Over the course of the Road to Nationals season, and reaffirmed by the results of the Calling Las Vegas, Chane, Bound by Shadow has clearly emerged as the best performing hero in Classic Constructed.
As demonstrated by Tyler Horspool who won the Calling Las Vegas with his innovative Prism control deck, Chane can be beaten, and in fact Tyler beat Chane 7 times on his way to lifting the winner's trophy. Saying that, we believe Chane's current power level is oppressive to the viability of other aggressive decks, and to be frank, has consistent play patterns that are proving unfun to play against and spectate.
We believe that removing Seeds of Agony from the Classic Constructed format will be positive for the tournament experience while not eliminating Chane's viability as a player in the metagame. Chane will have to work harder to enable his current game plan, allowing other aggressive decks to compete, which we believe supports a more positive game experience.
Unhallowed Rites is another card that we are watching closely. The ability to recur Howl From Beyond multiple times over the course of a game is an engine that enables Chane to repetitively output damage above the normal cost matrix. Unhallowed Rites is on the Classic Constructed watchlist.
The last Blitz season was Skirmish season 2, that ran soon after the release of Monarch. During that season, Chane was the second best performing hero. It was a period of time when Chane was new and the best build of deck was still being refined by players around the world. Since then, players have mastered Chane, and refined the deck. With Skirmish season 3 starting in November, we believe that removing Seeds of Agony from the Blitz format will support a more positive player experience.
- Seeds of Agony is banned (Effective September 24, 2021)
- Seeds of Agony is banned (Effective September 24, 2021)
Why now? Tales of Aria might fix it
Yes, we expect the Ice mechanics featured in Tales of Aria to be effective at combating Chane's primary game plan by slowing him down. We also expect Chane to remain a big part of the metagame despite this. As it stands, we feel there is a risk that the metagame could become very narrow for the National Champs season beginning October 23, and that the best decision is to act now. We want to give players as much time as possible to prepare for National Champs, and we believe it would be completely unreasonable to ban a card mid-way through the National Champs season. We feel the options are to act now, or not until National Champs season has concluded. We are choosing to act now.
How did this seed grow to become the monster it is?
During the development of Monarch, we were planning for a significant season of limited format Calling events, and mid-year National Champs featuring Monarch booster draft. The prolonged status of covid wrecked these plans, with Monarch limited Calling events that were scheduled for Taipei, Singapore, and Melbourne all cancelled, and the US Calling series being pushed back to begin with Tales of Aria. National Champs also got pushed back to Q4.
The lesson for us is we put too much focus on balancing Chane for Monarch booster draft during development at the cost of Classic Constructed in particular. We knew, and wanted, Chane to be a top performing deck in constructed formats. He is the face of Shadow at this point in time, a key figure in the Monarch story arc, the "villain" every good story needs. Considerations such as Chane having 3 intellect, less than 20/40 health, no arsenal, variations to his activated ability, and the costing of some of his cards were all considered. In hindsight, the mistake was reducing the resource cost of both Seeds of Agony and Rift Bind during booster draft development, to enable these 2 commons to form the core of the primary Chane draft archetype.
Why ban cards when there's Living Legend?
The purpose of the Living Legend policy isn't to act only as a safety value to purge overpowered decks from the format. It is primarily supposed to serve as a roll of honor, to recognize excellence over the history of the game, and to refresh the metagame from time to time. To that end, we don't view Living Legend as being something that will eventually "clean up the mess". Without Seeds of Agony, we expect Chane to continue his march towards Living Legend status. We believe that without Seeds of Agony, that can happen in a more positive way.
We made a mistake. This card was added to Tales of Aria late in development (it's not part of the core Elemental theme of the set), for its flavour. It was a call back to Monarch's war of Light vs Shadow, being the Demonastery's counterpart to another iconic weapon of Rathe; Solana's Dawnblade.
Unfortunately Duskblade was not subjected to the Classic Constructed testing process it should have been, particularly being a weapon, that starts in play and influences every turn of the game. Duskblade invalidates control strategies in Classic Constructed, where over the course of a long game it reliably accumulates upwards of 10 counters.
We believe Duskblade can find its place in Blitz, as the nature of the format leads to shorter games due to the presence of top performing aggressive and combo decks such as Ira, Dorinthea, and Kano. We will be watching results closely. Duskblade is on the Blitz watchlist.
We apologize and feel embarrassed for this mistake, and are taking learnings from it to better improve our development processes.
The upcoming National Champs season, running in 25 countries around the world, is shaping up to be an incredible tournament season. We are taking pre-emptive action in the interest of supporting a healthy and enjoyable National Champs season, by removing Duskblade from the Classic Constructed format.
- Duskblade is banned (Effective September 24, 2021)
Could banned cards ever be unbanned?
As the card pool grows, we will regularly review the cards on the banned and restricted list, and welcome them back to gaming tables if we believe that would be positive for the format and create good gaming experiences.
The next banned and restricted announcement will be on December 14, 2021.