June 30, 2022

Wizards Announces New Flagship Format MTG Bans

The June 7 Prohibited List has been announced, and there’s a lot to take away. Two surprise bans have come out of nowhere for Wizards’ flagship format, Pioneer. Bans there will also carry over to Explorer, which will host this month’s Arena Championship Qualifier and the upcoming Paper Pro Tour. There is equal concern with what doesn’t get banned with the most recent announcement from Wizards. Where will that leave all the affected formats? Here are the new MTG bans.

Winota, Joiner of Forces is banned from Pioneer

Winota, carpenter of the forces is prohibited in Pioneer. It’s not too shocking, as the meta has been significantly distorted by the presence of this creature. Winota allowed a deck that plays an aggressive early game with combo-like potential to explode after casting Winota. This results in a sudden burst of tempo that most decks cannot overcome. As a result, this caused Pioneer to become a format where having an option to drop Winota, at instant speed, available within the first three rounds was a requirement. You should also keep this option open as long as your opponent can take advantage of the launch of their Winota. If you don’t and Winota goes out, it’s your loss.

Due to the polarizing nature of the Winota game, it is banned in Pioneer.

Since Explorer is an Arena version of Pioneer-Lite, Winota’s temporary ban on Explorer is now permanent. Wizards of the Coast has repeatedly stated that it wants Explorer’s ban list to match Pioneer’s as closely as possible.

Expressive iteration is prohibited in Pioneer and Explorer

expressive iteration

Expressive iterationThe ban comes from the power spike Pioneer has seen in UR decks. UR Prowess and UR Control are top picks in the format. Expressive iteration also sees play in other meta-competitors like Jeskai ancestry Combo, Lvl to Light and other UR control decks. Expressive iteration allowed these decks to generate massive card advantage for a relatively low price.

c21-119-dig-through-time

The first thought of many MTG Pioneer players is that some other card draw spells in the format may be more powerful than Expressive iteration. Pioneer is one of the only formats where treasure cruise and Dig through time are still legal. Wizards of the Coast’s official ban announcement addresses this topic. treasure cruise and Dig through time allow Pioneer to present a “unique identity among eternal formats”. The Delve ability on these maps is much less offensive in Pioneer due to the lack of Fetch Lands. Pioneer’s speed also tends to slow Delve’s reward compared to other Eternal formats. Most Pioneer grinders agree that Expressive iteration is the most offensive card in this format. Thus, it was banned in Pioneer.

By the way, since Pioneer and Explorer are reputed to have corresponding ban lists, Expressive iteration was banned in Explorer as a side effect of MTG’s new bans. Either way, this will impact the quality of Izzet decks even more in Explorer than in Pioneer, since Explorer doesn’t yet have access to the powerful Delve alternatives.

How is Pioneer affected?

lotus field

Pioneer’s most polarizing deck is gone. There’s going to be a colossal meta-change as a result. My prediction is that the meta might get more hostile over time than it already was. That’s because Winota has kept the format’s other polarizing deck in check.

Winota bridges were one of the only things to keep constantly lotus field to dominate the whole format. Although the deck has other bad matchups in the form of Mono-Red decks and wishing cards that can elicit hate, players have adapted. Winota was the toughest game for lotus field because Winota can constantly beat lotus fieldthe clock without too much effort. Now that Winota is away, lotus fieldThe game plan will become more difficult to overcome. Therefore, the success of this deck will depend on how effectively other well-positioned decks can interact with it. lotus field is a difficult deck to interact with. Because of this, lotus field may occupy a more polarizing position on the metagame than Winota.

Izzet Decks Will Feel the Hit of Losing Expressive iteration. This ban hits Narset Control decks the hardest. The deck will likely undergo a little restructuring as a result, but should still be viable in some form. I predict that Narset Control will no longer be number one for the Pioneer format following the new MTG bans.

How is Explorer affected?

fat fang

The impact that Expressive iterationThe Explorer ban will become more evident over time. Explorer is still in its infancy as a format, and people are still learning to deal with the obvious powerful things that happen at ground zero. Greasefang, boss of Okibais the main offender at the moment. Expressive iteration doesn’t see a ton of play in these Ground Zero decks. Its impact on the current Explorer format will therefore be minor. As the format becomes more explored and strategies become more fleshed out, the lack of Expressive iteration will become more apparent. This is a devastating blow to UR decks in Explorer.

Everything else

Wizards of the Coast has not issued any other bans in these new MTG bans. This may be a bigger problem than the bans that have been announced.

omnath place of creation

Modern is a healthy perennial format compared to most other MTG formats, but there is a boogeyman lurking in the shadows. Four Color Elemental Blink has been consistently winning paper and online tournaments lately and is starting to show signs of becoming a problem. This deck doesn’t dominate every level in the modern game, but it’s incredibly prevalent at higher levels. This suggests that the Elemental deck has a higher driver requirement and pairs very well with other more powerful decks in the format. Judging by the screams of modern players, not mentioning it at all in their ban announcement was a mistake.

crowned dawn hinata

Standard also shows signs of unhealthy tendencies. Recently, one deck has completely dominated all Standard tournaments. It’s to the point now that it’s the only deck to even see play in these tournaments. I don’t think Jeskai Hinata is strong enough to warrant an immediate ban, given that this trend is very recent. If these game patterns continue, that’s a problem Wizards will have to fix.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this is good news MTG bans from Wizards of the Coast. This will result in positive changes for the affected formats. These changes may not remain positive, but we need time to assess this. The four-color elementals should have at least been mentioned, but missing one thing isn’t so bad. I hope Wizards will continue to monitor the formats closely.


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