Since Dominara United was released in 2022, Standard has been in a bit of a bad shape. Plagued by beat-up cards and not-so-fun strategies, the once-beloved format is becoming alarmingly stale. It was so bad, in fact, that Wizards used bans to try to liven things up for MTG players.
Unfortunately, this optimistic plan of the Wizards didn’t quite work out. Instead of reinvigorating the format, the predominant monochromatic decks were simply replaced with Rakdos Midrange. Equally strong and frustrating to play against, Standard was once again struggling. But fortunately for gamers, there is hope on the horizon.
Recently, Wizards of the Coast embarked on a new mission to save Standard. Promising more support, a massive spin change, and block recasting, the Wizards had a lot up their sleeves. However, it remains to be seen whether or not any of these plans will work, as none of these plans have been implemented. So far…
Finally and after weeks of anticipation, Wizards of the Coast have unveiled their latest bans for the standard format. So, without any further ado, let’s get straight to what was banned and why these cards simply had to go.
Three cards are banned in the standard
Advertising here! Ban on us! It takes effect on May 29 (for now) for Cards, and on the 30th for MTG Arena, three cards are banned in Standard, and these cards are as follows:
- Mirror Tale // Kiki Geki’s reflection
- Conjure despair
- Reconner Bankbuster
Since two of these cards were leaked ahead of schedule, it’s not entirely surprising that these cards were banned. However, Wizards of the Coast didn’t just drop that ad and disappear into the night. Instead, MTG lead game designer Andrew Brown discussed why these specific cards were banned.
throughout New Prohibited and Restricted Advertising ArticleBrown stated that this ban is specifically intended to curb Rakdos Midrange’s incredible power. This should “reduce the win rate of the format-dominant strategy and create an exciting change and entry point to the format leading up to the summer and release of Wilds of Eldraine”.
Going into the details, Brown highlighted what we all already know, cards like Fable and Bankbuster are unparalleled in efficiency and versatility. As Brown points out, deck building strategies are simple, because these cards are included practically automatically. Moreover, these two cards also give players a great deal of card advantage, which leads them to play at very high rates.
Along with these powerful cards, Invoke Despair was banned somewhat surprisingly. According to Wizards, this card is simply too good to keep for another year in Standard. By saving up to three for one removal or drawing a card instead, Invoke Despair was “excellent for supporting some of Lions’ weaknesses,” Brown says. Then, in order to change the format and improve the diversity of the card, it was blocked.
There is more to come
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the new MTG ban isn’t the only change coming to Standard in 2023. Thus, even if these bands don’t spice up the format as hoped, there’s still reason to get excited. The next biggest change, which is already technically in effect, is that in 2023 there will be no rotation.
Instead of the usual rotation and renewal cycle that occurs in September, the Wizards are delaying the proceedings by one year. This will allow about 1,000 cards to enter the standard environment, and we hope to create a more diverse and interesting card deck. Besides, the older cards you stick with should prolong their usefulness, which makes buying a standard deck somewhat more viable.
Along with this substantial change, Wizards of the Coast is also changing up the usual blocking schedule. Instead of it ever happening, MTG will now be banned mostly To be a fixed annual event. Happening around the release of the Fall collection (which is Wilds of Eldarine this year), these bans will be for all the formats you need. This year, the ban will take place on August 7, 2023.
While this approach should help provide some consistency, the wizards also allow for small windows after MTG group releases for additional blocking. These consistent windows will allow wizards to beat problematic cards and combos. For better or for worse, according to Wizards, these tiny windows will be rare to use.
Last but not least, Wizards of the Coast also changes up their standard philosophy somewhat. Thanks to a three-year rotation, Wizards plans to develop prototypes over time, similar to how blocks do things. Hopefully this allows for a more synergistic format that isn’t just a mid-range stew.
Only time will tell
While all of these changes, as well as the aforementioned bans, are certainly promising, it is currently too early to tell if these changes will work. As good as it sounds on the surface, making the format a success probably can’t be done overnight. After that, it may be a while before the benchmark can truly return to its former glory.
In the meantime, there are definitely plenty of reasons for gamers to get excited. After all, it looks like Wizards of the Coast really cares about making the format work again. This should mean that it’s only a matter of time before the standard edition becomes the main format across both digital and paper play again.
If for whatever reason Wizards’ changes and plans don’t work, we have a few suggestions of our own. If you’d like to read these thoughts, you can do so here.
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