The boogeyman of the Magic: The Gathering Standard format is no more, as Wizards of the Coast announced today that Field of the Dead is banned in Standard effective October 24 on MTG Arena and October 25 in tabletop play. Field of the Dead has been a problematic card over the past few months of Magic: The Gathering competitive Standard play, boasting strong top finishes before Throne of Eldraine released and becoming even more oppressive to the metagame's diversity after the new set was made available.
Part of the problem with Field of the Dead is that there are many powerful cards available in the Standard card pool that, while otherwise pretty balanced, combine with the land to make it incredibly powerful. As a land card, interaction with it is difficult - in fact, the best answer to the card rotated out of Standard earlier this fall in Field of Ruin - and it is a consistent source of battlefield presence once it is turned on that is difficult for any other deck to keep up with. Pros called for the banning of the card for weeks before the early October Banned & Restricted announcement came, but Wizards of the Coast failed to make any changes. After Mythic Championship 5 decklists were submitted, however, Wizards announced it would be holding an unprecedented second scheduled Banned & Restricted announcement in the same month, leading many to believe a change was coming.
That change hits the most important card in the Bant Golos strategy that was a disproportionate amount of the field in Mythic Championship 5. Wizards of the Coast announced today that Field of the Dead is banned in Standard, while also giving Pauper players a nice boon in an Arcum's Astrolabe ban. R&D's Ian Duke wrote a blog post to discuss why the company felt banning Field of the Dead over some other potential candidates made sense:
"Field of the Dead ramp decks represented 42% of the field at Mythic Championship V and maintain both a high play rate and win rate on MTG Arena and Magic Online. Due to the strength and prevalence of the archetype, its warping effect on the metagame, and the undesirable play patterns it creates, Field of the Dead is banned in Standard. (This includes both Best-of-One and Best-of-Three Standard on MTG Arena.)"
While the ban seems like a necessary one, it remains to be seen just how much an impact it will make on the format. What the post fails to acknowledge is just how prevalent Oko, Thief of Crowns and Nissa, Shaker of Worlds strategies were at Mythic Championship 5, falling only a little behind the Golos and Field of the Dead decks in terms of representation. While Duke does make note of the fact that the company is worried about how strong green planeswalkers are, he suggested the metagame may adjust with the banning of Field of the Dead. With both those cards untouched and unreliant on Field of the Dead, Standard could be heading to an even more stagnant place, however. For Pauper, the Arcum's Astrolabe ban is a solid and welcome addition to a format that doesn't get as much play but was getting unnecessarily warped around the powerful one mana artifact, and should give deck builders a lot of breathing room.
With MTG esports in full swing and MTG Arena representing a huge leap for Wizards of the Coast's digital offerings, Magic: The Gathering is experiencing a renaissance that could lead to thousands of new players picking the game up. Banning oppressive cards like Field of the Dead is a necessary evil in presenting a game that interested parties might want to actually pick up, and we'll find out quickly if Oko or Nissa are next on the chopping block for creating similarly bad play patterns.
Source: Wizards of the Coast