Commander 2021

by AAG Staff

To view the extended-art versions of these cards available in Strixhaven: School of Mages Collector Boosters, check out our Variant Card Image Gallery.   WHITE | BLUE | BLACK | RED | GREENMULTICOLORED | COLORLESS | ARTIFACT | LAND | ALL CARDS WHITE Angel of the Ruins Archaeomancer's Map Bronze Guardian Combat Calligrapher Digsite Engineer Excavation Technique Guardian Archon Losheel, Clockwork Scholar Monologue Tax Nils, Discipline Enforcer Promise of Loyalty Scholarship Sponsor Angel of Serenity Boreas Charger Citadel Siege Cleansing Nova Darksteel Mutation Dispatch Dispeller's Capsule Duelist's Heritage Elite Scaleguard Ghostly Prison Gideon, Champion of Justice Hunted Lammasu Knight of the White Orchid Martial Impetus Oblation Oreskos Explorer Orzhov Advokist Return to Dust Rout Sanctum Gargoyle Selfless Squire Soul Snare Stalking Leonin Sun Titan Sunscorch Regent Together Forever Tragic Arrogance Vow of Duty Windborn Muse Zetalpa, Primal Dawn BLUE Commander's Insight Curiosity Crafter Dazzling Sphinx Deekah, Fractal Theorist Inspiring Refrain Muse Vortex Octavia, Living Thesis Perplexing Test Replication Technique Sly Instigator Spawning Kraken Theoretical Duplication Aether Gale Aetherspouts Brainstorm Champion of Wits Crafty Cutpurse Curse of the Swine Dig Through Time Diluvian Primordial Living Lore Metallurgic Summonings Mind's Desire Naru Meha, Master Wizard Ponder Rapid Hybridization Reef Worm Rite of Replication Serum Visions Swarm Intelligence Talrand, Sky Summoner Traumatic Visions Treasure Cruise BLACK Author of Shadows Blight Mound Bold Plagiarist Cunning Rhetoric Essence Pulse Fain, the Broker Incarnation Technique Keen Duelist Marshland Bloodcaster Stinging Study Tivash, Gloom Summoner Veinwitch Coven Ambition's Cost Ancient Craving Bloodthirsty Aerialist Bloodtracker Curse of Disturbance Damnable Pact Deadly Tempest Deathbringer Regent Defiant Bloodlord Epicure of Blood Feed the Swarm Greed Infernal Offering Necropolis Regent Noxious Gearhulk Ob Nixilis Reignited Parasitic Impetus Reckless Spite Sangromancer Sanguine Bond Silversmote Ghoul Suffer the Past Taste of Death Vampire Nighthawk RED Audacious Reshapers Battlemage's Bracers Creative Technique Cursed Mirror Fiery Encore Inferno Project Laelia, the Blade Reforged Radiant Performer Rionya, Fire Dancer Rousing Refrain Ruin Grinder Surge to Victory Apex of Power Blasphemous Act Brass's Bounty Chain Reaction Charmbreaker Devils Combustible Gearhulk Daretti, Scrap Savant Dualcaster Mage Erratic Cyclops Etali, Primal Storm Faithless Looting Feldon of the Third Path Fiery Fall Hellkite Igniter Hellkite Tyrant Hoard-Smelter Dragon Humble Defector Jaya Ballard Mana Geyser Pia Nalaar Quicksmith Genius Seething Song Sunbird's Invocation Thopter Engineer Volcanic Vision Wildfire Devils GREEN Blossoming Bogbeast Ezzaroot Channeler Fractal Harness Guardian Augmenter Healing Technique Paradox Zone Pest Infestation Ruxa, Patient Professor Sequence Engine Sproutback Trudge Trudge Garden Yedora, Grave Gardener Ageless Entity Arashi, the Sky Asunder Beast Within Cultivate Ezuri's Predation Forgotten Ancient Garruk, Primal Hunter Gift of