B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020

@aelien said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@evouga Where is this quote from?

Ah sorry, it's not a quote, just satire (WotC would never say any of that!).

Ouch, swing and a miss in my eyes. I was looking forward to playing Lurrus without companion, really cool card.

I don't think the statement is too short, but I think a lot of Vintage players will be annoyed it didn't reference two things:

1. The Gravitas of the Moment.

It took Vintage about, what, 26 years to finally have to ban a card for power level reasons? It took awhile. Congratulations, WotC. you did it! Anyway, the fact that this is so unprecedented probably means players would have expected something in the banned and restricted announcement acknowledging this. It's kind of like if Grandma dies and you just a get a quick text messages saying "Oh also Nana died."

  1. When Will Cards Get Banned in the Future?

What exactly was the philosophy behind the Lurrus ban, and when will the rule be applied again? I feel like I know why Lurrus was banned because I observed the format with it, but I don't know exactly what the criteria will be for bannings in the future.

@maximumcdawg said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

  1. When Will Cards Get Banned in the Future?

What exactly was the philosophy behind the Lurrus ban, and when will the rule be applied again? I feel like I know why Lurrus was banned because I observed the format with it, but I don't know exactly what the criteria will be for bannings in the future.

I guess the criteria was "we designed a card (mechanic) so sutpidly that restricting it does not adress the problem at all"

I would add:

  1. Some indication that more moderate action (such as banning Lurrus as a companion, rather than outright) was considered, and an explanation for why these were rejected in favor of a straight ban.

  2. Some indication that taking action against the most degenerate strategies that Lurrus enables (Paradoxical Outcome, Underworld Breach) was considered instead of banning Lurrus, and rationale for why such actions were rejected in favor of a ban of Lurrus.

B&R announcements in the (sadly, now very distant) past often had this greater level of detail and care.

@evouga said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I would add:

Some indication that more moderate action (such as banning Lurrus as a companion, rather than outright) was considered, and an explanation for why these were rejected in favor of a straight ban.

Some indication that taking action against the most degenerate strategies that Lurrus enables (Paradoxical Outcome, Underworld Breach) was considered instead of banning Lurrus, and rationale for why such actions were rejected in favor of a ban of Lurrus.

B&R announcements in the (sadly, now very distant) past often had this greater level of detail and care.

  1. Maybe also touch upon how a preemptive ban is also exceedingly rare and for most people this is exactly what that is, a ban of a card before the physical cards are in peoples hands.

Yesterday I reactivated my manatraders account to play with Lurrus and I had a blast in the league I played him in. I went to bed excited to brew and play with Lurrus. I woke up to find that Lurrus has been banned. I went straight to try building a new deck with Zirda or Yorion, but after about 10 minutes I lost all interest in the format once again and just put my manatraders account back into vacation mode. It was a good 18 hours, Vintage, you had a good run. See you guys in 5 months!

@desolutionist believe me, you would have gotten sick of seeing lurrus real quick. Bad timing though for sure

last edited by Aelien

I was hoping to see banned as a Companion instead of an outright ban like many others. In the long term, the simplicity of an outright ban makes the overall B&R list slightly cleaner, but I'm not sure that outweighs being able to brew with Lurrus as a maindeck option. He's strong enough to operate in various contexts, perhaps even more in a future context where the multiverse is much less hostile than Format Karakas.

I wrote a long response recently but it's already buried so I'll re-post the parts relevant to the gravity of the first explicit power level in some time.

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

There's been a myth about "no power level bans" in Vintage for a long time that's been put to rest definitively by some recent tweets by Mark Rosewater. Yes, Vintage has a banned list and it's still available as corrective action for cards that warp gameplay. Channel and Mind Twist were unbanned because those cards no longer met the criteria for banning. It was not because Wizards decided to abolish the ban list itself. Though as time passed without any subsequent bans, that interpretation became prematurely ingrained and inadequately challenged, even while Time Vault itself was stealth banned via power-level errata until 2008.

