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Magic: The Gathering’s card ban process is about to change

Magic: The Gathering's method for banning cards is about to change, as part of Wizards' plan to restore paper Standard to its former glory.

MTG Standard Rotation - art from the card Invoke Despair showing a purple wave of shadowy miasma

Wizards of the Coast is switching up its approach to banning problem cards in the TCG Magic: The Gathering. During a Discord Q&A regarding plans to revitalise the game’s premier Standard format, game balance lead Andrew Brown revealed “we are going to update how and when bans happen”.

The question of bans is one that’s been bandied around a fair bit since last week, when Wizards of the Coast announced its plan to save the dying paper Standard format. When asked if bans would be more aggressive under the new strategy, Brown said this was “a complicated topic”, adding that “one of our main goals for this new system is to make Standard more accessible for more players.”

It certainly seems that more extensive bans could be a part of that, but Brown didn’t go into any detail about what the new approach will be, instead focusing more on what it won’t be.

“I can say that we will ensure that banning events will not be on a less predictable cadence,” he explained. “We plan to have set dates ahead of time so that players don’t feel like they’ve had the rug pulled under them.”

Wizards has a very good reason for being careful with how it presents its new banning plans. The strategic decision to extend Standard rotation seems aimed at making fans feel like buying Standard cards is a more reasonable investment. But it’s going to be hard to make that work if it then starts banning all the expensive MTG cards, even if that would make the format easier to get into. I imagine if you’ve just bought four copies of Fable of the Mirror Breaker, you’re going to feel pretty salty when, (sorry, if) it gets banned next week.

Andrew Brown and director of play programs William “Huey” Jensen will be going into much more detail on how Standard bans are changing in the next MTG Weekly stream, which should be taking place on Tuesday, May 16.

Until then, check out the current MTG banlist for every format. And don’t miss our MTG Arena codes guide for all the free packs and cosmetics currently available.