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Author Topic: October 1st, 2019 - Banned List Changes    (Read 2604 times)
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« on: 01-10-2019, 12:00:11 AM »

Changes to the present banned list, effective 10/15/2019:

• True-Name Nemesis


Current watchlists:

Ban watchlist:
• Demonic Tutor
• Dig Through Time
• Entomb
• Mana Drain
• Tainted Pact
• Tolarian Academy
• Treasure Cruise
Unban watchlist:                                                    
• Skullclamp
• Survival of the Fittest *new*
• True-Name Nemesis
• Umezawa's Jitte

Single cards explanations (parenthesis -> voting result):

Ban True-Name Nemesis (Ban 4x / Unban 1x / Abstain 1x)

This card has been legal in Highlander for a long time and there have been many discussions about it.
Now we have finally come to the conclusion that the card should be put onto the banned list in order to improve the format.

Those in favor of keeping TNN in the format often state its powerlevel wouldn't justify a ban compared to other cards.

We agree that there certainly are more powerful, more explosive or more frustrating cards legal in Highlander than TNN. Most of those come with deckbuilding restrictions though, enable archetypes or are important for the format’s balance (B2B or Blood Moon for example). TNN is not even too strong in all matchups. Against Combo decks it’s mostly a clunky threat and control decks tend to have less problems with it. Where it warps the format in an unhealthy way are other “fair” matchups (Aggro, Midrange, Tempo) where the card often wins games on its own without any setup requirements.

While constructing a deck, players will often have to ask themselves what their plan against certain archetypes is. Fair decks however also need to have a plan against TNN in particular – a single card. This way, TNN influences deckbuilding more than any other single card in the format we can think of.

Another argument that comes up regularly when talking about TNN is that there is enough removal in the format for it and it can be raced easily. There are only a few removal spells however that handle TNN and are not otherwise situational or bad in most other scenarios (sacrifice effects) and most decks only have two to three of those at most and have to be quite lucky to draw them at the right time. Racing is often only possible with flyers or a clearly dominant board position. Furthermore, this way of arguing also implies the creature is problematic – those points don’t have to be made for any other creature in the format.

We do not think that TNN adds anything meaningful to the format, but instead takes a lot away from it, as it allows the player to go into an autopilot mode with it, resulting in non-interactive games. The card has been mentioned by Wizards in their Developmental Mistakes article.
Opinions on TNN within the community seem to be split. We acknowledge that there has been a survey on Facebook where more people voted against a ban of TNN than in favor of it. The last four survey results from Continental Cup Halle 2018, MGM # 15, Highlandermasters Westfalen and Helsinki however show that TNN is the card with the most votes for a ban currently, so we are sure that we do not act against a clear majority here.

Survival of the Fittest (Add to WL 5x / Not to WL 1x)

SotF has been banned for more than 9 years now. It was banned because it was format-dominating in an unhealthy way during these days. Lots of decks played a creature-toolbox, many a creature-based combo where Survival fits quite well obviously. Nowadays the meta looks quite different and it is doubtful if the powerful synergies of the past using Squee, Genesis or Reveillark are still viable in any way. However this card could offer new space for deck-building and would push some green-based Midrange decks, an archetype which seems to be a bit behind. Maybe it could also serve as a new tool for Reanimator decks but comes at the cost of playing more creatures like in the current tier-1 builds.
We have had some test-sessions with this card and had to recognize that it is has lost some of its former power, so we decided to put Survival of the Fittest up for discussion with the community.
It should be added, that when looking at other Singleton formats where you are allowed to play this card, it doesn’t seem to have a dominant impact, as far we can see.