[snip]

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

On the bright side for more preservative views, that means if Lurrus or the Companions are banned or banned as Companions in Vintage it won't signify a grand rupture of the format's foundation. It's just an exercise of a reserved power that hasn't been used in many years. Starting the game with a functional +1 hand size is a very drastic change whose magnitude can justify a weighty response.

One way we can look at the B&R action is to consider that banning Lurrus is actually a much less drastic change than printing Lurrus was. The milk was spilled in April, not May.

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

One way we can look at the B&R action is to consider that banning Lurrus is actually a much less drastic change than printing Lurrus was. The milk was spilled in April, not May.

This is I think a very fair way to look at this, but it also feels like something we are going to be saying more and more set after set as the power creep and uncharted territory gets even more prominent. Prior to companions we had:

  • The printing of a 4x, arguably more powerful Yawgs will
  • some number of waves of the most powerful planeswalkers ever made
  • a 1 card I win combo that was restriction resistant (karn and lattice)
  • The best blue hate card maybe ever (veil of summer)
  • One of the most busted effect lands printed (mystic sanctuary)
  • A new pitch counter that at least exists in the same ballpark as FOW
  • A pitch artifact/enchantment hate card that may be the most powerful ever made

I mean, the list goes on and I believe that is only the last year.

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

One way we can look at the B&R action is to consider that banning Lurrus is actually a much less drastic change than printing Lurrus was. The milk was spilled in April, not May.

This is I think a very fair way to look at this, but it also feels like something we are going to be saying more and more set after set as the power creep and uncharted territory gets even more prominent. Prior to companions we had:

  • The printing of a 4x, arguably more powerful Yawgs will
  • some number of waves of the most powerful planeswalkers ever made
  • a 1 card I win combo that was restriction resistant (karn and lattice)
  • The best blue hate card maybe ever (veil of summer)
  • One of the most busted effect lands printed (mystic sanctuary)
  • A new pitch counter that at least exists in the same ballpark as FOW
  • A pitch artifact/enchantment hate card that may be the most powerful ever made

I mean, the list goes on and I believe that is only the last year.

All good examples. The power creep and release saturation is what's affecting the rate of change more than the B&R updates which haven't even adequately kept up with them despite 7 adjustments in the past year.

For all the displeasure at the briefness and "incompleteness" of the rationale for banning - I think they said all they needed to perfectly. The card is busted in Vintage and legacy because of the cheap, OP stuff we have access to. The companions are working as planned in newer formats.

They print cards to sell. Newer formats are where they get 99% of their revenue. What do you all not understand about that? These weren't designed with Vintage/Legacy in mind. They saw the impact and banned it. Get over it. It's almost like people think WotC is testing newer cards for their interaction in Vintage and Legacy with any amount of effort. They are not. If they see something blatantly obvious - something like a 0cmc artifact that transmutes for 0 to get a 0cmc card, they'd likely say "wait, that's free black lotus/land tutor every game" and pump the brakes. But anything outside of THAT obvious, they're going to test how it plays in Standard and maybe Modern, and that's about it. They are a for-profit company, and they will always do what is best to maximize sales, not the grumblings of a small community that only buys old cards via Ebay. Get used to that reality and stop acting confused when WotC/Hasbro acts this way.

@thewhitedragon69 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

For all the displeasure at the briefness and "incompleteness" of the rationale for banning - I think they said all they needed to perfectly. The card is busted in Vintage and legacy because of the cheap, OP stuff we have access to. The companions are working as planned in newer formats.

