Announcement Date: 2/21/2019
Effective Date: 2/28/2019
The list of all other banned cards for each format is here.
Next B&R Announcement: August 2019
The above changes to the Classic Banlist will be in effect for all Reborn Circuit events as well as the Tabletop Simulator Ladder upon launch.
Classic is affectionately known as the “Wild West” of WoW TCG. It has always been the place that if you owned a card, you knew you could play it. While Upper Deck supported Classic, during Cryptozoic’s reign the format was virtually unsupported; completely ignored except to briefly mention it in their Game Policy and run a few side events. So even if players wanted it was impossible to find the same competitive space in which to play Classic compared to the likes of Core, Contemporary, and Limited. However, just prior to the game’s untimely demise the Metamart added Classic as a regular format to its cash prize tournament circuit. And this changed things for the format.
With the big names and competitive teams of WoW TCG competing for cash Classic began to settle into a visible meta filled with the most powerful decks. Far from being solved, the Classic format wasn’t completely unsolved either. The decks that made the cut at the Metamart events in Phoenix, St. Louis, and Syracuse showed promising signs of evolution in the format but also plenty of repetition. A meta was establishing that set a pretty high entry bar for any deviant list that wanted to enter the Classic arena.
Our hope and goal with Reborn where Classic’s banlist is concerned is to keep the “Wild West” feel of Classic while reducing negative play experiences, eliminating cards that are simply too good, and keeping things fresh. No ban is irreversible, new cards will be entering the pool, and we will be revisiting our decisions twice a year.
Questing For Misery and Deficit
Classic, sadly, is the only place where quests are good enough to play in substantial numbers even without mounts or other cards that interact with them. Many decks rely on quests to stifle opposing cards, refill their hands, or enable some unique strategy. And most everyone agrees that this is healthy and good. The problem arises when after 10 minutes of watching your opponent fiddle with their graveyard or top of their deck as they complete their fifteenth quest on the third turn they inform you that you’ve either lost the game, they concede, or you’re released from your duties as a spectator and may now take your turn. Gee, thanks!
Aquatic Form and Unending Breath are the cards that create these kinds of scenarios. You can read a brief description of how Unending Breath wins its games here. Aquatic Form uses a completely different win condition in Uruka the Cutthroat but features the same obnoxiously long turns and miserable play experience. If you’ve followed Classic for long these bans won’t come as a shock to you. Neither card is over the top in terms of power, but both of them are the exact opposite of what you want to sit across from if you’re looking to have a good time. Good riddance.
Looking back at the Metamart events, despite the evolving meta, one thing never changed: Warlocks were dominant. There are currently ten playable classes in WoW TCG and if asked to create a tier list it’s hard to imagine anyone excluding Warlock from the top. They have been an ever-present force throughout the history of the game and offered a competitive deck during each Core format. With powerful pet allies, cheap targeted discard, unbiased removal, board sweepers, great hero flips, playable card draw, and efficient burn there is little that Warlock can’t do well. And so Warlocks as a class was the starting point for us as we seek to shake up the format.
But why Hesriana? For starters, she’s busted on a power to cost level. But we don’t have to start there. Hesriana is the gatekeeper for allies that would show up in Classic. Let’s just rattle off some allies that really struggle to see the light of day as a result of Hesriana:
Aashnar, Frost Herald
Archdruid Fandral Staghelm
Mikael the Blunt
.. to name just a few. Basically any ally that you need to untap with to use is a liability in a format where Hesriana exists. Your deckbuilding choices with her around are the following: 1) Ignore her. Put as many good targets as you like in your deck and just overload her options. 2) Build around her. Only include allies that accomplish their goal as they’re played (Commander Ulthok) or ones that she can’t kill/target (Dethvir the Malignant). 3) Don’t play allies. And that’s not what we want your options to be.
Now, back to how she’s busted. WoW TCG as a game has always required paying a little more for its ally removal compared to similar titles. The reason for this is because ally combat self corrects the problem of boards getting overpopulated since they can just hit each other. If UDE and Crypto had printed super cheap removal alongside this combat system the gameplay would have suffered. And so the going rate for ally removal became 1-cost: typically damage-based, kills allies with cost 1-3. 2-cost: sometimes damage-based, kills allies with cost 1-4 but has a drawback to play. 3-cost: typically kills allies often regardless of their cost or size. 4-cost: typically kills allies regardless of their cost or size and includes some additional upside. Hesriana completely ignores this progression by removing their ally from the game (objectively superior to destroying them) regardless of cost or size, offering a 2/3 Demon (relevant) body with new abilities, and providing a massive tempo swing.
So it’s with the dominance of Warlock as a class, the power level of the card, and for the sake of the other allies waiting their turn to come into the format that we have decided to ban Hesriana.
Envoy of Mortality
Looking back again to the 2012 Metamart series, we find another ever-present contender making its way into each top cut. But unlike Warlock which was a dominant class, this is just one very specific and very powerful deck (with slight variations of course). There was a time when Blue Hunter was a fresh and necessary hero of the format... before it became ubiquitous. It showed up to crush Mages and contend with Warlocks. But now with Hesriana leaving Warlocks are losing their best card in the Hunter matchup. Hesriana’s removal wasn’t damage-based, she kept the ally from receiving Finkel Einhorn reanimation, checked all the 2/x allies with her 2/3 body, could snag aberration thus providing immunity to Ring of Trials, offered a much needed tempo swing, and made opposing Ashnaar’s and Weldon’s a real liability. The games that Warlock won decisively against Hunter were often on the back of a well-timed Hesriana or two. With Hesriana bidding farewell, so also is the decent matchup against Hunter that Warlock enjoyed.