Paradise Hornet Nest Hornet Queen Hydra Broodmaster Incubation Druid Kazandu Tuskcaller Kodama's Reach Krosan Grip Managorger Hydra Nissa's Expedition Nissa's Renewal Pulse of Murasa Rampaging Baloths Rampant Growth Return of the Wildspeaker Shamanic Revelation Terastodon Verdant Sun's Avatar MULTICOLORED Breena, the Demagogue Felisa, Fang of Silverquill Veyran, Voice of Duality Zaffai, Thunder Conductor Gyome, Master Chef Willowdusk, Essence Seer Alibou, Ancient Witness Osgir, the Reconstructor Adrix and Nev, Twincasters Esix, Fractal Bloom Inkshield Oversimplify Reinterpret Revival Experiment Wake the Past Biomass Mutation Boros Charm Call the Skybreaker Coiling Oracle Crackling Drake Deathbringer Liege Debtors' Knell Epic Experiment Gaze of Granite Gluttonous Troll Incubation // Incongruity Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer Kaseto, Orochi Archmage Leyline Prowler Magister of Worth Master Biomancer Moldervine Reclamation Plaxcaster Frogling Primal Empathy Sapling of Colfenor Spitting Image Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts Trygon Predator Utter End COLORLESS Desolation Twin ARTIFACT Elementalist's Palette Geometric Nexus Tempting Contract Triplicate Titan Alhammarret's Archive Arcane Signet Bloodthirsty Blade Boros Locket Bosh, Iron Golem Burnished Hart Commander's Sphere Coveted Jewel Druidic Satchel Duplicant Elixir of Immortality Hedron Archive Ichor Wellspring Idol of Oblivion Izzet Signet Key to the City Loxodon Warhammer Meteor Golem Mind Stone Mycosynth Wellspring Myr Battlesphere Orzhov Signet Paradise Plume Pendant of Prosperity Pilgrim's Eye Pristine Talisman Pyromancer's Goggles Scrap Trawler Sculpting Steel Simic Signet Sol Ring Solemn Simulacrum Spectral Searchlight Steel Hellkite Steel Overseer Sun Droplet Talisman of Creativity Talisman of Resilience Thousand-Year Elixir Unstable Obelisk Venser's Journal Victory Chimes Well of Lost Dreams LAND Study Hall Witch's Clinic Ancient Den Barren Moor Battlefield Forge Blighted Cataract Blighted Woodland Bojuka Bog Boros Garrison Caves of Koilos Command Tower Darksteel Citadel Desert of the Fervent Desert of the Mindful Exotic Orchard Forgotten Cave Gingerbread Cabin Golgari Rot Farm Great Furnace High Market Izzet Boilerworks Jungle Hollow Llanowar Reborn Llanowar Wastes Lonely Sandbar Lumbering Falls Mage-Ring Network Memorial to Genius Mikokoro, Center of the Sea Mosswort Bridge Myriad Landscape Novijen, Heart of Progress Opal Palace Oran-Rief, the Vastwood Orzhov Basilica Phyrexia's Core Radiant Fountain Reliquary Tower Rogue's Passage Sapseep Forest Scavenger Grounds Secluded Steppe Shivan Reef Simic Growth Chamber Slayers' Stronghold Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion Tainted Field Tainted Wood Temple of Epiphany Temple of Malady Temple of Mystery Temple of Silence Temple of the False God Temple of Triumph Plains Plains Island Island Swamp Swamp Mountain Mountain Forest Forest Tranquil Thicket Yavimaya Coast   WHITE | BLUE | BLACK | RED | GREENMULTICOLORED | COLORLESS | ARTIFACT | LAND | ALL CARDS   https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/card-image-gallery/commander-2021-edition

