It also impacts paper play
Although the last major set of bans for Magic: The Gathering was completely expected (Oko), the situation that has been unfolding in Ikoria has been a lot more complicated.
Right now, the meta has been dominated by the use of several cards (as much as 33% of the meta in some cases): Lukka Coppercoat Outcast, Agent of Treachery and Fires of Invention. Piloting this triple-threat is fairly simple. All you really need to do is buy time until you can cast Fires of Invention, then get out Lukka the next turn without having to pay his full two mountain mana cost (since Fires lets you cast two cards without mana matching each turn).
Then, simply use Lukka’s -2 ability to destroy any token, then your Agent of Treachery (an otherwise high-cost card that is prohibitive to cast) can be “cheated out” early to take control of the enemy’s lands or a key part of their board state. Given that the deck is usually combined with Torion Sky Nomad, you can also cast that card to blink (temporary remove, then restore cards to cause triggers) whatever you want, queuing up another Agent of Treachery steal. At this point, most opponents concede.
Following roughly a month of dealing with the combo in Magic: Arena, folks speculated on what could be banned as a result. Would it be Lukka? As a Mythic rare card and a brand new Planeswalker, probably not. What about Teferi Time Raveler (“3Feri”), a contentious older card that helps enable the combo early and buy time? As it turns out, the bans handed out this week solely include Fires (a nearly year old card) and Agent.
Announced through a banned and restricted post on the official Magic website, both cards are now banned in standard (the most popular form of competitive play, with rotated cards) and historic (curated old cards allowed). The ban impacts organized paper play immediately, and will be implemented in Arena on June 4. At that time, you’ll get wild cards for the banned cards you own to spend on something else.
But wait, there’s more! Wizards also hinted at a companion change recently, and the new alteration is a shocking nerf. As a refresher, “companions” are the new pet-like gimmick of Ikoria, allowing players to meet certain deckbuilding rulesets to bring a companion card with them that can be casted at any time. It is not part of your deck nor it is it in the graveyard or exile, so other players can’t remove it from those places.
It led to a lot of powerful combos, and some homogenization in standard. Most competitive decks were built to include a companion, which would typically be casted at the same advantageous period in every game. Playing at the Diamond level in Arena, it was common for me to see many mirror matches with the same companions.
Well, now companions are different. You have to spend three mana of any color to add them to your hand, which is a severe nerf for aggro-heavy decks that need an early win to close up the game. You will also still have to meet the aforementioned deckbuilding requirements, and if you don’t cast the companion that turn, it could be removed by opponents.
It’s a huge change to a core component of a Magic set that hasn’t been seen in some time. Although many pre-Ikoria decks will rise to the top again (Nissa, Reclamation) this is a monumental meta shakeup for now. Wizards is likely keeping an eye on Winota right now for Historic, too.
June 1, 2020 Banned and Restricted Announcement [Wizards of the Coast]
Announcement Date: June 1, 2020
New Companion Rule:
Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.
Agent of Treachery is banned.
Fires of Invention is banned.
Agent of Treachery is suspended.
Fires of Invention is suspended.
Tabletop Effective Date (Rules and B&R): June 1, 2020
MTG Arena B&R and Companion Rules Effective Date: June 4, 2020
Magic Online B&R Effective Date: June 1, 2020
Magic Online Companion Rules Update Effective Date: June 3, 2020