Magic: The Gathering Banned List Update Could Be Most Impactful In Game's History
The new Magic: The Gathering B&R announcement completely changes the texture of four formats, with a total of 15 bans being made across MTG.
The newest Magic: The Gathering Banned & Restricted list update is now live, and Wizards of the Coast is banning 15 cards in what will inevitably be one of the biggest group of changes in the game's history. Magic: The Gathering is the popular tabletop trading card game from Wizards of the Coast that has also successfully established a presence in the digital card game space thanks to its combination of Magic: The Gathering Online and Magic Arena platforms.
While Magic: The Gathering B&R announcements are nothing new to players - especially not those who have been playing over the last two or three years, which has seen a dramatic increase in their frequency - there had been a sizeable lull in major gameplay changes leading up to this week's announcement. Premier play hasn't been happening in tabletop Magic: The Gathering for quite some time due to the pandemic, and that means the rate of tournaments has dropped significantly, meaning powerful cards aren't being explored and established as problematic as quickly as they may have been otherwise. Still, players across formats were clamoring for major changes as they threatened to grow stale, and a pre-announcement of banning Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath was a herald of more to come.
Related: What Magic: The Gathering's 5 Most Popular Trading Cards Were In 2020
Today, Wizards of the Coast released an article on the official Magic website that announced the latest Magic: The Gathering B&R announcement would not only ban 15 cards across 4 formats, it would also fundamentally change the way a rules interaction works to prevent it from being exploited by new card designs. The announcement revealed that major changes are coming to each format, with the team discussing its logic behind each banning. Here's a complete rundown of the changes coming as a result of the Magic: The Gathering B&R announcement in February 2021:
- Omnath, Locus of Creation is banned.
- Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is banned.
- Balustrade Spy is banned.
- Teferi, Time Raveler is banned.
- Undercity Informer is banned.
- Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is banned.
- Wilderness Reclamation is banned.
- Field of the Dead is banned.
- Mystic Sanctuary is banned.
- Simian Spirit Guide is banned.
- Tibalt's Trickery is banned.
- Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is banned.
- Arcum's Astrolabe is banned.
- Dreadhorde Arcanist is banned.
- Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned.
- Lurrus of the Dream-Den is unbanned.
Alongside those sweeping changes, the Magic: The Gathering B&R announcement also changes the way the cascade mechanic functions with the new Modal Double-Faced Cards. Essentially, players can no longer use cascade to hit Valki, God of Lies and then cast the 7 mana side of the card for free - cards being cast must now be less than the converted mana cost of the cascade card both when it is selected from the deck and when it is being played.
It's a huge number of changes that will be difficult to fully appreciate until the formats begin playing out without the many powerful cards that once formed the foundation of their respective metagames. The Magic: The Gathering B&R announcement is an absolute bombshell, and this is the kind of change that may never happen on this scale and across this many formats again. It's also a welcome change, and shows that the team behind the game is unafraid to make dramatic changes if it means players will be happier and experience a healthier metagame. The only truly certain thing is that right now, in pretty well every format in Magic: The Gathering, it's a great time to be a deck-builder - and it will be exciting to see what people come up with moving forward.
Next: What MTG's Uro Ban Means For The TCG's 2021
Samuel L. Jackson Confirms MCU's Secret Invasion Is Filming With New PhotoAbout The Author
Cody is Screen Rant's Game Reviews Editor. He joined the team in 2018 and has been reporting on games pretty well every day since - except on weekends, where he's typically playing them instead. Despite being in a field ostensibly about critiquing and enjoying quality games, his most played game of 2019 was Fate/Grand Order - something unlikely to change in 2020 and beyond.
Announcement Date: September 8, 2021
Chatterstorm is banned.
Sojourner's Companion is banned.
Magic Online effective date: September 8, 2021
Modern Horizons 2 introduced many new high-impact cards to Pauper, and we've been watching the metagame absorb and adapt to those additions over the last several weeks. In that time, Storm and Affinity decks have risen to occupy a large share of the metagame. We've heard community feedback that metagame pressures from Storm and Affinity have pushed out a variety of other deck options that were previously viable.
