It has always struck me as being a little odd that Expanded has never (and likely will never) been featured as the format for even just one of the four International Championships or the World Championships. I think the biggest problem with the split between Standard and Expanded has never been about the balance between the two formats (though this is of course an issue at times). Expanded struggles because TPCi has never done an adequate job of making us care about it. No matter how many more Expanded Regionals get added to the season, it never seems like anyone is as concerned for Expanded as they are for any Standard event, and I am not sure this is a problem that will ever be fixed.
Travis, in his last article, does a great job of making the case for why Expanded should be held in more esteem than it is currently. I think that most of his points are valid and I largely agree with his overall sentiment that Expanded is fine or balanced, and the problems that arise that provide contrasting evidence are merely symptoms of the fact that no one is willing to test the format. For those traveling across the country and world every week, chasing down their next finish at a Regional or International Championship, it becomes almost impossible to test a card pool as vast as Black and White through Forbidden Light.
Night March was the most popular deck in Expanded for the longest time, and I have always believed this was because it did not need to be tested. Its testing had all been done over the several years of its legality and everyone knew it would probably be good enough to land a solid placing. We have finally entered a time where Night March has fallen out of favor as a tier one deck, but I do not think that this has solved much of the format’s problems. Instead, there are just new decks that have replaced it as a go-to for “no time to test so I just made this Standard deck fit in Expanded,” with Fighting Max Elixir and Zoroark-GX Skyfield decks being the main replacements.
Many are still calling for bans and updates to the Expanded restriction list and for the first time in a very long time, I am unsure if this needs to happen and maybe am in favor of trying to unban certain cards. After all, variety is the spice of life, and there is little to lose for bringing back Archeops or Forest of Giant Plants for only 1-2 events.
One of the biggest problems with TPCI’s current usage of the ban list is that they are not using it as often as they should.
With a card pool as vast as Expanded, I think there are many acceptable changes to be made, and while you might getting something wrong, all you have to do is observe the results and fix it again before it becomes a major issue. A proper ban list ought to be able to be seen as a living and breathing document that could potentially updated once a month, if not even less. I am not sure what the mission statement of the game and the ban list (if there is one) is meant to accomplish and it certainly should not be as static as has become. Zoroark-GX, as Travis points out, should not be banned, but I think it has several tools and microaggressors at its disposal that certainly should have been changed or toyed with a long time ago. Night March at the height of its power easily could’ve lost a card or two—and the list goes on.
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