Wizards of the Coast has banned Field of the Dead in Standard.

With over 40% of the decks at Mythic Championship V containing both Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead it was clear that something was wrong with the Standard format. And when Wizards moved the Banned and Restricted update up a full month to today, it was clear that they were aware that they were actively harming the health of the Standard format.

Standard Bant Golos by Jean-Emmanuel Depraz

Creatures (14)
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
Realm-Cloaked Giant
Arboreal Grazer
Agent of Treachery
Hydroid Krasis
Beanstalk Giant

Spells (14)
Circuitous Route
Time Wipe
Growth Spiral
Once Upon a Time

Planeswalkers (3)
Teferi, Time Raveler
Lands (29)
Hallowed Fountain
Temple of Mystery
Orzhov Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Tranquil Cove
Field of the Dead
Fabled Passage
Simic Guildgate
Breeding Pool
Blossoming Sands
Plaza of Harmony
Temple Garden
Temple of Malady
Castle Vantress
Thornwood Falls
Boros Guildgate
Azorius Guildgate

Sideboard (15)
Realm-Cloaked Giant
Agent of Treachery
Hydroid Krasis
Veil of Summer
Mystical Dispute
Disdainful Stroke
Devout Decree
Glass Casket
Aether Gust

It Reduced the Number of Viable Strategies in Standard

In the announcement banning Field of the Dead, Wizards confirmed that Golos/Field decks “not only maintained a high win rate and metagame share, but has also restricted the space of viable competitive strategies in Standard.”

It was the latter concern—Golos/Field decks reduced the number of viable strategies in Standard—that seems to have been the reason for banning Field of the Dead. “Field of the Dead’s ability to produce a constant stream of Zombie tokens for little resource investment gives the strategy an often-inevitable win condition in long games, making it difficult for traditional control decks or other ramp decks to go ‘over the top’ with a more powerful late game,” Wizards said.

“On the other end of the spectrum, ample anti-aggro tools and fast ramp enable the deck to defend itself against traditional attack decks before shoring up the ground with defensive Zombie tokens,” Wizards continued. “This has forced the metagame into extreme positions, with hyper-aggressive red decks and planeswalker-heavy decks being among the only archetypes to consistently put up favorable results against Field of the Dead decks.”

Additionally, Field of the Dead created repetitive, undesirable play patterns that led to prolonged games. Wizards said that it “observed a marked increase in matches going to time in tabletop tournaments and in average game length in digital play.”

However, Wizards clarified that the decision to ban Field of the Dead was mostly made before Mythic Championship V. “[W]hile the metagame leading up to and including Mythic Championship V was a factor in our decision making, this change is not a direct reaction to the results of that event,” they said.

With Field of the Dead banned, many players are worried that Wizards has opened the door for cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns and Nissa, Who Shakes the World to dominate Standard. Wizards is aware of those concerns and said that they “continue to monitor the health of the environment, but feel it’s important to allow the metagame to adjust to the absence of Field of the Dead before further evaluation.”

“As a philosophy, we prefer that players’ deck-building and metagaming choices drive the evolution of the environment whenever possible, rather than B&R intervention.”

Another Standard Ban

Field of the Dead is the eleventh card banned from Standard in the last three years.

First, in January 2017, Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and Reflector Mage were banned due to Emrakul and the Copter’s oppressive effects on Standard. These were the first Standard bannings in Magic since June 2011, when Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic formed the core of the nigh-unbeatable Caw Blade deck in that Standard format.

Standard Caw Blade

Creatures (8)
Squadron Hawk
Stoneforge Mystic

Planeswalkers (6)
Jace Beleren
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Gideon Jura

Spells (17)
Gitaxian Probe
Spell Pierce
Divine Offering
Into the Roil
Mana Leak

Artifacts (3)
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of War and Peace
Lands (26)
Celestial Colonnade
Glacial Fortress
Inkmoth Nexus
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Seachrome Coast
Tectonic Edge

A few months later, Wizards realized that it had printed a Turn 4 infinite combo with Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian. They banned Felidar Guardian in April 2017, three months after it was printed in Aether Revolt.

Unfortunately, four cards on the banned list couldn’t solve Standard’s issues, and two months later in June 2017 Wizards banned Aetherworks Marvel as well.

But Aetherworks Marvel was the tip of the iceberg when it came to the Kaladesh block’s Energy mechanic warping Standard. After the Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad blocks rotated out in the Fall of 2017, Energy took over the metagame, forcing Wizards to issue bans in January 2018 for Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner, as well as the powerful Red cards that would have dominated Standard without the presence of Energy decks, Ramunap Ruins and Rampaging Ferocidon.

Standard Temur Energy

Creatures (22)
Servant of the Conduit
Longtusk Cub
Rogue Refiner
Whirler Virtuoso
Bristling Hydra

Spells (16)
Attune with Aether
Confiscation Coup
Commit // Memory
Harnessed Lightning
Magma Spray
Essence Scatter
Lands (22)
Botanical Sanctum
Aether Hub
Rootbound Crag
Spirebluff Canal
Sheltered Thicket

Sideboard (15)
Confiscation Coup
Supreme Will
Appetite for the Unnatural
Torrential Gearhulk
Glimmer of Genius
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chandra's Defeat
Aethersphere Harvester

Within a year, Wizards has banned nine cards in Standard, surpassing the total of eight cards that were banned in 2004 and 2005 from the Arcbound Ravager Affinity Standard deck, which is widely seen as the lowest point in Magic’s history.

Standard went through a relatively quiet period after the January 2018 bans. But with the printing of Nexus of Fate as the Buy-a-Box promo for Core Set 2019, Wizards created yet another miserable Standard deck, Simic Nexus. While the deck was weak in sideboarded games, it was nearly unstoppable in Game 1 unless opponents changed their decks specifically to be Simic Nexus and nothing else, which led to an untenable in Best-of-One matches on MTG Arena. As a result, Wizards banned Nexus of Fate in the Standard Best-of-One format in February 2019.

Standard Simic Nexus

Creatures (4)
Arboreal Grazer

Planeswalkers (4)
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

Spells (20)
Growth Spiral
Root Snare
Drawn from Dreams
Nexus of Fate

Enchantments (4)
Wilderness Reclamation
Lands (28)
Arch of Orazca
Blast Zone
Breeding Pool
Hinterland Harbor
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Mystery


Don’t miss our coverage of the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe from Pauper, which occurred in the same Banned and Restricted announcement.

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