Thoughts on the Bans and Adjustments

Recent banned and restricted announcements haven’t felt as exciting as this one. People were looking for change, and they got some of what they wanted. 




Standard: Alrund’s Epiphany, Divide by Zero, and Faceless Haven are now all banned. 


This is an exciting string of bans but too little too late. The format is held together by glue and tape at this point, and I don’t think too many people are excited about this.


Faceless Haven and Divide by Zero are the most surprising and should at least make the format a little more interesting. 



Legacy: Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is banned. 


I think a lot of people saw this one coming. I’m certainly not a Legacy player, but Ragavan was quite the powerful threat.


While it’s not in the list of top 10 most broken cards in the format, it does change the identity of the format from what it has been.


They’re not going to address cards that are beloved in the format, but they will get aggressive removing newer cards as they’ve shown in the past. 



Modern: No bans.


This is the most surprising so far. Many people expected a Lurrus ban, and it would make a lot of sense to me. The card is just too free.


Good deck building is filling your deck with cheap spells as is, and allowing room for more expensive permanents would likely be good for the format.


I’m no Modern expert, however it does look like the most interesting Constructed format right now, and the format I’d be most likely to play for fun if Limited didn’t exist. 



Historic: Memory Lapse is banned (from suspended) and Teferi, Time Raveler is unbanned and rebalanced. 


Memory Lapse was expected to be permanently removed because that’s where every suspended card ends up, but the Teferi rebalancing was a bit of a surprise. 




The new Teferi looks potentially niche playable, but its additional cost makes it much worse. It was palatable against aggro decks before because it put them in an awkward position. On the draw an aggro deck would have to heavily commit to the battlefield playing into a sweeper or leave a simple single threat in play.


Teferi and sweepers were a very difficult tight rope to balance, but at four mana it seems too slow in its bad match-ups to be a staple.


They commented that it was adjusted to be an “anti-control card,” however the jump to four mana makes it a lot worse in control mirrors to the point of likely not being something you can rely on resolving or finding a window to resolve.


Once resolved it can also just get hit by an Unholy Heat with delirium or something. I don’t hold out a ton of hope for Teferi, but it will take some playing with to figure out since it’s not completely unplayable. 



Alchemy:  Lots of changes.


There were quite a few nerfs and some power creeps. They tried to buff a fair number of cards that venture into the dungeon, but from the looks of it, none of these adjustments are that meaningful.


Most of them are confusing regarding the purpose other than trying to save a failed mechanic, yet still failing to save that mechanic


If they wanted to save the venture into the dungeon, maybe create a new card that has a powerful payoff for doing so at some point. Until then we can focus a bit on what matters. 




Nerfs to Town-Razer Tyrant, Sanguine Brushstroke, and Inquisitor Captain are all relevant but somewhat minor. Brushstroke takes a modest hit, but it doesn’t push it into the unplayable category or anything. It’s just a tiny bit less powerful.


The Town-Razer Tyrant adjustment adds a bit of a workaround if you can fill your deck with basic lands, but that is highly unlikely since even mono-colored decks play creature lands and want to play them early. In many regards, Town-Razer didn’t take too much of a hit. I wouldn’t expect any deck that played it to blink at its changed text. 




The most meaningful adjustments to one of the most, if not the, most powerful Alchemy decks is the nerf of Divide by Zero; Lier, Disciple of the Drowned; and Hullbreaker Horror


Divide by Zero takes a big hit. It’s still good because it usually is a bridge to the mid or late game, so it will mostly be targeting three- and four-drops.


It isn’t drawing extra cards while also giving a huge mana advantage. I like this adjustment a lot.


Lier takes a big hit because it can no longer be used in conjunction with Divide by Zero like in the past and not being able to pass the turn and hold up tons of removal in graveyard is big. However, it’s still good enough to continue to see some play.


I think the nerfing of Hullbreaker Horror is a huge impact as having it counterable by a card like Jwari’s Disruption or Disdainful Stroke makes it much less reliable and will encourage more counterplay.


As a card that’s somewhat replaceable, it may be a bit too much of a liability now as an auto include and we may see these blue decks try new angles. I think UR Control decks are still playable and will continue to see a lot of play despite several cards being nerfed.




Importantly, Key to the Archive and Discover the Formula, two incredibly powerful Alchemy cards, remain untouched, which is a surprise to me.


I would have adjusted the spellbook of Key to the Archive to add some more air and less Time Warps. Almost every card in the spellbook is incredibly strong and efficient, so it’s a surprise to see it largely untouched. 



Other than the minor adjustment to Town-Razer Tyrant, there were almost no nerfs to the Mono Green and Gruul decks, so I would expect those decks to see an uptick in play to start the format.


Looking at the last NRG Series event on MTG Melee, I see tons of Gruul. I plan to start with UR decks in Alchemy and see how Kamigawa can help them because they still appear to me to be the most rawly powerful decks in the format. 



Keep in mind that we have a whole new set of cards coming to shake up Alchemy and the people who make the decisions are doing so with that in mind. Overall, I think the most surprising thing to me was any adjustments to Standard.


I don’t see the point of banning cards in Standard because I thought Alchemy was the place to do that except in extreme circumstances. I don’t think Standard was at that point, but there are more cards in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty just around the corner and maybe the bans were important given the ability to sell cards for Standard.


It would signal that the overall power level of Kamigawa is a bit low if that’s the case, but we’ll know more in a week as previews start to roll out. I’m curious to see what shakes out of this, and we’ll discuss it more next week. 


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