Vanishing is banned
This is a central piece of Zur the Enchanter and a primary reason of its success. Zur’s strategy is to attack relentlessly, locking the game up bit by bit. As long as it can protect its commander, its game plan is basically bullet-proof, since Zur’s tutoring can handle any incoming threat. Vanishing is a key part of that strategy since it protects the commander from everything, up to and including Clone effects and mass removal.
While the continued success of Zur in large tournaments can be attributed in big part to its experienced pilots, it is by itself an extremely potent commander with a strategy that’s quite difficult to stop. The prospect of facing Zur forces many players to include specialized measures, such as split second removal. We believe that the pressure on the format is too strong, but not strong enough to ban the entire deck. Therefore we are choosing to ban Vanishing, so that other decks can fight it on more equal grounds.
Humility is banned
While not a central piece of any top deck, Humility has a very profound effect on the game. As soon as it’s on the board, every creature is a 1/1 with no ability, including commanders. This nullifies a variety of creature-based and commander-based strategies, and makes the game quite unfun for the unprepared player. Moreover, it prevents the vast majority of commanders from functioning, which breaks the spirit of Commander somewhat. It forces players to run specialized cards (Disenchant, Nature’s Claim) to answer it, as it gets around more versatile enchantment removal like Qasali Pridemage or Acidic Slime. Aggressive decks are wrecked by Humility since they either lose to it, or run answers and thus dilute their primary game plan. For these reasons, and since it has influence on decks even when it’s not played a lot, we are banning Humility.
Protean Hulk is unbanned
For years, this card has been banned from the multiplayer format, because as soon as it dies, there’s plenty of ways of winning the game on the spot. Moreover, getting a creature to die isn’t hard at all, given the many sacrifice effects available in the format.
When we transitioned from a common banlist to a separate one, Protean Hulk was left banned as precaution, since the format is full of ways to cheat it into play. However, after closer inspection, it appears that there already are plenty of huge creatures which can win the game as soon as they hit the board – Iona, Shield of Emeria, Elesh Norn, Griselbrand. These aren’t oppressive and most decks can either fight through or counter those reanimation strategies. Protean Hulk requires additional setup: a few dedicated slots in the deck, as well as a way to sacrifice it in order to win. Instant wins are also possible using Flash, but this requires four colors to work. Given that you have to make compromises for this unreliable combo, we believe it’s safe enough to have it in the format.
Bitterblossom is unbanned
This card has been banned 15 months ago amidst a lot of controversy. Many games were won on turn 2 just by resolving this innocuous enchantment. What the opponent did by this point mattered little – either they would lose to the incessant stream of fliers, or they would spend too many resources fighting them and would lose to anything else you played. And let’s face it, 1 life a turn is completely negligible in a 30-life format.
What has made us change our minds then? First of all, the format has accelerated quite a bit and most decks can win before Bitterblossom can make a real difference. Second, many decks now pack more enchantment removal in order to face the diverse threats found in the format – what stops Oath of Druids, Sylvan Library, or Survival of the Fittest can also stop Bitterblossom, not to speak of Disenchant-likes which many people run to stop Swords. Third, a few decks in the format can ignore Bitterblossom – ramp decks like Maelstrom Wanderer or combo like Zur. Last but not least, black is the most unpopular color at the moment (tied with red), so it could benefit from an additional weapon.
We are unbanning it for now to give these decks a little boost, but the effect on the game is so big that it will be closely watched.
Staff of Domination is unbanned
This card’s only use is as a combo engine combined with any creature that produces 5 or more mana. Since artifact-based decks with Metalworker aren’t competitive, this leaves only Elves able to exploit it effectively. Ezuri is played to a certain success but is far from dominating. Giving it an extra weapon that it can’t tutor shouldn’t make a big difference.
As usual, you can find the full banlist on the “Rules” page.