May 29 Banned and Restricted MTG Card PredictionsDiscussion
ChrisCee · May 23, 2023 · 6 min
In about one week from now, WoTC is about to announce the very first banning in Standard for 2023. This time, however, the context is quite different. Instead of the usual unexpected meta warpers like Alrund's Epiphany and Divide by Zero, the move is a direct consequence of extending current Standard by one more year. I personally may love the idea of still embracing Kamigawa Neon Dynasty by twelve more months in Standard. But it is perfectly understandable that players are already getting sick and tired of seeing the same things over and over in BO1 and BO3 matches for three straight years.
So, which cards would be banned exactly? Actually, the main candidates are only two. The rest of the other potential entries may seem to be ready for the chopping block. But in one way or another, just a few of them will ever be chosen, if the list is even technically eligible in the first place.
Main Candidate 01: Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Confidence Rate: 90%
The one and only card which almost everyone unanimously agrees should be banned in Standard. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker effectively overturned what it means to be a balanced saga enchantment for the set it belongs to. Additional bodies to punch, indirect ramp, looting, graveyard dumping, and a pseudo-legendary that doubles the effect of your best creature on the field every turn. All of that, for the low, low price of just two colorless and a single red mana. If red mana is even remotely on the menu, you can expect a few copies of it to be included, no questions asked.
At best, decision-making is already effectively warped the moment that first Goblin Shaman token drops. At worst, all the utterly versatile shenanigans of Reflection of Kiki-Jiki warrant an immediate response, lest it overturns the entire game on its own.
And if your opponents ever let two untapped Reflections with a bunch of unused lands at the end of their end step…
Main Candidate 02: Reckoner Bankbuster
Confidence Rate: 80%
This card has already witnessed its fair share of discussions contemplating its potential banning for the past few months. However, many people often argue that it is simply a much weaker version of Smuggler's Copter, and therefore does not really deserve to be axed in any way.
For the most part, they are correct. Crew 3 is a rather “steep” crew cost, limiting its synergy with weaker creatures. It doesn’t need to attack to draw, but it still needs to be tapped with a minimum investment of two mana. Most importantly, perhaps, is that it doesn’t fly, and so its offensive potential is comparatively diminished.
On the flip side, being that it is so universally used in almost any deck, games are indeed starting to get warped around it. Cards like Bloodtithe Harvester wouldn’t have the same level of dominance if not for its cruel synergy with Bankbuster and Fable. Even spot removal interactions start to look silly when you have the ol’ trusty 4/4 ready to snatch away that one last comeback turn from your opponent at a crew's notice.
Case in point, current Standard interactions would very likely change if Reckonber Bankbuster disappears overnight.
Sub Candidate 01: The Wandering Emperor
Confidence Rate: 30%
Personally, I like the different kind of interactive flavor that she offers to the current meta as a planeswalker, even if often it becomes very obvious when she is about to intervene. If the opponent uses white mana and has access to at least four lands on a certain turn, she becomes an ever-present looming threat or concern, much more so than typical removal or counterspells.
Her value also comes from the fact that unless she can be dealt with immediately, you’re almost always guaranteed to run off with her effects at least twice, Kaito Shizuki style.
Unfortunately, aside from being a mainstay pick, her impact is much, much lower than Fable or Bankbuster. She simply does not take over games, even if she is one of the most prominent response-based planeswalkers of current Standard. She also gets very predictable, as mentioned, and it is relatively easy to go around her given enough extra options for a single turn.
Sub Candidate 02: Invoke Despair
Confidence Rate: 30%
Depending on the number of targets available as it resolves, the card can definitely inflict its very name on your opponent. Plus, it is an obligatory addition to the most popular decks of traditional (BO3) Standard matchups, due to the sheer versatility of its use, increasing its card usage ratings even further.
Unfortunately, outside of potentially gaining massive card advantage and being partially modular, the card is not really as overpowered as some salty players think. If you have no targets, it becomes a very inefficient draw three with a bit of burn, restricted further by requiring four black mana. You cannot rely on it to turn the tables in the middle of a heated aggro rush. You can never confidently cast it on the fastest mana curve if counterspells are remotely on the menu.
Thus, the confidence rate of it being banned next Monday is much lower. It does change the tide of a considerable number of games though, and effectively prevents certain midrange or tempo builds from ever going off, so there might still be a chance that it gets chopped off.
Sub Candidate 03: Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Confidence Rate: 30%
Basically on this list for almost the exact reasons as Invoke Despair, except it's in creature form, and the pluses that it accumulates are spaced between even more turns. Sure, it is a very efficient body at four mana. But much like other setup creatures like Quirion Beastcaller, it doesn’t do anything the moment it lands. If you want a real threat of similar nature, something like Atraxa, Grand Unifier would have been the better candidate.
As the card with the highest usage rate at the end of 2022, she does still pose a significant existential threat to other ideas that could have flourished had it not existed. Also, combining it with Invoke Despair during an optimal mana curve tends to turn tables more than you think. So while confidence remains low, she's still a considerable candidate to be banned next week.
Sub Candidate 04: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Confidence Rate: 10%
We’ve already seen her do the usual dirty work in more classic decks, despite current iterations of decks not being as focused on her disruption strategies anymore. Regardless, if you like to progress your board with noncreature spells like any other aggro or tempo deck, then be prepared to lose a turn or two to dedicate resources to her immediately.
That’s… about it actually. Outside of very recent combos like Invasion of Gobakhan // Lightshield Array, Anointed Peacekeeper, or even Coppercoat Vanguard, she never feels too threatening or unfair. She never warps the entire game around her. That being said, her disappearance could create a very minor strategic vacuum where overlooked cards become usable more copies of other meta-level cards are added to the same decks.
Sub Candidate 05: Bloodtithe Harvester
Confidence Rate: 10%
A super versatile card matched with powerful stats and easy mana value. Same design, same story. For those sick of using or engaging this card in regular Standard matchups, it is not surprising that many players personally want it to be finally buried to rest.
However, as obnoxiously versatile as this card may be, it is never really considered a serious threat unless the board is already pushing to a stable state with other cards. In other words, it doesn’t carry games on its own. Sure, it’s an easy pilot for a Bankbuster, and can be absolutely frustrating when combined with a transformed Fable. But in a vacuum, many cards from other colors can easily counter its best aspects.
Nonetheless, being one of the most played cards in Standard, and belonging to the oldest set still legal within the format, the minor chance of being axed on March 29th remains. As such, it is kept on the list.
Bonus Candidate: Atraxa, Grand Unifier
Confidence Rate: 5%
This entry doesn’t really have any solid foundations, and the card does not even have any format-wide broken strategies in the first place. Her inclusion is mostly due to sheer card advantage, by having a whole set of keyword abilities and drawing a bunch of cards whenever she successfully drops. If a card in the near future could exploit those advantages further, then it might be better to axe her now than later, even if she's technically just four months old.
A witness since the time the benevolent silver planeswalker first left Dominaria, ChrisCee has since went back and forth on a number of plane-shattering incidents to oversee the current state of the Multiverse.
"Target bird is no longer available. Please leave a message after the last bounce."