Magic's companions weakened in attempt to re-stabilize game

Zirda, the Dawnwaker is one of the many cards affected by the recent rules change. (WOTC)

Wizards of the Coast changes how companions work in Magic: The Gathering.

Wizards of the Coast is changing how the game-warping companion mechanic works in an attempt to re-stabilize the game's many formats.

The highly controversial mechanic has been a point of contention for many Magic players who see it as parasitic as it destabilizes format after format.  In response to this, WotC has made the rare move of enacting a rule change in an attempt to weaken it.

"It's rare that we use a rules change to address metagame balance, and this isn't something we have plans to do in the future," says WotC's Ian Duke.  "In this case, the issue wasn't with one individual card but rather the companions as a group.  We believe this solution is preferable to potentially needing to make multiple bans across different formats over time."

The new rule is as follows:

Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.

Being that this is a "special action" rather than an activated ability, it cannot be responded to, countered, or affected by things such as Phyrexian Revoker.

"Our reason for making this change is based on metagame data and play rates of companion decks across all formats, and on player feedback on repetitive gameplay patterns," explains Duke.  "As a group, decks using companions have too high of win rates and metagame share in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern, and have already necessitated bans in Legacy and Vintage.  This trend represents a long-term problem for the health and diversity of all formats.  Rather than go down the path of making several individual adjustments to the banned list for each format, we feel the better solution is to reduce the advantage gained from using a companion across the board."

The companion rules change take affect beginning the following dates:

  • Tabletop: June 1, 2020
  • MTG Arena: June 4, 2020
  • Magic Online: June 3, 2020

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.