The Fallout from the Golos ban in EDH

Matt Morgan • September 20, 2021

The most recent news cycle certainly started off with a bang. Not only are previews for Innistrad: Wild Hunt up and the set released on Arena, but the Commander Rules Committee dropped a massively impactful announcement as well.

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim Banned in Commander

What started with an unassuming tweet from the voice of the Rules Committee Sheldon Menery became one of the most discussed bans in recent memory

From the post:

RULES

Rule 10 is removed.  Rule 11 is renumbered to Rule 10.

CARDS

Worldfire is Unbanned

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is Banned

Nineteen words, and especially the last five sparked a whirlwind in the community. The rules adjustment was almost ceremonial in nature and Worldfire being unbanned possibly impacting some tables, the banning of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim was what overshadowed everything else.

Breaking Down the Announcment

The banning of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim sparked debate both in support and against the decision by the Rules Committee. Golos, with over 7,500 decks to their name and one of the most popular choices of all time was banned. In the announcement the RC broke down the reasons for the ban.

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.

The homogeneity that Golos promotes seemed to be one of the initial factors to lead it to being considered. Golos has effectively little to no downside, which players noticed as the sheer volume of decks would attest to.

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.

It seems that the days of Golos and other five-color commanders like Kenrith, the Returned King that offer little downside may be numbered. Sheldon and other RC members worked closely with Wizards of the Coast and gave feedback about the problematic style of play with Golos. We will start to see the results of these conversations in the near future.

Rules Committee and CAG discussions

Sheldon Menery in line with past ban announcements offered further insight into the decisions of the RC.

Sheldon compares Worldfire‘s unbanning to Sway of the Stars as far as cards resetting the board state.

The thing that Sway of the Stars does that Worldfire doesn’t is refill its caster’s hand.  The mana float then becomes something that you have fuel for.  Sway costs ten, so you need a pretty big pile of mana to make it worthwhile, but after it resolves you have options that the other players don’t and aren’t going to.  Sway of the Stars is the card that might be closest to Worldfire, but the differences are significant enough to give one a chance and leave the other where it is.

It seems unlikely that Sway of the Stars will come back anytime soon, but Worldfire being put back seems like a cautious first step. The card can lead to unfavored board states as Armageddon and other mass land destruction tends to do. The Rules Committee seems confident that the social contract will help keep it in check.

Sheldon also offers insight on Golos’ impact beyond the actual games themselves.

That’s just what the card does on the battlefield.  It also has impact on the format itself.  Its simple presence means that some other commanders don’t have a chance and that’s not a good circumstance.  Golos is an easy default, so some of the exploration of unusual themes and deck styles gets lost.  We really want Commander to be about the unusual, things like Dune-themed decks, Ladies Looking Left, and whatever wild things brewers come up with.  Golos actively pushes quirky commanders and outside-the-box themes aside, leading to homogenization.

Commander Advisor Group member and Commander’s Herald writer Charlotte Sable wrote a reaction to the announcement early the same day. From Charlotte’s article:

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.

The recurring theme from RC and CAG members shows desire for  diversity and healthy play at all tables. High and low powered decks all benefit from Golos, so nearly every playgroup can expect to see a shakeup.

 

What do you all think of the ban announcement? It certainly overshadowed the preconstructed decks which were announced earlier in the week. Is the Golos ban a good thing for the format or is the disruption of so many decks a net negative with the move? How many times do you expect to see Worldfire at tables near you and will it prove to be in need of a rebanning? Let us know in the comments below!



Matt is a member of the EDHRECast, representing the 60-card formats and the Timmy's alike. He appreciates bad wordplay as much as a good alpha strike. A diverse nerd, you might also see him maining Lux support in League of Legends as well or on the deadlift platform at the gym.