Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In Regards To The Modern Ban List

Hi everyone! Welcome to the very first article on the Modern Day Magic blog! I just want to say thank you for checking this out and I hope you all enjoy this article!

Modern is a weird format, a cool format, a great format, in all honesty the best format, but still a weird format. When i’m not stuck doing work, school, or listening to “Hamilton” (It’s really good guys), I’ll try to get down to the lgs to play some modern. It’s always been my favorite format, but it hasn’t always been the best format. It’s had a long, sometimes dark, history. We’ve been through the combo pro tour, eldrazi winter, The eggs GP, Bloom-titan week (More on that later), and many, many price spikes. Modern is a format that isn’t particularly perfect at every point in it’s history, but is, in the end, the most balanced and fun format when it’s in its prime (OBVIOUSLY THIS POINT IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUBJECTIVE BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE MODERN OK GUYS). The biggest problem with modern has been its fragileness, many oversights happen because the format isn’t tested (Treasure cruise, eldrazi, deathrite shaman,etc.). Even a single card being printed can literally ruin the format for months. While it is fragile, it has a lot of high points, this current meta is actually a very high point for modern, it’s diverse, not full of combo decks, it’s a turn 4 format, and even ridiculous decks like suicide zoo are winning things. However, there is a certain 33-card list that people haven’t really been talking about. Now, why the hell am I talking about the ban list if modern is in such a good place right now? Well, because modern still has plenty of it’s problems, and while we can’t fix all of them, we can at least talk about the ups and downs of each banned card in the format, let’s dive right in.

The Current State of Modern

Well, current modern is extremely diverse. The top 10 most played decks are all different strategies barring the Jund/Junk. So, you may be saying to yourself, there isn’t a big problem with modern at the moment, there isn’t a truly dominating deck right now, elves just won an invitational (YES), and suicide zoo is the 9th most played deck. So yeah, modern is doing well, but that’s not the point so don’t think about that. The point is, can we make it better?

The Ban List
The big dog, the main clause, the piece de resistance if you will. Now, I’m not gonna go through each card one-by-one for many reasons (The article would be too long, I can lump a lot of cards together because of their similarities, i’m lazy), but I will thoroughly look at the ban list and explain as much as I can why a card is in a certain group.

The “Dear God Jesus Christ in Heaven don’t unban these” Group

This group is, obviously, cards we shouldn’t unban. I’ll be doing brief summaries of course because we have a lot of cards here.

The Artifact Lands

These are just way too broken. It’s honestly less these cards inherently and more their synergy with cranial plating/arcbound ravager. They just make an already fantastic deck go way to over-the-top and could easily destroy the format. This is a hard pass.

Birthing Pod

I can just hear the cries of old pod players saying “BUT LEVI! BIRTHING POD WAS FAIR!”. Shut up, stop, birthing pod is stupid busted. Imagine playing the current Abzan Coco deck except also you have birthing pod and your combo is more consistent and you can value people out in like 3 turns. Oh yeah and also you STILL HAVE COLLECTED COMPANY. This is NEVER getting unbanned guys.

Blazing Shoal

This one is pretty obvious. It kills really fast, it’s a two card combo where tutors exist for it. It is VERY consistent. Just a little bit too fast for modern these days.


This is a rough one. I love me some big mana decks. But this is just a little too much. People don’t like turn 5 emrakuls.

Dark Depths

Now, this one I could argue could be on the maybe list. However, nowadays, not only do you have vampire hexmage, you also have thespian’s stage, which I think puts this over to top. It’s just a little too much too quickly, sorry dark depths lovers.

Deathrite Shaman

They screwed up big time with this card. Not only did it dominate modern like a champ, it’s currently dominating legacy like a champ. It’s essentially the reason goblins isn’t playable anymore. Everyone plays this card and goblin lackey is suddenly bad. Don’t give us this back.

Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time

These take up the same slot because they fill essentially the same role in most decks. Now, they are distinctly different. Treasure cruise is pure card advantage (at an incredibly good rate), but Dig through time is more of a combo-enabler and consistency-booster. A deck like scapeshift or Jeskai Ascendancy really wants dig because they are comboing off. But a deck like delver is looking for pure cards, considering the quality of all their cards is relatively equal. Treasure cruise is inherently more busted, so it takes up this slot pretty dominantly, while dig through time having that extra blue mana (making it unsplashable) and being less cards gives it a slight lean towards the maybe column, but I still feel it should stick to the banned list.

