Magic players have known for a long time that Standard needed help. Mythic Championship V saw Field of the Dead decks representing too large a metagame share, and Wizards gave it the axe. Immediately, people realized that banning Field without touching the Food strategies was risky. Roughly a month of domination later, Wizards has responded. Oko, Thief of Crowns was banned in Standard this morning, alongside Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer. This is a welcome shake-up to the format, and I think we need to look at the immediate implications.
Color analysis post-ban
Green cards were doing too much in Standard. Once Upon a Time gave the decks unmatched consistency. Veil of Summer was an effective Cryptic Command in many situations. Oko, Thief of Crowns existed. Cards that should obviously be standard all-stars (looking at you, Murderous Rider) just weren’t worth playing. Blatantly pushed cards like Questing Beast looked medium when they become a 3/3 elk in 69% of matchups.
Overall, these bans seem great, and there’s serious potential for a healthy and diverse metagame moving forward.
What’s good now?
There are a lot of potential decks that benefit from these bans. Adventure decks are one of the obvious choices for week one. Despite losing Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer, the Edgewall Innkeeper engine remains untouched. Beyond that, Questing Beast, Murderous Rider, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World all remain very powerful individual cards. It’s a traditional “good-stuff” deck with a creature package that can either run your opponent over in the early game or drown them in card advantage later.
Fast Aggro decks, who traditionally struggled to go under Oko, also have much more room to experiment now. Between Gruul Aggro, various Knight builds, and the Mono Red Cavalcade deck that made a splash at Mythic Championship V, lower to the ground strategies have a much more realistic shot at attacking the metagame. A card that still exists in the format, but has become much weaker, is Wicked Wolf, and aggro decks benefit massively from that. I personally look forward to giant dinosaurs being equipped with giant swords at instant speed.
Fires of Invention is another strategy that only got better with this ban list. Teferi, Time Raveler is still one of the strongest cards in the format, and it will be interesting to see what direction the deck takes. The Cavalier version has explosive turn five plays, chaining Cavalier of Gales and Flame for massive card advantage and tempo swing. More midrange variants look to flood the board with planeswalkers and win in one or two attacks with Sarkhan the Masterless. It’s not quite clear which version becomes a contender, but I’d be surprised if the namesake enchantment didn’t do something.
There’s still plenty of unexplored territory in standard, and plenty of known archetypes to refine. Cauldron Familiar in combination with Witches Oven and Trail of Crumbs is a crazy late-game engine. Esper Control can either go back to a traditional control shell or push forward the Doom Foretold/Dance of the Manse strategy. Even Simic still has a lot of options and cannot be underestimated. Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Hydroid Krasis will very likely still be pillars of standard moving forward.
Stay tuned to Daily Esports for Wizards’ Pioneer ban list update!