Major Changes Coming To MTG Ban System - What They Are, Pros & Cons And MoreBanlist News
Genoslugcs · May 20, 2023 · 4 min
WOTC recently made some significant changes to the Standard format in an effort to revitalize tabletop play. They announced that Standard Rotation was moving from every two to every three years and that more changes would be on the horizon. On the latest Weekly MTG (full video here), we learned some of the said changes, which will change how or when cards will be banned. Let's look at the MTG Ban Changes and what they mean for the game.
Moving forward, WOTC will have a yearly ban event in the Fall that coincides with the release of the Fall set. There will also be extremely rare "mini-ban" windows that will allow bannings to be made in the three weeks following the release of a new set.
These are some pretty significant changes from how things were done until now. So, let's go over the thought process behind the decision, what it is that Wizards of the Coast hopes to achieve with it, and if it will have the desired outcome or further doom Standard.
Why Change The Way Cards Are Banned?
Wizards of the Coast hopes a more regular ban schedule will make it easier for players to see bannings coming and prepare for them. This means physically, as far as having to make fewer card swaps and sideboard adjustments due to "random" bans. Also, players can be confident that the cards they buy won't be banned from the format while they aren't expecting it, giving them more confidence to invest in cards. Here's an official quote from principal game designer Andrew Brown after he was asked about the reasoning for the change:
"So, the largerst reason that we've heard from the community is that we're banning too frequently, too randomly, and it's just kinda hard to maintain your collection. And you know, feel happy to invest in the cards, and say, 'Hey I'm gonna go play in Friday Night Magic and I'll have my deck and it'll be fun.'
So, when we were doing things like that [banning cards "when we ban them"] way too often, you know, it was really hurting too many players and we really want to be able to ensure that people can have confidence and know that "Oh this is only going to happen once per year, and you know, I can be confident in having my deck and playing my deck for a while.'"
Is This A Good Solution?
The ideas may make sense on paper, but many players quickly started to poke holes in the new system. The main concern with yearly bans is that if a problem arises, it will take an entire year to address. Wizards says that the "three-week mini-ban windows" will allow them enough flexibility to deal with issues should they arise.
Again, this may work in theory, but three weeks isn't long. I think it's likely that problems will show up after the window, and they'll be faced with a situation where they'll either have to keep a card that they know needs to be banned in the format for several months or break their own rule. Likely, they'd leave the card in the format.
With such a rigid system, situations like this will inevitably arise. I think the "we're banning too frequently, too randomly" portion of the quote is a bit misguided. In general, I find that players are in favor of bans. What bothers people is that Wizards no longer prints cards into Standard with Standard in mind. This creates situations where a few select cards (likely printed to target Commander or Modern) are overpowered, creating an unfun Stardard environment.
Aside from WOTC printing more and more cards through Standard aimed at formats like Commander, it seems they've dropped off on how well they play test cards before putting them out to the public. This lack of effort and the fact that very few cards (at least compared to the past) are there to make Standard fun are what makes "too frequent, too random" bans annoying.
That said, I don't know if locking the ban window down to a rigid, immovable window will relieve players' grief if those underlying issues are not addressed. In other words, the solution should be to print cards into Standard for Standard and do the due diligence to ensure they're balanced. If they did that, bannings would only be needed when something slipped through the cracks.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Does This Change Take Effect?
There is a banned & restricted announcement set for 5/29/23, and the ban changes will take effect with that announcement. Furthermore, Wizards will also release an article with more details on all of this on the 29th.
Why Wait Until The 29th To Make The Changes Official?
When asked this question in chat, WOTC (or people speaking on their behalf) said they are waiting until then not to disrupt players who had been testing for Arena Championship 3, which will be taking place on the 27th & 28th.
Do These Changes Affect All Formats Or Just Standard?
This new ban format will be implemented for all formats, not just Standard. It's worth noting that the three-week "mini-ban" window is more likely to be used for older formats.
There you have it, folks, all of the changes coming to MTG regarding bans, why they're being implemented, and my thoughts on the matter. As with most things, the community is somewhat divided on what this means for the game. Comment below and let me know how you feel about it.