With the release of Rivals of Ixalan comes another Banned and Restricted Announcement from Wizards of the Coast. Today’s B&R update has been highly anticipated in a Standard meta dominated largely by Temur Energy and Ramunap Red for several months.
Standard is the only format seeing bans today. In total, four cards have been added to the B&R list:
It seems Temur and similar energy builds are taking the biggest hit with the banning of Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner—two cards that provide incremental momentum toward the deck’s core strategy with little opportunity for interaction beyond counter magic.
According to the post today by Ian Duke, a lot of thought went into which card(s) to ban from Temur Energy, but it can be boiled down thus:
- Attune with Aether generates energy while also fixing mana. Banning it should force energy players to make harder decisions about which colors they run.
- Rogue Refiner generates energy and card advantage in a way that makes control and midrange decks unable to keep up. Banning the Refiner also removes a strong incentive to play blue in all energy decks.
Today’s post makes it clear that the overall goal was to reduce the overwhelming dominance of Temur Energy (and black variants) without making the energy mechanic unplayable.
While it seems Temur Energy is taking a bigger hit with today’s B&R update, Wizards has also announced the banning of Ramunap Red’s namesake, Ramunap Ruins. Along with the Ruins, Rampaging Ferocidon is also banned.
These bans may come as a surprise, since Temur Energy was the most played deck in Standard. However, it turns out that according to data from Magic Online Competitive Leagues, Ramunap Red is actually the most winning deck in the meta. Against other decks in Standard—except the mirror and Temur Energy—Ramunap Red has a powerful 60% win percentage.
Here is a summary of who these two bans came to be:
- Ramunap Ruins creates inevitability such that Ramunap Red is strongly favored in long games. As an activated ability on a land, it’s also difficult to stop, meaning the opponent has a “virtual reduction” in starting life total.
- Rampaging Ferocidon was originally designed to counter the Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian combo, and it hates out too many potential strategies aimed at stopping aggressive red decks like Ramunap Red.
Despite a bit of shock from fans, the banning of cards from Ramunap Red serves as a proactive measure to ensure the deck does not simply take the place of Temur Energy after today’s announcement.
Bans & Confidence
Today’s Banned and Restricted announcement brings the 12-month total to 9 cards banned in Standard. At present, it’s clear that confidence in the format is still quite low due to unprecedented levels of bans.
Unlike the banning of cards like Aetherworks Marvel that completely eliminated a deck from Standard, however, today’s update aims to encourage diversity while leaving enough of a framework that no deck loses its core strategy. Only time will tell if today’s changes combined with the creation of the new Play Design team will right the ship for the Standard format.
Read the full January 15, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement here for much more detail on the process behind the updates. The next announcement is expected on February 12th, 2018.