The Global Operations Team’s Design Committee is excited to present our first official update to the Standard Format’s restricted list. To start, we would like to outline our general ethos as it pertains to decisions about what cards make appearances on this list and in what manner.
First, you’ll notice that we are continuing the use of both single card restrictions and pods, just as in the recently released restricted lists for the Melee format and Valyrian joust variant. When cards are restricted, this is typically for one of two reasons. Firstly, when cards are significantly above-curve, such that they restrict design space. And secondly, cards that, at a current time, are ubiquitous or otherwise limiting diversity in the meta. The former is likely a long-term resident on the list whereas the latter is likely more temporary.
Pods are also more likely to be long-term additions to the list. This is because podding is specifically deployed to isolate abusive interactions between otherwise fair cards. The goal of pods is to remove unfair or abusive combinations while maintaining the availability of the individual cards for use in other situations. The idea is to make the decks that have featured the podded cards more balanced or fair, not to eliminate them from the meta, if that is at all possible.
That said, here is a discussion of the updates to the Standard Joust Restricted List:
The Night’s Watch faithful will be glad to see The Wall (Core) is being released from the list. While we were happy to see the diversity the restriction brought to the Night’s Watch faction, we do believe that it has also limited the faction competitively. Given that the purpose of the original restriction was to limit the ubiquity (and efficacy) of Builders decks, we have replaced The Wall (Core) with Brandon’s Gift. This is a card specifically used by Builders, and thus still forces a decision between it and Exchange of Information in many Builders decks. We hope this will bring a competitive boost to a struggling faction without wiping out the important diversity gains.
At the opposite end of the competitive meta right now is Tyrell – and as such, we have decided to add The Bounty of Highgarden to the restricted list. This was a complicated decision for the Design Committee, but we ultimately decided this was the correct call to manage the ascendent Tyrell – Kingsguard (both via The White Book and Banner of the Lion agendas) and the already somewhat infamous Tyrell – The Many-Faced God decks. This restriction makes those decks choose between this powerful (and, sometimes, repeatable) econ boost unrivalled in other houses, the very strong City plot line, or any of the other strong restricted plots. We have also taken other steps to address the oppressive Kingsguard efficiencies (which we will discuss in more depth below), and while we have not taken action against the Tyrell – The Many-Faced God decks beyond this shot across the bow, we are closely watching the trait manipulation interactions available to the deck and are prepared to act quickly if necessary.
While the changes to the restricted portion are limited, the addition and alteration of pods has produced more extensive changes. First, we corrected what we tentatively saw as an overreaction in the previous restricted list to the beast known as Lanni-Kraken. The podding of The Bowels of Casterly Rock and Nightflyer effectively removed this deck from the meta altogether. This is what we are trying not to do with pods moving forward unless it is absolutely necessary. Therefore, we are scaling back the pod targeted at this deck to instead be Nightflyer and Cersei Lannister (DitD). We believe this is a lighter and healthier pod to limit the deck’s abusiveness without removing it from the game entirely. This change keeps Lanni-Kraken viable while forcing it to make a more meaningful decisions in how it limits opponents (deciding whether it attacks their economy or their hand). The original version of the deck regularly emptied hands, destroyed economies, then reset the board and left opponents helpless, often forcing them to concede even if they were far ahead in the power count because their ability to play the game had been removed. This pod means that the deck can no longer assault its opponent on both fronts and so improves the counterplay options the opponent has.
Beyond that revision, there are two entirely new pods in this update. The first we’ll discuss is the pod of Aloof and Apart and Risen from the Sea. It’s no secret that Greyjoy – Aloof decks have been able to dominate games with little nuance in the deckbuilding portion for some time. Their access to powerful, cheap bodies, free character cancel, location control, and the most saves in the game can make the deck a beast to deal with. The reason we chose to pod these specific cards is because of Risen from the Sea’s ability to mitigate the only drawback of the Aloof and Apart agenda. The agenda is supposed to confer economic advantages for playing strong characters while incentivizing their removal by the opponent. The issue with the Greyjoy faction in general in regard to this agenda is their glut of save cards that allows them not only to avoid their opponent’s removal but be so efficient in saving their big characters that they still offensively deploy Valar Morghulis. This means that Greyjoy – Aloof decks not only get to build indomitable boards cheap, but they get to build them to last. We believe this pod will leave the faction appropriately susceptible to strong resets, making their decks more balanced when they choose to use this agenda.
Finally, the last new addition to the list is a pod of House Florent Knight and the new event, Burning Bright. The new Tyrell – Banner of the Lion decks that use Ser Boros Blount, Burning Bright, and other new Kingsguard and Rainbow Guard cards have been successful in both building their board and devastating opponent boards by carrying out multiple House Florent Knight Triggers during turns where At the Palace of Sorrows is up to remove key opposing characters. The Design Committee believes, at this time, that the interaction between House Florent Knight and At the Palace of Sorrows is fair in situations where costs are paid. The abuses come when the House Florent Knight is able to be flung into play (especially multiple times) without paying its fair and significant cost. This was the reasoning behind the At the Palace of Sorrows and To the Rose Banner pod, and it is the reasoning for this one as well.
The Design Committee tried to make this a substantial update without making too many titanic shifts. It has been a while since the last one, so the goal was to freshen things up. As more tournaments get under way, the Design Committee will watch closely and is prepared to act if there are any unhealthy or imbalanced elements that become apparent. As before, our goal is to maintain a healthy, fun, and diverse meta that provides a wealth of effective, competitive options, and we welcome your feedback.
Good luck, have fun,
The Design Committee