Worldfire unbanned in EDH!

I think I'm OK with Golos being banned, feels a lot like Rofellos was as a commander. I think it just does too much for it's cost. And it really doesn't have a downside or way to combat it other non-basic hate. Glad Worldfire is unbanned. Would be nice if this was the start of pruning the chaff off the Commander Banned List but I think this was just a prisoner exchange. The RC makes WotC look competent.


The Tentacled One
I don't have much to say about the Worldfire unban other than to heartily endorse it. I know that in Sheldon Menery's followup article, he made a point of dismissing other chaff on the banlist as dramatically different from Worldfire and still banworthy, but I hope that they do eventually revisit the other silly, outdated bans. It's a nice start, anyway.

Most of the attention elsewhere has been on the Golos ban, unsurprisingly. Golos was, by far, the most popular commander. Golos was also almost certainly the most loathed commander by the most people. I know that in 2019 and early 2020, I was getting really sick of seeing Golos decks at my LGS. Ugh. Yeah, Golos was the worst. It's a stupid, over-the-top design. One thing that Sheldon Menery didn't really elaborate on was that for all their diversity, Golos decks all feature the potential for the same brain-dead play pattern of ramping into a game of Topdeck Roulette. Pay 2WUBRG and see what you got. Did the spells you got give you resources to make another 2WUBRG? Great, now do it again. Over and over.

You might think that I approve of the ban because I hated the ubiquity and broken stupidity of Golos decks. Or maybe you'd think that I'd set my personal aversion aside and speak against the ban because I don't advocate for bans on cards simply for being annoying to me personally. The reality is quite a bit more nuanced, and almost every discussion I've seen on other sites has not really been rational. So I want to describe my real thoughts on this.

Golos was the most popular and arguably most egregious of the legendary creatures to come out in the past few years, but the ranks of the most popular commanders are dominated by these obnoxious cards that stack power on efficiency on versatility. Following the Golos ban, the most popular commanders, according to EDHrec data collection, are...

1. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
2. Kenrith, the Returned King
3. Atraxa, Praetor's Voice
4. Yuriko, Tiger's Shadow
5. Alela, Artful Provocateur
6. Muldrotha, the Gravetide
7. The Ur-Dragon
8. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
9. Yarok, the Desecrated
10. Chulane, Teller of Tales

Of those, only Yuriko and The Ur-Dragon are really specialists. The others all just give insane value for doing things lots of decks easily do anyway. Korvold rewards you for sacrificing permanents in two different ways on top of also being a sac outlet and a flying attacker, all while giving players access to a tricolor identity. Why is the cursed dragon-king guy that eats everything green instead of just being black/red? Because it makes the card a better commander, silly! These cards are pushed way over the top. Atraxa came out in 2016 and all of the others are newer than that. Legendary creatures that were considered fine commanders back in 2016 have become completely outclassed.

Much of the discussion on Golos has centered on the aspects that make the card broken as a commander. It's reminiscent of many other ban list discussions I've seen, even the simultaneous conversations about Worldfire and other chaff on the EDH ban list. I find this frustrating, because all people end up doing is just listing what a card does as though that somehow constitutes an argument. So I see stuff like "Kenrith is powerful too, but you can cast Golos without needing any color of mana and Golos can then help you fix your mana because it searches up a land." Yes, I too can read the card. I know what it does and I comprehend the concept what it does is functionally different from what other cards do.

Actually, the biggest thing this all reminds me of was when Gitaxian Probe was restricted in Vintage. People who hated the card would point out that it reveals the opponent's hand, which provides information and confers an advantage on the person casting it. But other cards do that too, so they'd point out that it could also draw a card. But other cards also draw cards, so they'd point out that it could be cast for no mana. But other cards can also be cast for no mana, so they'd point out that no other cards did all three things. And I just thought, "Congratulations, you managed to identify how this Magic card is unique. But why is it banworthy?"

Golos wasn't necessarily the most powerful commander in any objective sense, and I'd contend that Golos was, at best, middling as a cEDH commander (this would have been different if Karakas or Tolarian Academy had been legal, though). I think asking the question of which is more powerful between Golos and Kenrith is asking the wrong question. The better question would be why the two most poweful five-color commanders, #1 and #3 for all-time popularity, both came out in 2019 and both had so much power and utility. In fact, you have to go all the way to #36 before you hit a legendary creature that predates the involvement of WotC with the format, so the top 35 commanders are all pretty much creatures that WotC had tailor-made for the format. And it's even worse than that because Zur is a total outlier that happens to have an ability that is bonkers and perfect for the format while also happening to be three colors. Ignore Zur and you have to go all the way down to #71 to find Sliver Overlord, another pretty good example of the same phenomenon (multiple colors, has an ability that searches the library).

Now, I have to admit that at least a few of the ones I overlooked among the top commanders might technically predate the 2011 Commander precons, but were also designed by R&D in a time before they started designing Standard sets to tap into the EDH market. It's probably mostly coincidence that certain creatures like Brago and Krenko are strong enough to be top commanders. But perusing the rankings, the results are even more bleak than I remembered, and the extent to which clearly made-for-Commander commanders have pushed traditional commanders out of the format is overwhelming. Golos was #1 in popularity, and it wasn't close. But a lot of players are probably just as unhappy with Korvold. Having all five colors isn't the only way to make a broken commander. Personally, I'd adopt the stance that Golos was the most egregious, and Sheldon Menery did cover why some of the features of the card make it more egregious, at least to me, than some of the other top commanders. But it's more egregious by a matter of degree, and not that much worse, really.

The Commander RC haven't attempted to draw a line in the sand or any such thing. They've asserted that Golos is a problem and that other cards are not. But I can't in good conscience adopt that position. Other legendary creatures in recent years have had similar problems with the way their designs were pushed, and if Golos was leading that pack of offenders, well, there are still plenty more of them.
That's a good breakdown. There is a lot going on here. The most obvious is that a lot of the designed for Commander cards or FIRE legends are way too pushed. Look at the Commanders from Eldraine, which you have mentioned. Stuff like Partners weren't much better either. WotC was good with the first set in 2011 but they quickly became too good relative to everything else. Also most monocolored Commanders are just bad and there are only a handful in the Top 100 on EDHREC. Because the banned list is curated on what the RC loses to built on some nebulous concept of what is too good in "casual" (whatever the hell that means) playgroups.

Whether Golos was over the line in some aspect, I guess that's all relative because we aren't given some objective metrics. I don't think there is much love lost though, at least from non-Golos players.

I guess this isn't new, just restated a lot of what you said. I'm not sure what to do but what I do know is the quarterly(or more?!) Commanders releases aren't good especially when they release cards that are auto-includes like Fierce Guardianship and it's more or less impossible to reprint them in a way that fulfills demand. Ditto with Commanders that are too good (relative to everything else), reduces diversity.

I feel like the problem is really bad because the RC is so arbitrary in their decisions. They have some rules but don't apply them universally. And I haven't even mentioned the Rule 0 crap. Ugh. Sucks.