What’s a format again?

One of the things that I enjoyed about EDH (or Commander if you are part of the new crowd), is that no matter where you go you can at least expect a baseline for which cards you won’t see at the tables. Whether you agree with the Ban List the Rules Committee (RC) cultivates or not, you know you can rely on this consistency everywhere: at a local store, with people I invite over, with people in a different city, or even online. Or that is the way it used to be. But on May 3rd Wizards announced MTGO would adopt a new ban list for all EDH games online, both 1V1 and multiplayer. The Internet instantly exploded, mostly with pretty intense rage, although there were some that applauded this change. I mean there is something wrong with those people, but that is beside the point. 😀

Let’s dive into this cluster and try and figure it out.

What happened?

Wizards came out with this gem:


The list can’t be that bad, right? Like what is wrong with cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Primeval Titan, Prophet of Kruphix, Panoptic Mirror, Recurring Nightmare, and Upheaval? Oh yeah. People hate them in multiplayer EDH games. Some of these cards are universally considered terrible for the format, so it totally makes sense Wizards would unban these cards.

The answer to this is simple. Wizards is catering to 1V1, as it brings in dollars, and since multiplayer does not (in their mind), it can go by the wayside or play by 1v1 rules. One Wizards employee said, “You have no idea how many people are interested in 1v1.” So that makes complete sense. I mean it makes sense if one or both of these statements are true:

  1. Wizards (at least the people who made the decision) do not understand multiplayer.
  2. Wizards is trying to get rid of multiplayer Commander.

I mean both make sense, but I really think the second point is more relevant as quite a few people are of the belief that EDH has failed online. The general thought is that because the EDH products online “failed,” no one wants to play EDH online. Let’s address two major fallacies in this logic. First, if you buy the Commander product you lose half the value right away, because online it’s not worth $35. Second, EDH crashes constantly on Magic Online because of a (EDITOR CENSORED!) $#ltty client that they haven’t fixed for years.

What does all this mean?

Notice all my titles are questions? Yeah, well that is exactly what I think about this change: What the hell? In a nutshell, Wizards decided that the online experience would be better with their own vision of a Ban List, one that by all accounts didn’t involve input from the RC:

So why would you not ask for the opinion of a group that has been running the EDH Ban List for years? The possible answer scares me a little. Could this be the transition to Wizard running the format? In the past, I liked that idea, but  I think Wizards has proven time and again that even if they have the data to understand the format, they won’t put forth the effort. Whether they don’t think EDH players spend enough money for their effort, or they can’t understand the confusion and disjointed feel that three different ban lists will create, here we are.

What do we do from here?

There are a few options. The first and simplest option is just sell out of MTGO. It’s what myself and others have done. Normally, I feel like talking with your dollars is the best way to go, but even if you spend money for EDH, I don’t think it will be enough to turn Wizards heads. The second option is keep complaining until Wizards makes changes. (EDITOR: SPOILER. IT KINDA WORKED) It might happen or it might be a waste of your time, but it is an option. My best advice is to play your own game, craft a play group, and don’t worry about what they are doing. One day they will figure out what multiplayer EDH is all about!

Until next time this is EDH.Ghost out!


**Update: On Friday May 5th Wizards said that while they are still moving to the single Ban List for a short while, but that due to public feedback, they will be reevaluating and moving back to separate Ban Lists for 1v1 and multiplayer Commander in June (although the multiplayer list, they noted, will probably not exactly mirror the paper list due to the requirements of the digital environment…). This type of change after two days gives me very little confidence that their approach to online Commander is well thought out.