This is part 2 of the series I’m calling “Wait, What?”, where I react to the most shocking announcements coming out of Wizards of the Coast. Part 1 is here… from 2 days ago.
Wednesday, 9:17 PM: I jump onto Twitter. After scrolling through a few tweets about new videos, articles and streams from various pros, I come across this tweet:
Oh, okay. I scroll down further.
Wait, What?!?!!? Wait hold on. I scroll back up. I furiously fumble with my phone and send a screenshot to a group chat. I was there before the storm happened. In the next 10 minutes, chaos ensues. Twitter is on fire, friends asking for links, Facebook posts, checking in on streams to see if the streamer knows. I have never seen almost every single one of the people I follow on Twitter post at the same time. And in stark contrast to the despair and gloom of Monday, Wednesday night is filled with cheers, glory, and quality Magic comedy. Here are two of my early favorites, more to come later:
Why Did This Happen?
First off, let me just start off by saying that I’m very happy with this decision. On Monday, as you probably noticed by my article, I was not too thrilled with both the state of Standard and the actions taken by Wizards of the Coast. But after this announcement, I am so, so glad that what I previously wrote is not still true. While Aaron Forsythe’s explanation was that Copycat decks made up about 40% of the decks that went 4-1 or better in Magic Online leagues in the past few days, I’m gonna go ahead and make the pretty safe assumption that the widespread backlash from the community was the true reason for this emergency ban.
The Postive Takeaways
To start off, the most positive thing to come out of this is that Felidar Guardian is gone! The tyrant has been dethroned, and I couldn’t be happier. While one of my friends immediately went and hit me with the “well now Mardu is unbeatable,” I couldn’t disagree more. The issue with Standard before this ban was not Mardu Vehicles being too good. It was Copycat shutting down everything that beat Mardu, and Mardu shutting down everything that beat Copycat. This sort of interaction leads to a quickly stagnating format, as the decks become essentially unbeatable. With this ban, Mardu’s weaknesses are exposed, and the deck falls from the Pantheon of the Gods and becomes mortal again.
This opens up the floodgates for all sorts of strategies, among which are U/W Drake Haven (which you can read an article about here), B/R Zombies, Mono-Red Aggro, Humans, Temur Tower, Temur Aetherworks, various Emerge decks, Delirium Midrange, Delirium Aggro, and most importantly, B/G Constrictor can come out of hiding! At the beginning of Aether Revolt Standard, I told my friend that Winding Constrictor did more powerful things than the other fair decks. He did not believe me, but as we came back from the PPTQ that night, and saw the Top 8 of SCG Atlanta, which consisted of Four B/G decks, we both quickly settled in for a B/G-dominated format.
Instead, Felidar Guardian came along and decided that it was time for B/G to stop. And also every other deck in the format except for Mardu. Since then, the narrative has stayed the same. B/G now has a chance to shine again, and prove that it is good enough to beat Mardu, and hopefully put up the results that its base power level deserves.
Another positive thing we can take away from this experience is that Wizards really does listen to our concerns. As happened about a year ago with their decision to cut funding to professional players, Wizards took back their decision after tremendous backlash on Twitter and other social media platforms from pros and amateurs alike. While that was a policy change and this is a Banned & Restricted list change, it still proves that Wizards is willing to accept that people will have issues with decisions they make and subsequently rectify them.
Also, a little bit of trivia, this is the second emergency ban in history, with the first being Memory Jar, which never fully able to dominate like Copycat was. I also really appreciate Wizards looking into the problem, in this case through MtGO decklists, because it shows that they do not make decisions in the blind, even though the last two B&R updates may have made you think they do.
The one negative effect that this decision has is that it basically blew up people’s testing for SCG Atlanta. Emma Handy stated this pretty well on twitter:
This is a situation I imagine a lot of people going to Atlanta are in. First of all, most people have their decks before the tournament starts, and do not rely on buying cards at the venue. Having to decide you deck on Thursday night, 30 hours before you play in the Open, and with virtually no testing if you had been playing Copycat is extremely difficult, especially if you need to procure cards. Because of this, SCG Atlanta is going to be an insane tournament, most likely with many more decks showing up than usual. I do assume that many people are going to be playing Mardu, as the deck has existed since last season, and can win even if you haven’t tested with it much.
If you are playing in SCG Atlanta, play a proactive deck. Because of the Copycat ban, people will most definitely bring brews and control decks to the tournament, and with literally two days of preparation, their manabases and spell-selection will most likely be very subpar. Mardu Vehicles is obviously a tried and true strategy, and will definitely win you matches if you start playing with it now and just get a feel for how the deck works, if you haven’t already.
Other great options include R/B Aggro with Hazoret the Fervent, as that deck allows you to punish any stumbles from your opponent with blistering speed. The main thing to prepare for this weekend however, is the card which is now the uncontested king of Standard: Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Whether it be Cast Out, Never//Return, or Glorybringer, be prepared for Gideon to come out in force.
If you aren’t playing in Atlanta, my best advice to you is to try out new strategies. As a focus, try beating Mardu Vehicles, and if you notice that people are buzzing about a particular deck, try to assemble friends and try out different strategies against it.
As always, thanks so much for reading, and I hope you are as excited as I am for the coming Standard format. Amonkhet cards look to descend on Standard in number now that Copycat is banned, and I hope the impact they make leads to a fun, diverse, interactive format. See ya next time,
P.S. The memes on Twitter were excellent, and I feel the need to share this pure gold:
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