Editor’s Note: The December 4 banned and restricted announcement has been released.
Today’s Weekly MTG stream confirmed that changes will be coming to Pioneer and Modern via the scheduled Banned & Restricted announcement slated for Monday.
Andrew Brown and Dan Musser of the Play Design team for Magic: The Gathering joined Blake Rasmussen for an hour-long discussion on ban philosophy for the many Constructed formats the game has to offer. The two confidently reiterated that changes are coming to Pioneer and Modern, with some statements hinting at the cards that are being targeted for bans.
In regards to Pioneer, Musser said that they have been monitoring the format prior to the release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan as they were concerned it was suffering from little movement. Sleight of Hand in Wilds of Eldraine gave Izzet Phoenix a boost, but clearly the Discover combo decks that were introduced via cards like Geological Appraiser, Trumpeting Carnosaur, and Quintorius Kand from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan are problematic. Musser said, “Losing on Turn 3 all the time when your opponent casts one spell is not fun,” making it sound like Geological Appraiser could be the card to get hit with a ban. This ban would also target an uncommon instead of the other two mythic rares mentioned.
An additional statement from Musser made it sound like another ban could be Karn, the Great Creator, as he said it isn’t fun when players have access to the perfect sideboard card all the time. Karn mostly shows up in Mono-Green Devotion, a deck that has wavered from the top deck in the format to a sub-50 percent win rate deck, but one that highly relies on Karn to not only pull off a game-winning combo but to also have answers to most problematic decks thanks to the planeswalker.
Notably, any changes to Pioneer will also be reflected in Explorer on MTG Arena, as it mirrors the format as much as possible. So, if the cards getting banned on Monday are on MTG Arena, they will also leave Explorer.
Modern will also see changes on Monday, but the exact cards joining or coming off the ban list are still up in the air. Brown said they are happy with the unbanning of Preordain and they are happy to look for more spots to take cards off the ban list. Musser said, “it is pretty clear something needs to be done,” in reference to Rakdos Evoke, Up the Beanstalk decks, and Orcish Bowmasters decks. Musser pointed out counterplay can’t seem to keep Rakdos Evoke down and the deck only has gone up in play rate as of late after winning the Modern Pro Tour. Orcish Bowmasters could be one of the bans as Musser specifically pointed out how one-toughness creatures are being shut out of the format.
Musser also made it pretty clear that Splinter Twin would not be coming off the ban list any time soon as it creates an unfun play pattern.
All other formats will stay the course. Brown and Musser said the team is happy with the place Standard, Legacy, and Vintage are currently at. Brown highlighted that Standard play rates are the highest they have been since the pandemic at the LGS level. All archetypes are represented in the format (aggro, control, midrange, and combo) and it looks to be pretty healthy at the moment. They will continue to monitor Legacy and Vintage, but with Eternal Weekend events approaching and the formats in a good spot, no action was necessary.
Other quick hits from stream include:
- Players can expect to hear a lot more from members of Play Design going forward with BnR discussions. This is in response to reactions to the previous BnR announcement offering little communication.
- Functional errata is a nuclear option and is incredibly unlikely to be used. The last big example of functional errata was the change to the companion rules.
- Scheduled BnR announcements will typically fall within two to five weeks after a Standard set releases. The next BnR announcement after Monday’s will be on March 11, following the release of Murders at Karlov Manor.
- The MTG Arena team will announce how the fetch lands from Khans of Tarkir will work (where they will be legal) next week. Khans of Tarkir is coming to MTG Arena on December 12.
Next week’s stream of Weekly MTG will offer a first look at Murders at Karlov Manor.