STRIXHAVEN: SCHOOL OF MAGES MECHANICS

by AAG Staff

As you prepare to explore Strixhaven University on the world of Arcavios, you'll probably have some questions. Perhaps the same questions college students here on our world ask every semester: What am I going to major in? Can I get away with scheduling no classes before two in the afternoon? What new tools are there so I can quickly dispose of my enemies? And while I can't really help with the first two, the last one is right up my alley. Take your seats. Strixhaven Mechanics 101 is in session. LESSONS LEARNED It's not all flirting, fighting with classmates, Mage Tower practices, and complaining about your overbearing resident advisor here at Strixhaven. A few hours each week are devoted to actual education, and so is the new keyword action learn. If a spell or ability instructs you to learn, you have two choices (well, technically three choices; we'll get to that). Your first choice is that you can discard a card and then draw a card. This is a great way to improve your hand, trading in extra lands or trading out undesirables for a chance at what you need. But maybe what you need isn't in your library. Your second choice when learning is to reveal a Lesson card from outside the game and put it into your hand. Lesson is a new spell type, seen on sorceries such as Expanded Anatomy. There is a wide variety of Lesson cards to represent a wide variety of areas of study. Token generation, removal, card draw . . . if someone at Strixhaven teaches it, it probably shows up as a Lesson card. If you're dueling under tournament conditions, "outside the game" means your sideboard. If you're just keeping it casual, "outside the game" means your collection. Either way, you can use Lessons to set up an academic toolbox so you're prepared for a variety of situations. You can also include Lessons in your main deck, just like any other sorcery. The third choice you have when learning is to simply do nothing. Everything's optional. I don't imagine you'll be doing this very often, but maybe you're out of Lessons, so you planned to discard, but some things happened in response, and one thing led to another, and now it's time to learn, but you have an empty hand, and this is all very embarrassing, and let's just not speak of it again, okay? MAGECRAFT Lessons are only some of the many spells you'll be casting and copying during your time at Strixhaven. And while these spells have impressive effects on their own, new magecraft abilities will reward you even further. Here's Eager First-Year. Magecraft is an ability word that highlights triggered abilities that give you some sort of benefit whenever you cast—or copy—an instant or sorcery spell. So, you cast a sorcery spell. +1/+0. Then, in response, you cast an instant spell that will copy the sorcery. +1/+0. The instant spell resolves and copies the sorcery. +1/+0. Or maybe you find a way to copy an instant or sorcery spell a bunch of times! A gentle rain can become a raging storm pretty quickly. The +1/+0 bonus of Eager First-Year is nice, but let's face it—sometimes you're in the market for something a little more impactful. Oh, Professor? Each magecraft bonus is different, and there are magecraft cards to support a variety of deck styles and play preferences . . . provided you are a dedicated student of the arcane (no, not that Arcane) and make sure you have plenty of instant and sorcery spells at the ready. WARD Wizards don't agree on much, but they all seem to hate other people messing with their stuff. We're going to make messing with your stuff a little costlier with the introduction of a new evergreen keyword, ward. Evergreen keywords are the ones you see from set to set, like flying and trample. You can expect to see ward beyond the hallowed halls of Strixhaven going forward. While I know you'll take my word for it, I'm leaving it to other folks to explain why ward matters. Ward is a triggered ability. Whenever a permanent with ward becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter that spell or ability unless that opponent pays whatever cost is after the word "ward." That cost can be mana, life, or pretty much anything else that can be a cost. It's important to note that any spell or ability controlled by an opponent can be affected by ward. This includes Aura spells, triggered abilities, and anything else that targets a permanent with ward. Spells and abilities that don't target won't cause ward to trigger, though. MODAL DOUBLE-FACED CARDS I'm not sure we remember how to make Magic sets without modal double-faced cards, but they've proven to be fun, so why not do it again? They're a really-not-new-at-this-point-but-maybe-new-to-you twist on double-faced cards—rather than transform, these cards let you play either of their two faces. Turn Over Each of Strixhaven's five colleges has a modal double-faced card featuring its two deans. There are other modal double-faced cards in the set as well. Almost all of them show off the duality of the five colleges. And, of course, there are some surprises in store. The rules for modal double-faced cards haven't changed. If you're casting one, you choose which face you're casting. The same is true for playing a land face of a modal double-faced card, although you won't find land faces in this set. If you're putting one onto the battlefield without playing to cast it, you get the front face, but only if the front face can actually enter the battlefield. If the front face is an instant or sorcery, it can't be put onto the battlefield this way. You can find out about more complex modal double-faced card interactions in the Strixhaven Release Notes, coming soon, but you can also check out the Kaldheim Release Notes or the Zendikar Rising Release Notes for more information. https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/strixhaven-school-mages-mechanics-2021-03-25

