Ban Watchlist • Gifts Ungiven • Oath of Druids (5 for unban, 0 for ban, 2 abstain) • Urza's Saga (5 for unban, 0 for ban, 2 abstain) Unban Watchlist: -
Changes to the present banned list, effective 15/11/2023:
Banned – Unbanned • Gifts Ungiven
Single card explanation:
Library of Alexandria: (1 for unban, 4 for ban, 2 abstain)
Library of Alexandria was perceived as too powerful in most of the communities. Based on feedback, discussion and observations, we believe that the potential card advantage provided by it heavily outweighs the tempo disadvantage (or the "non-basic wastes scenario"). This trial has shown that the card is unsuitable to the format right now, for which it remains banned.
Gifts Ungiven: (6 for unban, 0 for ban, 1 abstain)
Gifts Ungiven is a card, that takes potentially a very long time to resolve. Here, we received mixed impressions. On one hand, experienced players come well prepared and the tutoring does not consume a lot of time. On the other hand, just looking up "good stuff cards" or general inexperience may cause significant time loss. This aspect of the card may improve over time when players get more experienced playing with and against it. Is Gifts Ungiven to powerful for the format? The trial has not shown any results that point to a higher power-level compared to legal 4 mana+ powerhouses of the format. Potential abuses that have been under the radar for now could be a concern, but can also be reacted upon in the future. Therefore we decided to give Gifts Ungiven a chance to stay in the format.
New Council Member: Lucas Schulte (4 for join, 0 against, 3 abstain)
Lukas Schulte applied to the council quite some time ago, and after several talks to him we think he will be a very good addition to the council and will help shaping the format in a good and constructive way, while keeping the opinion of the community in mind. We happily welcome Lukas Schulte to the council.
Ban Watchlist • Oath of Druids • True-Name Nemesis *removed* • Urza's Saga
Unban Watchlist: • Gifts Ungiven • Library of Alexandria • White Plume Adventurer *removed*
Unban Trial (The following cards are on unban trial, starting 15.08.23 for 3 months. The next change to their status would be on 15.11.23) • Gifts Ungiven • Library of Alexandria
Single card explanation:
True Name Nemesis True-Name Nemesis turned out to be just another power-full three drop in our format. We do not see any capability of the card to be as game decisive as it used be 4-5 Years ago. As a consequence, it will be removed from the ban watchlist.
White Plume Adventurer We've previously stated, that the cheapest Initiative threat is the most dangerous, which led to the ban of White Plume Adventurer. Without any errata to the initiative or the undercity, this effect on a three mana creature with reasonable stats and an ability that helps to defend the initiative is too problematic. For now, we do not see any room for an unban of the card, hence it will be removed from the unban watchlist.
Gifts Ungiven Gifts Ungiven offers players the flexibility to search up value piles, a combo finish or simply the best four cards in their decks. In itself, this effect sounds extremely powerful (and probably still is), but is it still enough to warrant a ban? The power-level of cards and our format has increased since the original banning of Gifts Ungiven back in 2011. As a consequence, the card has now to compete with a variety of cards in the same CMC-Slot. On top, interaction on the stack, the board and the graveyard have substantially improved in the last 12 Years. Inspired by the feedback of the community that we received, the card will be available for an unban trial. Is it still too strong? Does resolving the card take too much time and makes it thus a bad experience for tournament play? We encourage everyone to experiment with the card and providing us feedback.
Library of Alexandria There was a time when playing Library of Alexandria on the draw turn one was game decisive. In 2010, the card was banned because of its dominance in control mirrors and price tag. While we want the format to be as accessible as possible, most communities already allow proxies and we do not consider price tags as a reason for bannings. The card still has the potential to dominate slower matchups, but it comes at a significant cost. With the increase of power-level and speed, it became almost mandatory to have a play on turn 1 (be it a permanent or a spell to interact). These constraints also affect the mana base, as including only colorless mana producing lands has become a real cost. Thus, we think that the card should be available for an unban trial. As in the case of Gifts Ungiven, we will appreciate everyone testing the card and providing us feedback.
