Nov 14, 2009

Banned List Update

Yet again, there's been an update to the banned list. As of 14/11/2009 all the artifact lands are once again banned in peasant tournaments in Groningen. Despite all good intentions, Affinity has risen to the top again, and has been one of three tier 1 decks in the past half year. The lands were almost exclusively used in affinity, and using them in other strategies (such as Trinket Mage) hasn't been succesful. Instead of banning more pieces of the great artifact puzzle we decided that there is no love lost for the deck, and just rebanned the lands. We can merely learn from our mistakes, at least we tried.

Thopter Foundry has been a huge factor in the succes of the neo-Affinity decks, but without the lands we don't feel it is as dangerous anymore. Because the combo with Sword of the Meek (and Ashnod's Altar) still exist, we did decide to add it to the watchlist.

The second tier 1 deck has been Faeries. Basically there were two builds. One utilized Force of Will, a very powerful card to be sure. The other build abused Counterbalance. While the power level didn't differ much, the second build was considerably less fun to play against. In an attempt to revitalize the metagame and make it more fun we decided to ban Counterbalance.

The third tier 1 deck is Mono Black Control. The deck drifts in and out of competition, winning tournaments whenever aggro is the dominant archetype. In an attempt to make the deck more fair without neutering its core concept, we banned Skeletal Scrying. It is the only card in the metagame that consistently draws more than 3 cards, at instant speed, in a mono black deck. That gave MBC just a little bit too much reach, and we look forward to what uncommon MBC will play in its stead.

If you were thinking Demonic Tutor, think again. Another unfun deck, to play against at least, is the non-ineractive Grapeshot Combo deck. Demonic Consultation and Demonic Tutor were banned to make that deck less consistent in its draws, while at the same time making sure their storm count doesn't rack up as fast.

Two other popular combo decks, Dirty Kitty and ElfBall, were left untouched. They are a lot more interactive, and the past showed us that a wider range of decks can sideboard effectively against the two strategies. We are okay with combo decks, but they have to offer more interactivity and just a little bit less consistency to remain fun to play against.

Of course, banning the artifact lands has the side effect of other cards becoming much less impressive. As a result, Cranial Plating is unbanned as of 14/11/2009, and Disciple of the Vault has been removed from the watchlist.

We are eager to see if the bannings will have the desired results: a more varied metagame that is more fun to play than before. We do believe we made some steps in the right direction, neutering black-based Combo and MBC, and removing Affinity and Counterbalance from the metagame.

To see the full list of banned cards, click here.


  1. Hey guys, I've been following this site for a while now, and been using your B/R list for my groups Peasant Magic games. This update struck me as odd though. It seems like you just took the top tier and hammered them. Were any of those decks really degenerate? In the case of MBC, you even said yourself that it only won when the meta was lousy with Aggro. That sounds like savvy metagame placement, not brokenness. Supposing that, say, your next two tournaments showed R.E.M. (super cool deck, by the way), to be the best deck, would Momentary Blink get banned? (That was just one example, replace REM and Blink for any deck and it's key card.)

  2. Hi LennonMarx,

    Thank you for asking. We have been struggling a bit lately with attendance numbers. Most people were complaining peasant wasn't really fun anymore. This round of bannings is an attempt to bring back the fun!

    We tried to reintroduce Affinity to the metagame in the hopes it wouldn't be as much of a monster deck as last time. Too bad we were wrong though, as Affinity was easily the top played and top performing deck. Rather than trying to ban more Affinity cards, we just decided to ban the artifact lands again. Affinity, after all, was a big factor of the unfun metagame.

    Same goes for Counterbalance. Faeries builds have consistently been posting high records. While the Force of Will build is a fun battle of wits, the Counterbalance build just plays to hit its namesake and lock the game away. Some people like this, but most don't or actively hate going up against the card. Since peasant is quite a speedy format, there are entire decks that are locked out by an active Counterbalance because they have a low mana curve. That's not really fun...

