Following Monday's Magic: The Gathering ban and restricted announcement for the new Pioneer format, Senior Designer Aaron Forsythe has shared some insight on their decision to ban "Felidar Guardian", "Oath of Nissa", and "Leyline of Abundance" in Pioneer.
Over on Twitter, Forsythe has shared some data from previous weeks that culminated this past weekend: "Devotion trophied 40 times this weekend (10x more than most other decks), 60.5% non-mirror win% (and was 62% vs Cat). Cat trophied 16x, 54.9%."
Misheard @PioneerDLs podcast in a previous tweet, deleted, reposting relevant bits. Anyway, data on bans: Devotion trophied 40 times this weekend (10x more than most other decks), 60.5% non-mirror win% (and was 62% vs Cat). Cat trophied 16x, 54.9%.— Aaron Forsythe (@mtgaaron) November 5, 2019
No wonder "Leyline of Abundance" and "Oath of Nissa" got banned. The archetype was just too strong in the current meta, and Wizards of the Coast clearly wants to keep Pioneer's meta diverse. They already expressed their willingness to aggressively make off-cycle B&R updates in the upcoming months but they have plans to eventually align Pioneer updates with their normal B&R scheduled announcements.
Many MTG players were already expecting the Felidar Guardian/Saheeli combo to be dominant in the Pioneer format, so it's not surprising to see "Felidar Guardian" banned in Pioneer just like how it was banned in Standard back in 2017.
In yesterday's B&R announcement, Duke explained why they banned the cat: "The Felidar Guardian/Saheeli Rai combination threatens metagame diversity by requiring decks to present specific types of early interaction while developing their own strategy or else immediately lose the game," Duke explained. "Rather than allow this combination to warp deck building and the metagame around it, we're choosing to ban a card. Of the two options, 'Felidar Guardian' is the most likely to break again with existing or future cards."
Forsythe went on to say that he hopes that they won't need to keep being this aggressive with the bans but he's reserving the right just to make sure they can improve the diversity of Pioneer before the new format makes it to more tabletop events next year.
It was multiple weeks of data, culminating in this weekend. I hope we don’t need to keep being this aggressive but we’re reserving the right.— Aaron Forsythe (@mtgaaron) November 5, 2019
With Saheel/Felidar Guardian combo and Mono Green Devotion decks gone, which archetype do you think will dominate the Pioneer meta? Do you think WotC will ban more cards for the new format in the near future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.