be played as a combo card or a more midrangy/value tutor. It used to see a lot of play in Vintage but has since fallen out of favor because it just isn’t as powerful as it once was. Legacy (and Vintage) has gained Force of Negation, Force of Vigor, Boseiju, Endurance, and many other cards that are naturally strong against effects like Survival. Survival is also just very fun and would be a good card to brew around for the format.
Another one that some players will surely disagree with. Counterspell sees 0 competitive play these days, decks that can play Counterspell don’t gain a huge advantage from mana produced by Drain. The deck that most likely would play it is Jeskai Control and the payoffs they cast typically only have 1-2 colorless mana in their cmc.
This is not a card I would have considered but recently saw quite a bit of Twitter discussions regarding it. After reading some stuff, I believe with the new companion rule, this could be alright. Zirda is very strong but the new rule makes it way slower and that could be enough to warrant its unbanning.
Alright, 3 last ones I would be fine with unbanning but are potentially way too good. Most people are very against unbanning these:
Library was once one of the best lands ever, I don’t currently feel it is anymore. Legacy is so much faster than it used to be and a huge percentage of decks play 4 Wasteland. Library seems nearly 0 play as a restricted card in Vintage, and I know that is not a great comparable for this as Legacy you could play 4 copies, but the only deck I could see wanting to run it is Jeskai Control. Jeskai Control currently has a 49.6% win rate and is 49% vs UR Delver, the deck it was designed to beat. I highly doubt Library would help with the Delver matchup.
Seal is somewhat risky. Doomsday would play 4 of them, being a perfect upgrade from Personal Tutor. Do I think this would make Doomsday too good? No I don’t. Doomsday is 34.5% vs Delver; the most played and clear best deck in the format. Losing life vs Delver is pretty bad. Decks like ANT could potentially play this card as well, and it may be too good in storm, but I am way less concerned about that because of their not great position in the meta.
Some players will be very mad at me for even thinking Oath is remotely fine, and maybe they are right. As someone who plays a lot of Vintage, Oath is really beatable. Boseiju, Force of Vigor and Grafdigger’s Cage all are very strong against Oath. Oath isn’t that good in Vintage, it is certainly a deck, but it doesn’t often win events. Vintage has moxen to power it out as early as t1 and get a creature t2 as well as a solid backup plan in Oko and Wrenn. These cards are not legal in Legacy and Legacy also has way more removal being played in decks. Karakas is also played a fair amount in Legacy and can be powerful as a defense vs Oath. I would like to see Legacy with Oath but it should be watched carefully as it is potentially way too strong.
I have 5 more that I wouldn’t unban but are worth considering. Some people have a few of these on their definitely safe to unban list but I am personally more concerned about them:
Channel is really busted, especially as a 4 of. I think it is still too good, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if it got unbanned.
This card may be too strong, but it may also be helpful for decks to have against decks like Delver. It is a 2 mana board wipe, but could cost the deck playing it to discard a few cards.
I see a lot of people say this is super safe to unban but I am more concerned. Mind’s Desire can be difficult to play against and is obviously extremely powerful. I am unsure about this unban.
Jar may be a bit safer than Desire cause you can just counter it more easily, and card like Collector Ouphe and Null Rod also just shut it off, but you can’t deny the power of it and the risky unbanning it could be.
Let’s be real here, Dreadhorde died for the sins of Daze. I think current Delver is more powerful than the DHA era of Delver was. This card is very good, it used to be hard to win if Delver got to attack with DHA once, you just fell so far behind. I would only unban DHA if Daze got banned.
That’s all for me, feel free to disagree, they are just opinions.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!