People like to play with awesome cards. Perhaps we ripped them from a pack, or traded for them with hard-earned FNM winnings—regardless, we expect to have fun with what we worked so hard to acquire.

The counterpoint is that, if a certain card or deck type is omnipresent, the game gets monotonous, with round after round spent facing the same overpowered deck. If bannings are intended to counteract that, they should be used only when a card has a demonstrably negative interaction with a given format. For example, [card]Sensei's Divining Top[/card] has a broken interaction with [card]Counterbalance[/card], and its inclusion in the old Extended format was making people go to time. Its ban was justified.

Everyone views fun in different ways, and this list wasn't intended to be some mass consensus, but rather one voice in the Magic community. Read on, and let your own voice be heard in the forums.

Legacy

Earthcraft

[draft]Earthcraft[/draft]

[card]Earthcraft[/card] combines with [card]Squirrel Nest[/card] and a basic land to create infinite 1/1s. I think this combo would be fine, if not for a few factors:

1) They're both enchantments, which makes them both tutorable by [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] and could push the already-playable Enchantress shell into broken territory. [card]Earthcraft[/card] might make a fine inclusion in the deck even without [card]Squirrel Nest[/card], as the deck already wants to [card]Wild Growth[/card] a land and play a pile of untargetable 0/1s.

2) They're both green. Does green really need a two-card combo, costing two and three, that generates infinite 1/1s? Think about it for a second. Every green deck in the format could sideboard this, or maindeck it, or tutor for it randomly. I don't want my control opponents combo killing me turn four.

On the plus side, it would be satisfying to set [card]Engineered Plague[/card] to Squirrel.

Verdict: Keep banned.

Goblin Recruiter

[draft]Goblin Recruiter[/draft]

A while ago, I recommended unbanning this card, but that was before the influence of [card]Cavern of Souls[/card], and since then the Goblin tribe has come back with a vengeance.

While it'd be fun to have [card]Food Chain[/card] viable, Recruiter is overkill when [card goblin ringleader]Ringleader[/card] is good enough.

Verdict: Keep banned.

Hermit Druid

[draft]Hermit Druid[/draft]

If you fill your deck with nonbasics, [card]Hermit Druid[/card] is the Cephalid Breakfast self-mill in a can. While that used to sound scary to me, I haven't seen Cephalid Breakfast be good in a while, and [card]Hermit Druid[/card] has summoning sickness. As I understand it, the card was initially banned due to an old Extended deck, which seems like a worse and worse reason.

Hermit druid hits the sweet spot of being good enough to spawn new archetypes, but also being fragile enough in a sea of removal and graveyard hate to not dominate the format.

Also, I'd love to put this guy into play off an opponent's [card]Show and Tell[/card]. Nice spaghetti monster, bro.

Verdict: Consider unbanning.

Imperial Seal

[draft]Imperial Seal[/draft]

There are a few reasons I think [card]Imperial Seal[/card] is fine:

1) Threats are better, making the life loss more relevant than when Seal was initially banned.

2) The decks that would use Seal, while gaining some consistency, wouldn't gain enough to be busted.

3) Randomness like [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] and [card]Thought Scour[/card] make sorcery-speed [card]Vampiric Tutor[/card]s worse than ever before.

4) I've played this card in Vintage next to Vampiric and [card]Demonic Tutor[/card] and, while excellent, it is not on the same level. It's definitely worse than [card]Mystical Tutor[/card].

Looking at the format now, the only deck that plays [card]Personal Tutor[/card] is [card]Omniscience[/card], and that's as a 1-of. Seal would see more play than that, but not a dangerous amount. My main concern with the card is its obscurity and price tag, but those factors haven't been reason to ban a card in Legacy before.

Verdict: Consider unbanning.

Survival of the Fittest

[draft]Survival of the Fittest[/draft]

The current format is drastically different than the one in which Survival got the ax. Graveyard hate sees more maindeck play than ever with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card], and [card]Rest in Peace[/card] all making potential Survival engines much worse.

On top of that, [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] gives another combination of colors maindeck enchantment removal.

Verdict: Consider unbanning.

Deathrite Shaman

[draft]Deathrite Shaman[/draft]

Ever since I started playing Legacy, [card]Wasteland[/card] has been part of the glue that has held the format together. You could stretch your mana base to include more powerful cards, but you'd run the risk of making your deck more vulnerable to nonbasic hate.