Changes to the present banned list, effective 15/05/2023:
Banned: •White Plume Adventurer
Unbanned: •True-Name Nemesis
Changes to the present watch lists:
Ban Watchlist • Birthing Pod *Removed • Oath of Druids • Oko, Thief of Crowns *Removed* • Urza's Saga • True-Name Nemesis
Unban Watchlist: • Gifts Ungiven *New* • Library of Alexandria *New* • White Plume Adventurer
Single card explanation:
White Plume Adventurer The tight grip that the Initiative mechanic has held over the midrange matchups of the format hasn't loosened up since we initially put WPA on the watchlist. Since WotC hasn't shown any interest in fixing the mechanic themselves (by nerfing The Undercity for example) we don't see any other way forward than to take action ourselves. We've previously stated, that the cheapest Initiative threat is the most dangerous and for this reason we are banning White Plume Adventurer.
True-Name Nemesis The HL format is hardly the same it was back in 2019, when TNN was added to the ban list. While still being able to take over some games, he is hardly as fearsome as he used to be. As our own testing and the majority of the feedback we have gotten during the trial phase has shown that the Merfolk is just another good 3-drop nowadays we have decided to unban True-Name Nemesis.
Birthing Pod When we unbanned Pod in November last year we stated that "a three month trial period cannot show all effects on the meta and we will keep an eye on the development of the format with Birthing Pod." Another six months have passed since then and while Birthing Pod is in fact a strong card, it hasn't lead to any initially unforseen unhealthy play patterns. After this additional surveillance periode we are now removing Birthing Pod from the watchlist.
Oko, Thief of Crowns Today marks the 3-year-anniversary of Oko being introduced to the watch list. While the planeswalker is still a very strong card and can sometimes be frustrating to play against, numerous answers have been printed since 2020 and what once seemed almost like it couldn't be dealt with, can now be handled by almost any deck (Not more or less difficult than other Planeswalker anyway). We do believe that there will be even more viable solutions to Oko printed in the future. For now, the Thief of Crowns has served his time on the watchlist and is free once more. We are removing Oko, Thief of Crowns from the watchlist!
Gifts Ungiven While Oko's three years might sound like a long time initially, they do get dwarfed by the almost incomprehensible 12 years, that Gifts Ungiven has been on the ban list already. Most Highlander players never experienced a format with the powerful instant. Even nowadays, the council statement from the initial banning holds up:
The three most common scenarios with Gifts have been: tutor up the four best cards for any given situation (tutoring for overall quality), setup a strong graveyard based synergy, or pave a way for a combo win initiated during next turns. So in a sense, Gifts has been both a powerful tutor, as well as an instant draw on steroids at the same time in combo/control builds. When abusing this card, the most broken scenarios have been the ones where Gifts has been used to tutor up a suite of win conditions that in the end leave the opponent no way out.
While combo cards, graveyard synergys, win conditions and the overall powerlevel of cards in general has gone up since then, one very important thing has also changed: The speed of the format.
We still recognize Gifts Ungiven as a very powerful tutor spell that can set up all kinds of shenanigans that weren't even around back when it was first banned (Sevinne's Reclamation / Unburial Rites+Fatty - Yes, you read that one right! The original Innistrad released exactly one day before Gifts Ungiven was banned, so HL players never got to experience that combo!) but we do at the same time think that the format might be fast enough today to not have it being dominated by it. To have the potential to test Gifts Ungiven in a future Trial, we are adding the card to the unban watchlist.
Library of Alexandria One-upping even Gifts Ungiven, this land was banned in 2010, almost 13 years ago, after being legal since 2008. The two main reasons given back then were dominance in control mirrors and the price tag (If people back then knew what cards would be worth today...). We do want the format to be as accessible as possible but card prices are no longer leading to bans. As for the dominance in control mirrors (or other matchups): The same logic in regards to the speed of the format explained above with Gifts Ungiven applies here. To have the potential to test Library of Alexandria in a future Trial, we are adding the card to the unban watchlist.
Miscellaneous: Every now and then Players are asking if they are allowed to bring a wishboard. To make it clear for everyone, the homepage rules section will be updated: For rules purposes, the only cards a player owns during a tournament match are the ones contained in the deck they are currently playing.
