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November 18, 2019 B&R Announcement


The Tentacled One
We've now had 791 weeks of Earthcraft being unnecessarily banned in Legacy.

Seriously though, this announcement is going just a little bit further toward killing my interest in Vintage and Legacy. Both formats are going in the wrong direction (WotC should be removing cards from the lists, rather than adding cards that aren't dominant anyway). From a statistical standpoint, I'm somewhat baffled. If those weren't healthy metagames with solid representation from multiple divergent archetypes, then I'm curious just what WotC thinks such a metagame would look like. Legacy had Threshold, Turbo Depths, Hogaak Depths, Lands, Storm, Miracles, UR Delver, BR Reanimator, Maverick, Dredge, and Death & Taxes all as serious decks in contention for some kind of Tier 1 status. That's huge! And better still, a lot of "rogue" decks that aren't so prominent by the numbers put up great performances (stuff like Goblins, Echo of Eons combo, MUD, Elves, Dragon Stompy, Slivers, Death's Shadow, and so on). Legacy was in a healthy spot. If now isn't the time to unban cards that have been languishing on the list for 15 years because no one initially knew what the format was going to look like, then what sort of time would qualify for that?

Vintage was relatively consolidated compared to Legacy, but not particularly so compared to the overall history of tournament Magic. Narset was verging on ubiquitous, granted, but it wasn't powering a dominant deck. Vintage has been more diverse lately than it had been for the past several years.

Narset and W&6 did very different things, but an overall effect of both was to allow better performances against strategies that had been oppressive in tournament play. The strongest thing to be doing in Legacy was whatever could best deploy the Brainstorm/fetchland engine. W&6 attacked the greedy manabases of these decks by recurring Wasteland while threatening to ping the hyperefficient creatures that those same decks frequently used. In Vintage, decks that chained together multiple restricted card-drawing spells in conjunction with cards that benefited from this, sometimes called "Xerox", were able to consistently overwhelm the decks that weren't as good at doing this except for Shops and Dredge, which operated on other axes and were resilient against these card-drawing engines. Shops and Dredge saw restrictions earlier this year, while Narset helped open up the metagame for more competition against "Xerox" by traditional archetypes. Strategies fueled by Mana Drain or by Dark Ritual, once staples of Vintage, were able to make a comeback. Paradoxical Outcome, which had been falling behind, made a comeback. Oath made a comeback. A new version of the famous Vintage "Fish" aggro-control deck, bolstered by Narset and other powerful disruption to destabilize control and combo decks, was the winner of this year's Vintage Championships.

Unless WotC actually have the goal of consolidating the metagames in Eternal formats, these changes are wrongheaded. But I'm not quite cynical enough to think that's the real answer. Judging by the published explanation, these changes are less about curbing dominance or distortion in formats found to have those problems, and more about attemptive qualitative corrections to the flow of gameplay. For instance, W&6 is able to punish the Legacy format's ultra-popular greedy multicolored Brainstorm decks by blowing up their manabases. This makes many of the games where the two collide "one-sided" because if W&6 sticks and isn't countered/attacked/destroyed, one deck gets cut off from mana and can't do anything, so there's a perceived lack of interaction. The card doesn't produce a single, dominant archetype and isn't even particularly good against some archetypes. Looking at raw numbers, it shouldn't be banned, at least not before several other cards would be banned first. Looking at its apparent effect on the overall metagame, it shouldn't be banned, as it seems to open the field up, rather than constraining it. But that's not how WotC is approaching this. They're bringing in the same mentality that they displayed for years with the Modern format: micromanage everything and ban cards that lead to styles of gameplay that they deem transgressive. In the long run, players are going to find that they are not fond of this philosophy of format management. Many of them are already rankled by this.


Staff member
Good riddance, Oko. As for the other two, I'm not sure what WotC is doing. They're trying to prevent Green from being the dominant color? That's just weird.