Welcome back to another edition of the Epic Experiment!
For anyone out there who may not be an avid Commander player, there was a banned and restricted announcement made on Monday, September 13th, 2021. I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts on the banning. This will be a little different than what I normally write, but I wanted to share my thoughts. Let’s get down to business.
What Did They Ban?
The Rules committee issued an announcement where they banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. Let’s break down why Golos got the ban hammer:
- Golos was the best 5 colour Commander for lower and medium power level decks. Golos means that the diversity was lacking from the meta and that Golos was by far and away the most popular Commander in the last 2 years according to EDHrec.com. The Rules committee wants to promote further diversity so Golos had to go.
- The play pattern is problematic because the fact that Golos fetches a land means that it can help offset the Commander tax. This accelerates decks in a way that produces way too much consistency.
- Golos creates a negative play pattern because once the Golos player can stick his Commander, untap, and activate the ability, players essentially no longer need to cast spells from their hand.
So, the combination of choking out other decks, accelerating decks through fetching up lands, and allowing decks to cheat on the casting costs of decks were all reasons for the Golos ban.
A Deck Builder’s Dream
I have to come out and say that this particular banning was not one that I support. I don’t believe for a second that Golos needed to be banned and this looks to me like a poor choice. Let’s break down my reasons along similar lines to what the Rules Committee asserted in their banning.
Golos was the best 5 colour Commander. I will agree with their assessment, but the reason he was the best 5 colour Commander is because he was versatile and could allow countless different strategies to be played. While there are 7600 decks listed on EDHrec.com, many of these decks are very distinct from one another. It is very difficult to assert that these Golos decks all looked and played the same. One deck could have been a tribal deck, the next a landfall deck, and lastly a Maze’s End deck all while having Golos played as a Commander.
The argument that these decks choke out the creativity and don’t leave room for other sorts of decks is misplaced because the Golos were the other decks. You could literally pick any theme, grab Golos as a Commander, and you were off the races.
Does this seem less desirable for a meta? Yes, but I don’t think it is intrinsically bad. 50 shades of Golos actually seems like a fun deck building challenge.
Talking Rule Zero
The other problem is that the Commander community has spent considerable time debating the value and merits of the pre-game conversation, or ‘Rule 0’ conversation. If Golos is a problem in your local meta, then it is time to sit down with your play group and have a conversation about the card.
Now, the default position is to exclude Golos because he is banned, and if a player had a Golos deck built, they must negotiate with the table in order to be able to play their deck. The Rules Committee has decided that most players are unable to handle that Rule 0 discussion themselves and must now have what deck they are going to play be decreed. This doesn’t sit well with me and suggests that the Rules Committee may have lost touch with the broader community to some degree.
The issue surrounding the play pattern is very difficult to refute because Golos absolutely mitigates the punishment of Commander tax. That is an issue. However, the act of banning Golos for this sort of stated reason is inconsistent with the way the banned list has operated in the past. Golos is now the only Commander that can effectively help cheat itself into play that has been banned. Other Commanders that can circumvent the Commander tax are allowed to continue to be played. Cards like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, Extus, Oriq Overlord, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and Omnath, Locus of Creation, which can all help reduce their casting cost or have mechanisms to help recoup your mana, are still an issue. This is the sort of inconsistency that drives players crazy and makes them wonder what the process, and testing that go into these decisions were.
In essence, where is the transparency? In constructed formats, it is possible to measure the impact of a particular card and then watch WoTC move accordingly. With Commander, it is totally unclear how the decision was made.
The Usual Suspects
Let us speak of the other Commanders that have been banned by the Rules Committee. The actual Commanders that have been banned all have something in common. They ruin the fun of others: Leovold, Emissary of Trest, Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Rofellos, and Braids, Cabal Minion.
Leovold, Emrakul, and Braids deprive your opponents of their resources either by denying them cards or by making them sacrifice their permanents. Griselbrand and Rofellos provide too many resources too quickly, ending the game little ability for response. These all ruin the game for the rest of the pod.
Does Golos do any of that? No.
In fact, Golos has no effect on the players on the other side of the table and they can carry on playing their game. The Golos player can generate a lot of value off of Golos, but it still requires a seven mana activation to use. There can be lots of scenarios where they only hit one card that they can even play or whiff entirely. There are lots of situations where the board state of the game may need to be addressed, and rolling the dice on the top three cards of their deck is a risky proposition.
So, why is the pod not addressing and keeping the Golos deck in check with regular, sustained pressure where the Golos player is targeted and put under pressure? If any deck is just allowed to do its thing, of course it will generate value and win. So why is Golos any different? It isn’t, but someone out there sure thinks it is.
So, the long and the short of things is that I don’t think Golos should have been banned. Golos can be addressed through many channels, both before and during the game. I feel quite strongly that this banning was not with the best interest of the player base at heart and is instead a reflection of a small number of players grinding an axe. I would much rather see the Rules Committee issue some sort of statement encouraging play groups to consider using their own discretion over the use of Golos and make their own determinations.
Well, there we are folks. Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts on the latest Banned announcement for Commander. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Commander picks or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!
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