In recent weeks, Storm combo decks had the highest non-mirror match win rate among top decks and earned by far the most 5–0 performances in Magic Online leagues. These decks use fast mana to power out a large Chatterstorm, often in combination with First Day of Class, to create an insurmountable board state or even win the game on the spot. Given the limitations of the Pauper card pool, many decks struggle to interact with this win condition. Therefore, to address Storm's high win rate, high metagame share, and difficulty to interact with, we are banning Chatterstorm.
We considered banning Galvanic Relay as well, but our hope is to allow players to experiment with slower, lower-powered versions of the deck. Additionally, we've seen the card being used in other contexts where it's more about generating value than winning the game on the spot.
Affinity has been a slightly different case, in that from a pure win-rate perspective, the metagame seemed to adapt successfully, with the most popular Grixis Affinity variants settling in at just under 50% non-mirror match win rate. That said, while Affinity was being kept in check by a small number of top decks, its win rate against many of the less represented decks was high. To open the metagame to more diversity, we're choosing to ban Sojourner's Companion. We considered other options, such as Atog or Disciple of the Vault, but opted to preserve the unique gameplay style of the deck. Banning Sojourner's Companion should lower the consistency and win rate of the deck without fundamentally changing the way it plays.
We're aware that some players have voiced other potential metagame concerns that could result from Storm and Affinity being weakened. But due to the unique nature of the Pauper card pool and the complexity of the metagame, we've chosen to start with these two changes and observe in practice if further changes are needed rather than try to predict and preempt cascading metagame changes.
These Pauper changes will be live later today on Magic Online.
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If a card appears on the banned list for your chosen format, then you may not include that card in your deck or sideboard. Doing so makes your deck illegal to play in any sanctioned tournaments for that format.
Cards are usually banned from play if they enable a deck or play style that heavily skews the play environment. What does that mean? If the card were legal, a competitive player either must be playing it, or must be specifically targeting it with his or her own strategies.
Some cards are banned because they have proven to simply be too powerful in their respective format. While hundreds of hours are spent rigorously playtesting sets before their release, the complexity of Magic makes it nearly impossible to accurately predict all the ways the new cards interact with older ones.
Cards whose art, text, name, or combination thereof that are racially or culturally offensive are banned in all formats. This list is a work in progress. Click here for the list.
If you wish to use a card that’s on the restricted list for your chosen format, you may include only a single copy of that card, counting both your main deck and your sideboard. Currently, only the Vintage format uses a restricted list.
The DCI announces bans and restrictions of cards for their sanctioned formats if they deemed necessary to do so. In normal cases, these announcements are made on Mondays and take effect within a few days.
Previously, such announcements used to be made in a scheduled basis (usually two to three months) with coherence of Standard legal sets and major tournaments like the Pro Tour.
The following is a list of these announcements and their changes in chronological order. Formats that are not mentioned have seen no changes made to them in the respective announcements.
The concept of formats doesn't yet exist as of this time. Vintage (Type 1) and Standard (Type 2) will be introduced in 1995.
Formation of the original DCI banned/restricted list.Ali from Cairo, Ancestral Recall, Berserk, Black Lotus, Braingeyser, Dingus Egg, Gauntlet of Might, Icy Manipulator, Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Orcish Oriflamme, Rukh Egg, Sol Ring, Timetwister, Time Vault, and Time Walk are restricted ("Limited"). Ante cards and Shahrazad are banned. Use of cards from any of the expansion sets (at that time Arabian Nights) are banned unless the referee consents to their use (this would later be changed to allowed "unless expressly disallowed by the head judge prior to the event").
Orcish Oriflamme and Rukh Egg are unrestricted.
Channel, Copy Artifact, Demonic Tutor, Regrowth, and Wheel of Fortune are restricted. Icy Manipulator is unrestricted. Time Vault is banned.
Candelabra of Tawnos, Feldon's Cane, Ivory Tower, and Library of Alexandria are restricted. Dingus Egg and Gauntlet of Might are unrestricted.
Mishra's Workshop is restricted.
Chaos Orb, Falling Star, Mind Twist, Mirror Universe, Recall, Sword of the Ages, Underworld Dreams are restricted. For flavor reasons, all legendary cards (of type "Summon Legends"—then called Legends—or "Legendary Land") were restricted. Divine Intervention is banned.
Maze of Ith is restricted.
