5 Potential Bans in Magic: the Gathering's Next B&R Update
3Pioneer - WotC will ban several cards.
Why this could happen: Pioneer is extremely polarizing right now. It seems like half of players really enjoy playing this combo-filled format, especially since games between the top three decks, Dimir Inverter, Lotus Breach, and Heliod, are incredibly interesting and complex.
Of course, leaving the format in a state where the top three decks can all win out of nowhere, while also managing to interact and apply pressure at the same time, could disenfranchise a lot of players who were attracted to Pioneer from the start.
Pioneer was supposed to be the format where you could play your favorite Standard deck from the past decade, but with cool upgrades from other sets. Ever since the release of Theros: Beyond Death, the format has looked nothing like that.
The three top decks all revolve around brand new cards: Thassa’s Oracle, Underworld Breach, and Heliod, Sun-Crowned. Therefore, to make the format feel like it did just after its inception, WotC should target these three decks heavily.
I wouldn’t be surprised if WotC take this route, banning Inverter of Truths, which was total garbage before Oracle was printed, Heliod, and Underworld Breach. This type of action would be pretty consistent with previous bans that removed two-card game winning combos.
Why this won’t happen: On the other hand, it’s not exactly clear how WotC wants to position Pioneer as Constructed Magic’s newcomer. The three top decks are pretty unique, with each archetype playing out very differently despite sharing the combo aspect.
In terms of diversity, too, it doesn’t seem like there’s a grave problem. Sultai Delirium and Niv-to-Light both exist as competitive Midrange options, while mages on either end of the archetype spectrum have access to powerful tools for their monocolor aggro decks and Azorius Control.
There are also safety valves built into Pioneer that can make battling against the Big 3 a satisfying challenge rather than a chore. If WotC want to let the format come into its own and adapt around Inverter, Breach, and Heliod, then they won’t exercise the nuclear option.
Finally, it would be a pretty devastating blow to the players’ confidence in the developers of Magic if so many cards from the newest set were to hit the banlist at once. Players should be assured that they get to play the cards they purchase, and a huge swin of the banhammer would hurt a lot of collections.
2Modern - Once Upon a Time will be banned.
Why it could be banned: Players realized pretty quickly that printing Once Upon a Time was a huge error on WotC’s part. Wizards themselves owned up to their mistake and banned the card in Standard and Pioneer.
Many players, myself included, believe that the card is a net negative for the game and should be “unprinted,” or banned in all formats and basically forgotten. Having access to a free spell that hits everything you want to hit in Green decks and that digs so deep makes decks too consistent.
Deck consistency is definitely desirable to a great extent in Constructed formats, but OUAT just makes games play out the same way too often. It may make decks better, but it also makes games repetitive and therefore unenjoyable.
Thanks to the OUAT and to the recent printing of Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Amulet Titan is currently on a rampage through Modern. Banning OUAT would make games more interesting and would bring the deck down a notch while still leaving its core intact.
Why it won’t be banned: With the introduction of Pioneer, WotC may want to differentiate the formats in a way that allows OUAT to continue doing its thing in various Green decks.
The way I see it, OUAT is too good in Standard and Pioneer because there aren’t enough options to keep Green decks from homogenizing, but it’s terrible in Legacy where Blue cantrips are the name of the game and decks are land and creature light. This way, Modern’s identity can be the format where Green has the best card selection and consistency.