With the release of Oath of the Gatewatch, 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. Given a long stretch of quietness in the last 2-3 updates, it comes as little surprise that there are some rather notable shakeups in both the Constructed and Commander worlds with this latest update. Nothing earth-shattering per se, but several of the updates will certainly make some people sit up and take notice. Since the delay of the Oath rules Update Bulletin, you may already be aware of some of the changes by now. If not, well, now you will!
The following changes are:
Standard, Legacy, Vintage
The explanation for these two is fairly self-evident. ‘Amulet Bloom’ decks have repeatedly been shown to be incredibly fast at mana generation, causing degenerative gameplay. Of the two biggest culprits, they decided that Summer Bloom was the bigger problem over Amulet of Vigor. The idea being that this allows the deck archetype to continue but slows it down to more manageable speeds.
Splinter Twin similarly got banned because far, far too many Modern decks are using the couple Splinter Twin combo-win options out there, leading to a lack of diversity in decks being played. As they state in their reasoning, too many decks are being built around Splinter Twins rather than them simply being in a deck, which isn’t healthy for the format.
CommanderProphet of Kruphix is banned.
For most casual Commander players, this one was a long time coming, although it appears the RC debated it for quite some time. In the end, the card proved too essential to some decks and game warping in most other cases, causing the ban to happen.
In addition, Commander included two other major announcements:
- They are eliminating the mana generation part of Rule 4. This was the rule that previously stated that if your deck would generate mana outside of your color identity it would become colorless. That has now been removed, in no small part due to the inclusion of cards that require colorless mana to be cast. This means, for example, that a Birds of Paradise can now produce any color mana, not just those of your Commander.
- They are eliminating Commander-specific mulligan rules – i.e. Partial Paris. Instead, they are advocating that most players use the Vancouver Mulligan rule with the standard first free multiplayer mulligan rule. That is, rather than using Paris to remove parts of hands, players may mulligan the first time for free back to 7 cards. After that, it drops by one each time and you’ll be able to Scry 1 at the end.
- Alternatively, although unofficially, the RC also suggests the Gis mulligan system for consistent play groups, as that’s what they continue to use. This mulligan approach says that if you mulligan a hand, you exile it and draw another 7. You may continue to repeat this process as many times as you want until you have a ‘playable hand’ (whatever you deem that to be). Then all exiled cards are shuffled back in. Many players also use the ‘3-land’ Gis variant, which states that you may mulligan until you get a ‘playable hand’ or a hand with 3 land, whichever comes first.
Functional Errata and Relevant Rules Changes
Unlike the aforementioned updates, the Oracle update is rather mild. Aside from some of the normal template wording tweaks, and the implementation of the new colorless mana symbol, there are very few functional card changes. But hey, at least Homarid got a shout out as part of that segment, so that’s something?
However, functionally speaking two cards did see some very minor changes:
- Marjhan at one point went from being a Serpent to a Leviathan. It’s now back to being a Serpent.
- Shadow Rider at one point went from being a Knight to a Zombie Knight. It’s once again just a Knight.
That’s about it. Numerous rules were added or modified, but most just pertain to a more clear-cut distinction between colorless and generic mana for casting purposes or incorporating new set mechanics and the Commander changes mentioned above.
The only rule clarification of any note was them more explicitly stating what happens between mana accelerators and mana-generating effects with restrictions on how they can be used. Essentially, those riders still apply. The example used is that with Mana Reflection with Pyromancer’s Goggles if you spend the Red mana correctly, you can indeed get two different copies off of two different spells. Another example would be something like the Reflection with Vedalken Engineer; that two mana is still restricted to artifacts. This isn’t a change as it’s always worked this way, but they’re spelling it out in detail here.
Oh, and there was also an apparent need to clarify how and when the term ‘card’ is used in Magic. Really. So, ending on a high note?
The explanations of the non-Commander Banned & Restricted changes can be found here.
The Commander announcement can be found here.
The full list of rules clarifications can be viewed here.