Creation of Standard (then called "Type 2") on January 10, inheriting banned and restricted lists from Vintage. Legal standard expansions are then the most current basic set (Revised Edition at the time) and the latest two Magic expansions only (The Dark and Fallen Empires). Unlike in Vintage, the head judge cannot ban cards from any such legal expansion.
- Time Vault now adds a time counter to itself when a turn is skipped for its cost. Taking an extra turn requires the removal of a time counter.
Legacy is created (then called Type 1.5). "Type 1.5 tournament decks may be constructed from Magic: The Gathering cards from the Limited (first edition, with black border) series, the Unlimited (second edition), Revised (third edition), Fourth Edition, any other Magic: The Gathering expansion (unless expressly disallowed by the head judge prior to the event), and promotional cards released by Wizards of the Coast in magazines or through books." There are no restricted cards. The list of banned cards is the sum of all cards that are either restricted or banned in Vintage or Standard.
- Standard: New deck construction rules. New editions of the basic set replace old versions and are permitted in Standard play thirty days after the release date of the new edition. New standalone expansions (e.g., Ice Age, Mirage, etc.) replace previous stand-alone expansions and are permitted in Standard play thirty days after the release date of the new edition. Limited-edition expansions are replaced thirty days after the release date of the next limited-edition expansion which has a release date of more than 10 months later than the release date of the outgoing limited-edition expansion.
- Standard: All cards on the restricted list are moved to the banned list.
- Standard: New deck construction rules. Standard decks can be composed of cards from the most recent edition of Magic: The Gathering (then Fifth Edition) and all sets from the two most recent "blocks" of expansions (at the time the Ice Age block which originally contained Homelands instead of Coldsnap, and the Mirage block).
- Extended: Extended, announced in May, is now officially sanctioned. Initial banned list includes all cards from Limited Edition, Unlimited Edition, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends which have not been reprinted in a more recent set, plus ante cards, and additionally: Demonic Tutor, Balance, Fastbond, Regrowth, Black Vise, Ivory Tower, Serendib Efreet, Braingeyser, Sol Ring, Juggernaut, Strip Mine, Channel, Kird Ape, Mana Crypt, Maze of Ith, Wheel of Fortune, Mind Twist, and Zuran Orb are banned.
- Vintage: Black Vise is restricted.
- Mirage block: Squandered Resources is banned.
- Standard: Dream Halls, Earthcraft, Fluctuator, Lotus Petal, Recurring Nightmare, and Time Spiral are banned. Memory Jar is banned retroactively in mid March.
- Extended: Memory Jar is banned. This was retroactively added to the March 1st bannings as an emergency ban in mid March.
- Urza's block Constructed: Time Spiral, Memory Jar, and Windfall are banned.
- Legacy: Candelabra of Tawnos, Copy Artifact, Maze of Ith, Zuran Orb, and Mishra's Workshop are unbanned.
- Vintage: Maze of Ith is unrestricted. Memory Jar is restricted.
- The errata issued for the “free” creatures (“When <this permanent> comes into play, if you played it from your hand, …”) applies to two additional cards: Karmic Guide and Treachery.
- Iridescent Drake receives the same erratum as the "free" creatures. It should read, "When Iridescent Drake comes into play, if you played it from your hand, return target enchant creature card from a graveyard to play enchanting Iridescent Drake. (You control that enchantment.)"
- Lion's Eye Diamond should read, "Sacrifice Lion's Eye Diamond, Discard your hand: Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool. Play this ability as an instant." This erratum causes Lion's Eye Diamond to function as it did under Fifth Edition rules.
- Lotus Vale should read, "When Lotus Vale comes into play, you may sacrifice two untapped lands. If you don't, sacrifice Lotus Vale. If you do, Lotus Vale gains ': Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool.'" This erratum causes Lotus Vale to function as it did under Fifth Edition rules; you can't tap it for mana without first sacrificing two untapped lands.
- Scorched Ruins should read, "When Scorched Ruins comes into play, you may sacrifice two untapped lands. If you don't, sacrifice Scorched Ruins. If you do, Scorched Ruins gains ': Add four colorless mana to your mana pool.'" This erratum causes Scorched Ruins to function as it did under Fifth Edition rules; you can't tap it for mana without first sacrificing two untapped lands.
- Extended: Dream Halls, Earthcraft, Lotus Petal, Mind Over Matter, and Yawgmoth's Will are banned.
