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.