[card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] changes things. Now, if your opponent plays a turn one Deathrite, Wastelanding becomes much worse. As in chess, it's the person who's up on material that can more likely afford the one-for-one trade. Deathrite isn't the only card that cheats the [card]Wasteland[/card] battle, and we can look to [card]Aether Vial[/card] for another good example. [card]Aether Vial[/card], however, has some limiting restrictions. It doesn't become relevant immediately, redundant copies don't turn into damage or lifegain enablers, and Vial also requires you to run a critical mass of creatures to be good (and creatures suck).

Deathrite has the potential to see an omnipresent level of play.

Verdict: Consider banning, but probably not. This guy's fun.

Show and Tell

[draft]Show and Tell[/draft]

Show and Tell is only as good as what you're cheating in. In that light, the card is as good as [card]Omniscience[/card], [card]Griselbrand[/card], or [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card], and as such is definitely overpowered. That's why it has sustained some of the format's more degenerate and consistent combo decks.

That said, the card is very answerable, and has enough commonly played hate to make it a reasonable force for the environment. Commonly played sideboard cards like [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card], [card]Angel of Despair[/card], [card]Humility[/card], [card]Detention Sphere[/card], and [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] can be very difficult to fight through.

Players without access to those tools can look to more obscure options like [card]Envelop[/card] or [card]Hornet Queen[/card].

Verdict: Keep around.

Flash

[draft]Flash[/draft]

[card]Flash[/card] is actually similar to [card]Show and Tell[/card]. While [card]Flash[/card] is instant speed, you don't get to keep the creature. One reason to keep [card]Flash[/card] banned is that, unlike [card]Show and Tell[/card], it's a two-card instant kill with [card]Protean Hulk[/card]. While [card]Show and Tell[/card] can end the game immediately off of an [card]Omniscience[/card] or [card]Hive Mind[/card], it needs a third card to complete the combo.

For reference, the combo went [card]Flash[/card] + [card]Protean Hulk[/card], tutoring up [card]Karmic Guide[/card] and [card]Carrion Feeder[/card]. Karmic got back Protean, which was then sacrificed to find [card]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/card]. Kiki would tap to target Karmic, then be sacrificed in response. The Karmic copy would get back Kiki, and the loop would repeat to create infinite 2/2 flyers with haste.

As with Survival, the conditions in which [card]Flash[/card] was broken no longer exist. Both [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] are maindeckable answers to the Kiki-Jiki path to victory, and the pressure of the tempo decks has greatly increased (thanks to [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]). The level of direct hate increases every year. Back in the day, [card]Leyline of the Void[/card] was the best answer to the combo because it stopped the [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card] win as well. Today, [card]Rest in Peace[/card] gives that effect to an entirely new color, making Flash less dangerous than ever before.

Verdict: Consider unbanning.

Modern

When Modern first became a format, Wizards banned anything that might give them trouble and continued banning as players explored the format, similar to the approach they took with Legacy. The strategy makes sense, since they're trying to emulate the success of Magic's best format and make a more affordable version for newer players.

However, there are a few drastic differences in the formats, which means they should be treated differently. Let's examine [card]Mental Misstep[/card]:

Mental Misstep

[draft]Mental Misstep[/draft]

In Legacy, the power level of cards like [card]Brainstorm[/card], [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card], and a variety of one-drop threats like [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and [card]Goblin Lackey[/card] meant that every deck had to run a high number of one-drops (at least eight and usually more) to compete. This meant that most decks ran [card]Mental Misstep[/card], and the card became a free counter for whoever drew it.

The card would work drastically differently in Modern, where most of the power cantrips (like [card]Ponder[/card] and [card]Preordain[/card]) are already banned. Many decks are based around two-drops, like [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Dark Confidant[/card], [card]Cranial Plating[/card], or mana rituals. Decks with redundant early game pieces, like Tron, are somewhat resilient to this type of counter.

[card]Mental Misstep[/card] might be a good thing for Modern. It would drastically reduce the importance of cards like [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Thoughtseize[/card], and [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]. With its unbanning, we could possibly even unban some cantrips and [card]Rite of Flame[/card].

Verdict: Consider unbanning, but probably not. This card isn't much fun.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

[draft]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/draft]

Jace is one of the most fun cards of all time, giving the option of drawing more cards, manipulating either deck, or bouncing a creature. It's a win condition packaged in a draw engine and soft lock piece, and that's awesome.

Jace wouldn't be as busted as usual in this environment. For example, a few of the popular turn three plays are [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], [card]Lingering Souls[/card], and [card]Karn Liberated[/card]. The four-mana blue planeswalker, while one of the best cards in the game, doesn't match up well against those plays.

