NOVEMBER 2020 RULES - BANNED/RESTRICTED UPDATE
Well, guys, hello from our new website! As you can see, lots of things have been shaken in this year 2020, and we’re no exception to this. Magic is changing, the world is changing, so are we! After a long period pondering the situation, it is time for some changes. This year was such a chaotic and weird, unexpected moment that we had to adapt to those new specificities.
For these reasons -that you’ll find explained in detail after this quick summary- we are making all the following changes, with the hope that we addressed the main problems we found during this strange season.
In the meantime, we sincerely hope the current health crisis we’re going through will end someday, as soon as possible, to save lives but also to allow everyone to enjoy playing, whether you play Magic The Gathering or not, throughout the world: in stores, organizations, local communities, with friends, family as well as on the competitive scene. We wish you the best, please stay safe.
👉 Rules changes:
👉 Individual card changes:
Akiri, Line-Slinger is now banned as a commander.
Omnath, Locus of Creation is now banned as a commander.
Thrasios, Triton Hero is now banned as a commander.
Tymna, the Weaver is now banned as a commander.
👉 Other changes:
Announcements schedule change
Starting this announcement, all Rules / Banned and Restricted announcements from the Duel Commander Rules Committee will happen as follows:
Every two months (this is a change against previous statements)
On the last monday of every odd month (this is a change against previous statements)
Applying immediately (this is a change against previous statements)
Communication media update
Starting this announcement, all Rules / Banned and Restricted announcements from the Duel Commander Rules Committee will be published:
With a full text and a complete, detailed explanation on this website (www.mtgdc.info)
👉 Don’t forget to check out our Current Lists page for a recap of all the currently banned cards.
Further individual explanations:
About the announcement schedule change
Magic The Gathering was out in 1993, we’re in 2020 now. Hell, it’s been a while. As you might have noticed, Wizards Of The Coast went through several schedule changes over the last months: first, announcements were scheduled after each major edition release, then they started being off the grid, sprinkled with out-of-schedule announcements, then a final statement changed one last time, removing the planned schedule of announcements. Many things changed and now tie in to explain such changes from them (and from us as well):
The pace at which Wizards Of The Coast produces new products every year, more than doubling the number of cards / new products created each year, with both digital and physical products
The definitive grasp of internet over our daily lives, mostly regarding net-decking, social networks, websites, vocal chats, instant messaging and many other ways for players to communicate faster, to help format-solving clues spread way faster, reaching many more players than it used to
The presence of new products related to eternal formats, especially those revolving around Commander, which took a growing boost in audience and popularity worldwide since 2011, as Commander Legends freshly proved.
Those reasons, when all combined together, ended up in a lot of player frustration for keeping some rules and some cards in our format for an overly long period. To counter this, as we can’t afford to drag the attention that Wizards Of The Coast have when they publish something new, we simply decided to accelerate, moving from a 3-months period to 2-months period between scheduled announcements.
This will lead to 6 announcements per year instead of 4. We think this will solve a lot of player frustration, and even though it will probably lead to more “no changes” announcements, it will create less stress and provide more visibility to everyone playing Duel Commander worldwide. It will also create much more dynamics to the metagame and tournament activity, both online and offline.
So after this announcement, you can now expect our future announcements to be happening, with a little calculation, on the following dates for 2021, for example:
Monday, January 25, 2021
Monday, March 29; 2021
Monday, May 31, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
Monday, November 29, 2021
Also, one more thing: since those announcements effective dates were mostly worried about upcoming tournaments, which would generally happen during weekends, we used to schedule their effectiveness on the first friday (included) that would follow the announcement dates. As the format keeps growing, both on paper and on digital tools, this condition is now removed, for people might organize tournaments every day now. Needless to say, players and judges also didn’t really appreciate dealing with older format rules while new ones would be pending. All new announcements will therefore apply immediately, as they are published (except if you already started a tournament by that time, of course).
