In the first Banned and Restricted Announcement for Magic: the Gathering’s newest format, Pioneer, Wizards of the Coast banned Felidar Guardian, Leyline of Abundance, and Oath of Nissa.

Since Pioneer’s premiere on Magic Online on October 23, two decks are “head and shoulders above the field”: Four-Color Copy Cat Combo and Mono-Green Green Ramp. “These two decks have earned the most 5-0 league finishes on Magic Online and have problematically high win rates against the field,” Wizards said in their announcement.

“Both decks feature play patterns that would reduce metagame diversity over time,” the continued. “Based on Magic Online data, we don’t believe that regular metagame pressure alone will be enough to keep these strategies in check.” Therefore, Wizards is banning key cards in each archetype in order to reign in their power levels.

Felidar Guardian

Felidar Guardian was already on the shortlist for Pioneer’s banlist due to the infinite combo it forms with Saheeli Rai that resulted in the Guardian’s ban from Standard in April 2017.

This combo forms the core of the Copy Cat Combo decks and “threatens metagame diversity by requiring decks to present specific types of early interaction while developing their own strategy or else immediately lose the game,” Wizards said. “Rather than allow this combination to warp deck building and the metagame around it, we’re choosing to ban a card. Of the two options, Felidar Guardian is the most likely to break again with existing or future cards.”

Pioneer Four-Color Copy Cat Combo

Creatures (18)
Elvish Mystic
Gilded Goose
Llanowar Elves
Brazen Borrower
Reflector Mage
Rogue Refiner
Felidar Guardian

Planeswalkers (12)
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Saheeli Rai
Teferi, Time Raveler

Spells (3)
Wild Slash
Once Upon a Time

Artifacts (2)
Heart of Kiran

Enchantments (4)
Oath of Nissa
Lands (21)
Aether Hub
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Inspiring Vantage
Mana Confluence
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard (15)
Veil of Summer
Declaration in Stone
Rest in Peace
Sorcerous Spyglass
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Knight of Autumn
Mystical Dispute
Radiant Flames

Leyline of Abundance and Oath of Nissa

Leyline of Abundance is a key component of Mono-Green Ramp strategies not only due to it’s natural synergy with traditional ramp creatures like Llanowar Elves but also because it provides two free Green mana symbols for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, allowing the deck to ramp even more quickly.

“Our hope is that in the long term, Nykthos can add diversity to the metagame as a part of fun and healthy devotion strategies,” Wizards said. “Therefore, we’re choosing to ban Leyline of Abundance as the card that enables the deck’s fastest, most powerful opening turns.”

Oath of Nissa didn’t enable explosive starts from the Mono-Green decks but it was “a strong contributor to the strength and consistency of these and other strong decks,” including Four-Color Copy Cat, and will “continue to exacerbate problematic strategies going forward.”

“It also greatly contributes to the consistency of strategies that utilize a large number of three-mana planeswalkers in a way that can create unhealthy play patterns,” Wizards continued. “For these reasons, we believe Pioneer will be a more fun and diverse format without Oath of Nissa.”

Pioneer Mono-Green Ramp

Creatures (20)
Walking Ballista
Elvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves
Burning-Tree Emissary
Voracious Hydra

Planeswalkers (8)
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Spells (4)
Once Upon a Time

Enchantments (8)
Oath of Nissa
Leyline of Abundance
Lands (20)
16 Forest
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Sideboard (15)
Veil of Summer
Scavenging Ooze
Reclamation Sage
Nylea’s Disciple
Whisperwood Elemental
Hornet Queen
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

The first bans in Pioneer come less than two weeks before the Star City Games Invitational, which switched its Standard portion to Pioneer last week.

Wizards has said that they are keeping a close eye on the evolving Pioneer metagame and will ban cards frequently in order to maintain a healthy format. Pioneer’s Banned and Restricted Announcements will occur every Monday, whether or not cards are actually banned or not, meaning there will be one more chance for cards to get banned ahead of the Invitational.

Stay tuned for the more rounds of Pioneer bans every Monday for the foreseeable future.

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