Hitting a piece from Hunter wasn’t really hard. When you have two publishers designing the same game but in different eras you will get these kinds of mistakes. There is little chance that Cryptozoic had Envoy of Mortality in mind when they designed the Worgen race and their Aberration keyword. To put it politely, Envoy of Mortality has the most disgusting cost to damage ratio of any weapon in the game. Not to mention the words Long-Range that quietly lurk in its text box. Pair the weapon with a deck full of early allies that let you ignore its only drawback and you have an unparalleled tempo deck capable of keeping the opponent’s board clear while pressuring the opposing hero. Ring of Trials is of course worth bringing up as it abuses the same mechanics, but Ring of Trials takes a bit more work with both requiring counters and allowing your opponent to choose their champion. It’s a powerful effect to be sure, but it’s not a 4/(1) Long-Range weapon for (2).
So it is due to the power level of Envoy of Mortality, the removal of one of Hunter’s most feared cards in Hesriana, and the goal of diversity in the Classic format that we have decided to remove Envoy.
As previously stated, Hunter showed up as a white knight to defend the Classic format against the Mages that dominated it for a long time. But with its natural predator losing a major tool and its decent matchup (Warlock) losing one of their best cards, Mage is poised to take over the format again. The bannerfly effect is real. But if you’re touching Mage as a class, what do you remove? Do you single out the Slow Mage decks by removing Slow or Flickers From the Past? Do you try and hit the midrange lists as well by targeting their interrupts?
We feel that removing Blizzard accomplishes the goal of toning Mage down while allowing it to remain a contender. To be clear: Blizzard is not an overpowered card. Not on the same level as Hesriana and Envoy anyway. It does have powerful synergies with other cards like Muradin Bronzebeard, Ice Barrier, Flickers From the Past, and Myriam Starcaller. But we still feel like the power level of the card is fine, at least not too strong to warrant a ban. So why ban it then?
There is a secondary reason we selected Blizzard over something else. It’s pretty unfun to play against. There are a lot of ways to deal with Blizzard from answering it directly to making your opponent react to something you’re doing. But at the end of the day, nobody enjoys being walled off of winning by your opponent recycling a bunch of Blizzards over the course of ten turns or them pairing one with a win condition that you can never deal with due to your allies being locked out of the game.
So at the end of the day we decided to remove Blizzard from the format to hit Mage as a class and because it creates negative play experiences.
Anub’arak, the Traitor King
This is one of the cards that we don’t have 2011/2012 Metamart data to point back to. Anub’arak, the Traitor King is a newcomer from Reign of Fire that showed up just in time to see zero play in Classic as the game declined shortly after its printing. Over the course of the past six years some people have thrown it in decks for casual play while others swear by it as a viable card in competitive play, but at the end of the day there is a serious lack of hard evidence showing why Anub’arak is a problem. But between the card’s dominance in our first event in Indianapolis and anecdotal evidence observed through extensive play testing, we have deemed the card too powerful for Classic.
Decks like Spider Solitaire fill their graveyard with such speed and at such a low cost - often just at the cost of placing a resource - that Anub’arak is almost always a 2-cost 6/6 Protector. But it’s not the fear of a second turn 6/6 that led us to ban Anub’arak, it’s the mid turns and recursive nature of the Monster ally that causes a problem. Many Classic games come down to who asserts dominance in the middle of the game by playing two cards in a single turn. It is more common to stay ahead in Classic than regain lost ground. And being able to play a massive threat in Anub’arak plus do something else is extremely powerful. With Hesriana leaving the format, the Beetle King is also losing a natural predator and we don’t want to further require people to play Undercity decks. With all the stress-free graveyard enablers in the format, he is simply too much - another card designed for the Core and Contemporary formats without its impact on Classic in mind, despite him being a Scourge.
Winter Veil Disguise Kit
This one is short and sweet. Winter Veil Disguise Kit doesn’t do what the text box says it does. And that’s a problem. In addition to this, when the card is used (hopefully the pilot at least knows its real text) it is part of some combos that permanently lock your opponent out of combat. Already on the Core and Contemporary banlists, we welcome Disguise Kit to yet another format where it can’t be played.
The Watch List
In addition to the bans we’d like to just mention a few cards that you might be surprised to see sticking around. But take off the tin foil hat, just because we have our eyes on something doesn’t mean it’s actually in line to get the axe.
With no changes in Core or Contemporary, it doesn’t mean that the formats are perfect. We have several cards we are watching in each including The Last Relic of Argus for its interaction with themes and keywords of the upcoming Block 8, Ashenvale for its unparalleled cost reduction, and a few other cards from Reign of Fire that have a lot of potential to prove themselves too powerful. Remember that Viewless Wings was a sleeper at first.
In Classic we have eyes on a few cards including Unholy Power and PX-238 Winter Wondervolt. Toward the end of the Metamart tournament series three players managed to mur-lock a top 8 finish off the back of the Wondervolt combo deck. What we didn’t get the chance to see is if the format can easily adapt to the combo or if it is too consistent and difficult to meaningfully interact with. Time will tell, but we don’t want to cut out the only viable combo deck without giving it a chance to show us why that’s necessary.
When Chaos becomes more established there will almost definitely be a banlist. For now, we don’t want to speak out of turn about the contents of such a list. Further developing the Chaos format might include an initial banlist that will be separate from these scheduled announcements.