- Vintage: Divine Intervention and Shahrazad are unbanned.
- Ivory Tower, Mirror Universe, and Underworld Dreams are unrestricted.
- Crop Rotation, Doomsday, Dream Halls, Enlightened Tutor, Frantic Search, Grim Monolith, Hurkyl's Recall, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Mind Over Matter, Mox Diamond, Mystical Tutor, Tinker, Vampiric Tutor, Voltaic Key, Yawgmoth's Bargain, and Yawgmoth's Will are restricted.
- Legacy: Divine Intervention, Ivory Tower, Mirror Universe, Shahrazad, and Underworld Dreams are unbanned.
- Crop Rotation, Doomsday, Dream Halls, Enlightened Tutor, Frantic Search, Grim Monolith, Hurkyl's Recall, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Mind Over Matter, Mox Diamond, Mystical Tutor, Tinker, Vampiric Tutor, Voltaic Key, Yawgmoth's Bargain, and Yawgmoth's Will are banned.
No changes were made during the year.
- Extended: Goblin Recruiter, Grim Monolith, Tinker, Hermit Druid, Ancient Tomb, and Oath of Druids are banned.
- Vintage: Burning Wish, Chrome Mox, and Lion's Eye Diamond are restricted.
- Legacy: Burning Wish, Chrome Mox, and Lion's Eye Diamond are banned.
- Extended: Metalworker and Skullclamp are banned.
- Vintage: Braingeyser, Doomsday, Earthcraft, and Fork are unrestricted.
- Legacy: Format becomes independent of Vintage. Cards that were already banned in Type 1.5 continue to be banned in Legacy, with the following exceptions:
- Unbanned : Braingeyser, Burning Wish, Chrome Mox, Crop Rotation, Doomsday, Enlightened Tutor, Fact or Fiction, Fork, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Mox Diamond, Mystical Tutor, Regrowth, Stroke of Genius, and Voltaic Key.
- Added to the banned list : Bazaar of Baghdad, Goblin Recruiter, Hermit Druid, Illusionary Mask, Land Tax, Mana Drain, Metalworker, Mishra's Workshop, Oath of Druids, Replenish, Skullclamp, and Worldgorger Dragon.
Banlist update mtg next
October 13, 2021 Banned and Restricted Announcement: Trickery and Memory Lapse Removed from Historic; No Changes to Standard
October 13, 2021 Banned and Restricted Announcement
Announcement Date: October 13, 2021
We’ve been carefully monitoring the Standard metagame since the format rotation and release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. As Innistrad: Midnight Hunt‘s Standard season winds down and we approach the release of Innistrad: Crimson Vow next month, we’ve been aware of some players’ concerns about the impact of certain individual cards on metagame diversity, such as Alrund’s Epiphany and Esika’s Chariot. After reviewing MTG Arena metagame data and recent online events (including the World Championship), and in considering the upcoming release of Innistrad: Crimson Vow, we’ve decided not to make any changes at this time.
We’ll consider changes to the Standard environment, if necessary, after evaluating Innistrad: Crimson Vow‘s impact on the metagame.
Tibalt’s Trickery is banned in Historic.
Memory Lapse is suspended in Historic.
Brainstorm is banned in Historic (from suspended).
Five digital-only cards are being rebalanced:
- Davriel’s Withering and Davriel, Soul Broker’s third ability now only affect “target creature an opponent controls.”
- Faceless Agent is now 2/2 (from 2/1).
- Sarkhan, Wanderer to Shiv’s second ability is now +1 (from +0).
- Subversive Acolyte now costs 1B (from BB), is 2/3 (from 2/2), and had the toughness increases from becoming Human or Phyrexian reduced by 1.
MTG Arena effective date: October 14, 2021
Jumpstart: Historic Horizons created a large amount of change in the Historic Metagame, and most of it looks very positive. But after watching initial reception, September’s Historic Arena Open, and the response of the broader metagame to the Arena Open, there are a couple adjustments we feel the Historic format needs.
In addition to the normal bans and suspensions, the digital-only cards in Jumpstart: Historic Horizons give us a chance to return to a balance tool we haven’t used in Magic for many years: functional rebalancing for cards. More on that below.