Magic the Gathering Updated Bans List

Magic the Gathering Updated Bans List

by AAG Staff

Revised: September 28, 2020 The following cards are banned: Cauldron Familiar Fires of Invention Growth Spiral Oko, Thief of Crowns Once Upon a Time Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Wilderness Reclamation   https://magic.wizards.com/en/game-info/gameplay/rules-and-formats/banned-restricted

Rules Updates

Rules Updates

by AAG Staff

ZENDIKAR RISING UPDATE BULLETIN Posted in News on September 22, 2020 By Matt Tabak BioArchiveTwitter SHARE ARTICLE ShareTweetShare Our trip back to Zendikar wouldn't be complete without some changes to the Comprehensive Rules—have to make all those shiny new cards work, after all. We also made a small number of adjustments to existing cards in the Oracle database. This article will preview both sets of changes, with the one caveat that both sets of changes are still undergoing internal review, so what you read here may differ ever-so slightly from what gets finalized. When they're finalized, you can check them out on the rules page and Gatherer. Let's dig in! IntroductionComprehensive Rules ChangesOracle Changes

Updated Bans List Aug 3, 2020

by AAG Staff

AUGUST 3, 2020 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT Posted in News on August 3, 2020 By Ian Duke BioArchive SHARE ARTICLE ShareTweetShare Announcement Date: August 3, 2020 Standard Wilderness Reclamation is banned. Growth Spiral is banned. Teferi, Time Raveler is banned. Cauldron Familiar is banned. Pioneer Inverter of Truth is banned. Kethis, the Hidden Hand is banned. Walking Ballista is banned. Underworld Breach is banned. Historic Wilderness Reclamation is suspended. Teferi, Time Raveler is suspended. Brawl Teferi, Time Raveler is banned. Effective Date: August 3, 2020 The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here. Historic and Brawl sections by Jay Parker STANDARD In the last banned and restricted list update, we chose not to make any changes to Standard. At that time, the environment had just seen the results of Players Tours 3 and 4, the companion rules change was recent, and Core Set 2021 had just entered the format. While we saw new decks emerging, ultimately the top decks were able to adapt and retain their metagame share. After watching the environment progress for several weeks and reviewing the decklist entries for the Players Tour Finals, we've decided to make some changes to shake up the metagame. This set of changes is a deviation from our usual banned-list philosophy for Standard, and as such, we consider it an experiment. Outside of the very top levels of competitive play, including throughout most of the MTG Arena traditional Standard ladder, we're seeing a good distribution of deck diversity and win rates. However, at the skill level of our most competitive tournaments and the Mythic ranking on the Arena ladder, we do see a small number of decks with high win rates and play rates that have remained in that metagame position for quite some time. Under our usual approach, we would have allowed Standard rotation to provide a natural and predictable shift in the metagame with the release of Zendikar Rising. But in an era of social distancing, the proportion of Standard play occurring on digital platforms has increased substantially. As the rate at which players can rack up games of Standard in digital is higher than in tabletop, we believe it's correct to enact metagame change at a faster rate as well. Therefore, we're making bans targeted at weakening decks that have been strong and popular at the highest levels of competitive play and at some cards and combos that have overstayed their welcome in the eyes of much of the Standard community. Ramp decks using Growth Spiral together made up 68% of the day 1 metagame at the Players Tour Finals and represent approximately 25–30% of the metagame at Mythic ranking on the Arena ladder. Within that category, Wilderness Reclamation decks have been considered the strongest archetype by much of the competitive community, making up 54% of the metagame at the Players Tour Finals and about 15% of the Mythic metagame on Arena. In order to remove Reclamation decks from this most played spot and to reduce the metagame share of ramp decks in general, Wilderness Reclamation and Growth