New Standard Banning Cadence, Next B&R Update Announced On Weekly MTG

Banned & Restricted update set for May 29, likely to impact Standard

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse illustrated by Joe Esposito

Today’s episode of Weekly MTG addressed the upcoming cadence for bans in Standard, the philosophy behind the changes in Standard, and the next scheduled Banned & Restricted update.

William Jensen, Director of Play Programs, and Andrew Brown, Principal Game Designer, joined Blake Rasmussen on Weekly MTG to hold a Q&A to discuss the path forward with tabletop Standard play. This discussion was held as a follow up to the May 7 announcement where Brown and Jensen said Standard was changing from a two-year rotation to a three-year rotation with the release of Wilds of Eldraine.

Jensen reiterated that the expansion of Standard to a three-year rotation was just the first step in a multi-step approach to rejuvenate tabletop Standard play. The next step is the new system and scheduling of bans for the format. Brown announced that the new approach for bans will be to have one major banning event per year to happen each year before the start of previews for the fall set (or rotation set). This announcement each year will primarily target Standard, but other formats can be impacted as well. On top of this once-a-year event, three weeks after every set there will be a mini-ban window to potentially make changes if something is significantly impacting a format in a negative way. Brown described this mini-ban window as a “nuclear button” that can be pressed if things go horribly wrong to fix stuff like Felidar Guardian or Oko, Thief of Crowns in Standard.

Brown emphasized that when Play Design is looking at options for bans, the team will more heavily consider banning cards that have been legal in the format longer. He also pointed out that the team will be more likely to make changes to older formats like Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage in the mini-ban windows following set releases. The big changes to Standard will fall in the once-a-year announcements before the rotation sets and is aimed at allowing players to invest confidently in decks and cards for Standard without fear of sudden bannings.

While the large announcements in the fall will be the standard for Banned & Restricted announcements going forward, the trio announced that there will be a B&R update on May 29 with an accompanying article laying out the banning philosophy for the future of Magic: The Gathering. If there are going to be bannings in current Standard, this is where they will be announced. Notably, there will still be the scheduled event before previews of Wilds of Eldraine previews start. Previews for Wilds of Eldraine start on August 15, so the update should be expected before that date.

Other quick hits from the Q&A include:

  • The date of May 29 for the B&R update was chosen so that it would not impact players preparing for Arena Championship 3, which features Standard and is set for the weekend of May 27-28.
  • While this change to Standard’s rotation has been known for a while internally, Wilds of Eldraine was not designed with this shift in mind.
  • Play Design wants more decks to have a clear identity in Standard, similar to how decks in older formats and Commander appeal to players, rather than just being a combination of colors. The team wants decks to have a cohesive strategy, something that was lost with the move away from the old block structure, and to move away from midrange “soup” metas like the current Standard format exhibits.
  • A larger Standard format will mean better mana and more mana fixing, but there will also be more utility lands and colorless lands that can help different strategies.
  • The goal is not to rejuvenate Standard at the expense of other formats. The idea is to raise tabletop Standard to be in line with other formats, but not to replace formats like Pioneer and Modern.
  • There will be a huge panel for Magic at Gen Con this year, looking into the next three years of the game.
  • Standard will be the RCQ format for the January – March season in 2024.
  • A four-year rotation was not considered for Standard due to keeping formats feeling distinct.

What do you think of the upcoming changes to Standard and the new cadence of bans? Let us know what you think in the comments on Facebook and Twitter.