Some huge changes are coming thanks to some banned cards!
The Quarterly Announcement for the upcoming set, Celestial Storm, was recently release. This announcement had no changes or bans for the Standard format. Though, there are going to be changes thanks to a few new bans in the Expanded format. The following cards will be banned in the Expanded format: Ghetsis (Black & White—Plasma Freeze), Hex Maniac (XY—Ancient Origins), Puzzle of Time (XY—BREAKpoint, 109/122), Wally (XY—Roaring Skies, 94/108).
Why are they banned?
Below is an explanation for each ban from Pokemon.
- The overall goal of the Expanded format is to have a fun environment where players can enjoy using a wide variety of strategies. Ghetsis and Hex Maniac were identified as cards that stifle creativity and prevent several kinds of strategies from being viable. These cards also have the potential to make a major negative impact on an opponent before they get a chance to take their first turn, which can lead to a frustrating experience. Wally enables a combo with Trevenant that creates similar problems, so it falls into this category as well. Without these cards in the environment, hopefully gameplay will become more enjoyable.
- Puzzle of Time is a flexible card that can be used in a wide variety of strategies. Its usage rate is quite high in popular decks, and it enables a lot of powerful combos. Removing this card from the environment will affect how many decks are constructed, which will hopefully make the Expanded format feel fresh and different.
The idea behind the banning of Ghetsis, Hex Maniac and Wally are to ensure that both players are having an enjoyable experience playing.
Ghetsis has been used on the first turn to prevent the opponent from using any items. This is done by making the player shuffle their Items back into their deck. Ghetsis limits the options that the opponent has for the early game. This card is so strong during turn one that it can make it impossible for the opponent to recover from. Using Ultra Ball to grab a Tapu Lele GX for a draw Supporter? Gone! All thanks to Ghetsis being played on the first turn.
Hex Maniac prevents the use of abilities by both players. The problem is that whoever uses Hex Maniac has the advantage to play their abilities before turning them off. The other player is now stuck without the use of abilities to advance their board state. What makes this even worst is that cards like VS Seeker and Puzzle of Time. These cards can continue to lock the opponent from abilities for many turns. Some talented players can use Hex Maniac to ability lock their opponent every turn. This can lead to a one sided battle.
Wally can be used to set up Trevenant on the first turn before the opponent can do anything. Trevenant can use Forest Curse to lock the opponent from using Items if Trevenant is in the active. The inability to use Items can prevent the opponent from setting up their field. This will allow the Trevenant player the ability to win without giving the opponent a fighting chance.
Lastly, Puzzle of Time can be used in several strategies that involve grabbing cards from the Discard. Though this has started to make certain player adapt a reckless play style that involves careless resource management. Puzzle of Time allows you to retrieve two cards from your Discard if you play two Puzzle of Time at the same time. This have allow certain decks such as Zoroark GX decks to simply discard cards without worrying about the consequences. They would use Trade to discard cards in order to draw needed cards. They will then follow up with Puzzle of Time to grab what they need from the Discard to complete their combo.
One of the most popular strategies involving Puzzle of Time is Red Card-Hex Maniac. This strategy will allow them to put their and their opponent’s hand to four. Once done it will limit their opponent’s resources and hand. Next they will use Trade to expand their hand. They will then use Hex Maniac. This will prevent their opponent from using abilities that will help them gain more cards. Lastly, they will use Puzzle of Time to retrieve Red Card or Hex Maniac to do the soft lock again. Puzzle of Time can also be used to retrieve one of these cards if they were discarded earlier due to Trade.
This type of reckless resource management is something that Pokemon wishes to prevent from happening. That is why they are banning Puzzle of Time to help players find different strategies while encourage healthier play styles.
This ban will not be in effect until August 17th, 2018. If you are going to play in any Expanded events at Worlds then you will need to remember these new changes.
Please note that while Puzzle of Time and Wally are banned in the Expanded format but they are allowed in the Standard format. This will be hold true until August 31st, 2018. After that date they will rotate out of Standard and into Expanded where they are banned.