Magic: the Gathering


Analysis: The Sticker and Attraction Ban in Legacy and Vintage

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Today, we got another ban update! After so long, Wizards of the Coast finally decided to change Vintage and Legacy. Let's analyze these new changes, see who got a free pass, and how this will affect these formats.

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translated by Joey Sticks

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Greetings, my dear Legacy (and Vintage) friends! After a long time (more precisely since March 2023 for Legacy, and May 2020 for Vintage), Wizards of the Coast finally decided to remove a few more cards from circulation: the Banned and Restricted list has just been updated.

All this time, the only change WotC made to the list was to unban a few cards, but now they finally decided to use their ban hammer and deal with a whole bunch of cards:

All cards that bring a Sticker or an Attraction into the game, mechanics from the Unfinity set, have been banned both from Legacy and Vintage.


The official reason behind this decision was a matter of logistics, more precisely that it involved a secondary deck with Stickers and/or Attractions. This was particularly complex when you copied a card with this mechanic: if you did so, you had to have presented a Sticker deck before the game started, even if you had no Sticker card in your deck to begin with. This was only one of the complicated situations these mechanics created.

However, the real culprit behind the Sticker problem Wizard faced was _____ Goblin.

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The "Un" in "Unfun"

In 1998, designed and developed by Mark Rosewater, Wizards of the Coast released the "Unglued" set, a humorous set that wasn't legal in sanctioned formats. This set parodied many MTG stories and concepts, and was followed by other "Un-" sets, all equally humorous and illegal in tournaments: Unhinged, in 2004, Unstable, in 2017, and Unsanctioned in 2020.

To stand out from regular sets, the cards in these sets had silver borders. But all of this changed when the fifth "Un-set" was released: Unfinity had black borders and a mix of legal and illegal cards. To tell them apart, they added a holographic symbol in the shape of an acorn, instead of the standard silver oval symbol. According to today's announcement itself, "the primary goal behind making some cards in Unfinity legal was that sticker cards and Attractions could be played in Commander, but there's no existing way to make a bunch of cards legal in Commander and not Legacy." We had thought the power level of those cards was low enough that if people tried them in Legacy every now and then, it'd be a fun surprise.” They just forgot to tell that to the aforementioned _____ Goblin.

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The nameless Goblin, our main subject today, has been involved in not one, but two controversies regarding this format. The first one, which is directly related to today's announcement, is the fact that it brings to tournament tables a mechanic that was designed for casual tables.

In Legacy, however, the mana it gave you, protected by Cavern of Souls, and tutored by Goblin Matron and Goblin Ringleader, let you put Muxus, Goblin Grandee in play incredibly quickly.

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Then, when players added Broadside Bombardiers to this deck, it rapidly rose to the top of the format, and kicked off an invasion of Stickers on physical tabletop matches and Legacy tournaments. However, there are no virtual tables in Magic Online, which brings us to its second controversy.

Unfinity hasn't been (nor should it be) available in Magic Online, but, since some cards have potential in eternal formats, they are available in Treasure Chests (part of the prize pools of certain tournaments), and become valid to play. The Sticker mechanic, however, hasn't been (and also nor should it be) implemented on this online platform. The solution offered by WotC was to change the nature of its triggered ability, and bind it to a d20 roll instead of the Stickers you'd reveal as soon as the match started.


In practice, _____ Goblin became incredibly different from its original version, which, in turn, created a dichotomy between its physical version and its digital version. Both bring different pros and cons for players who either play on tabletop or Magic Online. This gap between these two versions and the controversy involved forced Wizards of the Coast to announce they'd address this issue in the next ban update. Many players understood that, with this, they meant to publish errata for the paper card. Today, we saw that they decided to do another thing entirely.

Besides all this controversy with the nameless Goblin, another problem popped up in some tournaments, and this also was certainly another factor they had to consider in their decision-making process. This was the fact that some players started complaining that, in paper tournaments, when you played Goblin Stompy, you had to present your Sticker deck at the beginning of the game. This means your opponent would know which deck you were playing before the game even started.

These players, however, weren't playing Goblin. Actually, they weren't even using Sticker cards in their deck - or they just used them in their sideboard when the TO decided you couldn't use Stickers without cards that had this ability; the official ruling itself was a bit confusing and created a lot of discussion online. These players would take advantage of the fact they were still theoretically playing "according to the rules", to "trick" their opponent, who would think they were playing a Goblin deck instead of any other random archetype.

Finally, because this was a matter of logistics in sanctioned tournaments, WotC also extended this ban to Vintage, even though these mechanics didn't affect Vintage that heavily.

But… What about the rest?

Ok, Stickers, and, consequently, _____ Goblin, aren't available in Legacy or Vintage anymore, but what about the rest of the problems in these formats? Shouldn't they also be addressed in this ban update? In this case, we're talking about Orcish Bowmasters and Grief in Legacy, and Urza’s Saga and Lurrus of the Dream-Den in Vintage.

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In today's article itself, Wizards of the Coast mentioned they were keeping an eye on these cards, but they decided to wait for now because Modern Horizons 3 is just around the corner. Considering how deeply the last MH sets and the Lord of the Rings set impacted these formats, WotC preferred to wait until these formats adapted to the release of MH3 to then make an informed decision.

For Legacy, in particular, there's also the fact that now, as Stickers have been banned, one of the main decks in this format has been removed as well, which will change the power balance between decks even more.

Final Words - Who Wins and Who Loses

With all of this in mind, regarding Vintage, we'll just have to wait until MH3 is here. As for Legacy, we still have a long way to go before MH3. It's also a good idea to think about which strategies will come out on top now that Goblin Stompy has left all tiers of this format, and which strategies will suffer.


Winners: Beanstalk Control, Boros Initiative, Red Prison, Lands, Death and Taxes, Death’s Shadow, and 8-Cast struggled against the horde of Goblins, and, as such, should find more space now that they'll leave the format.

Losers: on the other side, Reanimator/Scaminator, Cephalid Breakfast, Doomsday, Dark Depths, Grixis Delver, Painter, and RUG Cascade had positive win rates against Goblin Stompy, and, therefore, will have one less favorable opponent in this format.

Cards like Torpor Orb, Force of Despair, Pyrokinesis, and even Hydroblast, to a certain degree, should be less popular in sideboards, considering the main reason why they saw play has just been banned.

To conclude, I don't think WotC should deal with Goblins because of their power level: the meta had already adapted to their presence, so I considered the meta was developing as usual. But I completely understand why they wanted to fix the issues they created themselves when they released an "Un-set" in sanctioned formats.

Now, we only have to wait for the impact Modern Horizons 3link outside website will have, and see if the Grief / Orcish Bowmasters duo still represents the same problem it does now, or if they should be dealt with "a-la-Goblins". The same goes for Urza’s Saga and Lurrus of the Dream-Den in Vintage.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article.

See you next time!