B&R Announcement December 4, 2023 - RIP Karn, Fury & More

Genoslugcs December 4, 2023 4 min
B&R Announcement December 4, 2023 - RIP Karn, Fury & More

WOTC told us they had significant changes coming to multiple formats with this Banned and Restricted announcement, and they did. You can read what they had to say leading up to the announcement and my early prediction here. The TL;DR version is that they've been keeping an eye on Modern & Pioneer and had several things they thought impeded fun, diverse games of Magic, which needed to be banned. On the flip side, they said, "We wouldn't be doing our due diligence" if they didn't also consider things that could be unbanned.

They laid the groundwork for the announcement by giving their thought process for bans and tried to give players as much of a heads-up as possible that cards were getting the hammer. But of course, they didn't say exactly which cards were on the chopping block. Well, now we know. So, without further ado, let's get into the December 4, 2023, banned and restricted announcement.

You can find the B&R list for all MTG formats here - Magic: The Gathering Banned And Restricted Cards

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Banned And Restricted Announcement - December 4, 2023

First, there are no changes for Standard, Legacy, or Vintage. Overall, WOTC said they don't see problems in these formats, but as always, they'll continue to monitor them and make changes as needed. Let's look at what did change, why it was banned (or unbanned) and what it means for the respective formats.

Pioneer

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Karn has been something people have been playing in Pioneer for almost as long as the format has existed. The mono-green combo version (see it explained here) was cited as the primary reason for the ban. However, Karn's ability to dip into the sideboard and find whatever the deck needs makes it hard for the meta to deal with the deck.

It also (almost coincidently) shuts off artifacts, "keeping a spread of interesting cards from seeing play." So, while the deck never had an oppressive win/play rate, these factors (plus the infinite combo) combine to paint a picture that Karn is warping the format around itself and limiting what players can realistically play with success.

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I think everyone saw this one coming. Geological Appraiserimage is a brand-new card from Lost Caverns of Ixalan that sorta combos with itself. These discover decks are built so that when you cast the Appraiser you're guaranteed to discover something that will make a copy of it, which creates a loop where you keep making copies until you've got a lethal attacking force.

With a single treasure token, this can happen as early as turn three (an opponent's turn two), and it's game over on the spot, which is a bit much for Pioneer. Players have to lose the game before they ever have a chance to play, or everyone has to play the same cheap interaction to ensure they can survive. Both of which are undesirable.

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I'm down for this coming back to the format. It was banned several years ago, and Pioneer has become more powerful since then. So, I think this can be in the meta without issue.

Remember that cards banned in Pioneer (available on MTG Arena) are also prohibited in Explorer. So, Karn and Geological Appraiser are banned in Explorer as well. However, Smuggler's Copter, despite being unbanned in Pioneer, will not be on MTGA.

Modern

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Fury is banned in Modern, and if you play the format, you know why. If you don't, it's probably not hard to imagine how a zero mana (thanks to evoke) 3/3 with double strike, that wipes the opposing board could be a little oppressive. And that's playing the card like it was designed to be played... Modern has the tools to break it.

For example, Not Dead After Allimage and Undying Maliceimage let you keep the card after you evoke it. This means you get the aggressive body for good and a second ETB trigger. The card sees play as a four-of in all the top decks, making it almost impossible to play in the format successfully.

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Remember when I said Modern could abuse Furyimage? Up the Beanstalk draws you a card when you evoke out a Fury or Griefimage because their mana value is five, even when you play them for free. With a beanstalk in play, you can now get all the value I mentioned above and draw a card.

You May Also Like: Understanding Modern Up The Beanstalk Decks - What Makes Them So Good

Considering that the beanstalk also cantrips, there's almost no downside to playing the card alongside the evoke elementals. This was a big enough value engine that WOTC opted that it would be too good, even with Fury out of the format, which really says something.

Pauper

Monastery Swiftspearimage is banned.

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Gavin Verhey (MTG card designer and member of the Pauper Format Panel) dove incredibly deep into why this card was banned. Check out his article here. The short version is that mono-red doesn't have an alarming win rate... the best lists are about 50%. But in game one, it's hard to beat. They often win only in post-board matches, where players have a ton they can board in.

That said, the panel doesn't want every deck to devote eight sideboard slots to dealing with a single deck, which is happening now. This indicates that mono-red is a bit too powerful and narrows the room players have in their sideboard for dealing with other decks.

Tweaks To The Two Week Ban Window

It's worth noting they devoted a paragraph or two to discussing some slight changes to the two-week ban window. Check it out:

ban window changes

Conclusion

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the bans. I don't get bothered by what people play and rarely get up in arms and call for bans. That said, I'll happily play my vampire aggro list (comment for a list!) without getting blown out by Fury. I think the majority of the player base for the formats in question will agree. Comment and let me know what you think of these bans.

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