Eye of Ugin

Now, this slot is less about eye of ugin needing to be banned forever, and more about eldrazi temple and eye of ugin never being together again. The problem wasn’t that eye got you more advantage (the activation didn’t really ever happen in eldrazi games) it was that they just needed to get rid of one. I have two huge problems with the eye banning instead of eldrazi temple. 1. Eye is legendary, you can’t get much advantage past the 2 mana, unlike eldrazi temple where you can still jam turn 2 thought-knot seers and turn 3 Reality Smashers, it’s just harder. And 2. My sweet, sweet baby tron was swiftly knocked into oblivion once the eye banning happened. It’s sad really, it was in a good place. I’m not opposed to eye being switched out for eldrazi temple (in fact I’d prefer it), but they should never both be back in the format, that’s just too much.


So apparently some people really don’t think this card is that much. Excuse me? Who now? What? This card is dumb. It may not be the most consistent deck you can make with the banned cards, but it’s inherently and incredibly unfair, and it is just way too much.

Mental Misstep

I feel like I don’t need to explain this, but some people don’t get it. THIS CARD IS DUMB. This card makes burn unplayable, literally forces every deck to jam 4 so you can fight your opponents missteps, and essentially makes every game where this card gets played a mull to 4 or 5 for both players (I misstep your inquisition, ok I misstep your misstep, ok I misstep your misstep.). This card ruins games, formats, and everyone. I guess it’s fine in vintage though.

Seething Song/Rite of flame

These both occupy the same slot because they are both going in one deck and one deck only; storm. Now I can see an argument for one of these being unbanned because storm is so atrocious, but I don’t buy it. Storm is such a fragile deck, even one unban can make it dominate and become the auto best deck. It sucks, but it’s just too risky.

Sensei’s Divining Top

Ok so this card is certainly a hot topic because a lot of people feel it’s fine. To me the big problem is less that it solely takes a up a ridiculous amount of time, and more that it takes up a ridiculous amount of time AND it’s absurdly good. It gives control decks repeatable good card selection, it makes miracles a deck, it gives storm a new toy, it just does a whole lot for such a low mana investment.



Splinter Twin

And once again, I hear the screams of a thousand twin players crying and screaming at their phone screens and telling me how fair twin is. And well, they’re not wrong. Twin is, by modern standards, pretty fair. But, by definition, it is technically an “unfair” combo (not winning the way magic was intended). It takes until turn four, it is based on a creature and an enchantment (two pretty easy to remove things), and it takes some work to protect, but the problem is found directly in one of the most quoted lines from the twin ban announcement: “In the spirit of competitive diversity, Splinter Twin is banned”. Now, this was quoted soooooo much because it was hilarious at the time. If you look at the pro tour right after the announcement, it was 60% eldrazi on day 2. It was the pro tour that people hated because twin could have stopped the eldrazi. And, once again, they’re right. Now I don’t seem like I’m defending my point that well but I promise this is (probably) going somewhere. Now, I used to be like you, I used to think splinter twin was a dumb thing to ban, it didn’t make sense, it was stupid, it was too much. The reason for that was solely because of the timing. Yes, the timing for that decision was awful. They banned it right before the modern pro tour, they already knew of the eldrazi deck because people were freaking out over it on reddit, and they were like “Eh, might as well ban it now.”. That was dumb, Wizards, you screwed up. It destroyed the pro tour, it ruined the format for that whole three months, and it actually discouraged competitive diversity……. But only for 3 months. The splinter twin ban was badly timed, but not overall bad. You see, I was in that mindset of hate for so long, but one day, I was just sitting around, listening to Hamilton (Like I said, it’s really good) and it hit me! The splinter twin ban actually did encourage competitive diversity once the eldrazi stuff calmed down! Just imagine, would suicide zoo actually even be able to do anything if twin existed? Of course not! It can’t be streamlined if it has to play dismember and path just so it doesn’t die on turn 4. Same thing with dredge, it’s a cool deck that wouldn’t go anywhere if twin was in the format. It also fixes a huge problem we had. Blue has been bad in modern for a while, but it was only playable because of twin. It encouraged people to only play twin if they were playing blue because essentially every other version of blue decks either weren’t real blue decks (merfolk) or were just worse than twin because they had no inevitability (Every version of delver ever). Unfortunately yes, blue is still pretty bad currently, but we can fix that! The reason we can fix that now, is because we don’t have twin holding us back. Sorry to make everyone mad, but twin is just not good for modern.

