For this particular Banned and Restricted announcement it was pretty clear that there would be some bannings. The last Mythic Championship and the weeks prior to it have been completely dominated by Food decks, ever since the banning of Field of the Dead. The color green seemingly contained all the best decks in Standard. Rather than ban a single card to see if that would be good enough, Wizards decided to go straight for the head of the snake and ban three cards, all of which are green. Oko, Thief of Crowns, Veil of Summer and Once Upon a Time are no longer Standard legal.

Personally, I was a bit surprised to see three cards of a single color banned, as this really is completely unprecedented. However, if the goal was to shake up the format these bans do accomplish that goal. Green is going to go from by far the strongest color in the format to arguably the weakest.

Food Decks as We Knew Them Are Dead

Being able to play Gilded Goose into Oko, Thief of Crowns was one of the biggest reasons to play a Simic-based Food deck. Without Oko, Thief of Crowns, both Wicked Wolf and Gilded Goose lose a ton of value to the point they will not see much play. Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer were also played in these decks so those bans hurt, but not nearly as much as the loss of Oko. Without the ability to continuously generate Food, Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf will struggle to find homes. The place where they are most likely to see play is alongside Trail of Crumbs, Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven.

The future of Food lies in the power of Witch's Oven and Cauldron Familiar. The Jund Sacrifice deck never played Oko, and even with the loss of Once Upon a Time we should see some of this strategy in the format.

While this deck used to maindeck four Once Upon a Time and have some number of Veil of Summer in the sideboard, the fact that it didn't rely on Oko means that the core remains intact. Witch's Oven plus Cauldron Familiar provides some nice inevitability, and if you also have a Trail of Crumbs on the battlefield you can start to accumulate a massive amount of card advantage. Mayhem Devil and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King are great reasons to add in red. While Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf aren't nearly as good here as they were in Simic Food decks, they are reasonable role players.

Outside of this deck we will still see Witch's Oven plus Cauldron Familiar in other black-based aggressive strategies, but those decks were never a huge problem in terms of their share of the metagame. The other decks that took a big hit are decks that heavily relied on Once Upon a Time for mana fixing. The Gruul Adventures deck I have been playing falls directly into this category, as when you look at the manabase and the reliance on having a turn-one Edgewall Innkeeper, the loss of Once Upon a Time is a big deal.

This is the list I played at Mythic Championship VI, but the deck is no longer fully functional without Once Upon a Time. You can play Fabled Passage, but that makes the deck less aggressive. Adventure decks in general are less likely to have Edgewall Innkeeper on turn one, not just the Gruul variant. Embercleave is still a really strong card that will find a home in other decks, but until another red-green dual land is printed I don't expect we will see much of this deck anymore.

Decks That Improve

In general, decks that didn't lose any cards from the bannings and already saw some play are likely to improve. This is natural. Previously, blue decks that were not Food-based were struggling, but now I expect we will see a lot more of them. Fires of Invention is still a super powerful card whether you decide to pair it with Fae of Wishes or a Cavalier-oriented build. In the early going of this new format, Jeskai Fires could very well end up being the most popular deck. Grzegorz Kowalski was one round away from making Top 8 with it at the Mythic Championship.

This deck has the ability to control aggressive decks with sweepers like Deafening Clarion and Time Wipe, so it's difficult to beat Jeskai Fires by just attacking with creatures. Then of course there's the insane late game based around Fires of Invention and Fae of Wishes. The deck also has the Cavalier package and even some copies of Kenrith, the Returned King and a Sphinx of Foresight to really go over the top of the opponent. Previously the Food matchups were difficult for this deck, because they could have quick starts and then add a bunch of disruption to back that up after sideboard.

There is no easy way to attack the Fires decks, which is why they are so strong. Even if you answer Fires of Invention itself, this deck can just be a normal Jeskai Control deck. Playing Fae of Wishes requires you to dedicate a lot of sideboard slots, but the power level increase makes it worth it. I expect now that green decks have lost some popularity, the two maindeck Aether Gust will get moved to the sideboard.

Another blue-based combo deck that can also play a control game is Esper Dance. This is a deck that aims to play some eggs and cantrip on the first couple turns in order to make to make Doom Foretold a great turn-four play, and Dance of the Manse a nice win condition later on. This deck struggled against Veil of Summer; luckily, Thought Erasure gains a ton of stock now that Veil is gone.

This deck might now have the best late game in the format. Previously the combination of Hydroid Krasis plus Nissa, Who Shakes the World ruled the late game, but I don't expect we will be seeing as much of those cards. A Dance of the Manse late in the game is pretty absurd here. This deck also has a sweeper to stop early aggression in Kaya's Wrath, and Oath of Kaya also does a good job at dealing with early creatures. The three Noxious Grasp in the maindeck may end up not being worth it with the metagame shifting.

Esper decks have life again. Thought Erasure plus Teferi, Time Raveler is still very powerful, and it is easy to forget how powerful Esper strategies were a few months ago before Eldraine. In my opinion these blue-based controlling strategies were the biggest winners of the bannings, but there are some other green decks that aren't Food based that have life again. Golgari Adventures actually doesn't lose much at all since some versions didn't play Once Upon a Time.

Another deck that has been ignored recently but is showing signs of life is Simic Flash. Veil of Summer was absurd against this deck, but now countermagic looks pretty good, and Nightpack Ambusher is really tough to deal with.

Simic Flash got pushed out by Adventure decks. This deck basically can't beat a good draw including a turn-one Edgewall Innkeeper. There will be less Edgewall Innkeepers seeing play, and thus the stock of a strategy like this rises. Some decks are relying on a key card, whether it be Fires of Invention, Wilderness Reclamation, Dance of the Manse or something else. Countermagic is good again, and as long as this deck gets out in front of its opponent it is able to leverage the tempo advantage to create easy wins.

Standard has definitely been shaken up, and that's a good thing. The Food-based metagame was toxic, as there wasn't a clean answer to beat the best deck in the format, and it ended up spiraling out of control. The bannings were necessary, but I hope that this situation doesn't come up again. Taking three cards out of Standard, especially cards that were just printed, has a significant impact on consumers. Let's hope that the color pie becomes more stable again.

Seth Manfield

Seth Manfield is a professional Magic player and member of both the Magic Hall of Fame and the 2019 Magic Pro League.

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