Many people saw it coming from a mile away, but until today it was all just rumor, speculation and guesswork, however after today, there can be no question anymore.
Field of the Dead has been banned from the Standard format and many people are saying good riddance, while others are less than impressed.
But how did we get here and where does the standard format go next?
We discuss this, plus more.
The Emergency Ban Announcement
The last regularly scheduled ban announcement by Wizards of the Coast for Magic: The Gathering occurred on October 7th, as planned.
During this announcement there were no changes across the board for all formats, including Standard, Pauper, Vintage and Modern.
This was not surprising, given the fact that the Throne of Eldraine standard format only officially started on October 4th, which was the release date of that set, meaning that this standard season was less than a week old at the time.
However, what was surprising, was what came next, as the Magic: The Gathering ESport Twitter account released the following statement;
We previously announced the next B&R date as Nov. 18. After further reflection on the (very busy) competitive gaming schedule and discussion on implementation windows with our digital teams, we are shifting that next announcement to Oct. 21.
Of course, this sent the MTG Multiverse spinning, as both casual and professional players alike began making guesses as to what was going to get banned.
The candidates were Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Oko, Thief of Crowns and Field of the Dead, the latter of which we now know has received the ban hammer, along with Arcum’s Astrolabe in the Pauper format.
Some people were even speculating that nothing would change. However, this was widely dismissed as Wizards of the Coast is not in the habit of changing their ban dates on a whim, for no reason.
Why Was Field of the Dead Banned?
The fact of the matter is that Field of the Dead was a very frustrating card to play against, as in this standard format there is very little ways to interact with lands since the recent rotation occurred on October 4th.
This would lead to very structured, predictable games that would often play out in very similar fashion, where the player facing off against the Field of the Dead deck would simply be prolonging the inevitable, just waiting for a massive horde of 2/2 Zombies to run them over.
This was becoming format warping, as the deck began to take up an unprecedented percentage of the meta, quickly becoming the deck to beat in the standard format and forcing players to design hyper-aggro strategies strictly to beat it before it “goes off”.
Wizards of the Coast had the following to say, as to why they believe Field of the Dead had to be banned;
“Beyond just the strength of the strategy, Field of the Dead presents a number of other problems for the metagame. The repetitive, on-board nature of its effect can cause games to frequently play out in a similar, deterministic way. Since Field of the Dead is a land, it can be difficult for many archetypes to interact with, further limiting the metagame’s ability to adapt. Finally, the long-term advantage Field of the Dead provides often leads to prolonged games. We’ve observed a marked increase in matches going to time in tabletop tournaments and in average game length in digital play.
Field of the Dead ramp decks represented 42% of the field at Mythic Championship V and maintain both a high play rate and win rate on MTG Arena and Magic Online. Due to the strength and prevalence of the archetype, its warping effect on the metagame, and the undesirable play patterns it creates, Field of the Dead is banned in Standard. (This includes both Best-of-One and Best-of-Three Standard on MTG Arena.)”
This decision was based largely on the above reasons and mesh with the general consensus of the broader MTG community, however, there are of course always going to be some upset by bans such as this, especially those who bought Field of the Dead cards after the “all clear” was given via the October 7th “no ban” announcements.
Oko, Thief of Crowns Next on the Chopping Block?
One of the other potential ban targets that many players speculated on and off which we previously mentioned, was Oko, Thief of Crowns, the newly released Planeswalker appearing in the Throne of the Eldraine set.
Oko, Thief of Crowns is a three mana Planeswalker that is currently also dominating a large percentage of the standard format, crushing out aggro and midrange decks with ease.
This card is incredibly overpowered, so much to the point that many of the most prominent voices in the MTG community are stating that this was a card that “maybe never should of been printed”, including the ever popular Saffron Olive, of MTG Goldfish.
Some people fear that the Field of the Dead ban is now going to open the format wide open for an assault by Oko, Thief of Crowns, who is going to swiftly dominate the rankings.
Obviously, Wizards of the Coast does not yet believe that this is the case, however, they are not closing the door on the possibility that Oko may need to be banned in the not too distant future, stating the following in the closing remarks of their emergency ban announcement;
“Finally, we’re aware of a few other community concerns regarding the Standard environment, including that early acceleration into planeswalkers can be frustrating and that the color green is strong across a variety of Standard archetypes. We’ll continue to monitor the health of the environment, but feel it’s important to allow the metagame to adjust to the absence of Field of the Dead before further evaluation. As a philosophy, we prefer that players’ deck-building and metagaming choices drive the evolution of the environment whenever possible, rather than B&R intervention.”
Although they do not mention Oko, Thief of Crowns specifically by name, there is no confusion as to which Planeswalker they are referring to.
This ban announcement was a huge shock for many of us, however praised by most of us.
One question still remains unanswered however, could Oko, Thief of Crowns be next?
We shall just have to wait and see how the format adapts in the coming weeks, as understandably Wizards of the Coast is unwilling to let one card dominate the standard format in 2019, such as has been allowed to happen in the past.
What do think of this emergency ban announcement? Are you happy, or are you unsatisfied with their decision? Let us know, we’d love to hear and as always, thanks for reading!