Planeswalkers that cost less than four mana had a bad day today. In addition to the ban of Oko, Thief of Crowns (along with Once Upon a Time and Summer’s Veil) in Standard this morning, Wizards of the Coast also banned Wrenn and Six in Legacy and restricted Narset, Parter of Veils in Vintage.

Wrenn and Six Banned in Legacy

After its printing in Modern Horizons this past June, Wrenn and Six quickly found a home in Temur Delver, one of the pillars of the Legacy format.

Delver strategies were already extremely powerful and the inclusion of Wrenn and Six pushed the Temur variant to become a dominant force in the format, resulting in a 56.5% win rate and three times as many 5-0 finishes in Magic Online leagues as the next best deck. “Most importantly, [Temur Delver] has a favorable matchup against each of the other 10 most-played decks,” Wizards said.

Legacy Temur Delver

Creatures (11)
Delver of Secrets
Elvish Reclaimer

Planeswalkers (2)
Wrenn and Six

Spells (28)
Lightning Bolt
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Force of Negation
Force of Will
Lands (19)
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Volcanic Island
Waterlogged Grove

Sideboard (15)
Bojuka Bog
Crop Rotation
Grafdigger’s Cage
Red Elemental Blast
Surgical Extraction
Ancient Grudge
Sylvan Library
Wrenn and Six
Force of Negation
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Rough // Tumble

Specifically, Wrenn and Six gave the deck access to two powerful abilities: looping Wastelands with its +1 ability against control and combo decks while also invalidating the format’s foundational one-toughness creatures like opposing Delver of Secrets, Mother of Runes, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Young Pyromancer. Allowing Temur Delver to combat nearly every kind of opposing strategy with a two-mana planeswalker warped what was previously a healthy metagame into one dominated by the archetype.

Narset, Parter of Veils Restricted in Vintage

In August, Wizards made huge changes to Vintage by restricting Karn, the Great Creator, Mystic Forge, Mental Misstep, and Golgari Grave-Troll. One of the cards that was likely on the short list but avoided getting restricted was Narset, Parter of Veils, which ended up getting restricted in today’s announcement.

“In the context of the fast mana and efficient card draw available in Vintage, Narset, Parter of Veils is contributing to one-sided games at a higher degree than is healthy,” Wizards said. “In order to reduce the frequency at which an early Narset, Parter of Veils’ static ability soft-locks the opposing player out of the game, Narset is restricted.”

Vintage Paradoxical Outcome

Creatures (2)
Snapcaster Mage
Blightsteel Colossus

Planeswalkers (4)
Dack Fayden
Narset, Parter of Veils

Spells (26)
Ancestral Recall
Gitaxian Probe
Mental Misstep
Merchant Scroll
Time Walk
Paradoxical Outcome
Force of Will
Dig Through Time

Artifacts (15)
Black Lotus
Mana Crypt
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Opal
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Mana Vault
Sol Ring
Lands (13)
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Island
Tolarian Academy
Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15)
Snow-Covered Mountain
Tormod’s Crypt
Grafdigger’s Cage
Lightning Bolt
Shattering Spree

A Bad Day for Cheap Planeswalkers

Alongside today’s massive Banned and Restricted announcement, Wizards of the Coast also published a Play Design article acknowledging the difficulties in the recent year’s set designs. Specifically, Wizards singled out three-mana Planeswalkers (or two-mana in the case of Wrenn and Six), saying that they are a “riskier [design] space than we were giving them credit for, even when we were giving them a lot of credit.”

“In particular, we were leaning too hard on Planeswalkers’ ability to be attacked and how much less reliable that counterplay is on three-mana Planeswalkers,” Wizards continued. “The further we deviate from the basic four- and five-mana Planeswalker loyalty schemes that we’ve explored many times now, the more careful we need to be about rechecking our assumptions about how they impact the game. Beyond that, as soon as we’re able, we’ll be including more and more varied cards to provide avenues for Planeswalker interaction outside the combat step.”

While Oko, Thief of Crowns, Narset, Parter of Veils, and Wrenn and Six are the only three Planeswalkers from 2019 to be banned or restricted, Wizards also named Teferi, Time Raveler as a problematic three-mana Planeswalker. The problem with these designs, Wizards said, is that they often invalidate too many cards after they enter the battlefield while their cheap mana cost doesn’t give opponents enough time to create a board to combat them by attacking right away.

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