Umezawa’s Jitte

This one is much simpler than twin. This card is too good. Like jesus christ guys never unban this card. Give me a moment to talk directly to wizards. Alright, wizards, I’m sure you guys know not to screw up this badly and unban this card, but I need to make sure you understand. This card is ridiculous. If it ever gets unbanned, this format will be ruined. I surely do hope you have the common sense to not unban it, but you are the same people that decided FTV: Wraths was “Not the right place” to reprint damnation, so can you really blame me? Anyway, that does it for our “Dear god jesus christ in heaven don’t unban” group. Now we shall move on.

The “Maybe possibly could i don’t really know?” group

Chrome Mox

Ok so bare with me here. Chrome mox is an interesting card because not a lot of decks want it. The card is just not quite there in a way because the combo decks that really want fast mana can’t really afford to ditch a non-land card to get that extra mana, and the decks that can afford to do that, don’t particularly need fast mana, and feel it’s not worth the 2-for-1. A deck like jund wouldn’t hate some fast mana, but they aren’t gonna ditch one of their cards just to do it. A deck like storm really wants fast mana, but they straight up can’t ditch any of their cards because they have to have a good mix of cantrips and rituals. It just doesn’t really fit, so I could easily see it getting unbanned and essentially not doing anything.

Dread Return

Now, yes, dread return is pretty busted. But dread return is pretty busted because of the immense synergy it has with cards like Ichorid, Nether Shadow, narcomoeba, cabal therapy, and bridge from below. Now, 3 of those 5 cards are not legal in modern, and they are EXTREMELY important to the plan of legacy and vintage dredge. Dread return is just very inconsistent in modern, it’s hard to get three creatures honestly. Without an efficient sacrifice effect, and without creatures that come back for free, it makes it a lot harder to actually get it to go off. It would make the dredge deck better for sure, but the dredge deck is not that great, so maybe it needs a boost.

Green Sun’s Zenith/Glimpse of Nature

Now i’m not advocating for both of these, that would make the elves deck much too good. But I think either of them has some solid potential to come back and be impactful but not insane. I personally think green sun’s zenith is more frightening simply because tutoring in any deck is really really really good in modern. Glimpse of nature is also a really good card, but just goes into less decks. It’s less versatile, it’s overall more explosive, but less powerful. Compare that to the fact that really the only deck that would use it (Elves) doesn’t have a natural order-type card that’s gonna win them the game with not only half the mana, but half the time and work. Paying eight for craterhoof is significantly more than paying 4. It also never even got a chance to be in modern! It was an OG ban list card. #freeglimpseofnature #maybefreegsznotsureyetwouldneedafewweekstositonit


These are weird. With twin banned, these cards are a LOT safer. But with storm kind of around, these cards become risky. But let’s face it guys, Serum Visions is like, really bad. It’s a previously 20 dollar (Thanks conspiracy!) really bad card, but it’s still bad. Some new cantrips would add some consistency and some helpfulness to blue, aka the obviously worst color in modern at the moment. It has a lot of upside, which is really the point of it being on this list.

Second Sunrise

This card is annoying, but that’s really it. It’s not broken, it’s not insanely good, it was in a pro tour winning deck but didn’t do much else, it’s just annoying. The only reason it’s on the maybe list and not the please unban list is because it’s annoying. It just makes an annoying deck good, but it doesn’t really have a reason to be banned. It makes games take long simply because it gives someone a .5% chance to fizzle if you sit there and wait. Now, I would probably concede, but I don’t think it is in any way incorrect to wait it out. Play to your outs and give your opponent the chance to have everything blow up in their face all you want, it’s a solid strategy. I personally am not that patient, but to each their own. That’s really the problem, the correct play is to stick it out and hope they eventually just stare at the field and concede because that is one of the few ways you can win at that point, so it enables really long and drawn out games. But we have to just keep coming back to the fact that it isn’t broken, it wouldn’t destroy the format, and even with the card the deck is easily still tier 2. It is just a weird line where it’s hard to actually say if it should be banned or not.

