Banned List – August 2

Oathbreaker has had an influx of a large number of new Planeswalkers with static abilities.  The format has also grown substantially in popularity since our last ban list announcement, which has in essence created a lot of active playtesting from a much larger community.  We had many cards to discuss, but at the end there were very few changes.  

  • Primeval Titan [] is Unbanned
  • No other changes

Our next banned list announcement will be on October 11th, 90 days after the release of Core 2020.

It’s Prime Time Time

Primeval Titan []

We have two main play test groups: one more casual, one more competitive.  We tested Primeval Titan [] in both of our play test groups, and we found that Primeval Titan [] was less powerful and less impressive than other creatures in any given test library.  Even when testing Tooth and Nail [] (see below), Primeval Titan [] was never an ideal creature to be chosen for Tooth and Nail.  The card was good and will see play, but because the general speed of Oathbreaker is faster, Primeval Titan [] felt fair compared to other cards already legal in the format.  

Community Concerns

As part of the growing popularity of Oathbreaker, we put out polls to see what cards the community was interested in hearing more about and/or having us play test more.  The cards discussed below are the cards that were brought up in the poll.  The list also includes Thoughtcast [], because it is the most popular Signature Spell, and Painters Servant [], because of the recent unbanning in Commander.  

Narset, Parter of Veils []

The community is most concerned about this card.  Because of this, we play tested this card extensively in both of our groups.  In play testing, this card was not nearly as oppressive as it looks on paper.  Aggressive decks had most of their hand out before Narset, Parter of Veils [] hit the table.  They were also easily able to attack Narset before Windfall [] could go off. Control decks would either lock out Narset with Nevermore [] style effects or simply counter the offending spells.  Even simply removing Narset in response to Windfall [] was easy enough for any given table to do, even through counter magic backup.  

Narset has often been compared to Leovold, Emissary of Trest [] in Commander, where he is banned.  Narset does not have nearly the same number of problems that Leovold presents in Commander.  Leovold punishes opponents for targeting him or anything else, and Narset does none of that.  Leovold also allows players to play three colors whereas Narset locks players into mono blue.  

Being limited to mono blue and the faster speed of Oathbreaker made this card play fair in our play tests.  It is because of all of this combined information that Narset, Parter of Veils [] is still legal.  

Gifts Ungiven []

The rules committee wanted to play test this card more, but with all of the new cards from War of the Spark, we have not been able to give this card enough play test time.  We always want to play test cards before making any decisions. The committee agreed to make sure this card gets the play test time necessary by our next ban list announcement (October 11th).  

Tooth and Nail []

This was one not on our radar originally, but we play tested it at the request of the community.  Tooth and Nail []‘s ability to end the game on the spot is unquestioned.  The real questions to be answered were whether or not the game was ending too quickly or too consistently.  Green-based mana acceleration decks are currently some of the strongest decks in both our play test groups, as well as some of the largest percentages in the community.  There are answers to this card available, but the consistency of the deck is very high.  These two results pushed the committee to keep Tooth and Nail [] banned.  

Sylvan Primordial [], Emrakul, the Aeons Torn [], Griselbrand []

These cards are grouped together, because they were all in the same discussion as Primeval Titan [].  The rules committee did not want to unban all of these cards at once as this could unbalance the format too much too quickly.  We wanted to pick the one card of the four that would seem the fairest to test first. We want to see how Primeval Titan [] performs in the community while we continue to play test the others internally.   

Thoughtcast []

Thoughtcast [] is the most popular Signature Spell on deck building websites.  This itself does not mean that a card is too powerful, but it does mean that it is worth investigating.  Our initial area of concern is that “Affinity for Artifacts” on any Signature Spell can break the balancing factor that is the Command Zone Tax.  Internal play testing revealed that, although the power level potential was there, the Thoughtcast [] decks were typically fragile and folded to strategies playing Planeswalker removal or any form of counter magic.  

Paradox Engine []

This card was already on our radar before being banned in Commander.  Those in favor of a ban mention many of the same things mentioned by the Commander Rules Committee in their ban announcement.  Those against the ban mentioned that games go much faster in Oathbreaker, that many under-costed mana rocks (such as sol ring [], mana vault [], and mana crypt []) are already banned, and that games must end.  We will continue to monitor this card, as it is still very powerful, but currently it remains legal.  

The Elderspell []

In internal play testing, playing around the elderspell [] in the Command Zone was relatively easy.  Most of the rules committee members felt this was acceptable.  However, that mindset can greatly warp metagames, which means it is not necessarily healthy to the format.  Because of this, we are keeping an eye on The Elderspell.  

Painters Servant []

This card was not on our play test planning and we have not had a chance to fully test this card.  With the unbanning of this card in Commander, we have agreed to play test this card internally, in order to feel out how reasonable the card performs in Oathbreaker.  

Signing Off

Let us know how your meta reacts! Share any fun Prime Time decks you create. Stay tuned for the next update on October 11th.