Underworld Breach This enchantment has enabled one of the most powerful and resilient combo decks the format has seen. Although not putting up huge player numbers, the dominance of the deck, if picked up, was undeniable. Similar to the artifact deck that was powered by Tolarian Academy , the Underworld Breach deck led to undesirable and frustrating gameplay. While bans to the card Tolarian Academy itself and Thassa’s Oracle were initially thought to be sufficient to cut back on Breaches powerlevel, the core of the deck proved to still be more than competitive enough. New additions like Urza’s Saga and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned helped the deck to secure its spot at the top. Unmatched in raw speed (thanks to the fact that it basically runs Black Lotus as part of the combo), incredible adjustability to almost any situation on the board due to a plentora of tutor spells and the possibility to grind out opponents that overloaded on combo-interaction with backup plans like ThopterSword, Oath of Druids or Retrofitter Foundry made the deck a nightmare to deal with. In our statement regarding combo decks in the format we emphasized that we not only want these decks to not go above a certain degree of speed but also to allow meaningful interactions and decisions that matter to the outcome of the game. Unfortunately, after having monitored the situation for quite a while, we think that these fundamentals of the format are violated by the card in question. It is therefore that Underworld Breach is banned!
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath This stabilizer turned every non-combo matchup into a grindfest due to the fact that Uro can not conclusively be dealt with by discard, counterspells or non-exile removal. Uro is engine, enabler and payoff in just one card. Including it in an UGx shell has basically no downside since it fuels itself while being easily tutorable. While other format staples have similar qualities, the inevitability of Uro puts it over the top. As soon as Uro is found by an UGx-player via draw, selfmill or tutoring, the game revolves around it and even if handled once or twice it will eventually win the game either by attacking or just by outvaluing the opponent. It often has an extremely smothering effect on the game by drowning the opponent in card advantage, while at the same time limiting the UGx players opportunity to make meaningful decisions, since very little is better than looping Uros. The combination of Uro/Oko/Life from the Loam emphasized these strengths of UGx to a point, where it was by far the “best fair thing you could do”. We hope this banning will result in more deck diversity and lead the community to explore new, different, and exciting paths of deck building.
Mind Twist Similar to Umezawa’s Jitte , we mostly got positive feedback on this card during the trial period. While some concerns were raised about frustrating gameplay experiences when on the receiving end of a Mindtwist we ultimately think that these situations will be few and far between. Mind Twist stays on the watchlist for now, in case we were to be wrong about this. However, we are confident that the results of the trial period are valid and there won’t be reasons for unease.
Intuition Intuition has been a powerfull tutor for a long time already and even enjoyed a short period on the watchlist previously for setting up strong interactions with cards like Sevinne’s Reclamation . Then it was mainly used for cards like Uro and Life from the Loam in order to get card advantage from it. This was already raising eyebrows from players about the power level of this card, but with the edition of channel lands, it crossed the line into brokenness, at times essentially providing almost always 3+ cards. While not being that fast at 3CMC, it often turns into a powerfull shell for escapeing Uro as well as setting up for a lot more card advantage in future turns if paired with Loam/Channel Lands/Urza’s Saga. Despite the current Uro ban, we want to keep monitoring this card and its interactions, so we decided to put it on the watchlist again.
Dig Through Time / Opposition Agent / Tainted Pact All three of these cards have been on the list for quite a bit of time now. While all of them are very potent we don’t think that any one of them is a cause for concern at the moment. We are therefore removing them from the watchlist.
Birthing Pod With two bannings and one unbanning as well as the recent release of a new set there is already plenty of change happening in the format. While we might ultimately end up testing an unban of Birthing Pod we’ve decided that it would be best to run trials like this only after watchlist announcements (or maybe ban announcements without any other changes) as to being able to better assess the influence of a trialed card. For now we would like to hear your feedback about a possible unban of the powerful phyrexian artifact.