• Birthing Pod • Oath of Druids • Oko, Thief of Crowns • Urza's Saga • White Plume Adventurer *NEW*
Unban Trial-Candidate (This card is unbanned for the next 3 Month until the next Announcement) • True-Name Nemesis
Single card explanation:
White Plume Adventurer Over the past few months the arrival of Initiative as a mechanic has shaken many eternal formats to their core (Vintage, Legacy and Pauper) and it has done so as well for Highlander. In a 1-v-1 singleton format the answers to the Initiative are few and the mechanic has started to warp our format. The Initiative might be one, if not the best thing to do for "fair" decks. Even dedicated midrange/goodstuff lists often get outvalued by a single Initiative threat. The sooner you get the Initiative, the easier it gets to "ride it to victory", making the cheapest Initiative threat the most dangerous. Therefore, we decided to monitor the Initiative closely and to put White Plume Adventurer on the Watchlist.
True-Name Nemesis True-Name Nemesis was banned in October 2019. Since then, the format has dramatically shifted. Spellbased-Combo and control are close to non existent, while creature centric decks are ubiquitous. With TNN back to the mix our reasoning is, that TNN from a Goodstuff/Midrange/Tempo deck is "just another 3drop threat", whilst it is a much-needed roadblock for more controlish decks. In non-control decks TNN is a resistant but statwise overcosted threat, that is often outclassed by its more aggressive counterparts and doesn't generate cardadvantage (which most 3drops do nowadays). In control decks it is a much-needed answer to Monarch and Initiative, while also being able to play offensive and defense. This trial is clearly risky. We are aware, that this might lead to an uprise of Tempo decks. On the other hand, it might establish Control as a force to be reckoned with and help to keep the Initiative in check. For the three-month Trial Period we are willing to take these risk and hope to shake up the format in new and interesting ways. As usual we rely on your feedback as a community to evaluate this Trial Period.
New Council Member: We are happy to announce our new Council member Felix/ BourbKi, who has applied to join us and will from now on be part of this council. Felix has been known for his active participation and community engagement for quite some time. Beside of his current work on the recent local establishment of a local Highlander League in Berlin, he was particularly noticeable because of his always friendly and fair dealings with other community members. We are looking forward to work with Felix in the future.
Changes to the present banned list, effective 15/11/2022:
Unbanned: • Birthing Pod *New*
Changes to the present watch lists:
• Birthing Pod • Intuition • Oath of Druids • Oko, Thief of Crowns • Urza's Saga
Single card explanation:
Birthing Pod The last 3 month have shown us that this card is not as scary anymore as it was when it was banned. With the current meta being a lot faster and punishing against the life loss, we did not observe any domination by Birthing Pod. In fact we noticed that it was not played as much and left a lot of lists that were prime candidates to play it. However, a three month trial period cannot show all effects on the meta and we will keep an eye on the development of the format with Birthing Pod.
Attractions and Cards from the Unfinity set To clarify the questions regarding the legality of attractions and cards from the Unfinity set; We've decided to go with the same way WotC put forward. This means all eternal legal cards from this set will also be legal in European Highlander ("Not every card in the set has an acorn symbol. The other cards, known as "eternal cards," are just like cards in any other expansion. They conform to the Comprehensive Rules, although in many cases they necessitated new rules being written." https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/unfinity-release-notes-2022-10-07). If there should be the need to ban certain cards in the future, we will adjust this accordingly over the normal banning of said cards.
Changes to the present watch list, effective 15/08/2022: Current watchlists:
• Intuition • Mind Twist • Oath of Druids • Oko, Thief of Crowns • Urza's Saga
Unban watchlist: • Birthing Pod *New* • Underworld Breach • Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Because we are testing Birthing Pod for an unban we are putting the card on the unban watchlist. If we decide not to unban Birthing Pod after evaluating its trial period, we will remove it from the watchlist again.
The following card will be unbanned from August 15th till November 1st 2022.(It will be default banned at that date unless it specifically gets unbanned):
Single card explanation:
Birthing Pod The discussion about this card is going on for quite a while, and we think currently the Format is in a pretty good shape, with a lot of divers decks. Therefore, we think it is a good time to shake up the format a bit and try out cards that might not be as broken/influencing anymore as they were when they were banned. This time we want to test out Birthing Pod for 3 month to see how it performs.
