Mere days after the banning of Sensei's Divining Top in Legacy and two cards becoming restricted in Vintage, Wizards of the Coast takes a popular card out of Magic: The Gathering's Standard format.
Key to the prominent "Copy Cat" deck that runs off a combo involving the Planeswalker Saheeli Rai, the second half of said combo -- a card called Felidar Guardian -- has been banned from Standard play according to an announcement from WotC Wednesday. The game developer/publisher says the decision came because the Copy Cat deck was simply too instantly successful in the days following the next set's (Amonkhet's) pre-release tournament.]
"Saheeli-Felidar's win-loss ratio and metagame share has actually increased since the release of Amonkhet," wrote WotC's Aaron Forsythe. "In Magic Online Standard Leagues since Monday, Saheeli combo has made up approximately 40% of 5-0 and 4-1 decklists—up from prior to Amonkhet's release. While we never take decisions like this lightly and recognize this is a change from the norm, when a plurality of the data points in a clear direction, we will take action."
Forsythe says WotC takes the blame for the combo existing in the first place, stating: "[they] shouldn't let combos like Saheeli-Felidar get out the door in the first place."
The uncommonly late addition to the game's ban/restricted list came after a surprisingly short time of public play -- just two days. WotC says they wanted to see how the deck performed in the new Standard environment before making the call. That's something they couldn't have easily done in time for the customary quarterly banned/restricted list announcement on Apr. 24.
While players of the Copy Cat deck are likely not in favor of the decision to ban Felidar Guardian, others are taking issue with how it was handled.
"The decision is probably right but their methodology is probably awful," says Las Vegas based Magic player Terrance Comella. "Basing their decision of 2 days of data from Magic Online when most players are only playing limited, new cards are hard to get and haven't had the chance to make an impact doesn't make sense to me."
Redditor Premaximum agrees.
"It's absolutely dogs--- that they would do something like this," he states. "If you're going to ban the card then you need to do the banning when you say you're banning things. I appreciate that the combo is busted as f---, but you don't tell people, "Go ahead and buy this combo, because we're obviously not touching it" and then emergency ban it three days later after all the people who saw the coast was clear went ahead and bought the cards."
Now that the Copy Cat deck has been, well, neutered, Mardu Vehicles will likely see more play and dominance in the Standard scene. With Amonkhet officially releasing at week's end, however, it will be interesting to see what new decks may arise to take Copy Cat's place.