The Tentacled One
Announcing changes to the companion rule and changes to Standard and Historic.
-Agent of Treachery is banned.
-Fires of Invention is banned.
-Agent of Treachery is
-Fires of Invention is
Also, the rules for the Companion mechanic have been changed. Now instead of casting it from your sideboard, you can pay 3 at sorcery speed to move it from your sideboard into your hand.
While Magic rules changes aren't normally a part of the banned and restricted list updates, in this case, we're introducing a change to the companion mechanic that is motivated by game balance and metagame share across play environments. Effective with this update, the companion mechanic (and all cards featuring it) will now work differently from before. The new version of the mechanic will work as follows:
Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability. It happens immediately and can't be responded to. It can't be countered or stopped by cards like Phyrexian Revoker.
Our reason for making this change is based on metagame data and play rates of companion decks across all formats, and on player feedback on repetitive gameplay patterns. As a group, decks using companions have too high of win rates and metagame share in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern, and have already necessitated bans in Legacy and Vintage. This trend represents a long-term problem for the health and diversity of all formats. Rather than go down the path of making several individual adjustments to the banned list for each format, we feel the better solution is to reduce the advantage gained from using a companion across the board.
The result we intend is to reduce the metagame share of companion decks while still capturing the spirit of the mechanic's design and still having companions be worth building around in many cases. We expect that this new version of the companion mechanic will result in a deck-building challenge and means of self-expression that some players can opt into, rather than being a huge part of the competitive metagame.
We discussed several alternative rules changes but ultimately settled on this one, as it best mitigates the potential for repetitive gameplay and provides a wider window of interaction. By charging additional mana, playing a companion becomes less efficient relative to playing the other cards the player has drawn. In this way, players are more likely to cast their other spells before their companion, resulting in more divergent game paths. Next, this additional mana will often slow the companion down by a turn, allowing the opponent to interact with it while in the companion player's hand or otherwise giving the opponent an additional turn to plan ahead before the companion hits the battlefield.
It's rare that we use a rules change to address metagame balance, and this isn't something we have plans to do in the future. In this case, the issue wasn't with one individual card but rather the companions as a group. We believe this solution is preferable to potentially needing to make multiple bans across different formats over time.