On the broader Historic metagame front, one of the big changes is the return of decks built around Tibalt’s Trickery, now using Throes of Chaos to boost the hit rate on the combo dramatically. This has led to a marked increase in win rate for the deck relative to the prior version and a corresponding increase in popularity. The prior, less consistent version of this deck was borderline, and the increased hit rate in this version has pushed it over the line. Because we think it is unlikely for Historic to be able to safely include a combo of this speed and consistency, Tibalt’s Trickery is banned in Historic.
In Banned and Restricted Announcements earlier this year, we have talked about the dominance of blue and red decks. Our past changes, along with the additions from Jumpstart: Historic Horizons, have done good work in addressing this, but we still see a slight issue here.
Looking at high-level play and the Arena Open in particular, Memory Lapse emerged as nearly a must-include in high-performing blue decks. It was the most played nonland card in the Arena Open as well as the Best-of-Three ladder, and it is one of the most played cards in Best-of-One as well. While we do believe that removing Memory Lapse from the format is likely to create further improvements in format diversity, we also believe the case is less clear than Tibalt’s Trickery. As such, and in order to increase format diversity, Memory Lapse is suspended in Historic.
Rounding out the bans and suspensions, Brainstorm is currently suspended in Historic, and this has helped in shifting the metagame in a healthier direction. Because this suspension has proved positive, Brainstorm is banned in Historic.
In addition to these bans and suspensions, we are also rebalancing five cards with this announcement. Digital-only cards in digital-only formats like Historic give us the ability to functionally rebalance cards simply and clearly. We can simply update the text digitally, and the cards will remain accurate to their new function.
Functional rebalancing is a significant change in how we’re managing balance for our formats, and it merits a bit of explanation around what it does and doesn’t mean. Going forward, we will be managing formats on MTG Arena in two different ways. “Print” formats, like Standard, will continue to work exactly like they do in tabletop Magic. For “Live” formats, like Historic, we are adding live balancing alongside banning and suspension as a tool to address problems and make improvements to the format.
We are very aware that there are many MTG Arena players who want the game to be an authentic representation of tabletop Magic, and our “print” formats will remain exactly that. Here, a card will always work the same way that the printed version of the card does and balance will be maintained the same way it traditionally has been: through banning cards when they prove to be problematic.
In addition to being an authentic version of tabletop Magic, MTG Arena is also a digital game. Digital games often make use of a wider array of balancing tools, like live rebalancing, and for good reason. The increased play rates and data collection possible in digital games tends to magnify the impact of power imbalances, which makes it valuable to have more tools to restore balance.
Currently, we are restricting these changes to digital-only cards, where there will be no conflict between a digital and printed version of a card. We would like to expand beyond this (for example, by rebalancing previously banned cards so they can be safely returned to play in digital formats only). There are multiple clarity and communication problems we will need to solve before we can consider those types of changes. This is something we plan to work on in the coming months and, since it bears repeating, would only affect digital formats.
One of the big themes of Magic over the last several years has been recognizing and embracing the many ways that Magic is played. On the tabletop side, we have released new content focused on Modern players, Commander players, collectors, and other groups. On MTG Arena, we recognize that we have traditional tabletop Magic fans and fans of digital games. With this shift, we aim to fully support both—continuing to deliver an authentic tabletop experience in formats like Standard and embracing new balance tools for digital-only formats like Historic.
Since these digital-only cards are only on MTG Arena, we can cleanly update all existing cards at once. With MTG Arena‘s update on October 14, the text and stats on these cards will change to match their new values, exactly as if there had been an Oracle update. These changes will affect any format where these cards can be played (Historic, Historic Brawl, Direct Challenge, etc.). There will not be an in-game notification about the rebalancing, but that is something that we are working toward.
Much like with bans and suspensions, whenever we rebalance cards, we want to provide context around why we’re making those changes. Read on for more info there from Donald Smith.
Hey, y’all. I’m Donald from the Play Design team. I’ve made a few appearances on the site talking about Challenger Decks, the genesis of Luminous Broodmoth‘s design, and how powerful Wily Goblin was in my deck at the 2017 World Championships (it wasn’t). Behind the scenes, I worked on MTG Arena‘s Mirror Mirror event, and today, I’m here to give the rationale behind these rebalanced cards.
