Mat Bimonte: I Now Pronounce Your Bans Are Rife

As I was catching up on sleep Monday after a long weekend of getting married and partying with my family and close friends, I get this message: “Wake up idiot, Wizards is banning Emrakul.” Perfect. 

Now, I had this really sweet article drafted up talking about how awesome some of the Aether Revolt cards are, and how they are obsolete because of Emrakul, but after messaging my illustrious editor, we both decided we would wait in the face of the moved-up banlist update. (Editor’s Note: And to have some time to think up “wedding banned” puns.)

Yeah, right, they don’t move up the banned and restricted dates ever. To the internet! A quick look through Twitter and I see this:


Oh…. oh my, it’s really happening. Let me wipe the sleep from my eyes and make sure this is real. Check with a few people, and it’s confirmed, I’m not starring in “Inception 2.” 

Here were my thoughts six hours before the announcement:

In Standard please ban:

Aetherworks Marvel
Felidar Guardian (this card/deck will become very frustrating)

In Modern please ban:
Gitaxian Probe (and all Phyrexian Mana abusers)
Cathartic Reunion or Golgari Grave-Troll
Mox Opal
Simian Spirit Guide
Blood Moon

My list of bans is extensive, but I’ve played so much competitive Magic in the past year I’ve made plenty of content regarding my thoughts, some of which you can read here

What actually happened?

Let’s start with with the Modern changes.

Gitaxian Probe. Hooray, they got one right! This card is just busted in half. Very happy with that one even if they missed the rest, as this was the biggest oppressor in Modern. For reference, Infect is still the best deck in the format by a fair amount, so don’t celebrate its demise too early just yet.

Golgari Grave-Troll. The once-banned Troll made his way back to under the bridge this week. Troll’s life in Modern was short lived, only being unbanned since Jan. 23, 2015, but the destruction that Dredge was starting to cause was impressive. This ban was fairly reasonable, and Dredge will continue to be a very good deck even in the face of a banning. #ThugLife

Why do I like these bans? It isn’t like banning Splinter Twin or Birthing Pod where you actually just decapitate an entire archetype. This is helpful for players jumping into the format, and allows them to feel comfortable making bigger investments into a format. Infect and Dredge both had important cards banned, but are still perfectly fine choices for a tournament. Wizards needs to earn their playerbase back after doing a good job of killing it off in recent years. This could be step one.

Now, on to the more shocking news, and the Standard bannings. I may be still celebrating my wedding, but the honeymoon is definitely over for Emrakul.

Not the least bit surprised by this one. In the words of Patrick Sullivan “different story every time”. This card restricted your deckbuilding in the worst way possible. Couldn’t go over it for obvious reasons, and couldn’t go under it because of cards like Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot. At least we did get the end we were promised, right? Right?

Smuggler’s Copter. Weird right? Do you even realize the garbage we were putting in our decks, and how we had to operate around this card? Looking back we are going to laugh at the fact that this splashable card even came off the presses. Everyone and their mother diagnosed this card as one of the best in the set, and boy were they right.

Reflector Mage. What in the … I feel like picking up the phone and asking R&D if they remember the time this card was super oppressive when Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors were legal. My early inclination is that they’ve done their “testing” and realized that this card was going to push some Jeskai Combo deck featuring Saheeli and Felidar Guardian into the highest tier. This card is generally not fun to play against, so while it makes sense, banning an uncommon past its prime is just a wild concept to me.

What does this all mean?

As someone who has access to basically whatever cards I need,  it affects me in a very minimal way. I can build whatever decks I want now, and the format is essentially unlocked, which is awesome. However, I live in the real world, and I realize that I am likely the anomaly in the Magic world. Most players have budgets, and banning easily $100 worth of cards that they’ve purchased or traded for feels miserable, especially in a rotating format.

Now while I made the statement about the Modern banning gaining customers back, these Standard bannings could be damning to the format overall. While I think they are great and will diversify the format, banning cards usually is a red alert for consumer confidence, and we all know how fickle Standard is. Standard attendance is way down, whether it be due to Emrakul, or cost, it is unknown. Hopefully these changes can breathe some life into the format and it is enjoyable again.

Wrap Up

It is yet to be seen whether a Standard ban like this is something they will be more willing to do in the future, or if this is a closet case. I’m not really sure what their plan is, but I hope they don’t plan on letting the new Jeskai Combo ruin the format again just to ban it. It’s actually a very exciting time now with a full set coming out, and essentially a “rotation” happening. What are everyone’s thoughts on the banlist? Anything they missed? How concerned are you about them banning things in Standard? Enjoy your pre-releases this weekend!

Thanks for stopping by,

Mat Bimonte

Mat Bimonte first picked up the game during Theros block, but already has a Modern 5K championship under his belt, as well as a number of smaller Standard tournament wins. Based out of Bloomington, Ill., Mat is a regular on the SCG Tour, with future aspirations of qualifying for the Pro Tour.

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Mat Bimonte