Wizards of the Coast has unbanned Oath of Nissa in Magic: the Gathering’s Pioneer format.

In other news: Arcum’s Astrolabe in Modern, Nexus of Fate and Burning-Tree Emissary were banned in Historic, and Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary were banned in Pauper.

Oath of Nissa was one of the cards banned in Pioneer’s first Banned and Restricted update on November 4, 2019. Pioneer, which debuted on Magic Online as Magic’s newest Constructed format less than two weeks earlier, began its life with a small banlist that was limited to the five allied fetchlands. Wizards’ intent was to watch the format closely at its inception and use data from Magic Online to identify problematic cards and handle them early on with frequent banlist updates.

Pioneer’s first week-plus of existence was dominated by two decks: Four-Color Copy Cat Combo and Mono-Green Green Ramp. While neither deck relied on Oath of Nissa to function or generate an unfair advantage, Wizards said that it was “a strong contributor to the strength and consistency of these and other strong decks,” and believed that it would “continue to exacerbate problematic strategies going forward.” They therefore banned Oath of Nissa along with the key broken cards in the decks, Felidar Guardian and Leyline of Abundance.

Almost a year later, Wizards has banned an additional six cards in Pioneer—including Once Upon a Time, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Veil of Summer—in order to curb the power of Green ramp and other decks. “In addition,” Wizards said, “the release of new sets has added power to other archetypes and generally expanded possibilities for deckbuilding.”

Therefore, Wizards believes that the Pioneer metagame “is now in a place where we feel that unbanning Oath of Nissa is a reasonable step to take as far as adding some power back to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx ramp decks and other archetypes that revolve around key creatures, lands, or Planeswalkers.”

With today’s announcement, Oath of Nissa becomes the first card to be banned and then subsequently unbanned in Pioneer.

What About UB Inverter and Lotus Breach?

When Wizards revealed last week that Pioneer’s Banned and Restricted listed would be updated today, many thought that they would take action to curb the power of two of the format’s most powerful decks: UB Inverter and Lotus Breach.

However, Wizards said today that they are “generally happy with the shape of the metagame in Pioneer, with the most played decks each having strengths and weaknesses against each other.”

“We are keeping an eye on the populations of combo decks in the environment” like UB Inverter and Lotus Breach, they continued, “although the perception that combo decks have dominant win rates isn’t backed up Magic Online play data. We are also seeing a variety of lesser-played decks having success, which indicates that the metagame may continue to shift.”

After a ton of excitement early on, helped by Players Tour Series 1 using the format, the popularity of Pioneer has suffered as COVID-19 forced Magic Esports to shift to MTG Arena. Though Wizards plans to eventually support Pioneer on MTG Arena, it is currently only available on Magic Online, which is not being used for any of Magic’s upcoming premiere events. The next Arena Open, Players Tour Finals, and Mythic Invitational will all be played on MTG Arena over the next month and a half, and the focus on MTG Arena as Magic’s main competitive platform is likely to continue until it is safe to bring back in-person events.

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