    As for MBC, the only ban against that deck was Skeletal Scrying. We believe the deck does not actively need that card to perform well, and it does degenerate things. Skeletal Scrying was never a 4-of, because of the limitations when casting it (life loss, cards in graveyard), but when cast, it consistently reaped 4+ cards at instant speed in black. MBC vs Aggro is an interesting matchup when MBC tries to soften the blows while building up to lethal drains. Skeletal Scrying generates such overwhelming card advantage that, if they hit it, no aggro deck could keep up. We like to keep the matchup vs aggro interesting, hence the ban.

    Demonic Consultation and Demonic Tutors are mostly preemptive bans. One of the, if not the, best deck in the format is Grapeshot Storm. There isn't really a solid strategy to consistently beat the deck, unless you're in white and sacrifice a decent part of your sideboard. While underplayed, our player base is pretty competitive, so rather than wait for them to drift towards this deck and have them win several tournaments with it, we decided to go ahead and ban the tutors now.

    To sum up, we didn't ban cards to balance the metagame. It was pretty balanced actually. The problem was it wasn't really fun anymore, and that's exactly what we were trying to fix this time around.

    The only reason to ban further cards is if a new deck proves to be unfair to such a degree that it warps the metagame. Right now I don't really see that happening with most decks, though there are a few combo decks that merit further attention in the coming months.

    I hope this answers your questions and thanks for the compiment ;)

  3. Thanks for the thought out response. I do agree with you that Affinity was a problem. I had affinity made, and would really only consistently lose to FoW Faeires, which wasn't even that bad a matchup (60/40ish).

    Regarding Faeries, to be perfectly blunt, I found the Counterbalance lists to be terrible. The counterbalance list just rolls to R/G aggro no matter what the uncommon is, though BB Elf was really a beating. The lack of Force Spike and FoW make it impossible for that deck to stop early threats. On the play, it can't even prevent a Kird Ape from comming down, and that guy is bigger than everything in the faerie deck. The really question what the CB list is well positioned against. It needs the game to go long, but has few tools to shut off the early attack. And there aren't really any control decks in the format except for that weird Resounding Deck from a few months back, and MBC. And anyways, Counterbalance is terrible against both of those. By banning counterbalance, you banned the cheaper (money wise) version of the deck, which may kill it from the format, save for the one guy who plays the 3 FoW, 2 Snare list.

    Quick digression. Seeing as Pez is meant to be a cheap format, have you ever considered throwing a money ban on FoW or any other expensive uncommon besides the obvious ones like Library and Drain?

    Anyways, back to Counterbalance, it sounds like people were getting annoyed by the Counter-Top lock, which being a Legacy player myself, is understandable. Why then not hit Sensei's Diving Top, and leave Counterbalance in the format? Decks then still have Brainstorm and Ponder to manipulate their top card, but it is less certain and easier to work around. A game of wits, if you will. Just a thought for the next time you guys look at your list.

    I disagree that the only card you took out of MBC was Scrying. Demonic Tutor and Demonic Consultation were also viable in MBC/A lists, tutor especially, though Consult is deffinatly playable in something resembling the 1997 necro deck with rituals, pump knights, and discard. Hitting scrying out of MBC did very little, I'd guess. A friend of mine (same one who made R.E.M. Man, that deck is cool, if that was your idea, you rock, if not, pass my awe onto the designer), was working on MBC right before the banning. He was playing a slightly different built with 8 drains and no corrupt, but I suggested he replace 4-5 swamps with either an island and 4 panoramas/terramorphics, or just 4 Dimir Aqueducts, and replace his 2-3 (sometime he ran 3 Coffers) Scryings with Fact or Fictions. Aside from making you play a few less swamps, FoF is amazing. for the same cost, it routinely draws you the same number of cards. It also isn't graveyard or life dependent. If MBC were really a problem, or unfun, or whatever, Cabal Coffers is your card to hit, not the draw engine, as Coffers allows the deck to pump off its swingy drain spells.

  4. (Sorry for double post, as one it was too long.)

