Following this weekend’s Mythic Championship, Wizards of the Coast has announced that the Standard powerhouse, Field of the Dead, has been banned. Announced today in a post on DailyMTG, the land’s banning comes as no surprise given how dominant it has been since its printing. Additionally, Arcum’s Astrolabe has be banned in Pauper which is no surprise if you’re a fan of this growing format.
Apart of the two best Standard decks – both before and after the fall rotation – Field of the Dead was a devastatingly potent land. Being able to create a constant stream of Zombie Tokens, allowed players to quickly take over the board. We saw this throughout the weekend during the Mythic Championship, as the Golos land decks proved to be especially powerful.
This comes from the lack of options for dealing with lands in the format. With very limited options, Field of the Dead decks produced incredibly grindy games. Matches would often end up in draws for paper players since they would run out of time before someone defeated another player. However, Wizards of the Coast explain that the choice to ban this card was not based on its performance during this weekend’s tournament. Here is what WotC said about why they decided to ban this land from Standard:
Beyond just the strength of the strategy, Field of the Dead presents a number of other problems for the metagame. The repetitive, on-board nature of its effect can cause games to frequently play out in a similar, deterministic way. Since Field of the Dead is a land, it can be difficult for many archetypes to interact with, further limiting the metagame’s ability to adapt. Finally, the long-term advantage Field of the Dead provides often leads to prolonged games. We’ve observed a marked increase in matches going to time in tabletop tournaments and in average game length in digital play.
As for Arcum’s Astrolabe, this artifact was banned due to its ability to easily smooth out the mana base of multi-color decks. Used across multiple deck archetypes, the artifact made up part of the three-color Skred decks that represented around 20% of the meta. Combining this with its high win rate caused WotC to outright ban the card in Pauper.
Because of the nature of the Pauper card pool, reliable multicolor mana bases have historically been a challenge for many decks. Arcum’s Astrolabe greatly changed this dynamic, as the clear, easiest, and strongest choice for color fixing. As many decks would adopt Arcum’s Astrolabe purely for color fixing anyway, it becomes “free” to gain additional value from it being a cheap artifact and card-advantage engine. To some degree, the metagame has shifted toward selecting for the best Arcum’s Astrolabe deck.
Both bans should, hopefully, expand the meta a bit more. We suspect that Mardu knights and Blue/Green Food decks will quickly rise to prominence. Pick up your Oko, Thief of Crowns now before they skyrocket in price! These bannings will go into effect on October 21 for Magic Online, October 24 for MTG Arena, and October 25 for paper players.
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