Hello everyone and welcome back! Today we are going to take a small break from decklists and instead talk about the banned and restricted list. I haven’t ever taken a shot at one of these articles and I’m sure you can find a bunch of other people’s opinions on the matter but I want to give mine, especially since we have one coming up relatively soon on 3/13/2017. I’d like to talk about the health of current Standard and Modern as well as what I think should be done for the formats as far as banned and unbanned cards go. Keep in mind while reading that this is my opinion. It is not fact, and it’s okay if you think differently. At the end, if you’d like to talk about it, voice what you think should be done, or voice why you disagree with my opinion then feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article.
So, to talk about what should be banned and unbanned we need to know what’s currently banned. Let’s start with Standard since it’s simple and that format only has three cards that are currently banned. Let’s talk about them.
Standard Banned List
Emrakul, the Promised End
Emrakul was banned because she ended games too easily when cast. Games could be won after she was cast but it was extremely difficult to do so. When you played against an Emrakul deck she was always looming over the game and as soon as she was cast, the usually came to an end.
Smuggler's Copter was just too good at what it did and was basically in every aggro, midrange, or tempo deck alike. The only decks that didn’t actively want Smuggler's Copter were usually control decks and to a lesser extent, Emrakul decks. Copter made other vehicles obsolete. Why play anything else when you can play this one that loots anytime you attack or block and is very easily crewed? Smuggler's Copter was pushed too far and it hindered other cards from seeing play.
Reflector Mage has been hated ever since Collected Company. Anything in Magic that doesn’t let you play your cards isn’t fun. When you can’t cast your spells because your lands are being blown up, your locked under a Blood Moon, or because Reflector Mage has just bounced your Sylvan Advocate and you just drew a second copy for the turn. It makes the game frustrating and while I don’t think Reflector Mage was overpowered, it wasn’t fun to play against.
Thoughts on the Bannings
I think Wizards was correct in banning Smuggler's Copter and I can even get behind Reflector Mage. However, I believe banning Emrakul was incorrect. Sure, Emrakul would end the game normally when she was cast but that was usually very late in the game, especially since most decks that played her only ran a single copy. That being said, I believe Wizards should have banned Aetherworks Marvel instead of Emrakul. Turn four, five, and even six Emrakul is not fun and that is oppressive, but Emrakul played on time or late in the game was fine. If Emrakul were legal now it would get run over by Mardu, R/G energy, and Four-Color Saheeli decks since Emrakul always had a problem with opponent’s going wide.
What they should ban in Standard on 3/13/17
In an ideal world, I think they should unban Emrakul and ban Aetherworks Marvel. I seriously doubt they do this because banning a card in Standard already leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths. Standard is a rotating format and it rotates quickly. Unbanning Emrakul would make the player base lose trust in Wizards because they would feel like their cards could get banned and unbanned at a moment’s notice. It’s not fun to buy a card for $30, then sell it, then have it be unbanned and go back up and price. People would be pissed and rightfully so. On that note I don’t think anything will get unbanned.
However, I sincerely hope they ban Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon is an oppressive Planeswalker that pushes Mardu Vehicles over the top. Control decks can be built to deal with creatures and vehicles, but they fold to Gideon. You are forced to leave in countermagic when you want to board most, if not all, of it out against the aggressive decks because a resolved Gideon spells game over.
Not only that, but Gideon stifles the playability of other Planeswalkers. Why play Dovin Baan in your deck when it just dies to Gideon? You might as well just play Gideon yourself to combat Gideon. Gideon makes Chandra, Torch of Defiance weaker along with Chandra, Flamercaller and Tamiyo, Field Researcher. He not only defends himself but destroys other Planeswalkers easily with his 0 and +1 ability. Banning Gideon wouldn’t even make the aggro decks that much worse. They will have Scrapheap Scrounger, Heart of Kiran, and other Planeswalkers. However, you could attack their creatures and artifacts and not have to worry about just dying to a resolved Gideon, since Gideon creates so much virtual card advantage and is nearly impossible to kill through combat.
That’s my opinion on Standard. I hope they do something because I believe Gideon to be oppressive.
Now for the motherload, Modern. Where do I even start? So much has been said about Modern, so many thoughts and opinions given but I haven’t voiced much about the format, until this article. First, I wish they hadn’t made a ban list for Modern when it first started out and then started banning things as the format played out. As it stands right now, Modern is a format filled with mostly decks that don’t want to play Magic. Decks are trying to lock you out of playing Magic with Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void, Karn Liberated on turn three, Ensnaring Bridge, or just trying to kill you before turn four. A lot of games are decided on how turns 3-5 play out. Sideboards are a mess because you don’t know which turn four deck to have sideboard cards against and for me it’s just not as enjoyable as I think it could be. So where would I start? Well, again, before we start let’s see what is currently banned in Modern.
