Earlier today Wizards announced an “addendum” to their most recent Banning and Restricted announcement. Simply put, Felidar Guardian is now banned in Standard. The deciding factor (apparently) was early MTGO league data.
Saheeli-Felidar’s win-loss ratio and metagame share has actually increased since the release of Amonkhet. In Magic Online Standard Leagues since Monday, Saheeli combo has made up approximately 40% of 5-0 and 4-1 decklists—up from prior to Amonkhet‘s release. While we never take decisions like this lightly and recognize this is a change from the norm, when a plurality of the data points in a clear direction, we will take action.
What does this mean going forward? I’m not sure. But allow me to wildly speculate and share some general thoughts on the situation.
My secret hopes the for inevitable banning of Saheeli-Cat combo was for Saheeli Rai to be the chosen one instead of the cat. I’m not sure if everyone agrees, but in my opinion, the cat was just a ridiculously fun card to play with, while Saheeli was just bad outside of the combo. Maybe Felidar Guardian was a bit too egregious with being able to blink planeswalkers, but I think Wizards banned one of the most fun cards in Standard.
I understand why they banned the cat instead of Saheeli – it looks bad to keep banning the iconic characters of your set (suh Emrakul). There’s a lot less collateral damage with banning the uncommon instead of the mythic, but at this point I’d argue so many people have lost faith in Standard that it’s worth considering at the least. That being said, I do think they made the right choice. I’m just a little peeved that after everyone had prepared for the most recent B&R announcement on Monday, they defied expectations, and then defied expectations again only two days later.
Criticizing Wizards for making the right choice feels pretty disingenuous though. I think this is overall a very good thing for Standard, and I am genuinely excited to have some breathing space to brew. I just wish WotC didn’t come off as so unsure of themselves, because when I started playing during KTK Standard, I came to understand that Standard bannings were exceedingly rare and only done in emergencies. Then we went from three block sets to two, then a shortened rotation, then back to the old rotation, and now I’ve gone through 2 bans. That seems like a whole lot of change in a small period and I’m hopeful this is the last meddling that Wizards will have to do for another several years.
One thing’s for certain, I’m definitely much more excited to watch PT Nashville in a couple weeks. It feels like the Wild Wild West out there right now with the combo being gone. I’m super excited to see what Corey (check out his first article) and Nick will be brewing up and playing this upcoming season. My gut reaction is that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is going to resume his place as the king of Standard in a Mardu build, but we’ll see what shows up at SCG Atlanta this weekend, and the PT the following week. I think we might have a shot at seeing something new and unique for the first time in a while.