It finally happened! Sigmar has dropped the ban-hammer (or what I like to call it: Ban-Maraz) on some of the more powerful cards in the set resulting in our first ever banned and restricted card list. Reactions online have been mixed but I think the lists are good for the overall health and longevity of the game. Before I get into some of my musings, let's analyze the cards that were included on the lists.
The Ban List:
The three cards featured on this list are arguably three of the most frequent cards you will encounter in competitive decks. Personally, they are usually auto-includes and I, and any other competitive player I know, will rarely leave home without them. As a result, it is no surprise that they are the first inductees in this infamous category.
Great Concussion was the bane of objective based decks. Knocking your opponent off all their objectives at the end of a phase could really put their glory aspirations in check. Furthermore, having the ability to either isolate an enemy fighter who had charged too far ahead or delay an aggressive warband from getting within charge range for another turn was far too powerful. I'm on board.
Although I understand why Quick Thinker was put on the list, I don't think I entirely agree with it. Yes, denying your opponent's charge and move actions is quite powerful, but it only happens one activation. Granted that single activation could be a pivotal point of the match but I enjoyed having a bit more survivability on my low health and low model count warbands. Perhaps it comes down to personal preference as I did enjoy the counter play, but I understand why the card was selected and I can get on board with that.
Lastly, Time Trap being banned makes sense. Turn manipulation is quite powerful and this card significantly increased the likelihood of successful attack/charge actions. Furthermore, you could take out multiple fighters at a time with a double charge. Definitely on board with this one as well.
The Restricted List:
Now we get to the juicy stuff. For those of you who don't know, you can only select a maximum of five cards from the restricted list. This includes objectives, gambits, and upgrades. Right off the bat, you can see this will be a huge shakeup of the meta. As a competitively inclined player, I ran almost all of these cards in my decks. All in all, there are 10 objectives, 7 gambits, and 9 upgrade cards.
Advancing Strike makes total sense, especially for aggressive war bands, as it was too easy to score. Alone In The Darkness is interesting in that it wasn't always an easy score, especially with some of the larger warbands coming out recently. I don't think it had to be on the list. Change of Tactics is one of the easiest cards to score in the game and I anticipate that we will continue to see it in copious amounts. For that reason, its spot is well deserved.
Defensive Strike again was too easy to score, models will be removed from action regardless so its inclusion makes sense. Escalation and Extreme Flank were also some of the easiest cards to score in the game with the former being so easy to score, your opponent could do it for you! The latter, in addition to its poor wording, could be scored without even moving off your starting hexes. Definitely agree with all three of these being on this list.
Fired Up is just like Change of Tactics, easy to score and will probably still see massive play so it deserves its inclusion. Loner is an interesting one in that I rarely ever saw it. I don't think it needed to be on the list but it seems GW is just trying to crack down on position based scoring. Perfect Planning is a huge hit to defensive styled play, especially for Steelheart's Champions. Again, I don't think it needed to be on the list, especially with Quick Thinker being banned, but it seems as if GW wants the game to be more interactive. Precise Use of Force is another easy to score card and its inclusion totally makes sense.
Earthquake is also a no-brainer, especially after the Great Concussion ban. Its going to be an auto include as it is the only card that can consistently stop objective based warbands from scoring. Granted your opponent can then earthquake right back but, on the off chance they can't, I think it is a must have for that chance alone. Illusory Fighter is another movement shenanigans card that GW seems to be clamping down on and for that reason its inclusion makes sense. My Turn was amazing for higher health models and bad for lower count models. I understand why its on the list - its no fun when your successful charge action ends in your model being taken out of action.
Pit Trap, Trap, and Twist the Knife are passive damage cards that make killing any model, especially high wound models, significantly easier. You can even chain all three! It is no surprise that they are on the list and it makes sense. I am looking forward to these being less apparent in decks. Ready for Action is probably one of my favorite cards in the game so it makes sense that it is on this list. Being able to attack twice is disgusting.
A Destiny to Meet is pretty much free glory and can often make the difference in close games. Restricting it makes sense. Awakened Weapon and Helpful Whispers are unsurprising inclusions as being able to increase the likelihood of an attack action is huge.
It is odd that Incredible Strength is restricted but Great Strength is not. I guess GW wanted to keep the core set cards available to all players, especially newer ones. As a card that makes things easier to kill its spot on the list makes sense. Shadeglass Dagger and Shadeglass Hammer are also cards that make removing enemy models consistently easier and for that reason, their inclusions are understandable.
Slumbering Key is also another free and easy glory to score. Like A Destiny To Meet it is pretty much trading a gained glory for a future one. Soultrap and Tethered Spirit are cards that make it harder for your models to be removed from the board and like their aggressive counterparts, they too have been restricted. It makes sense and it seems GW has a theme running here.
As I mentioned earlier, I think these changes are very healthy for the longevity and health of the game. I will enjoy not having a consistent set of "staple cards" that are just too good to not take. Matches, at least initially, will require more abstract tactics and it'll be nice to not see the same cards over and over again. Deck building will also be more engaging and these changes will inspire (teehee) players to get more games in and experiment.
To put it best, a buddy of mine made a comment stating that, 'They took the top 10 lists at the most recent Grand Clash and nerfed them into the ground.' Although that isn't quite accurate, it isn't inaccurate either.
I understand that it can feel bad when you aren't allowed to use certain items that you have paid for but in a game that involves a collectible card aspect, its important to regulate the cards allowed competitively. There are some cards that are clearly designed to be better than others and sometimes they end up becoming too powerful. Removing them from the equation, to a certain extent, creates a better overall experience. Every other card company whether digital or traditional follows this method. Its healthy and allows newer strategies to flourish while also making it easier for greener players to not get stomped if they don't have a full collection. From a design perspective, it makes things easier for GW as well.
In regards to tactics, I think the warbands with larger model counts have received a significant buff, specifically if they are chasing objectives. Sepulchural Guard, Chosen Axes, Zarbag's Gits, Thorns of the Briar Queen, and even Garrek's Reavers display greater viability. However, it is also harder for them to consistently make successful offensive and defensive rolls. Aggressive lists have also taken a set back, but I think they will still be viable. Most importantly, I think spells will become more prominent as well as thus far they have been overshadowed by some of the more prominent, and now restricted, gambit cards.
Overall, I am quite happy with the changes and excited at the prospect of a fresh meta. I encourage everyone to get out there and play more games, especially those who view some of these changes negatively. Who knows, you might enjoy the game more. I know I will.