Golos gets World-fired from Commander
As many of you are already aware, the quarterly update from the Commander Rules Committee was released today, and it contained a fair bit more than the usual "No changes."
Here's the TL;DR:is now banned, is unbanned, and a redundant format rule has been removed. The Golos ban and a Worldfire unban have of course created a lot of discussion.
(The text of the announcement is included at the end of the article, since the Rules Committee site is current offline due to the usual death hug that comes with announcement day.)
So how could the most popular commander in the format (according to EDHREC) just get banned? What's going on here? Well let me give you my own take on the issues at play here...
A View from the Inside
For anyone unaware, when I'm not writing articles I'm a member of the Commander Advisory Group, a committee of independent advisors who work with the Rules Committee to help foster communication between the RC and the broader commander community. Golos has been a topic of discussion among the RC and CAG for a while now, at least half a year if not longer.
Golos presented us with an odd challenge: It was a card that was strong and capable of taking over a game, no doubt, but it wasn't obnoxious in the way that most ban-worthy cards are, so we let it slide at first like a lot of groan-worthy commanders. Unfortunately, the Golos decks I saw in the wild stopped being funbrews and instead were more and more just good stuff piles, or decks built around strategies without a strong dedicated commander already. As time went on, the talk in the community began to be about how Golos was likely the best commander for most any deck no matter what its theme. Not only does Golos basically stand in for any land of your choice as your commander, allowing you to do things like play mono-black with easy access to , it functionally has a commander tax of 1 and with the inclusion of only a couple of mana-washing lands, you can turn late game mana into free spells in any deck of your choice.
Golos, Tirelessly Creeping
However, Golos's effect on actual five-color decks was worse, turning decks into piles of good stuff mush with perfect mana without requiring the decks to actually be able to produce WUBRG to access Golos in the early game. While this isn't what the RC wants for the format, it wouldn't be a problem if this Golos homogenization had stayed in the higher-power end of the format, but unfortunately it had begun to spread down to the middle tiers of the format, leading to a great decrease in the diversity of commander choice in five-color decks. For this reason, Golos was determined to be too problematic to the health of the format to let it continue on any longer.
Everyone on the Rules Committee and the CAG are aware that Golos is incredibly popular and that many players build and play Golos decks in an unproblematic fashion, so this action of banning Golos wasn't taken lightly. However, the RC decided that it was the right call to make at this time, and I can't really disagree with them. I just hope that everyone who built a Golos deck will be able to find another five-color commander they love to helm that deck.
What About Worldfire?
I'm a big fan of the decision to unban Worldfire, and I've been lobbying the RC to unban Worldfire in addition to some other big mana spells for a while now. I don't think Worldfire will be a problem for the format as it exists currently, and I doubt it will show up much because it's a relatively niche effect that needs to be built around in order to be an effective game-ender. I would encourage anyone reading this to make sure that you have a way to actually end the game once it resolves before you slot it into a deck.
That's all I have to say here, but if you want to discuss these changes with me further in a respectful manner, you can get in touch with me on Twitter @JqlGirl. Take care and please, keep calm and play on.
The Commander Rules Committee's September 2021 Quarterly Update:
Rule 10 is removed. Rule 11 is renumbered to Rule 10.
Worldfire is Unbanned
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is Banned
Rule 10, which stated that commanders were subject to the legend rule, was created in the days when the legend rule was less stable; the rule remained as an artifact of that time. It's not a Commander-specific rule, but simply existed as a clarification. Since it's redundant, we chose to eliminate it. This change is administrative only and will have no impact on how games are played. Rule 11 bumps up to Rule 10.
Worldfire was once banned due to the problematic interaction with floating mana and having access to your Commander. We want to foster a Commander environment where 8- and 9-mana spells are viable and likely to show up in a game, so we evaluate the expensive ones in that context. Unlike Coalition Victory and Biorhythm, which we continue to believe are problematic in that environment, the level of effort needed to make Worldfire effective is sufficient that we suspect it will not be as much of an issue. There are already cheaper ways to do similar things in the format. We believe the social contract and robust pregame discussions will keep Worldfire out of games in which it doesn't belong.
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim has been a much-discussed card that is both popular to play with and unpopular to play against. There are many problems with the card, but the greatest is that in the low-to-middle tiers where we focus the banlist, Golos is simply a better choice of leader for all but the most commander-centric decks. Its presence crushes the kind of diversity in commander choice which we want to promote. You can drop in Golos and a few 5-color lands into a random deck and get all the ramp and card advantage you would ever want from a commander, with no worries about your mana base. Golos' ability effectively reduces the commander tax to one and once you hit seven mana (with Golos assuring that you have WUBRG and helping you get there quickly), you don't need to do anything for the rest of the game except cast spells for free--something we always want to be careful about. We've talked to the folks in Studio X and they understand the problems created by generically-powerful five-color commanders that don't have WUBRG in their mana cost. We don't expect similar cards to come from them in the future, so a surgical strike now makes sense. We understand that many players love Golos, so we don't take this action lightly. In the end, the health of the format is our primary concern and we find Golos unhealthy. While Kenrith, the Returned King is a similarly flexible and popular commander for good stuff five color decks, we see it as a clear step down from Golos.