With the release of Aether Revolt, 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. Winter is typically known as a slow time for many, but the latest slate of updates provides some interesting changes. Namely, the recent B&R changes for Standard and Modern, which have now gone into effect.
The following changes are:
StandardEmrakul, the Promised End is banned. Reflector Mage is banned. Smuggler’s Copter is banned.
It’s been a long while since we’ve had bans seen in Standard, let alone three at once, so that announcement surprised quite a few people. Two of the cards on the list (Emrakul and Copter), however, were no real shock. Emrakul continues to be abused due to being able to accelerate her out far too quickly to handle most of the time. Similarly, the Copter has proven to be far too effective to speed up the tempo of, well, nearly any deck. Far, far, far too many decks were using Copter to a point where it was creating degenerative gameplay and lack of diversity in decks.
Reflector Mage was the surprise card to many, but the explanation made sense: Blue White control decks were once again being problematic, and this card was a common factor in nearly all of them.
ModernGitaxian Probe is banned. Golgari Grave-Troll is banned. Again.
Outside of tournament settings, Gitaxian Probe isn’t a highly used card. In Modern, it’s everywhere. This seemingly simple card often shows up in decks that seemingly shouldn’t need it thanks to its nearly-free casting cost, cantrip effect, ability to be splashed into every deck (thanks to its Phyrexian mana cost), and its effect of generating perfect information against your opponent. This makes several deck archetypes far more dangerous if they know their opponent doesn’t have a response against them, creating many one-sided games. In some ways it’s impressive it took this long.
Meanwhile, the Grave-Troll ban surprises no one, proving time and again that players simply can’t resist abusing abusable cards. When Modern originally came out in 2011, the Grave-Troll was part of the initial ban list. In January 2015 they believed that Dredge wasn’t as big of an issue as in the past, leading to its unbanning. Two years later, that belief has proven untrue, hence its return to Modern oblivion.
Legacy, Vintage, Online Formats
No changes of note, though the fact that they specifically single out Paradox Engine regarding the calls for pre-banning (and why they don’t do that) likely means that card is going to have a short lifespan in EDH. Aside from that, the RC has plans to update/clarify their current philosophy on the website to reflect their current ideology, but it doesn’t mean any actual modifications to the format.
Functional Errata and Relevant Rules Changes
Reflecting their happiness with the current state of the game’s infrastructure, there’s not much new to report in terms of changes to its rules. The majority of the Oracle update this time around is your typical inclusion of new mechanics and a baker’s dozen of cards getting grammatical nonfunctional template updating.
On the rules-side, most of the updates concern typical rules clarifications or clerical tidying up; nothing really in the way of notable gameplay changes. The only actual change we get is that the rules have been tweaked in Two-Headed Giant games pertaining to how Proliferate works. Since each team can only have a single Poison total, it was originally written that if you wanted to Proliferate Poison, you would select a team. However, since Experience and Energy counters now exist and are player-based versus team-based, the rule was altered such that Proliferate now targets players – with the rider that if you’re Proliferating Poison you can only give it to one player on the team.
Beyond that, the most noteworthy things are that Goblin Test Pilot gains the creature type Pilot (naturally), and that Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder‘s ability of granting something to a spell as you’re casting it is just a hint of future cards to come. Pure speculation on our part, but given that Splice did a similar thing back in Kamigawa and they’ve hinted at wanting to revisit the idea for some time, it very well could be foretelling of a new Splice-adjacent mechanic…
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.