Magic: the Gathering


Magic: The Gathering Changes Card Bans To Once A Year

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On a livestream, this past Tuesday (16), Wizard of the Coast representatives announced they would be changing their ban system to the frequency of once a year.

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Following the news regarding the Standard format rotation, Wizards of the Coast came out on a Twitch broadcast to clear up any inconsistencies and doubts regarding the decision, and they took the opportunity to reveal more scheduling and format updates as well. One of which was the fact that their bans would be more spaced out in frequency: Once per year.

To be clear, this means this annual ban will try to tackle all the problems at once and ban the clearly noticeable problems. Andrew Brown, one of the designers, mentioned Wizards was "banning too frequently, too randomly", and this was "hurting too many players" and making it "hard to invest in the cards".


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In the broadcast, the main topics tackled were the lack of solid ground for players to stand on regarding scheduling, bans, format rotations and other systems. Brown went on to say that they "want to ensure players can feel confident in their decks", in an attempt to revive player trust, fidelity and engagement. In 2023's MTG, players often feel lost, considering all the reveals, releases, and competitive updates going on at the same time.

The popular subreddits for MTG have been criticizing the schedules for some time now.
The popular subreddits for MTG have been criticizing the schedules for some time now.

These changes come right after Wizards vowed to take better care of the Standard format and announced their first change, which was making rotation cycles take a bit longer, from 2 years to 3 years. The banlist changing dates as well could possibly mean a lot is changing, maybe even too much for players to keep up, but that was taken care of too, according to Brown:

"We plan to have set dates ahead of time so that players don't feel like they've had the rug pulled from under them."

With the new format, one batch of bans will happen annually, close to the end of the summer, right before rotation, which is set to come in the fall.

Wizards of the Coast also assured players this doesn't mean if the situation gets dire regarding a card or a strategy, that they would just cross their arms and point to the banlist date in the summer. If there are situations that call for immediate bans, they declared they will have, right after a new set comes out, a period of three weeks to evaluate if bans are needed considering the impact of the new cards. The card Felidar Guardian was cited as one of the cards that would warrant such a move.

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Overall, fans and players were a bit hesitant to trust WotC's judgement regarding cards that should be banned, considering the past moves and how long it took for them to ban obvious ban-worthy cards, such as Oko, Thief of Crowns.

Before the stream was over, however, they also announced that, before this new format is implemented, they would be updating the Standard format one last time on May 29th, and banning some cards then too. After this summer, the new banlist format will replace the old one and, as per the broadcast, the focus will be on older formats, not Standard.