Ban List Swings Like the Pendulum Do…


Combos and win conditions, 2 X 2.. DCI decisions blow with the wind, say good bye to Emrakul the Promised End.

After having a little time to digest the changes that are coming down with the 1 week early release of the DCI banned and restricted list, I am left thinking that this was a bit of an apology and an attempt to try to get back the players that have been lost from FNM lately.

While I do agree with some of the banning decisions, I do have to question not only the timing, but the reasoning behind a couple of the decisions that were made… I will break this down to the 3 cards that I found to be not so much surprising, but to a degree overdue.

Emrakul, the Promised End:

What Wizards/DCI had to say: “Created to be scarily powerful, Emrakul, the Promised End delivered on that promise too well. Emrakul faced too little resistance and ended games too easily. She was the world ending, all-poweful monster she was in the story, which was too much for Standard.”

My take: Emrakul, the Promised End may have been too much for Standard, but are you seriously telling me that banning her in Standard is enough?

All you have done is spared FNM from her wrath, but that will not change the possibilities of Emrakul, the Promised End wreaking havoc on Modern, Legacy, and Vintage formats… considering that she is a 13 drop, that can’t be targeted by instants, and furthermore with the costing 1 generic mana less to cast for each type of card in your grave yard, and the ability to lower her casting further with things like Helm of Awakening, it is actually possible to take her from a 13 drop to all the way down to a 3 drop.

Further, if playing  Green (source for mana speed as well as blending with Aluren), you could possibly get her to the table for free… not quickly per se, but it is possible. This would also extend to stuff like Breaker of Armies, Desolation Twin, and a multitude of other Eldrazi that are currently in Standard.

Smuggler’s Copter:

What Wizards/DCI had to say: “Simply put, Smuggler’s Copter is too efficient and shows up in too many decks, diminishing the format’s diversity. We wasn’t Planeswalkers, sorcery-speed removal, and a variety of vehicles to be viable options, and believe removing Smuggler’s Copter will allow them to flourish again. Of the top archetypes in Standard, very few didn’t play four copies of Smuggler’s Copter, stifling many creative, fun opion. Smuggler’s Copter was the result of a new card type being pushed too far, and, as such, is now banned.”

My take: Yeah, this was a decently reasonable reason to ban the card in Standard, and DCI makes a good case for it, but there is one small problem with what they are saying here… to a degree, they are banning a card based on how popular it is, and not because it is really all that game breaking.

Yeah, it’s a 2 drop, rare, and when it blocks or attacks you may draw a card, then discard a card… While I could see in some decks that this would be game breaking, it is still a vehicle artifact, and it still requires tapping a creature with a power of 1 or more to turn it into an Artifact Creature… so even though it is a 2 drop, it still requires outside factors to even activate that ability… and it would have to be done every turn… so again, mechanics wise, it is not that hard to remove the Smuggler’s Copter from the equation.

This one totally smack of strictly being a ban based on simply how popular the card is, and not how it would reshape a match.

Gitaxian Probe:


What Wizards/DCI had to say; “Gitaxian Probe increased the number of third-turn kill in a few ways, but particularly by giving perfect information (and a card) to decks that often have to make strategic decisions about going “all-in.” This hurt the ability of reactive decks to effectively bluff or for the aggressive deck to miss-sequence their turn. Ultimately, the card did too much for too little cost.”



Now that part is out of my system, there are 2 questions that I have to ask about this banning.

  1. Why did it take so long to come to the conclusion that Gitaxian Probe is rather broken?
  2. Why is it not also banned in Legacy or Vintage?

Part the First… New Phyrexia was released in 2011, and with it the Phyrexian Mana mechanic where you can spend 2 points of life or a single mana of the corresponding colour to cast spells and activate abilities… in some situations that could be a real game shifter such as with the Gitaxian Probe which is a single Blue Phyrexian Mana to look at your opponent’s hand, and then draw a card yourself.

6 years and not a peep/ruling, and now… Ban Hammer.

Part the Second: The important part of this is that it went through Standard, and has been dwelling in the other formats for all these years without a banning. It is still fully legal in Legacy, Block, and Vintage formats… Black is not an issue so much, but do you honestly believe that Gitaxian Probe is not any more broken when it can be combined with the card pool in Legacy or Vintage?

If the point of banning Gitaxian Probe in Modern is because of the number of third-turn kills that it can result in, how in the blue cheese do you suppose it would be any less devastating in the arguably more powerful Legacy and Vintage formats?

The host over there at the Mana Source put out a video right after the announcement, and the point that he made about Probe being banned was not so much about the card itself, but more about the precedent that it had set… that being an active diminishing for control decks.

To be perfectly honest,  I kind of agree, but I also don’t really like the Mana Source too much (based on the sound of the narrator’s voice… makes everything sound like a question and not a statement), but the information is good.

At the time of this writing, the response from Jeremy at MTGHeadquarters has not hit, and I have not seen anything quite yet from Tolarian Community College or Command Zone, but I am sure they will be weighing in on it soon.


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