Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast has declared a handful of bans for MTG’s Standard format, making the decree in an official ‘Banned and Restricted’ update blog post on Tuesday. On the chopping block are the Instant spell Aldrund’s Epiphany, the Sorcery Divide by Zero, and the Land card Faceless Haven. The bans are effective in tabletop play immediately, and come into force in MTG Arena and Magic Online from January 27.
These are the first Standard bans to hit Magic since July 2021. In the update post – written by senior MTG designers Ian Duke and Jay Parker – Wizards says it had “announced no changes to Standard ” in the previous October update “in anticipation of Innistrad: Crimson Vow’s release soon following”. Crimson Vow’s November release came and went without unseating the most dominant cards from 2021’s Strixhaven and Kaldheim sets, however. As Wizards acknowledges in the post: “the most played archetypes have remained largely the same over the past months.”
With this week’s changes, though, fans will be expecting a major shift to MTG Standard’s competitive meta, as all three of these Standard bans will impact the same popular deck archetype: Red/Blue snow decks that rely on Goldspan Dragon to ramp and Aldrund’s Epiphany to close out the game.
The announcement explains that Alrund’s Epiphany is getting banned “to create space in the metagame for more mid-speed and slow archetypes”. Extra turn spells have always been troublesome in MTG. Core Set 2019’s Nexus of Fate, for example, is infamous for being one of the most problematic cards in the game’s recent history.
Faceless Haven, meanwhile, gets a ton of use in mono-green and mono-white decks. As we noted in our retrospective on the best MTG cards of 2021, its cost for entry is so low that there’s no reason not to include it. Wizards says it’s receiving a ban “to weaken these two aggressive archetypes without fundamentally changing their core game plan”.
Divide by Zero is being hit with a ban thanks to how good it is at stopping big powerful high-cost spells in their tracks. The ban will make “blue control decks less effective against other mid-speed and slow decks”, the announcement explains.
Standard wasn’t the only format to receive a shakeup. In Legacy, primate powerhouse Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is now banned and, in Historic, Memory Lapse is moving from a suspension to a full-blown ban. Teferi, Time Raveler is coming back to Historic, meanwhile, after losing some power in one of the newfangled Alchemy rebalances.
The bans apply to tabletop play immediately, and will come into effect on MTG Arena and Magic Online on January 27th. If Izzet control was your favourite deck, you’d better get some final matches under your belt.