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Author Topic: October 1st, 2018 - Banned List Changes    (Read 4494 times)
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« on: 01-10-2018, 04:00:34 PM »

Changes to the present banned list, effective 10/15/2018:



Current watchlists:

Ban watchlist:
Blood Moon
Back to Basics
Bring to Light
• Demonic Tutor
• Dig Through Time
• Entomb
• Imperial Seal
• Mana Drain
• Oath of Druids
• Scapeshift *new*
• Tainted Pact
• Tolarian Academy
• Treasure Cruise
• True-Name Nemesis

Unban watchlist:                                                      
• Birthing Pod *new*
• Gifts Ungiven
• Umezawa's Jitte *new*
• Skullclamp *new*

Single cards explanations:


Back to Basics and Blood Moon

We are aware Back to Basics and Blood Moon often create frustrating play experiences. There is a long history of debate about those cards and on whether they should be legal or not. Currently, we are of the opinion that – despite the negative side effects which come along with them – both Back to Basics and Blood Moon should stay in the format because they serve as stern punishers for the more "greedy" multicolored strategies. This primarily means combo decks, which currently are some of the better performing decks overall.

Bring to Light and Scapeshift

In an effort to weaken the Scapeshift archetype – to take the wind out of its sails, so to speak – we first thought that banning a tutor from which only the Scapeshift deck profited would be a good idea. In the end though and after some more deliberation, we believe Bring to Light to be interchangeable in the deck and that a ban wouldn't reduce the overall power-level of the deck by enough. This, together with the fact that banning an otherwise totally fine card would be a strange thing to do, leads us to removing Bring to Light from the ban watchlist.

Instead we opted for a watchlisting of Scapeshift itself. This move seems harsh at first glance but ultimately enables us to make the appropriate decision, should the need to act arise. This is because not only do we now have the option of banning Scapeshift directly but also have the important role-players on watch as well. These would be Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Demonic Tutor and Mana Drain. A banning of one of those would hit Scapeshift in a meaningful way (rather than not very much at all like with the banning of Bring To Light).

Basically we have now set us up for three possible scenarios:
First, ban Scapeshift directly if the deck overly dominates other options.
Second, ban one ore more important roleplayers or tutors in order to weaken the core of the deck.
Third, ban nothing at all if the deck continues to be strong but without dominating other options.


Birthing Pod

It can be argued, the current metagame creates incentives for players to play blue-based decks, maybe blue-black at the core with tutors and a combo built in. Also, there are incentives to play the very successful red deck. Unbanning Birthing Pod would create incentives on the other side of the metagame spectrum. Neither blue based control or combo-control decks, nor mono red profit from Birthing Pod. An unban would strengthen green-based midrange decks for which there currently exists rather little payoff.

We acknowledge the fact of Birthing Pod having utterly dominated the metagame during its heyday. But we do believe the current configuration of dominating decks could handle the threat of Birthing Pod better and its unban could lead to a more vibrant back and forth in the ever-changing arena which is the Highlander metagame. Also as a sidenote, there have been cards added to the highlander cardpool, which are very maindeckable and function as solutions for Birthing Pod (among others Kolaghan's Command and Abrade come to mind, as does the newly printed Knight of Autumn), thus increasing the overall outs to the strong artifact.

Umezawa's Jitte

Similarly to the argument for Birthing Pod, we want to watchlist Umezawa's Jitte because an unban would create incentives for players to place their bets on more creature-heavy decks. Umezawa's Jitte would also provide a counterbalance to mono red aggro.


Skullclamp again slightly shifts the gravitational center of the metagame in the direction of creature decks. Skullclamp would be a great boon for the mono red deck, which – in a theoretical world of Birthing Pod and Umezawa's Jitte being legal – would otherwise get the short end of the deal.
Skullclamp would also strengthen midrange strategies with a sacrifice theme. Pattern-Rector variants come to mind as do decks revolving around cards like Bloodghast, Entomb, Unearth, Stoneforge Mystic, Phyrexian Tower, Lingering Souls, Recurring Nightmare and so on. There certainly seems to be a viable deck which currently lacks just a little bit of synergistic power – power which Skullclamp could provide.
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