They print cards to sell. Newer formats are where they get 99% of their revenue. What do you all not understand about that? These weren't designed with Vintage/Legacy in mind. They saw the impact and banned it. Get over it. It's almost like people think WotC is testing newer cards for their interaction in Vintage and Legacy with any amount of effort. They are not. If they see something blatantly obvious - something like a 0cmc artifact that transmutes for 0 to get a 0cmc card, they'd likely say "wait, that's free black lotus/land tutor every game" and pump the brakes. But anything outside of THAT obvious, they're going to test how it plays in Standard and maybe Modern, and that's about it. They are a for-profit company, and they will always do what is best to maximize sales, not the grumblings of a small community that only buys old cards via Ebay. Get used to that reality and stop acting confused when WotC/Hasbro acts this way.

I largely agree with you, but I have to say that there is a more than just a whiff of incompetence surrounding this whole Companion affair. WotC does not profit from Vintage, but it certainly does from Standard and Commander. Companions have massively warped the Standard format (and have overshadowed the intended marquee mechanic of the set, Mutate) and Lutri was preemptively emergency-banned in Commander.

@evouga said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I largely agree with you, but I have to say that there is a more than just a whiff of incompetence surrounding this whole Companion affair. WotC does not profit from Vintage, but it certainly does from Standard and Commander. Companions have massively warped the Standard format (and have overshadowed the intended marquee mechanic of the set, Mutate) and Lutri was preemptively emergency-banned in Commander.

Lutri may have been overlooked in commander in testing, but the rest seem fine. And if by "warped" standard, you mean a major mechanic of a new set is influencing all the standard decks...isn't that "Mission Accomplished" from a design standpoint? Mutate was a major mechanic, but not a very good one - more like a better bestow. Companion was just a more powerful mechanic, and on-theme with the "animal friends" plane. It seems likely that it would be the more played mechanic. And if the mechanic of the newest set is overshadowing older legal sets, I'd think that's a win for R&D.

@thewhitedragon69 Three things to think about in response to that.

First, power creep in general is not a great thing for the game. It's a short-term boost in sales, sure, but it's long-term detrimental because you either have to fall back and print a Masques or Kamigawa and deal with disapointed players and disappointing sales or you keep on creeping and things get more and more unbalanced. They've tried to balance this in the past with power creeping different aspects to different sets at different rates, but that seems to have been thrown out the window recently. It's very legitimate for people to worry about what sustained power creep means for long term health of the game.

Second, perhaps by accident, WotC's recent power creep may have come at the exact perfect time to actually be the right call. With Covid shutting down paper magic hard, Arena is probably picking up steam. All the recent power-creep sets are on Arena, and having splashy, powerful cards on that platform is good for that game. I don't play Standard typically, and I like the meta on Arena right now in standard. It's powerful and flashy. Feels more like eternal, complete with combo decks, than it has in a long time. If you were going to choose a period of time to mortgage paper magic's future in exchange for a boost online, now seems like exactly the time to do it.

Third, overall, I think this power creep + ban trend is good for eternal because it means they're finally shaking off the chains restraining them from printing cards as powerful as the old hard-to-obtain cards. I've been a big advocate for helping people get into eternal by printing cards that compete with the old reserved list staples, and they're doing that. I don't think they've gone far enough into making the new cards MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE with Vintage staples yet, but they're certainly making sure that the Vintage metagame is chock full of new and relatively cheap cards at competitive levels. That's a good thing! But, of course, since Vintage is the Whos-Who list of Magic's Greatest Mistakes, when you print cards to compete at that level you are absolutely going to have to police the format against breaking.

@maximumcdawg I think the power creep here isn't as bad as perceived, though. Lurrus, for example, is not OP in standard. It's only OP in eternal formats because of all the already OP old stuff they have access to, like lotus. If none of the mana accelerants existed in Vintage, Lurrus would be much less powerful.

Power creep also isn't always obvious at first. Goyf was a vanilla beater, but an efficient 4/5 for 2 on avg. He got played fairly early and has remained the power-creep-flag-bearer for a long time. Death's shadow is a 7/7-12/12 for 1 mana, and I don't recall him being immediately trotted out as a beast until much more recently. He was sorta unplayable at first iirc. Lurrus is much more of a grindy, decently-costed 3/2 lifelinker in formats that pay WotC.

