In what will be a highly discussed decision among the community Wizards of the Coast just announced the sudden, and without warning, banning of both Winota, Joiner of Forces and Expressive Iteration. These two banning will surely send shockwaves through and see a massive reshaping in the landscape of the format. Because of this, expect some delay in this week’s Tier List as our staff discusses if decks should be re-ranked or if we just remove the now impacted lists.
On a personal level I am a little disheartened by these changes. We were starting to finally see the community attack Winota and succeed in lowering its dominance (it was even going to be bumped down to A tier this week preceding this ban announcement). There is inherent risk in having a deck make up a large portion of league queues, but those numbers haven’t always reflected actual event results in the challenges. And with the slow return to paper magic I believe Winota would start seeing a lower meta share, which is something I’ve witnessed in the recent paper Pioneer I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in. As for Expressive Iteration, I think this is definitely the correct path to take vs banning the delve spells and I very much agree with the given logic Wizards presented in the announcement l. While I still would have preferred no cards receiving the ban hammer, it has definitely been a very open secret that Expressive is the best card in the Izzet shells and it was only a matter of time before we came to this result. My only question now is, does anyone want to buy my Ledger Shredders?
Welcome to a completely new format. Two of the major archetypes, Elf-based Creature Aggro, and UR Tempo, are both gone. Done. That’s it. Well, mostly.
Even though Expressive iteration is gone, Phoenix will still exist, albeit a bit less powerful and resilient. UR Prowess however, will most likely go away, in favor of Mono Red Aggro (yes, I am quite excited). UR Control will also continue to thrive, as Expressive Iteration was always a bit weaker in these decks, you have other advantage engines to draw from in this slower Izzet deck.
Winota is a completely different story. This is THE format defining deck, and it’s just… gone. With this deck no longer skewing sideboards and pushing slower creature decks out of the format, it will be difficult to know exactly where the next place to explore would be.
We could see a rise of Mono Red Aggro, as both Winota and UR Prowess were both bad matchups for that deck, but the resurgence of midrange value decks might push aggressive decks out of the format even more. Lotus Field also gets a lot better here, as Winota did wonders at pressuring that strategy.
This is the Wild West, closer to a week one format than we’ve had in a long time. Good luck!
This ban seems to come out of nowhere as Winota was on the downswing and while EI was powerful it also didn’t feel like it was necessary for this to happen. I’m worried to see what comes next since the only decks that force removal now are Llanowar Elf-based decks, but with all that being said I’m looking forward to seeing all the decks that Winota so-called “Pushed Out”
Winota was a deck that many people enjoyed playing. I never picked it up because I was always worried it was going to get banned, but I would have probably gotten a kick out of it if I did. This is the thing that bugs me about this announcement: people will have their fun (and only?) Pioneer deck banned when it was not THAT omnipresent. This is going to be a huge feelbad for people and this announcement will cost the format players. On the other hand, Winota was not a fun deck to play against and the ban might draw players to the format. It is probably a win for the format overall, but I do feel bad for people who have gotten their fun banned.
Expressive Iteration is a great ban alongside Winota in my opinion. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are unique cards to Pioneer and are pretty kickass to play with (Omega personal bias here). The main abusers of expressive iteration were Prowess and Phoenix, and I am confident those decks will still be around after the ban. The only deck that really “dies” here is Jeskai Ascendancy, but can you really kill something that is already dead? These decks now take a significant hit, but they are still around. Most importantly: the fun is still there. You get to play with Ancestral Recall while getting free birds. This ban feels like a win-win to me. If Winota is out, something out of these decks has to go and this is the best ban possible for keeping the identity (and fun) of the decks alive.
As I said, the Prowess and Phoenix decks will be around. Naturally, all decks that were good, but maybe not the best, will rise up. UW control is going to be a much bigger player now and will definitely overtake UR control since that also got affected by this ban. I am unsure where UR control will end up, but I wouldn’t count it out yet. The other current meta decks like Rakdos, Mono-Green, Mono-Red, Lotus etc. will all see an increase in play, though UW might have something to say about that when the targets become clearer. I think this is an overall BIG win for creature decks like 5-c Humans and Vampires, since the barrage of red removal will slow down a little bit and they don’t have to play around Winota (which was basically impossible). Decks that can maindeck some graveyard hate, Thoughtseize, cards like Archon of Emyria and/or Reidane, God of the Worthy while providing a decent clock will be more playable than they were before. Attacking and blocking will matter more going forward, which I think is a big plus.
People are already asking the question, did Winota need to be banned… I’d like to ask those people if they’ve played against Winota in the last year, but really I think it’s a fair question. I have always said that if Winota gets banned, it will not be because it has too high of a win rate or a meta share, but because the deck is inherently annoying to play against. The Winota “spins” feel very similar to Aetherworks Marvel which was banned in standard for similar reasons. To many players, it just doesn’t feel fair to win (or lose) based on the luck of a spin.
That said, I’m very excited for what is going to happen to be Green/Red/White aggro archetype from here on out. Winota was undoubtedly the best four-drop that the deck could be playing, but I do think that there were a host of other great aggressive creatures waiting in the wings. We may see cards like Arlinn the Pack’s Hope, Hal and Alena, Partners, Embercleave, or even Hazoret the Fervent showing up in place of Winota in these green/red elf-powered shells.
For me, the bigger question that should be asked is “Why did Expressive Iteration need to get banned?” If you have followed the Playing Pioneer weekly tier lists, you would have seen that some form of UR deck has been at the top of the tables for as long as we have existed as a website. In fact, I’d say that UR Phoenix held its spot in the meta longer than Winota did. But where I am surprised, is that every single version of blue/red deck in Pioneer has always had a favorable matchup into Winota.
So, I think that to many this B&R will say “We banned Winota, so we had to nerf the second-best deck as well.” But I actually think it might be more accurate to see this as WotC wanting to ban Expressive Iteration, and then needing to ban Winota as well because UR decks were the best way to fight against it!
Regardless, as a brewer, I suddenly got a second wind in what will still be a long season before new cards enter the Pioneer format so I will be brewing up a storm!
Stay tuned to PlayingPioneer as this story continues to unfold and we make a decision on this week’s Tier List.