Major shake up.
The newest Magic: The Gathering set may be little more than a month old but it is already seeing a major set of changes from Wizards of the Coast.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, which many players may know as introducing Godzilla variants, brought with it 10 powerful new cards called Companions. Ostensibly, these cards exist around specific deck builds as a condition of being played, and exist on your sideboard, waiting to be cast, though in many cases this effectively meant an increased starting hand size.
Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.
Wizards note that the metagame across all formats has been consumed by the new Companions and threatens the long term health and viability of the game.
“As a group, decks using companions have too high of win rates and metagame share in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern, and have already necessitated bans in Legacy and Vintage. This trend represents a long-term problem for the health and diversity of all formats,” they say.
“We discussed several alternative rules changes but ultimately settled on this one, as it best mitigates the potential for repetitive gameplay and provides a wider window of interaction. By charging additional mana, playing a companion becomes less efficient relative to playing the other cards the player has drawn.”
They hope this will incentivize players to cast their other spells first while giving opponents a window to deal with Companions before they can hit the field.
While such a change isn’t the normal course of action for announcements such as this a range of bans is to be expected. Wizards have banned two cards in Standard while suspending them in Historic.
Fires of Invention, they say, has a 55% win-rate and is favourable across all other top archetypes. It’s the Meta Knight in Brawl, essentially, an unstoppable force that may well be broken. Two new cards–Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and Winota, Joiner of Forces, have been used to easily cast Agent of Treachery, a card that allows the outright theft and permanent control of an opponent’s card. Ouch.
Fortunately, Agent of Treachery is now banned, given its new ease of access.
These changes are already in effect in Tabletop and will take effect on June 4 in MTG Arena.