Like digital-only designs, live balancing is a new tool to maximize the potential of our digital formats. This first set of changes is not meant to significantly impact the metagame but improve the ladder experience. This will also give us a chance to collect feedback and data on how the environment reacts to these changes. While we will still ban and suspend cards, we will also look for opportunities to improve the competitive metagame and address other issues through live balancing.
The three buffs are aimed at popular cards that have room to be stronger to better serve the decks and roles they were designed for. The remaining two balance changes are not meant to reduce the playability of the cards, but to address an undesirable combo from Historic.
Davriel’s Withering and Davriel, Soul Broker
Only affects “target creature an opponent controls”
We are removing the undesirable interactions with Vesperlark that can easily result in a draw.
2/2 (from 2/1)
Faceless Agent is an important card for tribal decks that don’t currently have the density of cards legal in Historic to fill out their curve. This is a simple buff to improve the experience of players using those tribal decks.
Sarkhan, Wanderer to Shiv
Second ability is now +1 (from +0)
Sarkhan’s second ability is weaker than the other two, especially considering the tension between choosing to conjure Shivan Dragons versus using the first ability to fuel future -2 abilities. We are aiming to better balance and reduce the tension between the abilities.
Costs 1B (from BB), is 2/3 (from 2/2), and had the toughness increases from becoming Human or Phyrexian reduced by 1
Subversive Acolyte competes too directly with Gifted Aetherborn for black decks looking for defensive options, and changing its mana cost adds a defensive option for black decks without needing to commit heavily into black to play Gifted Aetherborn. Adding a toughness lets Subversive Acolyte better fill that defensive role early in the game, and we adjusted the ability’s stat boost to preserve the Phyrexian Negator reference.
sushiske21 hours agoDeckbuilding, Historic, Modern, Pauper, Pioneer, Standard, Vintage
Last updated on October 13, 2021
Dark Heart of the Wood | Illustration by Mark Tedin
The “Banned and Restricted” announcements for MTG are pretty polarizing within the community. An important part of the formation and maintenance of constructed formats, it’s a huge part of the Magic ecosystem and has a lot of chatter around it.
But what is it? Why is it? Where is it? Who is it? Who am I? Who keeps eating my cereal at night?
These are all important questions that you’ll find the answer to both here, and at the back end of a breakfast-related existential crisis. So, let’s just do it here instead! Nobody needs to know about the cereal.
This is going to be super long, so buckle up and get ready for what is probably the most comprehensive thing you’ll ever read on the history of banlist discussions! That’s the goal, at least.
In the words of a 90s icon, much like Magic itself, lets-a-go!
Or. even better: Wah!
The Latest B&R Announcement
If you’re just here for the latest announcement, here it is!
Effective Date: October 14, 2021
Why Are Cards Banned?
Work a Double | Illustration by Carl Frank
Some cards are bad for the ecosystem of a format, some cards are egregious in their power levels, and some cards are just disliked by WotC.
Wizards has a ban philosophy, which you can try to figure out by scouring articles all over the internet and ending up down a hole of design philosophy, old formats, and eating ice cream at 4 am wondering what it all means.
But I did all of that work for you! On a blanket level, Wizards bans cards for one of reasons below:
- Because they’re just egregiously powerful. Oko, Thief of Crowns, for example.
- The card is too powerful for a specific format. Things like Wrenn and Six being banned in Legacy but not in Modern or the War of the Sparkplaneswalkers that are restricted in Vintage.
- The card leads to “unfun” gameplay.
- The card is too efficient.
It could also be the every-present fifth reason:
- In the interest of competitive diversity.
The thing is, play design is hard. As seen recently with Oko, Thief of Crowns, one wrong stat can make a card absurdly powerful and there’s no way to patch or errata said mistake unlike in video games.
Wizards sometimes needs to innovate so they make new ideas that may be too strong for the game. Banned and restricted lists are filled with these card designs.
The cards need to go so they don’t end up overrunning the format. And sometimes newer strategies break older cards, so the older cards get banned while the newer cards still get sold. Honestly, I don’t see any correlation between new sets and wanting people to play with new cards, and profits and…
“Mom, I’m gonna have to take the ice cream again!”
But, seriously, we all make mistakes. And the banned and restricted articles are a great insight into why these cards are broken, and what they’ve done to their formats. Honestly, the day a new B&R article drops is like Christmas for some of us. Especially when the metagame turns into what it’s become recently. I don’t even need to name the format. You know.
