Coach's Corner: Suspended Edition

So, this was supposed to be an article that came out last Saturday, let’s start there. I was traveling for a graduation party, and ended up staying the night. I was out for the day until the article was supposed to come out, so I delayed it a week. It should still be relevant, so here goes nothing.


On Monday, July 13, Magic had bans handed down for Historic, Modern, Pioneer, and Pauper. I’m not going to delve into this much because Dragosi wrote an article that came out the day of; you can read his article here. What I’m going to be talking about actually in this article is the possibility of using Historic’s suspended list in other formats. I’m going to be presenting this solely from a gameplay/format health point of view. I understand there is a finance side that takes effect when bans happen, but that is not something I want to get into. I just want to look at being able to keep formats healthy, while making sure the problem card comes out of the format.


I’m going to use Magic’s article that came out December 10, 2019 as reference, in which they said this at the introduction of the suspended card list;


Historic is evolving rapidly, both from general play and because it’s receiving new cards fairly regularly. To support it properly, we need a way to control the balance that works well with Magic’s history of using bans and restrictions while allowing more flexibility to adjust as Historic changes.


Suspending cards gives us that mechanism. For gameplay purposes, a suspension works like a ban, in that the card will not be legal to use in the format while it is suspended. But unlike how we handle banning cards, we plan to use the flexibility that the digital format provides to move cards onto and off of the suspension list more commonly. The “off of” portion there is important. Suspension isn’t a final verdict, it’s an indication that we think this card may be causing issues, and we’d like to see what the meta looks like without that influence.


Now they’ve specified that this is for online only for the ‘flexibility the digital format provides’. While this is accurate, I do believe the suspension list would do wonders for the other formats, especially with a world situation in which in-person events are currently not safe. In fact, not to take advantage of the current situation, but during this time would be the best time to implement the suspension list to all formats. It would give players a time to be used to the system before we can return to having tourneys around the world in-person. This is sort of the first point I wanted to make in favor of the suspension list. As with any new rules, it takes time for players to get used to and adapt to them.


The more important point I wanted to make in favor of the suspension list was that implementing it would make keeping eternal formats in a healthy position. To me, this should lead to more player trust in Wizards, and help increase the image of Wizards from a gameplay point of view (this is not to say this would completely fix stuff Wizards has done; they are in need of fixing other things away from the game). Let’s think about this from some bans in the eternal formats. Let’s take a look back to when Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis was wreaking havoc on Modern. Wizards, instead of taking out this problem card, banned Bridge from Below, which fixed nothing for the deck that was being played, and it continued it’s reign atop Modern until the Gaak got the kick. Now, there is a popular alternate reasoning to why Bridge got the ban instead of Hogaak (Modern Horizons had just released, the set Hogaak comes from). However, let’s look at a world where the suspension list is in place, and Wizards instead puts Bridge on it. They can spend a few months seeing that Bridge wasn’t the problem as an enabler for Hogaak, but that the card was too strong for Modern. At the next announcement, Bridge comes off the suspension list, Hogaak goes on the banned list, and all is seemingly well. This is a great thing for the format; Wizards can try to take what they believe is the card that needs the boot out, see if they are right, and fix accordingly whether they are right or wrong.


Now, the biggest reasoning I can see against the suspension list I have seen is that it puts people’s financial side in question for Magic. If an expensive card was put on the suspension list, a person may be put in a tough position on if they should sell to get as much out, or hold out and hope it comes back to the format they were playing. To this, in my personal opinion, I have this; I care more about a format’s health than a person’s financial loss over a ban. I want formats to be both healthy and easy to get into from a financial side. I won’t get into the price of staples today, but if that is something you want to see written about, or if you have any comments regarding the idea of the suspension list, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading, and I will see you next week with my article (for real, August 1 I will have an article up and ready).



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