Another thing to consider is that WotC typically prints a balancer in the same standard block. Drannith Magistrate is cheaper (played faster) than all the companions and drop-kicks them in the fangs. A DM deck is going to punish companion decks. Unfortunately "being broken" is more fun than "stopping broken" and people usually run the flashy wins in far greater numbers than the slogging decks. See humans in vintage vs everything blue as an example. FAR more PO/mentor players than thalia players.

The key takeaway for me is it closes the book on any debate that WotC actively looks at vintage/legacy in R&D. They have a B&R list as more of a courtesy to its old clientele. Their paying customers are 100x more important to them. And since standard cycles sets, OP printings are easily handled, either by corrective printing in the next set, or....time. Bans can be used if they just made an oops, and people won't stop buying packs over an "Oko" ban.

@thewhitedragon69 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

Lutri may have been overlooked in commander in testing, but the rest seem fine. And if by "warped" standard, you mean a major mechanic of a new set is influencing all the standard decks...isn't that "Mission Accomplished" from a design standpoint? Mutate was a major mechanic, but not a very good one - more like a better bestow. Companion was just a more powerful mechanic, and on-theme with the "animal friends" plane. It seems likely that it would be the more played mechanic. And if the mechanic of the newest set is overshadowing older legal sets, I'd think that's a win for R&D.

Standard is not a good barometer for this. If there were 10 decks in standard corresponding to one of each of the companions, that would be considered a healthy meta. An unhealthy meta in standard is typically less than 3 decks, while in vintage I would think we want the number to be much higher than that.

If you look at all the non rotating formats however, companion is pretty much everywhere. Now different formats lend themselves to different beasts, and some of the 10 are clearly just not good, but it looks like the ones that are here are here to stay because the mechanic is what it is. There are even allusions in that BR post that they are watching what happens for the next few weeks and they are not opposed to banning more.

I am inclined to agree that the situation we are in was heavily influenced by incompetence and a lack of testing. Certainly a new format like Pioneer should be getting attention in play test, but even there, players have concerns. Personally I think more companions is the answer since the cat is out of the bag already, but I don't think it will happen soon enough.

@thewhitedragon69 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

Drannith Magistrate is cheaper (played faster) than all the companions and drop-kicks them in the fangs. A DM deck is going to punish companion decks.

no, it doesn't. you play a 1/3 for 2. your opponent's card that they got for free is now not accessible until your 1-3 dies. this is you in a worse spot(as they can break out if they have to) than if your opponent had no companion and you put a 1/3 for 2 in their deck, which is obviously not something that is typically worth doing

@thewhitedragon69 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

since standard cycles sets, OP printings are easily handled, either by corrective printing in the next set, or....time.

standard sets are designed far enough in advance that wotc's planned counterweights to the cards that they think will be a big deal are notoriously mismatched to what actually ends up being good.

I think the sentiment that WotC/hasbro only cares about profit is a more or less true observation, but doesn't explain stuff like companion; it more clearly matches the pushed mythic phenomenon, with stuff like oko, uro, the set with dozens of planeswalkers. I don't think companion in particular was what was intended to sell packs of ikoria rather than trilands, planeswalkers, and other mythics. "they don't care" is a general explanation, but it doesn't explain why one particular mistake happens instead of any of the other potential different ones. wotc fundamentally messing with the resource system of the game(companions, delve, breach, etc) has had vastly more influence, especially in this format than the stuff that they are doing as intentional power creep and cash grabs(explore being mythic, planeswalkers, evolving wilds at rare, collector's packs and 3-4 different versions of each rare)

last edited by BlindTherapy

If you started playing a brand new TCG today that had a rule that let you play certain cards from your sideboard, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s just part of the game. What is the obsession with wanting MTG to follow some sort of purity formula in which new game mechanics are unwelcome?

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