I don’t particularly agree with all of these decisions, like the banning of my sweet, sweet Splinter Twin. But Wizards are experienced and they can be very right sometimes. They do also miss the mark sometimes, though. Faithless Looting was an issue for years and was only banned in 2019. But if we didn’t believe in the game we wouldn’t be here.
Who Does the Banning?
Omnath, Locus of Creation | Illustration by Chris Rahn
For all of the official formats other than Commander, Wizards of the Coast bans the cards on their blog. Commander bans are made by the rules committee and are posted onto the official Commander rules committee website.
Any other format usually has its own committees or council to ban the cards.
Ban Announcement Dates
We have no clue.
… Other than “Mondays.”
So, the Wizards banlist announcements used to give a date for the next announcement, but now we get an announcement a week. Sometimes even a day before? Whether this is good or bad, I don’t know. But sometimes we just get announcements saying, “There’s gonna be an announcement soon!” and go with it.
This means that cards are banned quicker but also that we have no preparation for these cards getting banned. We can still say that the cards are always banned on Mondays, though.
Rules Lawyer | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak
So, I think that’s it from me. Now, it’s time for me to spew a bunch of cards that are banned in formats for your pleasure.
I apologise, in advance, for the amount of spewing.
Especially in Standard.
The Standard format uses the most recently released Magic sets.
This format lets you dive deeper into Magic’s history, allowing cards from Eighth Edition to today.
While Modern lets you play cards from as far back as 2003, Vintage lets you play cards from any set in the 20+ year history of Magic!
The following cards are restricted, which means you can only have one of them in your main deck and sideboard combined:
Allows cards from all legal sets but bans certain cards for power level reasons.
The following cards are banned from the format:
- Cards with the Card Type “Conspiracy.”
- Cards that reference “playing for ante.”
- Cards whose art, text, name, or combination thereof are racially or culturally offensive.
- Ancestral Recall
- Black Lotus
- Braids, Cabal Minion
- Chaos Orb
- Coalition Victory
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
- Falling Star
- Gifts Ungiven
- Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
- Iona, Shield of Emeria
- Leovold, Emissary of Trest
- Library of Alexandria
- Limited Resources
- Lutri, the Spellchaser
- Mox Emerald
- Mox Jet
- Mox Pearl
- Mox Ruby
- Mox Sapphire
- Panoptic Mirror
- Paradox Engine
- Primeval Titan
- Prophet of Kruphix
- Recurring Nightmare
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
- Sundering Titan
- Sway of the Stars
- Sylvan Primordial
- Time Vault
- Time Walk
- Tolarian Academy
- Trade Secrets
- Yawgmoth’s Bargain
These cards are banned in block-constructed tournaments, separated by block:
Innistrad-Avacyn Restored Block
Ice Age Block
The following cards are banned in Brawl and can’t be included in your deck or used as your commander:
All cards in the Pauper format must have been printed at common rarity in a Magic set or product. Common promo cards are only legal if the card meets that qualification. If a common version of a particular card was ever released in Magic, any version of that card is legal in this format.
The following cards are banned in this format:
Pioneer is a new-ish nonrotating format featuring cards from Return to Ravnica and forward. The following cards are banned:
Timeline of Bans in MTG
All right. Let’s take a look at the banlist update from July 2nd 2018 (before we started getting regular updates because of the turbulent nature of recent card design) to now.
October 14, 2021
September 24, 2021
September 13, 2021
September 8, 2021
July 22, 2021
July 12, 2021
June 16, 2021
June 10, 2021
May 20, 2021
April 13, 2021
February 15, 2021
Cascade Rules Change
January 14, 2021
October 12, 2020
September 28, 2020
August 24, 2020
August 3, 2020
July 13, 2020
June 1, 2020
May 18, 2020
April 13, 2020
March 9, 2020
December 2, 2019
November 18, 2019
November 11, 2019
November 4, 2019
October 21, 2019
August 26, 2019
July 8, 2019
June 27, 2019
May 20, 2019
January 21, 2019
July 2, 2018
The B&R list has lots of myth, trivia, and legend around it. For example, there have been more cards banned in Standard since 2017 than before 2017. This is absolutely insane, and I’m not going to keep going on about power creep, but it’s definitely a telling statistic.