Spiral are banned. Another archetype that has maintained a high win rate over a long period of time is Black-Red (or Jund) Sacrifice, featuring the Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven combo. In addition to having high overall win rates, these decks put considerable pressure on aggressive and midrange creature decks. Further, the number of triggers generated by these decks can be cumbersome for both players in digital play. To weaken these sacrifice strategies, open up more metagame diversity, and create a more fun gameplay environment, Cauldron Familiar is banned. Finally, we'll also be removing Teferi, Time Raveler from the environment. We've often heard the feedback that the repetitive play patterns and reduced capability for interaction that Teferi, Time Raveler can create feel oppressive and limiting. While we'd considered banning Teferi, Time Raveler in past updates, one reason we didn't was evidence that it was helping hold Wilderness Reclamation decks in check. With Wilderness Reclamation leaving the environment, we feel it's also time for the Standard metagame to move on without Teferi, Time Raveler. We note that Growth Spiral, Wilderness Reclamation, and Teferi, Time Raveler were already slated to rotate this fall with the release of Zendikar Rising. With that in mind, we view this set of changes as an early rotation for those cards to help freshen up the remaining summer metagame. In the case of Cauldron Familiar, we're taking the opportunity not only to improve the metagame short term but also remove a balance risk and undesirable play pattern leading into next year. We emphasize that these changes are, to a large degree, a product of the times and the current focus on digital play. We look forward to hearing community feedback on this approach and will continue to keep an eye on the metagame going forward. PIONEER With the last banned and restricted list update, we chose to unban Oath of Nissa in Pioneer. This wasn't intended to be a major update to the format or an alternative to other changes, but rather what we viewed as a relatively safe unban in the context of a metagame that was looking healthy by many metrics. Much community discussion followed that update, prompting us to take a further look at the need for change in Pioneer. Although we continue to see many different decks have success in Pioneer, and no decks with problematic win rates against the field, we do see that combo decks as a group make up a large portion of the competitive metagame. We've heard feedback that the frequency at which one finds themselves facing an opposing combo deck restricts deck-building options and can make play experiences unenjoyable. While win rate data may not point to change being needed, a different, more important set of data does: player participation. While the reduction in tabletop tournaments due to the need for social distancing shortly after Pioneer's launch earlier this year is certainly a factor, we've also seen a decline in Pioneer play rates on Magic Online throughout the course of the year. It's clear that many players who have been, or could be, interested in Pioneer are ready for a change. Ultimately, how much fun players are having with the environment is the most important driving force behind B&R updates, and so we're choosing to ban four cards to shake things up and push the competitive metagame away from combo decks. These bans are primarily aimed at disrupting Inverter of Truth decks; Underworld Breach decks; the Heliod, Sun-Crowned plus Walking Ballista combo; and Kethis, the Hidden Hand combo decks. While Kethis combo decks are a relatively new reemergence in the metagame, we're seeing signs that these decks are already problematic and would become more so if other top decks were weakened. Kethis decks are currently among the top 5–0 trophy winners in Magic Online Pioneer leagues, despite being a modest portion of the field. Therefore, we're choosing to ban Inverter of Truth, Underworld Breach, Walking Ballista, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand in Pioneer. Our intent is to dramatically reduce instances where players risk losing to a combo kill when tapping out in the early- to mid-game. This should open up the field for more traditional midrange and control decks and put less