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Pumping the Brakes on Blitz

This week, LSS released the latest Banned and Suspended update, with only a minor adjustment to Classic Constructed. Blitz, on the other hand, saw some drastic reshaping.

LSS has its sights set firmly on the World Championship in November. The changes made to the Blitz format sent a message that is pretty easy to read: LSS clearly wanted to slow things down in Blitz, as it probably wouldn't be the best look for the penultimate matches of the World Championship being decided by frequent 1 or 2 turn games. With the results of the Nationals Season and Skirmish Season 5 in hand, and three different formats set to share center stage at Flesh and Blood's highest stakes event to date, this was their last chance to tweak things to their liking before the big show.

Before we get to Blitz, let's take a look at the changes hitting other formats.

Even though I felt the most likely B&S outcome for CC was going to be "No Changes", there were a few cards on my radar that I could have seen LSS removing from the format. Pulse of Isenloft was not one of those cards.

Card image of Pulse of Isenloft (Blue)

(Belittle, Channel Lake Frigid, and Crown of Seeds were the leading candidates in my mind- none of which were touched by this latest update.)

The logic LSS gives for the Pulse ban makes plenty of sense. Oldhim is winning a lot, but he isn't dominating Starvo/Cheerios Briar/Seeds Chane style. The old man just needed a little taken off the top. I was surprised that Pulse went straight to being banned rather than just suspended until Oldhim hits Living Legend, but of course LSS knows infinitely more than we do about what is coming in future sets, so perhaps it is for the best.

To me, the current format feels a bit like the Starvo/Prism/Chane meta, where the terms of engagement are mostly known. If you're showing up to a competitive event, you should expect to see plenty of Oldhim, Iyslander, and Fai, along with a smattering of Runeblades and Dromai. While you might be able to get away with poorer matchups into the latter, you definitely need to have a plan versus the current big 3.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

(Ballad of the Banned Bard debuting April, 2023)

Card image of Yorick, Weaver of Tales
Card image of Bloodsheath Skeleta

Bloodsheath Skeleta (in conjunction with Vexing Quillhand) roughly equates to 2 life and 4 resources, enabling turns like Bramble Spark into Earthlore Surge into Stir the Wildwood for 15 damage and 1 arcane with go again without spending any resources from hand.

Card image of Mask of the Pouncing Lynx

Mask of the Pouncing Lynx usually represents a minimum of 5 damage, again without using resources from hand (a common motif among equipment that has been removed from Blitz at this point).

Card image of Storm Striders

Storm Striders is a more special case, and its suspension heavily cripples the ability of Wizards to kill opponents on their own turn. With Storm Striders, Wizards effectively get to play with an extra turn, frequently putting opponents in a lose-lose situation, where expending the resources necessary to threaten relevant or lethal damage to their Wizard opponent means dying to a Striders-fueled arcane onslaught before that damage could land.

Metacarpus Node was my personal choice for a card to nerf the reach of Wizards without crushing them, but suspending Storm Striders is a more surefire way to accomplish the goal of reducing their meta share. (I also have a sneaking suspicion that Storm Striders won't stay gone for too long after Worlds).

Card image of Sonata Arcanix (Red)

The return of Sonata Arcanix is likely to be the least impactful change to Blitz. Briar will appreciate another solid non-attack action to grease the wheels for Embodiments of Lightning, but Chane is probably not interested.

It was also notable that, despite the volume of changes made, both Belittle and Revel in Runeblood escaped without even being mentioned, but it makes sense that they would prioritize equipment over cards that go in a deck for their format changes.

The interactions these newly banned and suspended equipment enable may be fine in Classic Constructed, but in Blitz they comprise some of the biggest offenders for games ending before they really get a chance to start. Blitz will certainly look very different for Worlds, and we'll see if the Wizards can regroup in time- or if Chane, Kassai, or something else entirely will rise up to challenge Oldhim as the de facto best deck.

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