To further improve the format and gain valuable information we need your input, worries and opinions on these changes and views on the format. Do not hesitate to contact any of us via private message or just start a topic in the forum.
So I'd be really interested in returning to Highlander FNM and working towards building a Storm/TPs deck. I have mostly been playing UR Tempo/Control and Mono Red up until this point but have some experience piloting ANT in Legacy, so I know the general archetype to some extent. While not exactly an easy deck to pilot in Legacy, the play patterns there are much more singular than they are in Highlander (combo either with Infernal Tutor + Past in Flames, a Tutor Chain or Ad Nauseam). Looking at Carsten K.'s TPS-list from 11/01/2020 on the main website and goldfishing for a bit on Tappedout, there are several cards in the deck where the general play pattern eludes me and no amount of googling could help me so far. Checking out the copious amounts of Canlander content online is also of very little help since they build around Black Lotus instead of Demonic Tutor leading to entirely different choices in deck construction. If anyone could help me out here, I'd be very grateful. So here are the cards:
Crop Rotation - Aside from fixing your mana in a pinch and essentially adding +1 to Storm count for free, the only interesting target in the list above appears to be Lake of the Dead, which generates BBBB if you sac two Swamps, which is fine, I guess, but also not always a given. Is there anything I'm overlooking here?
Oaths of Druids - So what I'm reading here is that you'd ideally slam it on Turn 2, bin half your library and put Griselbrand in play the next turn and then win by drawing 14 and using all those cards in your graveyard as a resource. Anything else?
Memory's Journey - I have a strong feeling that it interacts with Oaths of Druids in a sense I can't quite put my finger on, so if there was no Griselbrand, it'd be akin to Doomsday (getting to that later). But since Big Grizz is in the deck, what use is there to shuffle cards back in? Is it a way to get cards into your hand you can't cast from the graveyard when going off with Past in Flames instead of Yawgmoth's Will such as Lion's Eye Diamond? Or is there some line, where you bin your entire library and shuffle three cards back in, that leads to a deterministic victory?
Doomsday - This is the big one. I know that this card is notorious for its complexity and the incredible variety of piles it allows for to flexibly win the game in a deterministic manner. I also have no idea how it works in Highlander. Almost every primer and explanation online is for other formats and involves cards that are either banned outright (Treasure Cruise, Thassa's Oracle but Sensei's Divining Top really is the big one) or not played in the deck (Gush, Ideas Unbound, Laboratory Maniac). I literally could not find a single primer that wins the next turn with just the cards in Carsten K.'s list, so some help would be greatly appreciated.
Lastly some questions about new additions to the deck since a lot of time has passed since 11/01/2020.
Expressive Iteration - Just a generally good card, though it's maybe a bit hard on the manabase and doesn't find cards to cast consistently enough.
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned (maybe replacing Griselbrand?) - The upsides should be that if you bring him into play with Oaths of Druids, you can go off the turn he comes down if you mill enough cards and with effectively three Yawgmoth's Will in the deck, you could be guaranteed to find one with Intuition. Moreover, he is probably more useful against Aggro decks where you can't afford to pay 14 for fear of being burned to death in response. On the flipside, with most of your rituals being Sorcery speed, he is more susceptible to removal. What's the concensus here?
Profane Tutor - Effectively a delayed Demonic Tutor. I can see it being either really useful if cast early or way too slow like Lotus Bloom. It's also entirely useless the turn you're going off, so you have either still find another Tutor or use it to go directly for Tendrils.
Changes to the present banned list, effective 15/05/2022:
Banned: •Underworld Breach •Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Unbanned: •Mind Twist
Changes to the present watch lists:
Ban Watchlist • Dig Through Time*Removed* • Intuition *New* • Mind Twist *New* • Oath of Druids • Oko, Thief of Crowns • Opposition Agent*Removed* • Tainted Pact*Removed* • Underworld Breach • Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath • Urza's Saga
Unban Watchlist: • Birthing Pod *New*
Single card explanation:
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 cardadvantage, 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 deckbuilding.
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.