Wizards of the Coast Bans More in Pioneer – "Magic: The Gathering

After two weeks bearing no changes, Wizards of the Coast has finally made the decision to ban more cards from the Pioneer format of Magic: The Gathering. The three cards banned from Pioneer as of yesterday are Once Upon A Time, Field of the Dead, and Smuggler's Copter.

"Bontu the Glorified" Deck Tech - "Magic: The Gathering"
Their time has come. Goodbye, banned cards! Source: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast had exactly this to say on the subject:

Over the last several days, a series of Pioneer PTQ tournaments were held as a part of Magic Online's Pioneer week. The results of these tournaments, and data from league play, show how the environment has evolved under further competitive pressure.

While the results look promising and changes so far have been moving the format in a good direction, our data shows three outstanding issues that are preventing the metagame from arriving at a better balance. These are:

  • The strength of Mono-Black Aggro and other aggressive decks featuring Smuggler's Copter
  • That Field of the Dead ramp decks are suppressing controlling and reactive decks
  • The general prevalence and dominance of green decks as a group, with Once Upon a Time being a key common factor to those decks' success

As a result, we're choosing to ban Smuggler's CopterField of the Dead, and Once Upon a Time in Pioneer. We believe that these changes will result in greater diversity among aggressive decks, a clearer role in the metagame for reactive and controlling decks, and a push toward better color balance among competitive decks.

"Magic: The Gathering" Bans Cards From Standard, Pauper
Field of the Dead, indeed! Source: Wizards of the Coast

While it's a surprise that some other standout cards such as Oko, Thief of Crowns (a common complaint!), Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, or Nissa, Who Shakes The World haven't been called out, it's still great that Wizards has taken the initiative to remove some troublesome cards in a nondiverse meta from the format.

What I Saw in the "Win Every Card Challenge" - "Magic: The Gathering"
Once upon a time, this card was overplayed. Source: Wizards of the Coast

What do you think should also be banned from the Pioneer format? Is Magic: The Gathering a healthier game without some of the newer overpowered cards released recently? Let us know in the comments!

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Joshua NelsonAbout Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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