Wizards of the Coast will go to some extremes to avoid using the phrase “emergency ban”, by moving the next Banned and Restricted announcement up to today, and the reasoning is now seen here.
Field of the Dead is banned.
Arcum’s Astrolabe is banned.
This is huge for both formats.
Standard was an obvious one, everyone was in agreement that Field of the Dead was an oppressive card with no clean answers for it in Standard. It gave decks that played it an unprecedented amount of inevitability that prevented control decks from being able to ever truly stabilize. Now, I have already been hearing complaints that Oko winter is upon us.
It’s no secret that turn one Gilded Goose into turn two Oko, Thief of Crowns is going to be the strongest opening you can have in this upcoming Standard, and people are upset that there are no good answers for it. Even Fry, a card that is literally designed to stop threats like Oko can’t finish the job by itself, putting Oko in the same boat as Field of the Dead, being there’s no good answer for it. This is troublesome, but I believe the format can be fleshed out to find a good answer. Field of the Dead was holding back a few decks from being able to compete, but maybe now someone will be able to find something to stop Oko.
The powers that control these things had two options with Pauper. They needed to ban either Ephemerate or Arcum’s Astrolabe. Talking a close friend of mine and pauper fanatic, he swayed me that Ephemerate needs to go and Astrolabe is fine. The reasoning for this is that Arcum’s Astrolabe allows deck to be three colored for the first time in Pauper’s history. Most decks had adopted Astrolabe, simply because it’s a new best-in-slot fixing tool, and it both made the format very linear and very fresh at the same time. Ephemerate is an extremely powerful card that made an already good deck excellent. In my humble opinion, Astrolabe was an incorrectly targeted ban, but only time will tell.
New Format: Pioneer
This has been a huge day for announcements, as we also got the announcement of a new non-rotating format; Pioneer.
Pioneer is going to be Return to Ravnica forward, with the five Khans of Tarkir fetch lands starting off being banned.
I have not been this hyped in a while.
I am completely against starting off formats with a ban list, but this is an exception. Their reasoning for banning the fetches immediately is they allow four+ color decks to have too much consistency when mixed with shock lands. I agree with this, but the real reason that I am okay with them being banned is it deflates the cost of entry for new players by a substantial amount. Between Shock lands, check lands, battle lands, cycle lands, and fast lands, there is still plenty of fixing for two and three color decks, so the fetches being banned are not causing any detriment to those mana bases, while all of the lands remain cheaper and easier for players to obtain.
There is so much brewing to be done that I don’t even know where to begin. This format seems awesome and I am 100% on board with it. Hopefully we’ll see weekly events begin to show up so we can get this format jump started in Utah!