    To be perfectly honest with you, I wrote my initial response because I had decided to build Grapeshot storm, and that night you posted the changes. I agree that DT is probably too good. 2 mana for any card, no risk, no information given away, is pretty nuts. I think consultation might have been wrong though. It's still really broken, no doubt, but it is hard to play after you already use one, and it can kill/cripple you. I trust your results though.

    (sorry about the topic jump, there aren't any active threads on this, and I just want an opinion)

    On a topic unrelated to the B/R list, I ended up making GS Storm anyways, currently it is actually a pauper deck, the uncommons replaced with 4 Empty the Warrens and the 4th Words of Wisdom. Still a really strong deck, though it is weak to Echoing Decay and Rain of Embers. What 5 uncommons would you play, if you had to play the deck, and over what commons? I could see cutting a few ETWs (2 maybe) for 2 Ignite Memories, though my list is still below the 9 win conditions the old one had, and EtW is very hard to answer save those 2 cards (there are other answers, but I havn't seen them in any list on this site or at my school).

  5. No problem, I enjoy the discussion :) Seeing that you were putting together a list that got outright banned, your first reaction is pretty understandable. I firmly believe however that the deck is too powerful, too consistent, and too hard to fight, even though our metagame didn't show yet. Also, I think that Demonic Consultation is more broken than Demonic Tutor. Even if you can't reliably cast 3 (2 should be doable most of the time), that 1 mana makes a lot of difference.

    The deck needs to go off reliably, and tutors were the perfect way to do that. I guess Mystical Teacher is a possible inclusion, but it costs blue mana and puts the card on top, not in your hand. Of course, that's the idea behind the banning ;) Maybe Shred Memory (a common) has a place in the deck, being able to search for the kill card or mana accelerants for 3 mana. It might be too expensive too run though.

    PS. Thanks for the props, I did indeed make the REM deck, and I'm still loving it myself :D It's definitely a deck I would consider running again, as it has game against a wide swath of decks. Plus, it's still has room for improvment!

  6. You're likely right about DCon. Many a Vintage pundent has argued about DCon vs. DT being more broken, but no doubt both are really good, and after some reconsideration, both likely diserve the slot on the list.

    I considered Mystial as well as a replacement, but I think it is too slow, though it might be an okay set up card. Might require a 5th basic island though. Turn 1 or 2 tutor for whatever you need, and push it through the next turn. Worth testing anyways.

    I never though about Shred Memory though. I think BBB is way too much. Plus, if you played some number of shreds, you'd need to add some number of Cabal Rituals (a card I have been trying to fit into the list anyways). Considering I have all 5 uncommon slots to work with, I think I might try cutting 3 Words of Wind for 2 Night's Whisper(maybe loose as an uncommon, but not giving the opponent a card is pretty big) and an Ignite Memories, and then try to shoehorn 2 Mysticals into the deck as well, maybe for an EtW and... uhh... something. Any suggestions?

  7. I thought of Night's Whisper, but frankly, especially if you're running Cabal Ritual (which you totally should imho, 5 mana for an investment of 2 is sick!), Sign in Blood is just better. In case of emergency, you can even target your opponent for the final 2 life... I did see a funny build once that played Hunting Pack as the uncommon of choice. While seven mana is a lot, and you'll need the Manamorphose to get that 2 green mana, 4/4's are a lot harder to kill than 1/1's!

  8. I considered Hunting Pack as well. That would be savage, and GG is accessible if you tinker around with your lands a bit.

    Regarding Sign in Blood, I agree, but what does the list cut for Cabal Ritual? You can't cut Rites or Dark Rituals. Maybe -2 Seething Song +2 Cabal Ritual? I don't really see a way to fit the full set in. Also, having 2-3 BB draw spells and 4 UU draw spells might be a bit of a strain on the already delicate mana base, especially if Hunting Pack is used (which, I think I'm going to test out in the Ignite Memories Slot)

  9. Further testing has resulted in me realizing that Grapeshot is atrocious, and Hunting Pack is really sexy. Basically, with GS, you need 2 of them, which is rather difficult without DCon or DT. I have come to the following list:

    The Pezent Storm

    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Rite of Flame
    3 Cabal Ritual
    2 Seething Song

