May 29 Banned and Restricted Announcement is Officially Meh

ChrisCee May 31, 2023 4 min
May 29 Banned and Restricted Announcement is Officially Meh

The official word is finally in! As of today, the following cards will be banned in Standard:


  • Fable of the Mirror Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
  • Invoke Despair
  • Reckoner Bankbuster
Effective Date:
  • May 29, 2023 (Tabletop/Paper and Magic Online)
  • May 30, 2023 (MTG Arena)


The remaining explanation on the official blog post for the bannings mostly reiterates what was already discussed earlier. Namely, that this is the first step in transitioning towards a different style in Standard bannings. The most important point of which would be that there will be a yearly scheduled general banned and restricted update, apart from the immediate bannings every third Monday of a new release should there be a technical necessity.


But... is it enough?

The majority of players, however, deem that the banned cards were quite insufficient, certainly not enough to shake Standard the way they seem fit. The consensus is that banning these three cards really only hit one specific area of the meta, with Bankbuster pulling other decks down the ratings as well. The expected power vacuum just wasn't big enough.  Indeed, meta decks in Esper and Orzhov color identities might actually benefit from the apparent "nerf" that Mono-black and Rakdos have received from this update.


Sheoldred, the Apocalypseimage, in particular, is much more flexible and efficient mana-wise than Invoke Despairimage, even if its initial impact on the board is a bit more subdued. A good number of decent draw engines that maintain the four-turn mana curve of these meta decks are also available in white, the most notable of which is Tocasia's Welcomeimage, which also triggers with tokens (an element far more consistent nowadays in Esper and Orzhov). In addition, Breach the Multiverseimage has been low-key taking over games when things just get a wee bit too grindy. And unlike Sheoldred, it wreaks havoc immediately when it resolves, almost always providing value far more than what its caster paid for.

One rather weird opinion after this announcement, however, was the complaint that Atraxa, Grand Unifierimage was untouched. Phyrexia: All Will Be One was released just last February. Even if it is completely busted in optimized builds, the raw power level of the card is mostly workable enough in most situations, and it didn't even receive massive adoption rates even today. I did include it in my watch list, at least, since it is already at the edge of acceptable usability. Perhaps more exposure is needed before it is banned much later on August 7th?

Not a mini-rotation anymore?

Players have also been expecting the bannings as the direct fix to the extended year on Standard rotation. After all, if crucial cards are to be banned anyway, the players can experience a sort of "mini-rotation" that refreshes the meta anew, even if we preserve the rest of the cards within the same set.

Isn't that what we exactly got though? Instead of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty itself rotating out of Standard on September 2023, we simply cut off the three most broken cards in the set and kept the rest functional. Now, the aforementioned debate about whether it is sufficient enough or not still persists. But I personally believe that this is a step in the right direction, regardless of whether we consider WoTC as "cowards" for not pushing through and potentially endangering its economic assets further.

Most importantly, we should note that this is just the initial move. There is a very good likelihood that proper bannings are still reserved for later until August 7th. Until then, WoTC is probably just going to sit back. They could observe how Standard transforms without the first three banned cards, and if the other candidates will prove to be more troublesome for the meta than they are worth keeping.

Was the fake banned list better after all?

Lastly, there were also people lamenting over the opinion that the fake leaked announcement felt more real, and had more "heart" over the issue. The fake leak was quite excessive, of course, since we can argue that a good portion of the ban slots didn't feel as warranted as they should have. But the explanations at least still made general sense, and the overall selection was curated in a way that the entire meta was to be powered down by several notches, not just cutting down the most problematic of pieces.


Plaza of Heroesimage was a specific entry on the fake list that divided a lot of people. On the one hand, legendary cards are pretty common to most builds nowadays, that it will find universal use no matter what. On the other side of the argument, the card was still a bit too specific compared to Fable and Bankbuster, and was not really the root cause of the current balance issues. In hindsight, the inclusion of Plaza of Heroes, Raffine, Scheming Seerimage, and Wedding Announcement // Wedding Festivityimage was a considerably good move on the original poster's part to showcase the external state of the meta, and the decision-making that comes to the minds that argue to protect or deny their bannings.

Moving Forward

In any case, MTG Arena is set to take the bannings into effect immediately a day after the announcement on May 30, with the Wildcard compensation coming immediately after. Do you think other lesser competitive cards will be affected by these changes greatly? And what about alternatives? Are getting them in the form of additional copies of other meta cards? Or brand new unexpected deck toppers that would once again be hated by the community?

About ChrisCee:

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."


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@CR5Orca - I was originally on the fence with some of the choices of the fake ban list. But in hindsight, you're right, it did have the right idea, even if my personal interpretation of them may have not been as accurate.
The fake ban list had the right idea, annihilate the core of Rakdos decks and power down the obvious replacements for them in Esper Legends and Mono white. Banning the legend support land (forget name) was a dead give away it was a fake list but the idea was right.
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