This is already our second announcement, and we have been running the format for 6 months! We now have a better understanding of what is going on, and paper events start spreading. We could also collect data from all those events (available on the Discord server), which in spite of the relatively low sample size actually ended up providing a meaningful result after some treatment.
Following our philosophy of only banning as few cards as possible, we only hit the ones that we were absolutely certain must go now, but we are still closely monitoring a few other cards. You will find our current watchlist after the bans, as well as a mention of the cards that left our previous watchlist.
These changes apply immediately. Of course, you can still contact us on our Discord server. The next announcement will be published on June 29, 2022.
Until then, we wish you all many good games! :)
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath has been the most dominating command zone since the last B&R by a large margin. If it is in the deck, you can eventually exile it once and be done with it. However, in the command zone, it will come back, even paying for its future tax each time it enters the battlefield or attacks, partially cheating on it. And exile effects are not all that numerous. Finding one is doable, but many of them is hard, especially with the pressure the titan applies.
On the other hand, the repeated life gain provides it with a natural answer to aggro decks, in addition to its large body to block with before it can attack.
The benefit of permanent mana and card advantage (even with recursion in addition to card draw), combined with the life gain allow Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath to outmanoeuvre its opponents on the entirety of Magic's resources, and no macro archetype can reasonably beat it.
Last, but not least, the data we could gather since the last B&R actually provided a meaningful result. Indeed, not accounting for draws, the lower bound of the 95% confidence interval on the Simic mythic win rate was 63.84%. Even accounting for matches that resulted in draws, the lowest bound was still above 55%.
As such, since the theory, our experience with the deck and the data say that this command zone is too powerful, we chose to ban Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath as a commander. You will find below our reasoning on the card inside the decks.
Fast mana (a very dangerous type of card, especially when it is permanent) and mana fixing at the cost of one card. That cost is partially neutered by the very structure of the format providing card advantage from the Command Zone.
This card makes up for very high variance games, way more so than the other cards in the format we believe, and generates play patterns that we consider obnoxious.
Other moxens exist in the format, but they do not work as easily on turn 1.
In order to prevent outcomes of games from being determined by the presence of Chrome Mox in your starting hand no matter the match up with hardly any possibility of interaction, we chose to ban it.
Currently on the watchlist
As the format reaches a mature state, the watchlist becomes less and less relevant. We still chose to continue presenting what our discussions for some cards other than the banned ones were. Here is a non exhaustive list:
Geist of Saint Traft as a commander only
Those three months still proved that this deck was weak to aggro decks. The presence of Cavern of Souls and the nature of hexproof may make it troublesome someday, and thus we are still keeping an eye on it.
Omnath, Locus of Creation as a commander only
Being oppressive for aggro decks and having a strong grinding power are two things that warranted some time in our discussions. Its main weaknesses being tempo and combo decks, it proved rather sane to leave it legal to encourage players to delve into those rather unexplored archetypes.
Winota, Joiner of Forces as commander only
After the last announcement, we saw Winota quickly rising and proving its might. Despite a strong build, the deck is weak to too many decks to be considered a threat to the format.
Delve Spells : Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time
Very strong spells that can reverse the outcome of a grindy match, but poor draws in the early game. Again, the singleton nature of this format with multiple strong spells seem to make those acceptable for the goals we have at the moment, but they are also of course largely monitored.
The powerlevel of the format and the many grindy matchups tend to be in favor of Gifts Ungiven. Despite being able to put powerful cards in the graveyard, this move takes four manas and is greatly punished if it does not resolve. More important, even if it resolves, if you planned to generate value from the graveyard thanks to it, it will still take even more time to be achieved.
We are keeping a close watch on how the format will adapt to it leaving the command zone because it might have enough ways to deal with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath when it is not a Commander. We still keep an eye on it though, especially when it is paired with Gifts Ungiven.
Previously on the watchlist
Some card that were previously on the watchlist now seem to be less harmful than what we initially thought they might be. It does not mean those cards are exempt from any future ban. Here's a non-exhaustive list:
Baral, Chief of Compliance as a commander only
Its current build is weak to many decks and is not a threat to the format, be it gameplay- or power level-wise. If future builds tend to prove the opposite, Baral, Chief of Compliance may return higher on the watchlist though.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch as a commander only
Although it can cheat on the commander tax through Affinity, that commander appears to be rather unexplored for now. We are encouraging everyone to tinker around this card as it seems to have a great potential, while still being one that can be easily interacted with.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang as a commander only
Just like Emry, Lurker of the Loch, it cheats on the commander tax thanks to its Delve ability. Facing major problems with the pace of the format, Tasigur, the Golden Fang does not appear to be too oppressive. We are leaving the banana lovers enjoy it.
Urza, Lord High Artificer as a commander only
After months of trials and errors, Urza, Lord High Artificer does not appear to be a threat to the format. This can be explained by the loss of key-cards not accessible in the current card pool. Of course, if unexpected or new synergies were to emerge, it might return up to the direct watchlist.
Zurgo Bellstriker as a commander only
The deck did not thrive in the previous field and with major decks like Winota, Joiner of Forces and Omnath, Locus of Creation, it does not seem to be well positioned. Overall, the card pool being limited compared to other Commander-like formats tend to be in favor of Zurgo Bellstriker as the go-to mono red Commander. Depending on meta shifts we might return it higher on our watchlist though.
We monitored this card closely during this period, and it appeared that fewer and fewer decks were playing it. The paper tournaments played these last three months were not damaged by the presence of this card either. Still, if it were to happen, we would take action against it.