Even if Jace did turn out to be the bee's knees, my next favorite thing to playing Jace is hating on it, and sweet ones like [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card], [card]Silvergill Adept[/card], and [card]Blightning[/card] would see more play.

Verdict: Please unban so I can love this format.

Ancestral Vision

[draft]Ancestral Vision[/draft]

[card]Ancestral Vision[/card] is decidedly less fun than Jace. If you're playing Vision, drawing into it when it's irrelevant sucks. If you're playing against it, facing down a turn one suspension also sucks.

Vision is immune to all sorts of things, like [card]Mana Leak[/card] and discard, making it frustrating to play against. Meanwhile, a Jace could've been [card]Thoughtseize[/card]d or [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]d right out of your hand, or pressured with a haste creature or a pile of 1/1 tokens. The card is less powerful than Jace, but also much more resilient.

Verdict: Consider unbanning, but probably not.

Artifact Lands

[draft]Ancient Den
Great Furnace
Seat of the Synod
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers[/draft]

Craig Wescoe argued that Affinity in Modern might be more vulnerable with the artifact lands. Currently, half of the affinity mana base consists of colorless manlands, which makes the deck resilient to sweepers as well as hosers like [card]Kataki, War's Wage[/card].

I'm not sure if I agree, but if [card]Seat of the Synod[/card] were legal I'd play the heck out of [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card].

Verdict: Keep banned.

Bitterblossom

[draft]Bitterblossom[/draft]

We could have a format with Faeries, Zoo, Affinity, and Jund duking it out for title of best creature deck, but due to bannings we only have Affinity and Jund.

[card]Bitterblossom[/card] has natural counters in [card]Lingering Souls[/card], [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], and piles of burn. Even if that's not enough, more situational cards like [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card] and [card]Zealous Persecution[/card] are answers that could see play (and have great uses against Affinity and Infect).

The Faeries deck is adept at keeping the stupidly broken archetypes in check (a noble goal). [card]Bitterblossom[/card] gives us a new way of attacking the format, a new type of threat, and that's something Modern needs.

Verdict: Unban.

Chrome Mox

[draft]Chrome Mox[/draft]

[card]Chrome Mox[/card] wasn't overpowered in Standard, Vintage, Cube, Limited, or Legacy. Why can't we imprint stuff in Modern? It's unbanning might even make All in Red viable, which would help punish the current level of greed in the average Modern mana base.

Verdict: Unban with no reservations.

Glimpse of Nature

[draft]Glimpse of Nature[/draft]

If they unbanned [card]Mental Misstep[/card], Glimpse could be a sweet addition to the format. I, as well as a large segment of the competitive community, really enjoy drawing cards, and Glimpse is a great engine for the combo-aggro archetype, which we could always use more of.

Verdict: Probably not, but it'd be sweet.

Umezawa's Jitte

[draft]Umezawa's Jitte[/draft]

As one of the more iconic cards of all time, I'm not sure why Jitte is on the list. Sure it's powerful, but it's a card that's good against creatures, yet needs creatures to work. It offers a slew of options, and has potential to be misplayed.

Hitting with Jitte is one of the more satisfying feelings in the game, and I love that it's a tool that's open to every color combination. In Legacy, I enjoy the Jitte sub-game that can flip a matchup on an unprepared opponent. Modern would be better off with this card.

Verdict: Please unban so I can love this format.

Wild Nacatl

[draft]Wild Nacatl[/draft]

Even if Nacatl did push other creatures out of playability, which I don't think it did, I'm not sure that's the best reason to ban a card.

This is the format of [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], [card]Lightning Helix[/card], [card]Path to Exile[/card], and turn four kills. Nacatl is fine.

Verdict: Unban.

Preordain

[draft]Preordain[/draft]

If nothing else on this list happens, I'd settle for a playable cantrip. [card]Ponder[/card] was restricted in Vintage, which almost made sense, and because of that banning it has more precedent for Modern. In contrast, Preordain barely sees any play in Legacy (where [card]Ponder[/card] is a format staple).

[card]Preordain[/card] is powerful, to be sure. I remember splashing for the card in Standard to strong results. As is, we lack the tools we need to get to the important cards in a given matchup. Since hosers and counter-hosers are so vital to success, this makes the format more of a crap shoot than it should be.

Verdict: Unban.

As my lists show, I prefer playing sweet cards to not. While I understand the need to keep some strategies in check, I'd also like to give said strategies a chance before outright banning some of the most fun and challenging cards in the game (I'm looking at you, [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card] and [card umezawa's jitte]Jitte[/card]).

We've tried Modern without the best cards. Why not give the other way a chance?

Caleb Durward
@CalebDMTG