pressure on aggressive decks to also focus on hand disruption and counterspells. We did consider several other cards as alternative bans aimed at these same decks. Thassa's Oracle was one that we discussed as a lighter touch for weakening Inverter and Breach decks. However, Inverter decks are still capable of winning with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries alone, and it isn't clear that a Thassa's Oracle ban would be enough to push Inverter decks out of the competitive metagame. Next, even though Thassa's Oracle has often been a win condition of choice for Underworld Breach decks, once the deck's core combo engine is running, it can win in many ways. Some recent versions of the Underworld Breach deck even forgo Thassa's Oracle entirely. The cards we've chosen are the set that gives us the most confidence in creating a significant shift in the metagame. We understand that this represents a large change to the Pioneer environment, and, frankly, that's the intent. While we're past the phase of frequent weekly updates to Pioneer, we're still in a period where changes are necessary to help shape the format in its initial launch year. We want to ensure that Pioneer can deliver an enjoyable play experience to players who are looking for an accessible, nonrotating format that's closer to Standard in power level and offers a variety of archetypes and decks to choose from. We're dedicated to actively supporting Pioneer and will continue to incorporate both data and community feedback. HISTORIC The Historic metagame is moving quickly right now; the addition of new cards through Jumpstart is having a large impact, as will Amonkhet Remastered when it arrives soon. There are many of these new decks we are watching closely, but our strong preference in times like this is to give the meta time to develop naturally. We want to see which of these new decks turn out to show enduring strength versus merely making an initial splash. That said, there are two places where we feel we have enough information that we should take action: Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler. We touched on Wilderness Reclamation in our last banned and restricted list update, saying that, while it was powerful, we were only seeing it in problematic decks alongside Nexus of Fate. Since then, we've seen a Temur Reclamation list grow steadily in Historic that leverages both Expansion // Explosion and Field of the Dead. We are seeing this deck put up significant numbers, representing over 10% of Best-of-Three games while maintaining concerning win rates. This is a card and deck configuration that we have spent a good bit of time discussing, analyzing, and watching, so we feel that it is one where we have enough information to act. In order to encourage increased metagame health and variety, Wilderness Reclamation is suspended in Historic. For Teferi, Timer Raveler, we get much the same feedback in Historic that we get in Standard. In Historic, we also find that the power of the reduced capability for interaction that Teferi, Time Raveler brings scales with the power of the interaction he's preventing and the board he's consequently protecting. He is also seen very frequently in Historic, appearing in over 20% of Historic Best-of-Three games and significant percentages in other modes as well. For these reasons, we are suspending Teferi, Time Raveler in Historic. As with all suspensions, we will be closely monitoring the impact this has on the format. BRAWL Teferi, Time Raveler is one of the most played commanders in Brawl, appearing in over 10% of games, and he has one of the highest win rates. In addition, we see a similar impact in Brawl to that described in the other formats. For these reasons, Teferi, Time Raveler is banned in Brawl. ON ANNOUNCEMENT TIMING AND EFFECTIVE DATE In the past, we've given a one-week advanced notice for updates to the banned and restricted list. Because of the increased focus on digital play environments during this time period, we're choosing to forgo that advanced notice and roll out these changes as soon as possible. This isn't necessarily indicative of how we'll announce and implement in the future, and we're continuing to look at how we balance giving players advance notice versus staying agile with respect to changing metagames.