Last but not the least, we chose to publish them on the last monday of every odd month (mostly because mondays are the days players play the least Magic The Gathering in the world), so that the first week where the new rules are legal has a high chance to be the first week of every even month (February, April, June, August, October and December), which seems to be the easiest thing to remember for everyone. Please note though the time itself is not set precisely, we’ll still try to stick to round 8:00 PM (Paris Time Zone - UTC+01:00 CET) for announcements.
About our website
This could be a long story, but we’ll keep it short to save you all time. This is the fourth era of our means of communication. There was -a long time ago- an era where we didn’t have other means than a simple PDF file that would be distributed from hand to hand, from email to email, by old, weird tools some people are not even aware of today, like MSN Live Messenger or (M)IRC. Some weird stuff only dinosaurs could remember.
Then there was a second era, where we used to have a website, which we simply didn’t have anymore.
Then came 2015 with Facebook and their Notes feature, which really did a good job for a while (providing publicly accessible content for everyone, without using any account, allowing people who wanted to to comment, and able to handle the traffic peaks of announcement days (over 30K visits/day for a few days, remember you are an estimate 100K-200K players around the world following us and playing the format, more or less, for which we are deely and genuinely thankful, to a point you have no idea).
Unfortunately, without venturing in too much the business analysis of Facebook and Notes (basically summed up as: “a way to host and draw content management to the largest social network in the world that ended up going against the recursion of contents needed to gather data and offer advertisement”), Facebook decided on October 1 to end Notes support (many years after dropping user feedback on this feature) on October 31, 2020. For this reason, we won’t be able to use Facebook as a main source of information anymore.
This is why today, in the emergency of the situation, for this fourth era, we ended up with a (probably temporary) solution with a Google Sites website, where we gathered all the announcements from 2015 to 2020 (to this day) and all the necessary contents you’ll need. Some were slightly rewritten to better reflect the new website sitemap. This website will be our main content hosting and media support for the months to come.
For that reason, the following flow for announcements will be the new one, starting today:
All announcements are posted in detail on our website.
A short version will be published on our Facebook page.
A short version will be published on our Discord server dedicated channel.
The website pages will be updated in cascade, consecutively to those announcements.
We will not use Facebook Notes anymore.
Short, minor announcements (like tournaments sharing, members arrivals and departures, or any similar concern) will be posted on our Facebook page and Discord server dedicated channel.
We hope you can all understand those changes, the emergency they are part of, and our decisions.
One last word: unlike what Facebook promised, which is that users could still edit and manage old notes, it seems this part hasn’t been rolled out yet. Since we can’t edit (and even delete) old notes, we’re going to unfortunately have to remove all posts regarding those past announcements and documents.
Banned & Restricted updates
We do not preemptively ban cards without any data, with some very rare exceptions. This is exactly what is Jeweled Lotus would look like: an exception. This card is far too close to the original, almighty Black Lotus. This card is designed for multiplayer where casting this kind of card is a casus belli with all other players. In duel, this drawback does not exist and it unfairly increases the variance of games by allowing the casting of one (or two) commanders far too early in a game. You may expect future cards with a similar magnitude of power level to be banned from Duel Commander as soon as possible.
The existence of aggressive strategies seems essential to us in a sane metagame. Now, the recursion and inevitability of life gain while developing a powerful game plan appears too oppressing against those aggressive strategies. It condemns them to extinction. For those reasons we chose to ban Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Omnath, Locus of Creation.
As a commander, it seems to us that Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath allows developing a blue-dominant control-based strategy while overcoming its greatest vulnerability: weakness against aggressive decks. Indeed, the recurrence of the commander when coupled with life gain and an integrated card advantage tool appears to leave us with a commander that’s way too complete. Furthermore, the card itself allows beating aggressive strategies and crushing statu quo situations a flawless way.
Also, the use of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath with library-searching tools to send it straight to graveyards has been noticed. This means that not only is it a powerful commander, but also a (sometimes even) more powerful card due to its recursion, becoming a second commander, both available in an alternate command zone on one side AND a way too complete and easy-to-cast card on another side. When combined, those two specificities produce something really toxic. As you saw with the stats of this card: it is not only about Duel Commander, and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is very trendy in Duel Commander but also demonstrates a stabilized presence in sanctioned formats.
