July 2018 Update:
Although Magic's Standard Constructed Format sees no changes with the latest round of bannings, the same cannot be said for Legacy players.
Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe are banned in Legacy effective July 6th, 2018. (For Magic Online: July 5th, 2018)
When any deck within its respective format achieves a win-rate well over 50% for a sustained length of time, that's when Magic: The Gathering's R&D team takes a step back and begins to consider stepping in to make a change.
For some while now, Grixis Delver decks using Deathrite Shaman have been the most popular Magic Online Legacy deck. And at Grand Prix Birmingham, 11 out of the top 16 decks were running all four copies of Deathrite Shaman.
This information, when combined with the deck's overall dominance and unwillingness to allow other deck types to innovate and rise within the format, is why Wizards of the Coast eventually made the decision to ban Deathrite Shaman in Legacy.
Gitaxian Probe has also been banned in Legacy. Having previously been banned in other formats, Gitaxian Probe's removal from Modern, for example, has had a positive impact on Modern Constructed's health, which is one of the reasons why Wizards has chosen to also remove it from the Legacy Format.
It's a source of low-cost information advantage that really disrupts gameplay, so here's to hoping the Legacy Format shifts in a healthier direction after the banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe.
(If you'd like to read more about why these cards were banned in Legacy, here's a link to an Ian Duke article about it on Magic: The Gathering's homepage.)
All Images: Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast announces four impactful cards have been banned from Standard Constructed play, in an effort to diversify the format.
For the past few days, Magic: The Gathering players have been on the edge of their seats, speculating about whether or not Wizards will ban any cards ahead of Rivals of Ixalan. This week we learned they most certainly have. Four cards, to be exact, and I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on this announcement.
Attune With Aether, Rogue Refiner, Rampaging Ferocidon, and Ramunap Ruins, have all been banned from Standard Constructed play.
Personally, I was hoping for one of two outcomes.
The first option I hoped for was no changes at all. Although I'm just as annoyed by energy as everyone else that isn't playing an energy-based deck, I figured it couldn't hurt to just give the meta some time to evolve organically. Perhaps Slaughter the Strong would help, or another deck would rise up and compete with Temur Energy and Ramunap Red.
The other option I was considering, and was in favor of to be honest, was banning Whirler Virtuoso. Of all the energy-based cards that have been a thorn in my side these past few months, Whirler Virtuoso was probably the most annoying among them.
If I had to ponder a third option to round out a Top 3, I think the next card on my chopping block was Attune With Aether. Obviously, the mages at WOTC know a bit more about this than I do, which is why they chose to ban what they did.
It's evident to me that with this banning announcement, Wizards is hoping to make these two prominent archetypes a hair weaker, while still allowing them to be highly competitive decks in the meta. I'm sure people will still be playing these decks come MTGRIX, the same way Mardu Vehicles didn't vanish off the face of the Earth after Smuggler's Copter was banned.
Energy and mono-red aggro decks losing just a smidge of their bite makes me look forward to trying to beat them with the standard decks I'm currently working on.
I recall reading that Dominaria will be play tested internally at Wizards using a new and improved internal testing team made up primarily of former professional players, so let's hope this enhanced approach to testing results in healthier gameplay in the near-future, without the need to ban handfuls of cards at a time.
(You can read an in-depth article posted by Ian Duke regarding this banning by visiting the Magic: The Gathering News section of their homepage.)