Current state of discussion:

Skullclamp (Stay banned 2x, Unban 2x, Abstain 2x)
Pro Ban:
card seems too oppressive
another busted combo-piece
aggro would be pushed further which isn't a good idea

Con Ban:
needs a special setting
needs time and ressources to grant card-advantage
offers some new room for deck-construction

Umezawa's Jitte (Stay banned 6x, Unban 0x)
Pro Ban:
shuts down creature-decks
games center around this card as soon it is online
would be another auto-include in every deck with enough creature to carry it

Con Ban:
equipment is not an inherently good archetype
lower power level than cards on banned list
equipments do not see much play recently

Demonic Tutor (Ban 1x, No ban 5x)
Pro Ban:
incentivizes player to splash black
negates the one-of-highlander-thing as it is basically a second copy of the best card in you deck at the given situation
stronger than vampiric and mystical which are banned already

Con Ban:
iconic card
enables deck with plan
combo & control needs it to compete with aggro

Dig Through Time (Ban 1x, No ban 5x)
Pro ban:
seals the deal on even matches
Delve is not a real cost in decks where this card is good

Con ban:
UU makes it somewhat restrictive
can realistically only be played during late mid-game or lategame, where other cards have powerful effects, too

Entomb (Ban 0x, No ban 6x)
Pro ban:
in Reanimator it enables broken t1 or t2 plays that end the game on the spot

Con ban:
has sweet but not broken synergy with many other cards like Bloodghast, Hogaak, Life from the Loam, Echo of Eons etc.
also serves as a special tutor for non-reanimator combo decks which forces some creativity in deckbuilding

Mana Drain (Ban 1x, No ban 5x)
Pro Ban:
generates unfair tempo-swings
enhances randomness of the game

Con Ban:
often just a counterspell
highlander has powerful cards, where else can you play your Mana Drain?

Tainted Pact (Ban 0x, No ban 6x)
Pro Ban:
instant Demonic in some builds
strengthens multi-color-decks

Con Ban:
weaker than Demonic Tutor
only good in a few decks

Tolarian Academy (Ban 0x, No ban 5x, Abstain 1x)
Pro Ban:
enables busted starts
unfun to play against, especially for newcomers

Con Ban:
enables specific archetypes which is good for format diversity
Tolarian Arcademy wasn't oppressive based on latest tournament results

Treasure Cruise (Ban 1x, No ban 5x)
Pro Ban:
in some scanarios feels unfair like an Ancestral Recall
too good when already ahead

Con Ban:
still needs resources and setup

Birthing Pod (Add to WL 2x, Not to WL 4x)
Pro Ban:
reusable onto-the-battlefield tutoring has been broken ever since
instant you-win combos exist
creatures are getting better as time goes on which makes this card always dangerous

Con Ban:
green midrange relatively weak at the moment
creatures are getting better but not necessarily ETB-abilities
instant you-win combos require whacky creatures, which might be too steep a deckbuilding cost


The current council members are:

Bobz0rd - Max, Germany, Erfurt, * 1991
Dalibor - Dalibor, Slovakia, Senec, * 1979
Dr. Opossum - Stephanie, Germany, Berlin, * 1987
Maqi - Thomas, Germany, Mannheim, * 1982
pyyhttu - Tuomas, Finland, Helsinki, * 1982
Vazdru - Gerry, Germany, Karlsruhe, * 1975

We are currently planning to add new council members. If you would like to join us, please contact us. The council can be reached now via mail too:


We want to enhance the transparency of the council-work and the discussions which lead to our ban-/unban-decisions in a better way. As first steps we decided to
- publish the voting-results to each card discussed and give some insight to the main pros/cons mentioned by the community and council.
- We wanted to raise the effectuality of community feedback too. As you can see by the current banning/unbanning-decisions the surveys and the feedback of the community has a big impact on the voting process.
- Council members will post a short introduction of themselves during the next days right here in this announcement-board, so it is easier to find for the community.
- We added an E-Mail-address in order to make it is easier to reach the council as a whole.

As next steps we would like to discuss with you the following topics as well:
- We would like to reformulate the current guidelines which give direction to our decisions on banning or unbanning a card. Therefore we would like to hear your feedback on this, how your vision of our format looks like and how you would frame this vision. These guidelines are really important to us and are meant to reflect the idea of what Highlander should be like.
- We are thinking about creating regular polls and surveys to better orientate our decisions and in order to provide everyone with an easily accessible way of participating on issues.
- We would like to discuss if there's a good possibility for a "community vote" within the banning/unbanning process.
- We want to find out if there's a good possibility for an institutionalized rotation of council members.

Last but not least, we want to thank the community for all the feedback, which really helps us to improve our work!

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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