Lastly, we are deeply convinced that Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath makes games way less interesting and tighter, which is against our vision of a sane format and player experience. Looking at some recent statistics, it finally seems that many players understood all those reasons, and the field presence of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath decks reached a threshold that is enough to draw some attention. For all those reasons, we chose to ban Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.
We are noticing that the presence of Omnath, Locus of Creation in top finishes increases steadily, just behind Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Duel Commander provides a wide range of tools to enable the multiple land plays such decks are looking for. This allows power plays combining tempo advantage, card advantage and constant life gain. It allows decks based on this commander to effectively fight against aggressive decks as well as control decks, using lands which are especially hard to deal with. Omnath, Locus of Creation can handle both sides of the metagame way too easily by itself. Also, it seems that much alike Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Omnath, Locus of Creation decks are on the rise, reaching over a threshold of 5% Top X finishers, with a very good transformation rate on the competition scene, somehow taking part in the confirmation that the deck was becoming an obviousness for many players already.
The partner keyword is an old known worry for many. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting mechanic (Wizards of The Coast commercial studies validated this by making them regularly print them new ones, till this month, reaching a total of 78 of the legendary ones). But it can also be oppressive. In the past, 2 of them were already banned in 2017 (n.b. Vial Smasher, The Fierce / Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder are currently banned in Duel Commander).
But even if we thought Akiri, Line-Slinger, Thrasios, Triton Hero and Tymna, the Weaver to be really borderline since 2016 we couldn’t ban them earlier without making some color combinations inaccessible for players, based on partner-keyword commander combinations.
News partner legendary creatures and planeswalkers from Commander Legends partially solve this problem and now is the time to make a change regarding this situation. Some Commander Legends newly printed partners are also debatable as well. But we’ll first need some data to check if the metagame solves them or if they end up being too oppressive, regardless.
Among all the partners that drew attention, if it were only for historical reasons, playability, color choice, and actual stats, Thrasios, Triton Hero would be on top of the list, and always was. When looking at all partner creatures, this one is problematic for many reasons. First, it is an easily recastable creature that comes early into play, and has decent block statistics for its cost (like blocking, let’s say, a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, or a Zurgo Bellstriker, for example). Second, it adds a pair of interesting colors to the game (just take a look at the colors of the other non-partner cards banned in this announcement, for instance...). Third, the history of decks that include Thrasios, Triton Hero is a history of creature-based combos. Which, as you might guess… Benefit from having two more in the command zone, but also benefit from using a commander that is actually a part of a win condition, among others.
For those statistical differences, Thrasios, Triton Hero is the first of those three to be banned in this announcement.
Akiri, Line-Slinger is a different problem. It shares the same analysis that Thrasios, Triton Hero has: strength, mana cost, and colors, regarding the abilities it has. The difference here is that Akiri, Line-Slinger is specific to a very precise archetype, or variety of archetypes. And it does that very well. Too well, actually. Resulting decks are very oppressive, and even though new combinations including creatures like Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist might be strong competitors, Akiri, Line-Slinger, whatever the colors it is paired with (most of the time with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept, to create a deck that fuels on colors which play around artifacts the most, much alike the already-banned Breya, Etherium Shaper would do), remains a very strong threat and clearly doesn’t help with keeping a fair format.
It is quite true that the partner keyword helps a little with card advantage with extra availability. Tymna, the Weaver adds more to that, providing a bleeding extra advantage to any situation where opponents couldn’t handle creatures on the battlefield (which actually happens more often that it seems). The black part of its abilities that basically trades life points for card drawing is quite over the top of many other partners. Despite the fact it doesn’t really look like an actual threat, too much is too much. Which is why, in addition to the other ones, Tymna, the Weaver is now banned as a commander in Duel Commander.