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Restoring First Edition - Part 3, Eliminating the X-list

by Nick Fancher, First Edition Rules Master

15th June 2010

Part 1 of this series made it clear that using a ban list to solve First Edition’s problems was insufficient. So why is there a ban list in the Official Tournament Format (OTF)? We looked at the strengths and weaknesses of banning cards. The major strength is the removal of bad cards from the game, eliminating many negative strategies. The weakness is it is not actually a fix, and banning can only deal with card-based issues. If a series of cards caused the issue, the whole group has to be banned to eliminate the issue.

However, once we found solutions for all the issues in the rules structure of First Edition (see Part 2 of this series), we noticed that problem cards were not being dealt with at all. Since the majority of the issues that casual players see are due to problem cards, we needed to add something. It had to meet two major requirements: it had to actually take care of the problem and it had to keep the spirit of OTF (getting back to the heart of the game while adding nothing to it). The only thing that met both criteria was a ban list.

So if a ban list was what we needed, how could we do a ban list differently? What could we change to do it right this time, while still reassuring the significant number of players who are against banning cards? We do this by redefining what it means for a card to be "banned." Instead of a ban list being the place problem cards go to die, it instead becomes a sort of “penalty box” where cards serve a time out until they are not problems any more. We decided that our goal would be to have zero cards on the ban list. Cards that are banned become the top priorities for those volunteers working on errata. Once a card gets an erratum, it is removed from the ban list.

So how will that work? Every couple months we will release a group of cards with errata, made up of the worst cards on the banned card list, and a few important others. In fact, the first round of errata will be released in the next couple weeks. There are some big names on this first list: Wormhole, Amanda Rogers, and Caretaker’s Array for starters. We might even drop a bit more of a preview on you once playtesting is a little closer to being finished. You will love how many old school cards are going to be coming back to the game.

Unfortunately, as cards come off the ban list, more will have to be added. First Edition players are masters at finding the odd combo or obscure card to make their deck work. So as we fix one issue, another will be found. That is okay, because we will ban and fix that problem too. Eventually we will have a balanced game and no banned cards. It is going to take a little patience and some hard work to get there. While this will not solely be because of OTF and the banned card list, they will have paved the road that took us there.

-djl-


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