With the competition of Mythic Championship VI and MagicFest Richmond, the standard magic playing community’s attention shifts from the tournaments to next Monday’s ban announcement. With Oko, Thief of Crowns in nearly 70% of the 495 standard decks at Mythic Championship VI and many of those that choice not to play Oko fielding decks designed to beat Oko, the question is will Wizards ban Oko?

The problem that the community and Wizards faces is how playable is standard with Oko in the format. All indications are that people are choosing to not play standard because of Oko. Three weeks ago, only seven players came to play Standard for Friday Night Magic. This Friday, nine played, but about half of the group were new players. When I talked to people that normally play standard about why they were not playing, the answer was that they did not want to play against Oko decks. I suspect that this will remain the case until Oko is banned.

Another indication of the problem is that large event organizers are choosing to play Modern and Pioneer over standard. Star City Games eliminated standard from its Con Winter in favor of Pioneer. When major event organizers are giving up on the format, this should tell you how bad the problem is for players.

Should Oko, Thief of Crowns be banned? The answer is yes because people do not want to play standard because of Oko.

The health of Magic as a game in many ways’ hinges on the success of Standard. When one deck or variations of the same deck dominate the format, casual players are turned off and decide to spend their time doing something else which hurts the overall game.

The next question I have is should other cards go on the banned list with Oko? The overall power of Throne of Eldraine has altered the format significantly. Aggro decks are nowhere to be found and true control decks can not find a place in the format. Adventure decks and other midrange strategies are part of the metagame, but they generally lack the power level needed to keep up with food decks. When two of the three core deck types are mostly unplayable, we have a significant problem. When standard is at its best no deck makes up a significant portion of the format.

My concern is that even with the expected banning of Oko, the overall Simic Food shell will still have the power to be the dominate deck in the format. The biggest offender in the deck after Oko is Wicked Wolf. Having the ability to kill on opponent’s creature on the surface is not a broken mechanic, but the ability to make Wicked Wolf indestructible with food tokens makes it nearly impossible to remove from the battlefield.

When I looked at the card during preview season, I noted its power to remove an opponent’s creature as a powerful ability. What I did not understand was how prevalent food producing decks would be in the format. With Oko or a Gilded Goose on the battlefield, Wicked Wolf becomes nearly unbeatable.

The Sultai Sacrifice deck that did very well at Mythic Championship VI only makes the Wicked Wolf problem worse. The ability to sacrifice another creature to Witches Oven and produce a food leads to a nearly unlimited supply of food tokens for Wicked Wolf to consume. This prevents removal spells like Noxious Grasp from removing Wicked Wolf from the game. I think that Wizards should take a close look at Wicked Wolf to see if its continued presence will lead people to remain on the standard sidelines.

Another under the radar card that should be considered for banning is Fires of Invention. I know that it does not currently have a big place in standard, but it will become more of a problem once Oko goes.

What makes Fires of Invention the next big broken card is its ability to more than double your available mana. My initial take on Mono-Red midrange used Fires as an enabler to get large creatures on to the battlefield and then use their activated abilities against my opponent. In one match two weeks ago, my opponent had four creatures on the battlefield all with three toughness or less. He was in a good position to win the game in the next couple of turns when I pair Skarrgan Hellkite with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. I had eight mountains in play. I activated Hellkite’s ability twice to kill my opponent’s creatures with the additional two damage from Torbran. I won the game from there.

Where I have seen the biggest payoff of Fires of Invention is in Jeskai Fires. This deck wants to get Sarkan the Masterless into play with his friends and swing for lethal damage on one turn. What particularly makes Fires problematic in this deck is Fae of Wishes. This adventure creature allows you to get a card that is not a creature out of your sideboard and play it on the same turn with Fires of Invention. The problem is what I have seen taken from the sideboard. This is a Jeskai deck, but because Fires allows you to cast a spell that is equal to or less than the number of lands you have in play you can get a card that you would not be able to cast and play it anyway. Most of the time, a board wipe is taken from the sideboard to kill all your creatures and give the Jeskai player a clean board to work with after playing the spell. The most egregious example I have seen is getting cards that are out of Jeskai colors and playing them with Fires of Invention. Bolas comes to mind as an example. While Fires of Invention has not been a problem to date because of the strength of Oko, I feel that it will be the next key build around card assuming that Oko leaves.

Hopefully for the health of standard, Oko will be banned next Monday. Seeing Wicked Wolf and Fires of Invention join him on the list would be a beneficial next step to prevent further disruption of standard. The last few months have taught us that when standard is in a bad place the entire game suffers. I hope that we will not see more format warping cards with Theros Beyond Death. It would be very unfortunate for standard to continue to be a format dominated by one deck that leads players to decided they would rather play something other than Magic.

Until next time. Good luck finding your win condition!