Updated Bans Magic the Gathering July 2020

by AAG Staff

JULY 13, 2020 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT Posted in News on July 13, 2020 By Ian Duke Archive SHARE ARTICLE ShareTweetShare Announcement Date: July 13, 2020 Historic Agent of Treachery is banned (from suspended) Winota, Joiner of Forces is banned (from suspended) Fires of Invention is banned (from suspended) Nexus of Fate is banned Burning-Tree Emissary is suspended Pioneer Oath of Nissa is unbanned. Modern Arcum's Astrolabe is banned. Pauper Expedition Map is banned. Mystic Sanctuary is banned. Tabletop Effective Date: July 13, 2020 Magic Online Effective Date: July 13, 2020 MTG Arena effective date: July 16, 2020 The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here. HISTORIC This section by Jay Parker We currently have three cards suspended in Historic: Winota, Joiner of Forces; Agent of Treachery; and Fires of Invention. As with all suspensions, we have been carefully watching how the changes affected the Historic meta, and our data is showing it to distinct improvements with those cards removed. Each of these are also cards that will tend to get more problematic as the format grows in breadth and power, either as key ways to easily access very powerful effects, or as one of those powerful top-end pieces. Because we feel the data shows a positive impact from the current suspensions, and because it is unlikely to be safe to reintroduce these cards to Historic anytime soon, Winota, Joiner of Forces; Agent of Treachery; and Fires of Invention are banned in Historic. (Players will be receiving Wildcards as normal for these bans, per the policy announced earlier.) Though these suspensions, now bans, improved the metagame, the top end of Historic is still becoming too constricted. Shortly after the suspension of Winota, Joiner of Forces, the top 2 decks comprised roughly 15% of best-of-three play, showing a healthy, diverse spread of decks. Now the top two decks are roughly 35%, and the rate of concentration is increasing. Over the last month, decks using Nexus of Fate have risen dramatically in terms of metagame share, and it is now Historic's most-played deck. The two main cards enabling this deck are Wilderness Reclamation and Nexus of Fate itself. While Wilderness Reclamationis a powerful card, we are not seeing it appear in problematic decks in Historic aside from this one. This deck also runs multiple ways to accelerate to early casts of Nexus of Fate, and those options will only expand with the format. Finally, Wilderness Reclamation acts primarily to give players access to a wider array of lines of play, while Nexus of Fate acts to prevent the opponent from playing at all. From both a long-term health and gameplay standpoint, we feel that Nexus of Fate is the better card to act on here. Nexus of Fate is a card we have been watching closely for a long time in Historic. While it is very powerful, we had hoped that Traditional Historic would be a place where it could remain a balanced option for its fans. While this held true for a long time, with the deck showing strong but within-bounds play and win rates, it has now risen to a level where it is starving out other options and warping the format around itself. Nexus of Fate is much like the cards discussed above, where its power will only grow as the Historic cardpool expands. And, like them, we do not feel that it is likely that the meta will soon reach a place where sufficient answers exist to make this deck a balanced, fun option for players. While we have generally acted to first suspend cards in Historic to test the impact, this is not a hard rule. Because we do not foresee a good opportunity to safely reintroduce Nexus of Fate to the format soon, Nexus of Fate is banned in Historic. The other deck that has long been a powerhouse in Historic is Gruul Aggro. While it has often been the most-played deck, the separation between it and the other top decks has widened significantly in the last month. Gruul and Nexus are each now played more than three times as much as their closest competition in best-of-three, and Gruul has one of the highest win rates in both best-of-three and best-of-one. After considering the deck and the surrounding meta, we feel like the best card to act on here is Burning-Tree Emissary. While the explosive starts it enables are a factor in the deck’s rise, its removal should leave the deck with ample power to remain competitive, just at a more balanced level with other aggressive options. Unlike Nexus of Fate, we do see a strong possibility that the Historic meta could shift in a way that allows Burning-Tree Emissary to find a balanced, fun home. However, as the meta stands today, the power it brings to Gruul Aggro is overall reducing the number of balanced, interesting, and varied deck options in format. For this reason, Burning-Tree Emissary is suspended in Historic. One final note on Historic suspensions: When we first introduced the mechanism in December, we emphasized the limited-time nature of suspension by linking it to the periodic availability of Ranked Historic. Now that Ranked Historic is always available, that no longer works as a good boundary marker. Despite that, we will be adhering to the general timeline it imposed, and any suspension will be resolved via unsuspending or banning the affected card(s) within roughly the same 2-3 month span. We will always act more quickly when we feel the data is clear, but this will act as an outer bound. Suspension is a temporary measure to ensure that balance changes are playing out well, and it will not be used for any long-term action. PIONEER Since the launch of Pioneer late last year, we’ve seen significant changes in the metagame. Early in Pioneer’s launch window, various green ramp decks were among the most popular and successful archetypes. In order to reduce the consistency of these decks, Oath of Nissawas added to the banned