April 2016 Banned & Restricted Update: Significant Changes to Vintage, Modern, Duel Commander

With the release of Shadows Over Innistrad comes the accompanying Banned & Restricted List update, and this is sure to shake up a few formats.

Announcement Date: April 4, 2016
Effective Date: April 8, 2016
Magic Online Effective Date: April 13, 2016

Vintage

Lodestone Golem is restricted.
“We continue to see an imbalanced metagame. In particular, Mishra’s Workshop–based decks continue to be significantly overrepresented, reducing the competitive metagame. While this issue could be solved by restricting the namesake card, if possible we would like to keep the deck at a competitive level, but played to an extent that the format is more diverse overall. Lodestone Golem leads to some of the less-interactive games. We are hopeful that limiting Workshop decks to one copy of the card leaves the deck at an appropriate strength. For that reason, Lodestone Golem is restricted.”

Modern

Eye of Ugin is banned.
“Since Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, Eldrazi decks have been dominating the Modern tournament environment…While the Eldrazi decks have a lot of powerful cards, the powerful draws are generally based on the mana acceleration from Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. Rather than ban multiple creatures, we find it preferable to ban a single land. We made our choice by examining how one would build a deck, and how it would play, with the land that remains legal.”

Ancestral Visions is unbanned.
“With the current banned list, including Bloodbraid Elf, the types of cascade cards usually played with Ancestral Vision are not available. While there are some control decks that would use Ancestral Vision, it is an underplayed portion of the metagame. To allow for an increase in the number of blue-based control or attrition decks, we are unbanning Ancestral Vision.”

Sword of the Meek is unbanned.
“Sword of the Meek makes a powerful, but slow, combination with Thopter Foundry. This combination was part of a format-dominating deck in the Extended format that Modern replaced. However, another element of that deck (Dark Depths, used with Vampire Hexmage) is also banned. Sword of the Meek might enable some slower combo decks, perhaps of the combo-control variety. It could be used as an alternate win condition in Lantern Control, which is powerful when unexpected but not currently a large part of the metagame. To allow for an increase in the number of controlling combo decks in the format, we are unbanning Sword of the Meek.”

Commander/EDH

In multiplayer Commander there were no changes.

In heads up or “duel” Commander there were significant changes, listed below, as explained here.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is now banned as a commander only.
“Tasigur, the Golden Fang makes all other control commanders look ridiculous, when compared to it, mostly thanks to its ridiculous casting cost ({B} + delve casting cost payment mechanic). Such a quality allows it to exhaust all possible answers from opponents, as well as to winning a “counterspell battle”, even though being the card that settles such battles. The rest of the decks can solely be made of “reaction” cards (spot/mass removals, for example), for Tasigur, the Golden Fang is an oppressive threat whatsoever.”

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is now banned as a commander only.
“Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is a green commander that has a huge impact on the battlefield, that only costs three mana and that can therefore enter the battlefield on turn two very often, via a turn one/two accelerator. We are deeply persuaded that such commanders harm the format. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is de facto a quick card advantage source that grows quickly, and that therefore produces fantastically responsive and explosive games. It is so dangerous for the format that its mere presence forces opponents to make very costly adaptations. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is therefore banned as a commander only, so as to maintain more balance in the format.”

Gaea’s Cradle is now banned.
“Gaea’s cradle allows players to develop their deck strategies roughly and suddenly. Being particularly hard to stop when playing active decklists, its presence in the metagame reinforces control decks, which end up being the only decks that are able to handle a wide number of opponent creatures. It also amplifies the existing cleavage between active, green-based decks and other non-explosive decks. For having a very negative impact on the format, Gaea’s cradle is now banned.”

Marath, Will of the Wild is added to the watchlist.
Animar, Soul of Elements is added to the watchlist.
Narset, Enlightened Master is added to the watchlist.
Jenara, Asura of War is added to the watchlist.
Cataclysm is removed from the watchlist.

All Other Formats

No changes.

Notes

Mishra’s Workshop decks are once again hit, and this blow will be more significant than any other. The power of most of the (non-combo) flavors of most Workshop decks lay in being able to muck up the battlefield long enough for a quick threat like Lodestone Golem to be able to quickly close the door on an opponent before they can find an appropriate answer (like Nature’s Claim, Ingot Chewer, Hurkyl’s Recall, Pulverize, Lightning Bolt, Ancientt Grudge, Oath of Druids, etc.). Other threats like Kuldotha Forgemaster or Arcbound Ravager are much, much easier to answer, so if Workshop decks continue to see any play, it’s likely to be in a mutated form to push them in a very aggressive shell, or a more combo-heavy shell. The prison shell of the past few years is simply not going to be effective enough after the restrictions of both Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem, given the relative power level of the rest of the format.

Blue decks in Vintage can now basically ignore toned-down versions of Workshops, and focus a larger part of their sideboards on combating Dredge (which is another loser here as a result), and use more dedicated main deck and sideboard space for blue mirror matches of all sorts. Yay!

In Modern we are likely to see the majority of Eldrazi aggro decks disappear, with most remaining Eldrazi probably sliding in to UrzaTron varieties. The unbannings of Ancestral Visions and Sword of the Meek give players some powerful, albeit slow tools. It will be interesting to see if either of these cards make a dent in what is likely to be a metagame saturated with UrzaTron, Infect, Affinity, and Collected Company decks (all of which are relatively fast) moving forward. Grindy Grixis control and Esper control variants seem like the most obvious landing spots.

The next Banned & Restricted List Announcement will come July 18, 2016 at approximately 11am ET, following the next new set release.

Jason Jaco

Jaco is a longtime Magic player, author, and the CEO of Eternal Central. A purveyor of rare and unique Magic cards, he is know in some circles as "The Godfather of Pimp." In his free time he enjoys exploring the great outdoors, dominating the dojo, and punching unprotected sandwiches.