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To ban or not to ban

June 23, 2012

I know a lot players were excited about the B&R list update announcement that went up earlier this week, although they were for different reasons. Many, sickened by the dominance of the Delver decks, hoped that something out of that deck would get banned so the Standard format would get more diversified for the remaining 3-4 months before Return to Ravnica is unleashed this fall. Others hoped that nothing would get the axe, either because they didn’t want their pet deck get weaker or just honestly was at peace with how the format plays out.

It turned out that the guys over at Wizards thought just that and opted to not touch any card currently legal in the Standard format. They motivated their decision with saying that:

We found that while a high percentage of the participants played White-Blue Delver decks, that the win rate of those decks was very close to par.


Additionally the number of people playing high level Standard events is the highest ever.

That said, do you think that was the correct decision?

Me, personally, I’m fine with not axing anything from Standard but I wouldn’t have been sad if Wizards had axed something either. While Delver currently is THE deck in Standard right now and I would be surprised if that fact would change before the rotation in the fall, it’s not that much better than the tier 2 decks.

I have for years claimed, and still do, that you can tinker pretty much how much you want with a format but no matter what you do, there is always going to be a deck or a strategy that is going to be a little bit better than the other viable strategies within the format. The best thing you can aim for is minimizing the gap between “the best deck” and the rest.

Having accepted that, having Delver (or Mage-Blade or whatever you want to call it) as the best deck in Standard seems rather okay compared to a format where playing Primeval Titan or Bloodbraid Elf was the best thing you could be doing. While Delver is one of hell of a deck, it requires a lot from its pilot to get the most out of it. I don’t want to say that there wasn’t any playskill invovled with the previous mentioned decks, because there was, but it certainly took less brainpower to play a Valakut deck or a Jund build at 90+% than it takes to play a Delver deck at the same level.

However, I think the last argument Wizards had for not banning anything is probably the most important reason. If a card or strategy is actively causing people not playing the game en masse, something needs to be done. But from the data Wizards had and also from what I can tell from my experience, that is not the case with Standard at the moment.

As I mentioned, while I’m fully at peace with Wizards decision, I wouldn’t have minded some sort of a ban just for the sake of breathing some new life into the format, just to shake things up a bit. However I fully understand that Wizards doesn’t want to swing the banhammer unless they feel it’s absolutely necessary to. Giving players a bunch of toys just to take them away some time later isn’t exactly great for their credibility for several reason, interfering with card economics is (a big) one.

So, here is for a Delver-filled next 4 months!

*Slit wrists*



Just kidding. 🙂

Have a good one,


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