The year is COVID-19. Magic is dead. Yet the ban hammer keeps falling. As of today, August 3rd, Wizards released a ban announcement targeting Standard, Pioneer, Historic, and Brawl in big ways. This move bucks the very unpopular tradition of giving a one-week advance notice for updates to the B&R.
As a mostly Standard and Historic player, these are the formats I want to focus on for the purpose of figuring out where to start post B&R.
Well well well, if it isn't the consequences of my own actions. And by 'my', I mean Wizards, and by 'actions' I mean banning
Nexus of Fate instead of
Wilderness Reclamation. I'm not going to say I told you so but...
With the recent dominating presence of reclamation strategies, it was clear that
Wilderness Reclamation was still a problem.
Teferi, Time Raveler also seeing the boot is no surprise either. It's clear that him stifling interaction and being an easy slot in for combo leads to a frustrating meta.
Teferi, Time Raveler, Bant Ramp and Kethis combo will need to be able to find their footing as they both played him as a four of.
UWx still has
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as a draw, but five mana is a lot to to invest when you have a turn three
Muxus, Goblin Grandee coming at you. I expect goblins and
Field of the Dead strategies to continue on their rampage, and wouldn't be surprised if one or both of these strategies gets targeted next.
I am currently drawn to sacrifice style decks.
Mayhem Devil has shown to be a good counter to the goblin strategies.
Bolas's Citadel is certainly a card you cut in that particular match up, but can provide an overwhelming advantage against slower strategies.
Teferi, Time Raveler and
Wilderness Reclamation have been dominant forces in standard since their printings. Teferi in particular has allowed for combo oriented decks that would play it to thrive against control where they may not have otherwise. Decks that started without Teferi eventually evolved to play it anyway, including Fires of Invention strategies and reclamation decks. Many match ups are heavily influenced by who can land the Teferi first.
Wilderness Reclamation, that strategy falls completely apart, and
Expansion // Explosion is too mana intensive of a card to play without it, and there is no good substitute for it.
Growth Spiral was also a key card in reclamation and other ramp strategies. It is now no longer possible to play that into
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and have five mana on turn three. The best you can hope for is
Arboreal Grazer, which is strictly worse. Still, with Uro and
Nissa, Who Shakes the World still in the format, ramp strategies will surely continue. They are certainly less inclined to play white without Teferi though.
Cauldron Familiar is an interesting ban, one that I don't wholly agree with. It did certainly keep certain aggressive strategies down due to
Mayhem Devil triggering off the cat/oven, so I expect to see a resurgence of mono red and mono white strategies. Although the deck can still sacrifice other creatures to
Witch's Oven and
Priest of Forgotten Gods, it will be harder to maintain an edge or stabilize against mono red without the life gain that
Cauldron Familiar provided.
I expect to see
Embercleave decks to make a big return to the meta. Between Teferi,
Storm's Wrath and Uro in the reclamation decks, and the life gain and devil triggers in sacrifice, aggressive strategies were being held back considerably. Uro will still definitely be a problem card for aggressive strategies if its able to be escaped in a timely manner without the help of
Growth Spiral. However, the loss of the others may be enough to slow down ramp and related strategies to the point where aggressive decks have a chance.
Other aggressive strategies like G/x and R/B/x knights may see a resurgence as well.
Rotting Regisaur looks a lot better now that your opponent can't timewalk you with a Teferi. Even mono white benefits now that it doesn't have Teferi to bounce its enlarged
With as good as I expect aggressive decks to be, I am not sure a true control deck can keep up. The loss of Teferi hurts them as much as helps. Mid-range strategies will still be around, and I am curious to see if Sultai becomes the new best ramp deck among them. I imagine that depends on how good
Casualties of War and its other cheap black removal becomes.
Ten cards have been banned in Standard since we returned to Ravnica for the second time, and all the boogeymen have seemingly been dealt with. Maybe now we can all finally have some fun.
(disclaimer: the initial version listed Explore as standard legal. That has been corrected and the relevant passage moved to the Historic section).