Announcement Date: September 6, 2019
Effective Date: 9/13/2019
Previous Reborn Banlist Announcements:
February 2019 (Classic Only)
The list of all other banned cards for each format is here.
Next Banlist Announcement: February 2020
* Please note that upon reviewing WoW TCG’s history of handling problem cards, we have decided to avoid restricting cards and are instead sticking solely with a banlist for the time being.
The Last Relic of Argus
When we peer back in time to the 2013 WoW TCG meta where Reign of Fire and the Timewalker Crafted cards failed to see large-scale play in the competitive arena, we have a hard time gauging what the competitive meta could’ve or should’ve looked like. The best we can do is cross reference Cryptozoic’s Continental Championships, the Starcity Games Core Circuit, the 2012 Unofficial Worlds and hope the picture is accurate. While Continentals was mostly aggro and midrange decks, one of the breakout decks that took down SCG Worcester and had a deep run at SCG Cincinnati was an innovative Call of Yogg-Saron combo-control deck. Meanwhile the undefeated deck in both the Core and Contemporary portion of the 2013 Unofficial Worlds was Nick Toth’s Boundless Hellfire / Daedak the Graveborne Warlock control list. The format was trending slower.
The Yogg-Saron list was sweet and the gameplay wasn’t unfair. The deck slowed the game down with removal and armor, drew cards with a giant quest base, and typically won with a Master Hero or combo turn. It was very much a breath of fresh air to the meta. Fast forward five years to Lubbock Texas and two of the Top 4 players in their Core Invitational offered their take on a Valeera / The Last Relic of Argus control deck. Their list was also sweet and creative breathing life back into Crime Scene Alarm-O-Bot and using a giant Master Hero package to close the game (if the opponent didn’t scoop immediately to the Alarm-O-Bot lock).
In the last 8 months of the Reborn Circuit, players have also played various control decks utilizing The Last Relic of Argus and occasionally Valeera. Nathan Cole has really enjoyed it alongside Hammer of Atonement like in the Contemporary deck he used for Reborn Chicago and has played some variation of it at almost every Core and Contemporary event. I used it back at Reborn Louisville with nearly the exact same list Nick Toth used to go undefeated in both constructed formats of the 2013 Unofficial Worlds. This year at GenCon, Stefan Giovanni coasted to the finals of the Core event with a Death Knight mill deck featuring the full four Last Relics while Joe Kleptz did the same in Contemporary with his Priest mill combo deck. So, the picture I’m painting is that the card is good, and viable in a lot of decks. Big deal?
What pushes the card over the edge this time around is three things:
1) An unparalleled rate.
2) A new (old) era of set design.
3) A negative player experience.
Compared to the rest of the Cryptozoic era cards The Last Relic of Argus is really in a class of its own. The days of “You play 1 less to complete quests” being on cheap costed cards was thought to have died with Scourgewar Block. Even in our quest-focused set Into the Mists we couldn’t bring ourselves to return to the Mounts of old and worded ours a little differently. The four resource entry fee on Emerald Emissary and Fossilized Raptor was laughable compared to the effects and rate of Deathcharger and Dreadsteed. But The Last Relic was a blast from the past which is often a good thing. In this case, however, it was too much of a good thing.
Quest cost reducers are usually somehow restricted like with the Mount (1) tag but copies of Relic can be played to your heart’s desire with stacking effect. Quest cost reducers are usually allies which makes them inherently easier to answer but Relic being an Equipment dodges most removal and offers its pilot lower risk board wipes. Quest cost reducers usually have an effect that is somewhat limited but Relic’s healing power is almost always applicable. The Last Relic of Argus ignores many of the standard quest cost reduction conventions and for the low cost of 2 often gives its pilot a net gain in terms of resources. After completing five quests, you’ve gained three “mana” and fifteen life. Imagine something like this existing (this is not parallel, just food for thought):
Secondly, with Mists of Pandaria Block and moving forward we are putting out nearly as many quests per set as there were per block during Cryptozoic’s time with the game. And we’re skewing the rates on the quests back to UDE days as well. With mechanics like Rediscover, more quests in the pool, and a better rate on the available quests in Core and Contemporary The Last Relic of Argus will just continue to grow more and more powerful.
And to the third and last point, The Last Relic of Argus creates a negative player experience. This one is a bit stretchy and we could certainly get to the ban based on arguments of power level alone, but it’s worth mentioning that watching the opposing hero go from a single digit health total back to full while drawing a full grip is a miserable experience. Normally in an aggro versus control scenario, the control player stabilizes the board and gets way ahead on cards, but the aggro player has some hope that somehow some way they can get those final points of damage in. The Last Relic completely does away with this age-old and healthy drama, arguably better than Classic Format all star Voice of Reason.
So it’s with the future of the game looking to have real quests in real quantities, the growing ubiquity of the card, the power level and rate, and the potential for aggro decks to be completely edged out of both formats, The Last Relic of Argus is banned in Core and Contemporary.
