Wizards Confirm Next Banned and Restricted Announcement to be Made June 1st, with Companion Mechanic Changes!
Wizards of the Coast has just confirmed that the next Magic: The Gathering banned and restricted announcement will be made on June 1st, and will be discussing changes to the Standard and Historic formats. In a shocking twist, they allude to some sort of change to the Companion mechanic as a whole!
Companions have warped the landscape of every Magic format in which they are legal, dominating eternal formats like Legacy and Vintage (see the recent Banlist update for those formats here, with my commentary to provide you context, even if you don’t know much about them) and homogenising the top decks in Standard and Historic. Numerous articles and videos have already been made arguing that Companion is a bad mechanic in its current state:
- Companion is the Worst Mechanic for the Health of Magic since Phyrexian Mana by Sam Black (article).
- Is Companion the Worst Mechanic in the History of Magic: the Gathering? by Saffron Olive (video).
- A Comprehensive Set Review of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths by Zvi Mowshowitz (article), posted the day before Ikoria’s release, where he argues that the Companion mechanic is fundamentally broken and calls for a rules change/mass ban.
It sounds as though Wizards, influenced by these complaints and the widespread outcry against Companion from pros and regular players alike, has reached the conclusion that the mechanic as a whole is too good, and to implement some kind of nerf is their best solution.
Suggested Companion Fixes/Nerfs
Various people, including pros, have suggested changes to the mechanic already, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll see one of these implemented:
- If you reveal a Companion at the start of the game, draw one card less in your starting hand (unclear how this would affect London Mulligans). I suspect this is the most likely change, as it leaves Companions in a pretty powerful state, and is simple/easy to understand.
- If you reveal a Companion at the start of the game, draw one card less in your starting hand (unclear how this would affect London Mulligans) and add your Companion to it (making it vulnerable to discard effects). This fix was suggested by Jim Davis on this video (I’ve linked to the time stamp).
- If you reveal a Companion at the start of the game, put a card of your choice on the bottom of your library, and then put the Companion card in your hand – essentially like an additional London Mulligan, but the card goes to the bottom rather than being shuffled in. Suggested on this reddit post. Other fixes are suggested there also, such as exiling a card from your hand as an additional cost to casting a card from the Companion zone.
- Pro Matt Sperling suggests that Companions cripple Sideboards by preventing other cards from being placed in them. This would heavily impact every best-of-three format but not really damage them in best-of-one, except by preventing “wishboards” (see this article for an explanation of what those are, and the key cards which rely on them in Standard).
- The Companion mechanic could be mass banned either from certain formats or as a whole. I believe this to be highly unlikely, but possible.
- Do you think Standard and Historic need any cards banned, for the health of those formats?
- If so, which particular cards?
- What change/s to Companion would you be most happy with, if any?