Summer Bloom

I was honestly really surprised when this card got banned. I was not expecting it at all. The card is inherently unfair, but it is hard to make it unfair. The best abuse of it is the amulet/bounceland combo and that is of course the reason it got banned. That deck was very good but it wasn’t really dominating. It was like the third or fourth most played deck, and it wasn’t winning consistently. It only top 8ed enough to make people notice it. The point is that the deck was honestly insane, it’s just impossibly hard to play. It’s one of the hardest decks i’ve ever seen in modern and probably the hardest deck i’ve ever played. I don’t think there was a single person that could play it perfectly, and the people that were really great at playing it only got so far because of variance along with small mistakes basically ruining their entire game. It really is an interesting deck where, given enough time, somone could hypothetically master the deck, but it would take a long time. I think wizards was simply getting under the problem and banning it not only because people hated playing against the deck, it also had the potential to be mastered and take over the format. The banning to me looks like a quick patch up to prevent the pipe from bursting. I could easily see it coming back, but it would need more time. Enough time so that people aren’t really familiar with the deck anymore, and have to relearn it.

The “Wizards pls unban” group

Stoneforge Mystic

This card is still banned? Why? The truth is this card never got a chance to shine in modern because it was another OG banned card. The reason it never even made it to the modern format is because modern was created pretty much directly after caw-blade conundrum, essentially forcing their hand to ban SFM. It’s one of those unfortunate situations where we didn’t get a chance to actually see stoneforge mystic in action. The card is good, that’s no question. Free batterskulls are no laughing matter. But, Batterskull is really the only card we even need to worry about here. Swords are too slow and jitte is banned, so really stone forge is “semi-free batterskull” Some decks can’t deal with that, but almost every deck has an answer to an artifact, and some have the best answer; kholaghan’s command. So this card would certainly change the format, but I think for the better.

Bloodbraid Elf

OKAY OKAY HEAR ME OUT. I know we all have terrible memories of bloodbraid elf. I know I know, they always hit blightning, you always had 2 cards left (the two that would win you the game), and you were at 6 every time. But guys, bloodbraid elf is fine. The card definitely ruins your day when they get crazy lucky (Bloodbraid elf into lilliana feels bad man). But even then they are corner case scenarios that actually blow you out. The body is pretty bad for a 4-mana spell, a 2-for-1 is pretty standard in modern, and it honestly leads to more interesting games. How much more fun is a game where you’re dead next turn and you top deck bloodbraid elf into lightning bolt to win with exactsies? Not only is the card more fun, it’s more interesting, and it’s honestly not broken. I will admit, there are two main concerns. The first being the fact that jund is currently a super popular deck and the card dominated standard and modern for a while back in the day. Luckily I don’t think that would happen again. Jund would shoot up in popularity, but jund is pretty beatable. Between burn and Tron alone you can hate out jund pretty solidly. The next point is that ancestral vision just got unbanned and the concern that a new RUG deck could arise that is like blue-jund. The combo with vision is very good, but that deck would be hot garbage. Once again, do you know how bad blue is right now? If you aren’t playing nahiri, blue isn’t doing anything. Give us back the one true love we have; BBE.

Jace, The Mind Sculptor

And here is the kicker. Jace the mindsculptor. The card everyone fears, the card that no one is truly sure about. The wild card, if you will. Jace is honestly the one card I have almost no doubt is safe to unban. In fact, I think it will put blue over the top and make it real again. Jeskai nahiri wants it, delver wants it, essentially any non-merfolk blue deck wants it. To be fair, the card is very powerful. The big problem is that he is 4 mana, which is a slot that needs an extremely powerful card to slot into, because it’s a slot a lot of decks don’t really have a card for. Blue decks need something solid to put it over the top and push it into tier 1 territory. The best part is, with twin banned, we don’t have to worry about it enabling some crazy combo deck to go too far. It just works. It’s a scary card because it has never been in the format, and it destroyed standard for a while. But that was simply because of the standard environment. Jace is fine, guys, let’s bring him home.


I know exactly what you’re thinking, “This guy just told me jace the mind sculptor should be unbanned, banning twin was a good decision, and that a 2 and a half hour rap-musical about founding father alexander hamilton is a work of genius, he’s crazy!”. But hear me out. Let’s really think about it. Every single person is gonna have a subjective view of the banned list. Some people think bloodbraid elf should never be banned and that Jitte needs to be in the format (they’re wrong) and there is not really a way to show real facts on the matter. We’ll probably never know if skullclamp would actually break the format  (it would) because it’s never gonna come off the ban list. There is not really any testing we could do because variance in magic is high enough that every game has a different amount of it. These are simply my opinions. I feel like modern is in a good place but we have some room for improvement. I think it can be better. Whether we need it to be better, that is the real question. Until next time!


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