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Author Topic: April 1st, 2017 - Banned List Changes    (Read 4323 times)
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« on: 31-03-2017, 11:58:34 PM »

Changes to the present banned list, effective 04/15/2017:


Stoneforge Mystic

Current watchlists:

Ban watchlist:                                                    
Back to Basics *new*
Blood Moon *new*
Demonic Tutor
Dig Through Time
Grindstone *new*
Mana Drain
Mystical Tutor
Oath of Druids
Stoneforge Mystic *new*
Tainted Pact
Tolarian Academy
Treasure Cruise
Yawgmoth's Will
Unban watchlist:                                                      
Imperial Seal
Vampiric Tutor

Single cards explanations:



We have had Grindstone on the banned list for quite a while now, only because of the combo with its colorless companion Painter's Servant.
Actually, it became ever more evident over time, that two-card combos aren't all that scary in Highlander. Some reasons for this are the following:

- An experienced player can usually spot signs of their possibility early on and can prepare for them. This is because only one individual copy of each combo card may be played. So generally some rather telling and complicated tutoring predates the arrival of the combo.
- Answer-cards in Highlander are - for a good reason - often very flexible and hit multiple types of cards (Vindicate, Counterspell, Kolaghan's Command, Unexpectedly Absent etc.). Combos often suffer from this 'splash damage' on their key cards. They aren't as safe as a freshly deployed Aetherworks Marvel in Standard for example, where you can expect it to stick around for several turns.
- Having a dedicated combo deck is one thing. Jamming two-card combos and the tacked on tutor package into existing decks (mostly control shells) comes at the real and often too high cost of valuable deckbuilding slots.

In fact, it has been a long while since a two-card combo really dominated Highlander. It might have been Flash/Protean Hulk, which feels like aeons ago. Even Rest in Peace/Helm of Obedience seems - although very playable - far from too good or format warping. Grindstone/Painter's Servant might be better than Helm of Obedience/Rest in Peace, but if it will be too good cannot be said without real experience with it.

Since there is no desire for having cards banned which maybe don't need to be banned, we wanted to give Grindstone a chance and see if some interesting new decks will develop because of it.

Stoneforge Mystic

Four years ago, Stoneforge Mystic was banned due to its omnipresence and games revolving too much around it. Especially the combination "Stoneforge Mystic - Batterskull" was a common scenario and even after the unban people will fall back on this. This card is, despite restrictions in the card type, a tutor with legs, which, can potentially take players away from the game at an early stage or can adapt flexibly to play situations via appropriate equipment (e.g. Sword of Fire and Ice against Izzet or Sword of the Meek as Combo part finder).

Within the last four years, however, a lot has changed. Many equally powerful creatures and planeswalkers have been printed, as well as creatures that match up well against a fast Batterskull, like Tasigur and Siege Rhino. The format overall has become faster, thus making it reasonable for most decks to either race a quick Stoneforge Mystic or find an answer to it. Even if here is a small concern that Stoneforge Mystic will strengthen midrange good stuff decks even more, most of those decks are not even running any equipment right now. So adding Stoneforge to such decks will come at the cost of multiple card slots.

But the tip on the scales for our decision was the demand of our community for this card. Many players wanted to see it unbanned. So let's see where Stoneforge Mystic will get us.


Back to Basics / Blood Moon

It cannot be denied, that Blood Moon and Back to Basics secretly (or not so secretly) define the Highlander metagame as it stands right now in a big way.
The two most successful decks of the last months (RDW and Izzet Control) are prominent profiteers of the aforementioned cards.

Blood Moon and Back to Basics are viewed by many as swingy and unfun cards preventing people to play games of magic. The question then arises, why players would want to play "unfun" games when they could choose not to. The usual answer to this question is that we need these restraining cards in order to hamstring 'greedy' multicolor strategies. If we didn't have them, everybody would play the same goodstuff decks. While the cards certainly provide "free" wins the current meta shows that due to the singleton nature of the format even a fairly strong presence of those cards does not impact 'greedy' multicolor decks enough to promote less 'greedy' decks.

Therefore it is to be doubted if Blood Moon and Back to Basics add more to the metagame (variation-wise) than what they substract (gameplay-wise).
This is why we would like to ignite a discussion within the community of how to deal with these two cards.

Far below the earth
Where the demons hunt the souls of those that sleep
In the city of the Vazdru and the Drin
Where the black flame burns inside the palace fountain.
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