    4 Manamorphose
    4 Chromatic Star
    3 Chromatic Sphere

    4 Ideas Unbound
    2 Words of Wisdom
    2 Sign in Blood

    4 Empty the Warrens
    3 Mystical Tutor (U)
    1 Hunting Pack (U)

    4 Island
    4 Ancient Spring
    4 Sulfur Vent
    2 Geothermal Crevice
    2 Tinder Farm

    4 Phyrexian War Beast
    4 Gathan Raiders
    4 Blue Elemental Blasts
    3 ? (Currently Sleeved up as Wearbears, could be anything)

    As listed, the deck is super weak to MBC in the main, but that matchup was already a blowout anyways. The BeB's in the side are there to counter Rain of Embers ,as the combo kill is still good against them. Against Faeries and MBC, you board into the man plan as they board out all their dead creature removal. MBC is likely a blowout still though. Faeries, however, is very winnable if you can stick any of your 8-11 (Im leaning towards 11, but Werebear isn't the right creature) creatures, as they all are bigger than everything in faeries. Also, mini-warrens can go the distance there if they don't have Echoing Truth in the board There is also obviously still an Uncommon slot open to be worked with. Suggestions?

  10. Deep Analysis is excellent vs MBC. You probably want some in your sideboard. Maybe you want more Geothermal Crevices too, since they give you green mana for the Hunting Pack :) A singleton Burst of Speed might also be sexy, so you can smack your opponent with a horde of beasts the turn you go off (I can't believe I'm actually suggesting this card but you can tutor it up :D).

    As for the 5th uncommon... that's a really tough choice. You probably never have the mana for two Hunting Packs, but it can be handy to play two in case your opponent deals with your first set of beasts. A 4th Mystical Tutor is probably fine as well, or maybe you can sideboard a tutorable Perish or Virtue's Ruin (portal card)?

  11. Perish seems kinda poor, as the decks I want it against, I should just steamroll as they can't really interact save... uhh... i think the card is Hailstorm (was timeshifted, 1GG, deal 2 damage to each creature an opponent control and 1 to you and each of your creatures. Something like that).

    Regarding Deep Analysis, yeah, that card is really ballin' against MBC. The trouble is that as the deck is listed, it feels like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound... to the head.... from a shotgun. I think I might try out a more traditional sideboard of like, 4 BeB, 4 Duress, 3-4 Deep Analysis, 3-4 Disrupt. The problem, really, is the actual side boarding. With that board, against MBC, I could really bring in up to 11 cards (everything but the BeBs). But realistically, I can't cut that many cards. Like, Ideas Unbound for Deep Analysis is pretty easy, but then the Disrupts need to come in as well to stop the early duresses and hymns (and Wrench Minds). Assuming I only play 3 Deep Analysis (cause drawing that card when my opponent doesn't make me discard is super dead), then I board out 4 Ideas Unbound (that might be wrong) 2 Words of Wind, and X for the 7 cards. I guess that is fine. My own duresses would likely come in against Faeries or some such to clear the way for countermagic. (Any ideas on how to board are welcome here, I've played terribly few post board games with combo, and when I have, it was with the transform board).

    Regarding the 5th Uncommon: Hunting Pack is cool, but I don't want 2. I rarely want the 1. Sometimes I can set up a turn 3 pack and I go for it, but generally the plan is turn 2 ETW for 10-12 (more if I can chain draw spells together). The 4th Mystical might be right, but I hate drawing 2 of that card. 2 in the opener is almost always an auto mulligan, unless I have a basic island and don't mind waiting until turn 3 to push. Turn 3 still beats most decks preboard, but post it is a little slow. Maybe I can board out a mystical for games 2 and 3.

    Finally, some minor tweeks to the deck list. -2 Tinder Farm +2 Simian Spirit Guide and -2 Words of Wisdom +2 Brainstorm. I felt like I was drawing too many lands when going off, and the Spirit Guides are basically free land drops. Regarding words, I just don't like giving my opponent that extra card to beat me. YMMV on that slot.