Banned cards in Modern
- Ancient Den
- Birthing Pod
- Blazing Shoal
- Bloodbraid Elf
- Chrome Mox
- Dark Depths
- Deathrite Shaman
- Dig Through Time
- Dread Return
- Eye of Ugin
- Gitaxian Probe
- Glimpse of Nature
- Golgari Grave-Troll
- Great Furnace
- Green Sun's Zenith
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Mental Misstep
- Punishing Fire
- Rite of Flame
- Seat of the Synod
- Second Sunrise
- Seething Song
- Sensei's Divining Top
- Splinter Twin
- Stoneforge Mystic
- Summer Bloom
- Treasure Cruise
- Tree of Tales
- Umezawa's Jitte
- Vault of Whispers
A lot of these I can agree with. This is my wish list for ban and unbanning in Modern.
- Simian Spirit Guide
- Eldrazi Temple
- Mox Opal
- Blood Moon
- Become Immense
Let’s go over the banned cards first.
Ban Fast Mana
Simian Spirit Guide, Mox Opal and Eldrazi Temple. These cards aren’t doing anything that is making Modern more enjoyable. In fact, they are all used to accelerate things into play to end the game much quicker. A turn two or three Thought-Knot Seer is not fun. It’s oppressive. Same with an early Reality Smasher or Drowner of Hope. Simian Spirit Guide is only seen in decks that are oppressive and don’t want to play Magic like Grishoalbrand, Storm decks, and fast Blood Moon decks. Mox Opal is another powerful fast mana card that just needs to go. Nerf the fast mana in the format to hopefully make it a little slower.
Ban the cards that don’t let you play Magic
Choke, Blood Moon, Flashfires, and Boil are cards Wizards would never again print in Standard because they are extremely oppressive and unfun. So why have them in Modern? A format you want people to enjoy and not have the game end on turn four or sooner.
Phyrexian mana was a mistake and Delve is damn close. Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise have already gone and now it’s time for Become Immense to go too. This card would be fine if Infect wasn’t a thing but because this card exists it allows infect to attrition you with small pump spells and then just kill you with a Become Immense on any infect creature or hell, even a Dryad Arbor.
This is just for the Stoneforge Mystic Unban. I feel like Stoneforge Mystic can add a lot of dimension to the Modern metagame. I know Batterskull can be oppressive with Stoneforge Mystic for the aggressive decks so just ban the rarely played Batterskull. Aggressive decks could play Stoneforge Mystic too. This would mean they would need to slow down instead of being all in, but that’s a good thing in my eye.
And the glorious unbans!
Release these from Shackles
People are dying on turn four. Death's Shadow is huge when Jace is being dropped. Affinity is already hellbent by this point. Storm is going to most likely untap and just kill you if you tap out for Jace. Bloodghast and Prized Amalgam are returning from the graveyard at end of turn to attack Jace. Decks that play Jace will need to slow the games down to abuse Jace. Control will finally have an excellent card that rewards them for playing Control. Release him.
They should have banned Deathrite Shaman first from Jund, not Bloodbraid Elf. Bloodbraid Elf is a safe card to unban, it’s good in “fair” decks. “Fair” at least as far as Modern is concerned. It will also keep Jace in check.
With Batterskull banned this is a safe unban. Stoneforge is another card that is slow but rewards you if you can make the game go longer. Again, I’m all for that.
This one I’m a little skeptical. Birthing Pod is very slow but it allows you to play many value creatures along with a lot of “hate” creatures. Basically, creatures that are very good for the matchup you’re playing against. I would feel safer with this unban if Wizards could somehow make Containment Priest* legal in Modern. That card would solve a lot of the unfair graveyard decks and is just overall a great card to have access to in your Sideboard for Modern. It’s just so versatile, from Goryo's Vengeance targeting Griselbrand to Nahiri, the Harbinger ulting and finding Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
For Standard, I feel Gideon is oppressive and want him gone so that more decks can flourish, especially control decks. This would also make Mardu weaker, which is needed. For Modern I feel like the format is too fast and isn’t as fun as it could be, so my goal there is to draw out the games and make them overall more enjoyable. These bans and unbans reflect that.
Again, feel free to chime in the comments and I’m down to have civil discourse. I’m excited to see what Wizards decides to do.
As always, thanks for reading.
@AliEldrazi on Twitter