This evening Wizards of the Coast Senior Design Director Aaron Forsythe announced that Felidar Guardian would be banned in Standard Constructed effective April 28th, 2017 and effective online April 27th, 2017. The announcement comes hot on the heels of Monday’s announcement from which Felidar Guardian was conspicuously absent.

The uncommon that was printed just a few months ago in Aether Revolt created a dominating combo with Saheeli Rai, the planeswalker card printed in Kaladesh last fall. The combo had been a major force in Standard prior to the release of Amonkhet, though it was somewhat kept in check by cards like Heart of Kiran. Many pro players still expressed their displeasure in the decision to leave Felidar Guardian in the format.

According to Forsythe the change was made possible due to new data that appeared thanks to Magic Online seeing Amonkhet released on Monday, April 24th, the first time an expansion has been released online prior to being released on paper. Two days of Standard constructed data showed that the Felidar-Saheeli combo had become even more dominant and that Mardu Vehicles decks had taken a diminished role, allowing for only one top deck.

Pro Tour Amonkhet takes place from May 12th to 14th in Nashville, TN and would likely have brought the problem to the attention of Wizards of the Coast. Many pro players had already expressed concern over the deck dominating that event. It’s likely that without this change, Felidar Guardian would have been banned after the Pro Tour. Now we’ll be able to hopefully see a more diverse Standard format featured in Nashville.

This is the first retroactive banning since Memory Jar was banned in Extended in mid-March of 1999, effective back to the March 1st announcement. However, Mark Rosewater has clarified that in that scenario Wizards of the Coast had always intended to ban Memory Jar in every format except Vintage, but forgot to include Extended.

Felidar Guardian becomes the 25th card to be banned in Standard since the deck construction rules were established for the format in July of 1997. This is the second time since the creation of the Two-Block Paradigm that Wizards has had to ban cards in Standard, with the first occurrence taking place in January when Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and Reflector Mage were banned.

The last time there were four or more cards concurrently banned in the same Standard environment was in March of 2005 when Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault, and the artifact land cycle were all banned due to the dominance of the Affinity combo deck. In the past, mass Standard bannings have been indicative of a format warped by combo decks such as Affinity or during the development nightmare that was Urza’s block.

Zach Barash also contributed to this article.

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