Legacy of the Horde
Sometimes when I look at Reign of Fire cards I wonder to myself, “Did they playtest this set?” I’ve never really heard for sure either way, but in a lot of ways that entire set just screams YOLO and in most cases it’s awesome! Who wants their final set to be a meat and potatoes snooze fest that everyone will soon forget? Definitely not Reign of Fire’s design team!
But while the creativity was awesome, the power level on a few of the cards was a big question mark. One of the questionable cards whose power level was quickly realized was Legacy of the Horde. Scott Landis saw its potential for greatness and ran the tables at SCG Baltimore with three copies in his 60 and Patrick Broadway had similar success at Reborn Louisville with Scott’s exact list. You would think that with a list full of the best allies in the format and Doomhammer to pump them they wouldn’t need a curve topper like Legacy. But hear me when I tell you this: Legacy of the Horde is better than Viewless Wings. And that’s the basis for its inclusion on the banlist, but I’ll explain further anyway.
Do you remember the 2012 Viewless Wings meta that dominated both Core and Contemporary? Here’s an example of a Top 8 cut from that time. There was a Tier 0 and it was Viewless Wings. Later, when Grglmrgl was getting out of hand and rumored to be unbeatable, it was a Viewless Wings deck in Distraction Technique that people looked to for a chance at beating the Murloc Hunter. Eventually, due to the power level of several cards from that era, Cryptozoic dropped the ban hammer and among those smashed was Viewless Wings. But Legacy is even stronger.
Viewless Wings was incredibly powerful, but also a bit fiddly. In some ways it could be considered a “win more” card because if you have three allies on the board, you’re obviously in a decent spot anyway. But it just had unrivaled potential for closing out a game and every deck wanted Edwin Vancleef anyway. Out of Distraction Technique, even though you were relying on synergies which can sometimes be a weakness, both Viewless Wings and Distraction Technique wanted lots of bodies so weirdos like Nasala Silvertree became powerhouses. But this is one area in which Legacy of the Horde is better than Viewless Wings: it asks less of you. In the spots where Legacy is being used as a game closer, you get much more mileage out of a single ally than Viewless Wings ever offered. Aggra alone crashes in for SIXTEEN damage compared to the nine with Viewless Wings while Archimonde smashes FOURTEEN damage without even needing to enter combat. You don’t need a board. You just need an ally.
But if all Legacy of the Horde did was double the damage your allies dealt, it would probably be fine. At that point it’s a more expensive Viewless Wings and oh well. However, it also states that your hero deals double damage as well. Edge of Oblivion now swings for 10, Divine Fury shoots for 10, Shadow Word: Death pops allies for 6, and Call of Lightning spreads 10 damage around however you so please.
But if all Legacy of the Horde did was double the damage your allies and hero dealt, it would still probably be fine. At that point it’s a more expensive Viewless Wings that just happens to offer some extra punch on your damage-based abilities and oh well. BUT… it also shrinks all opposing allies, weapons, and damage-based abilities in half. I’m talking about the second line of text of course, but I prefer to think of it in terms of shrinking because we are already thinking about our own stuff with the first clause. So you might say, “Yeah, yeah, our stuff is not only big but also harder to kill.” But instead of thinking about in that way, think about it like this:
Opposing 1/1 allies deal 0 damage.
Opposing 3/3 allies deal 1 damage.
Opposing 5/5 allies deal 2 damage.
Opposing Bottled Spites do 0 damage.
Opposing Poison Bombs do 1 damage total to your board.
Opposing Edwin Vancleefs are 2/3 allies that make 0/1 tokens.
And on and on it goes. Once Legacy of the Horde is on the table, the game is effectively over. And that’s not particularly unusual for a card costing six in this game. Mazu’kon has certainly won its fair share of games on the spot and the aforementioned Viewless Wings combined with Leader of the Pack (also banned) was a turn 6 kill. But Legacy of the Horde has more scenarios in which it can win you the game than any other card of its cost. It simultaneously threatens to kill your opponent at double the rate while also doubling your hero’s health. Does your hero have 10 health remaining? Well now it has 20. Did it have 20 when you played Legacy? Well now it has 40. Even on an empty board facing down a board full of beaters, you get a couple extra turns and now when you untap and drop two allies, they’re twice as large as the opponents allies even if they’re much lower cost. And in the Magical Christmas Land scenario where you have two Legacies out those numbers I mentioned above are all 0 except a 5/5 can now deal 1 damage.
So it’s with the power level of the card, the power level of the card, and the power level of the card that Legacy of the Horde is bid farewell from the Core and Contemporary formats.
No other changes have been made to any of the other formats in terms of banning or unbanning cards. We would love to get feedback on these bans from people who have actually played with these cards and have some insights. Whether you just want to chime in with seething rage as you recall the memory of losing to one of these cards (sometimes used in tandem) or you think we’re way off on the power level of either, feel free to chime in. When designing new cards it is very tempting to look at problems like The Last Relic of Argus and Legacy of the Horde and try to overload new sets with answers. But in the case of these two, we felt that we would be constraining ourselves too much. We couldn’t give Priest or Shaman new damage-based abilities, release hard to answer allies, or make cheap quests. And we want the freedom to do all three. Lastly, while we’ve really cleaned house with this announcement and the last, we hope this coming February’s announcement is much quieter!