I wrote about the same subject earlier this year, but my thoughts have since matured somewhat.
One of the problems is that they seem to be taking away the deckbuilding costs of everything. Have a mana dork that has become useless? Not to worry, Oko will make it an elk. Drawing too many lands? Hey, now they do something else. Not finding targets for your removal? Just play it as a creature. In a way this is good, but they don’t seem to do this in a balanced way, they just push everything.
I guess the biggest problem is that it feels like they’ve forgotten, that the game is supposed to be fun. Now it feels like the fun is one-sided. You can make powerful plays, but from your opponent’s point of view, it’s all just very frustrating.
I mean, there’s a Stax deck in Standard currently.
Sure, one of the worst offenders just got banned and practically took some other cards with it (at least I haven’t seen Agent of Treachery since then).
The problem feels even worse in Draft. You can argue that certain cards are stronger, because they are meant for Standard, but I haven’t seen Folio of Fancies been played outside of Limited. And it wrecks limited. I’ve lost matches, where the opponent just mulliganed to Folio in each game and just milled me out in a few turns. Is that fun? Did no one do the math on this? I mean, it isn’t hard. Someone should have. There’s also…
And the games take forever. Not in the good since, like there’s plenty of decisions, but because the boardstates are overly complicated and food plus high toughness creatures just make games last forever.
They just don’t seem to learn anymore. Or they’ve driven themselves into a corner. They need to ban things, because they don’t test enough, but didn’t they hire a whole team to do just that? Yes, they can’t come up with everything, but certain things are kind of obvious to us, so shouldn’t it be for them as well?
Then we have Standard legal cards, you can’t get from boosters. This is the Nexus of Fate problem. It seemed that they had learned their lesson after that, but… Kenrith is seeing a lot of play. I mean, it was kind of obvious that it would, if you have something like Fires of Invention in your format. That just makes all activated abilities with a manacost so much more powerful.
But that’s not even all. Just now I was reading a decklist on MtGGoldfish. Guess what I saw? Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. So, it wasn’t enough to make a Standard playable Buy-a-Box promo, but you had to make one in Brawl as well. (The decklist.)
How about Pioneer? There’s the scandal of the format having leaked, but that’s not the problem here (although Wizards should do something about that as openly as they legally can). I’m talking about Modern. Okay, Legacy was doomed and has been for a while, but Modern was pretty good. Then they made Modern Horizons.
It was a fun set, but at the same time it seems that they’ve broken the format completely. They already had to ban one card, but it would seem that the format needs a lot of different bans. And they don’t seem to do this very well either. Faithless Looting should have been banned a long time ago, but instead of doing this, they just let people rely on it and build many, many decks that used it.
Of course, they have to be careful with their bans, but they also use very bad reasoning in some cases. They never say it openly, but they clearly aren’t banning certain cards because of their price in the secondary market. I get that they don’t want to destroy equity this way, but what they don’t seem to get is that other players are losing equity, if they don’t take the actions that are needed. If I see a deck dominating a format, I won’t play the format. That means that there will be thousands of euros worth of cards just sitting on my shelf and it means I won’t be attending any tournaments.
All in all, WotC needs to right the ship. Sure, it probably seems everything is fine, because of the influx of Arena players, but how long will that last, if the game is not good?