With the release of Amonkhet, all sanctioned formats and the group that oversees the Commander format announced their updates to banned and restricted lists as well as any pertinent rules changes. This Spring brings with it warmer weather, renewed life…and a bit of a bumpy bit of news announcements. Namely, the recent B&R changes for Standard and Vintage, which have now gone into effect.
The following changes are:
Felidar Guardian is banned.
For anyone who follows Standard, it’s been practically impossible to avoid this one. Since before Aether Revolt was even released, it was quickly realized that Wizards inadvertently created a turn four infinite win combo by pairing this seemingly harmless kitty with Saheeli Rai. And as you’d expect, Standard has seen this combo run rampant in the last few months.
What’s even stranger is that the hubbub of this announcement seems to almost be overshadowed by the delivery of the news itself. That is, when they announced the latest B&R list, Felidar wasn’t on it. Then, a couple days later, Wizards (supposedly after poring over a bunch of Magic Online data) made the emergency ban of Felidar after all.
The whole thing has angered a bunch in the Standard community, though half seem mad that it took them this long to ban a broken combo that R&D had clearly known about before the set came out, and the other half seem mad that they put out the ban list but then came back and added this one to it 3 days later.
Sometimes you just can’t win.
Sensei’s Divining Top is banned.
Not a huge surprise here. The Top is a superb card that provides a ton of card advantage at almost no cost. That power advantage, coupled with the downtime of continually topdecking – not to mention the prevalence of decks that run it in tandem with Counterbalance for a lockdown effect – was enough for them to finally tip this top over.
Gitaxian Probe is restricted.
Gush is restricted.
Every player loves taking advantage of free cards, free spells, and free mana, but Eternal formats can be warped and broken by them. This pair of cards was restricted largely because of how it pairs with Monastery Mentor to create some serious hurt. But rather than upset the meta too much by banning the Mentor itself, they’re just restricting its fuel. So we’ll see how that goes.
Modern, Online Formats
Leovold, Emissary of Trest is banned.
Protean Hulk is unbanned.
For the first time in a several quarters now, the RC has made changes! It’s just probably not the changes people would expect.
Leovold may be a bit of a surprise to some, but probably not to anyone who has faced him as a Commander. By simultaneously hampering your opponent’s ability to draw cards while giving you one-sided card advantage, it proved the kind of Commander way too easy to abuse. Which people did. Hence the ban.
On the other hand, the unbanning of Protean has been long coming, but we’ll see how long it lasts. Many of the old abusable combos still exist with Protean Hulk that led to its original banning in the first place, but the RC’s logic is that much more graveyard control exists now than in the past, so it should be easier to stop. Plus more dangerous creatures than it now exist which are seemingly being handled fine. What’s the worst that could happen?
Functional Errata and Relevant Rules Changes
There have been an above average number of rules update posts during this cycle, but most of what has been said doesn’t amount to too much of any major significance. A handful of creatures are now Jackals, and they’ve clarified that any “win the game” effects while playing sphere of influence variants only affect, well, your sphere of influence.
Ultimately, there were only two real rules changes to make note of. The first warranted its own article with the reveal of Aftermath split cards and changes to how split cards behave. In short, the rules have been simplified such that the CMC for a split card is the sum of both sides anywhere but the stack. When it is on the stack, its CMC is only of the side being cast (unless Fused, where it’s still both). This makes things much more intuitive for players, though, yes, it does undermine some of the wacky CMC-based abuse you could pull off with stuff like Cascade cards or Isochron Scepter.
The other issue pertains to a templating change regarding cards like Meddling Mage, where you traditionally ‘name a card’ as part of the card’s effect. Now you will ‘choose a card name’ instead. For the vast majority of situations, this isn’t a functional change. However, in the case of ‘you can’t cast card X’ effects like said mage, there still existed a loophole: you couldn’t cast cards of that name but certain effects could let you cast copies of that card.
So…they’ve gone ahead and closed that loophole. Now you simply can’t cast spells of that name. Period. Corner case? Yes. Functional change? Technically. Will it impact most of your games? Probably not.
The Commander announcement can be found here.