list early in the progression of Pioneer. Since that time, other cards used by green ramp decks have been banned, including Once Upon a Time, Veil of Summer and Oko, Thief of Crowns. In addition, the release of new sets has added power to other archetypes and generally expanded possibilities for deckbuilding. The metagame is now in a place where we feel that unbanning Oath of Nissa is a reasonable step to take as far as adding some power back to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx ramp decks and other archetypes that revolve around key creatures, lands, or planeswalkers. We are otherwise generally happy with the shape of the metagame in Pioneer, with the most played decks each having strengths and weaknesses against each other. We are keeping an eye on the populations of combo decks in the environment, although the perception that combo decks have dominant win rates isn’t backed up Magic Online play data. We are also seeing a variety of lesser-played decks having success, which indicates that the metagame may continue to shift. MODERN Over the past several months of Modern’s metagame, we have seen a rise in popularity and win rate of multicolor decks using Arcum’s Astrolabe, with some variants approaching 55% non-mirror match win rate. While these decks have taken on several different forms, their common game plan is using Arcum’s Astrolabe to play powerful cards across several colors. As a result, Arcum’s Astrolabe has become one of the most played cards in Modern. While there’s nothing intrinsically bad about multicolor “good stuff” decks having a place in the metagame, their power and flexibility is usually counterbalanced by making concessions in their mana bases, often through lands that enter the battlefield tapped, cost life, or involve some other deckbuilding restriction. Arcum’s Astrolabe makes this tradeoff come at too low of a cost, as one Arcum's Astrolabe can often mean excellent mana for the rest of the game, without costing a card. In addition, Arcum’s Astrolabe leads to other synergy by virtue of being a cheap artifact permanent, and it can be blinked or recurred for card advantage. In short, Arcum’s Astrolabe adds too much to these decks for too little cost, resulting in win rates that are unhealthy and unsustainable for the metagame. Therefore, Arcum’s Astrolabe is banned in Modern. We’re keeping an eye on Arcum’s Astrolabe in Legacy for similar reasons, although at present the play rates and win rates of Arcum's Astrolabe decks don’t warrant action. We’re aware of concerns among the Legacy community on this point but want to be consistent with our philosophy of only resorting to bans when a card or deck reaches problematic win rates that can’t be solved by natural metagame forces. PAUPER With last year’s bans of Gush, Gitaxian Probe, and Daze in Pauper, I noted a potential concern in that the weakening of blue tempo decks could create a rise in the popularity of Tron decks. While we didn’t immediately see a problematic metagame shift in the direction, Tron decks have remained steadily popular and strong, sometimes nearing 25% of the field among top finishing decks in Magic Online Pauper tournaments. This trend, in combination with community feedback, has prompted us to take a look at the role of Tron decks in the Pauper metagame. While it can be a good thing for metagame diversity to have an archetype that plays differently from many other strategies, we are seeing some negative effects in terms of repetitive game play, recursive play patterns and lock states. This puts pressure on other decks to be able to deal with such game states or else race the Tron decks, and generally restricts viable deckbuilding space. Therefore, we’re taking the step of banning Expedition Map in order to reduce the consistency and popularity of Tron decks in the metagame. Second, multiple archetypes have recently adopted Mystic Sanctuary as another means of creating repetitive loop or lockout states. While decks often only play a couple copies of Mystic Sanctuary, it is proving to be another key contributor of negative pressure on the metagame by enabling end game loops. As a card that’s likely to continue causing problems down the road, we’re choosing also to ban Mystic Sanctuary in Pauper. Our intent is that this combination of bans should considerably reduce the speed and consistency with which Tron decks assemble their mana engine and eventual loop or lock states, as well as reducing the amount of repetitive game play coming from various blue-based tempo decks. A NOTE ON STANDARD After careful review of the metagame, we’re choosing not to make any changes to Standard at this time. Players Tour Online 3 and 4 saw the overall win rates and day 2 conversion rates of the most played decks, Bant Ramp and Temur Reclamation, come down to healthier levels. In the weeks following we’ve seen other archetypes rise in popularity and win rate, including Mono Green Aggro, Rakdos Sacrifice, Mono Black Aggro, RW “Pawblade”, Simic Flash, and others. Core Set 2021 has brought a variety of new tools, and generally we’re seeing steady motion in the metagame leading up to the Players Tour Finals. While we agree with concerns that Growth Spiral ramp decks, in aggregate, have recently represented a larger than ideal portion of the metagame, we do see different archetypes within that larger category behaving differently in terms of strengths, weaknesses and roles in the metagame. With signs of the metagame shifting away from ramp in recent weeks, the release of Core Set 2021, and Standard with rotation coming in the fall, we’ve decided to allow the metagame to continue its natural evolution. Source: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/july-13-2020-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2020-07-13?%3Edsf&fbclid=IwAR1sykvaTywr-4Xv2jZ4e5KGurbPLWlQnX3xSOdfPgFxkjnGipCXlxg29Ls    

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