Also, the artist with the most cards banned in any format is Mark Tedin, which is very interesting. He’s probably the most powerful Magic artist. It really makes you think about how many of the most iconic cards have been helmed by his art. Rob Alexander and Volkan Baga are tied for second with nine cards each.
Finale of Revelation | Illustration by Johann Bodin
Well, that’s it from me today. I hope you enjoyed our time together. Do you have any opinions about the banlist, or any cool trivia? Did you like what you read? Let me know down below in the comments.
If you’re enjoying what we do, then feel free to become a member of our Patreon! It helps us continue making lengthy stuff filled with content and (in my case at least) prevent existential crises about the design philosophy of Wizards of the Coast. Just as an example.
Thank you for reading my compendium on bans, restrictions, cardboard, and ice cream, and I hope to see you again. Have a good one!
Block ConstructedLegacyModernMTGMTG banlistMTG banned and restrictedMTG banned cardsMTG BrawlMTG cardsMTG collectionMTG CommanderMTG FormatsMTG PauperMTG PioneerMTG restricted cardsStandardVintage
Two Tarmogoyfs in a trenchcoat
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Magic The Gathering Rebalances Digital-Only Cards For The First Time In Historic Ban List Update
By Joe Parlock
Alrund's Epiphany isn't getting banned, though.
Wizards of the Coast is making some big balance changes to Magic the Gathering's Historic format, including the banning of popular cards and the first ever digital-only "rebalancing".
Historic is Magic the Gathering Arena's non-rotating format, which utilises any card ever released into Arena. Earlier this year, it was also the focus of the first ever digital-only cards, with Historic Horizons introducing mechanics that would only work in Arena and not paper.
RELATED: Alrund's Epiphany Is Causing Problems In Magic The Gathering's Standard Format
First, Tibalt's Trickery, Memory Lapse and Brainstorm are now fully banned in Historic. The latter was previously suspended to allow Wizards to see the impact a ban would have on the format, however now it has been made a full and permanent ban. In talking about the cards, Wizards said the ban of all three was to "increase format diversity". Memory Lapse was an almost compulsory inclusion for any blue deck, while the ever-problematic Tibalt's Trickery was being used with Throes Of Chaos to make similar combo decks that lead to it being banned in Modern in February.
More interestingly, Wizards is experimenting with digital "rebalancing" to perform functional errata on some of the digital-only cards that were introduced in Historic Horizons. Davriel's Withering and Davriel, Soul Broker's third ability can now only target an opponent's creature, Faceless Agent has been buffed into a 2/2 from a 2/1, and Sarkhan, Wandered to Shiv's second loyalty ability is now a +1 rather than a zero. The biggest change comes to Subversive Acolyte, whose mana cost, power and toughness, and had the toughness changes from either of its abilities reduced by one.
In the paper game, functional errata is a tool Wizards uses incredibly rarely, because changing the text on cards from what they actually do can be confusing for players. The last time this happened was the controversial change to Ajani's Pridemate, where its ability (put a +1/+1 counter on it whenever you gain life) was changed from a may ability – which could be ignored – to a must, which cannot.
In contrast, Wizards has now explained a new philosophy for Arena design. Some formats, such as Standard, will continue to treat cards the same way they always have, keeping them in-line with the paper game. On the other hand, Historic and Historic-based formats, like Historic Brawl, will now be considered "Live" instead. These formats can diverge from the paper game through digital rebalancing, as everybody's collections can be updated at the same time, unlike in paper. Though today's changes are only impacting digital-only cards, Wizards has implied it is open to rebalancing printed cards for Live formats in the future.
In the ban update, Wizards also addressed the ongoing concern surrounding Alrund's Epiphany and, to a lesser extent, Esika's Chariot in Standard. It said that it has considered Arena data, play data from the World Championship, and the upcoming launch of Innistrad: Crimson Vow, and has decided not to ban either card at this time. While that might be a mistake, as Alrund's Epiphany completely overran the World Championships, this does suggest there may be ways in Crimson Vow to better deal with it that might knock it down in the metagame.
NEXT: Magic The Gathering Bans Pithing Needle In Brawl And Historic Brawl
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Read NextAbout The Author
TheGamer's TCG Staff Writer, covering all things Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Flesh and Blood and more. His favourite Commander is Kwain, Itinerant Meddler!