February 1, 2016

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My Take on the EDH Banned List

Now that the dust has settled on the Prophet of Kruphix banning, I'm going to give my two cents on where the ban list in this format stands, and discuss cards I think that should or shouldn't be banned. Bear in mind that I play both competitive multiplayer and casual, so my issue with some of these cards is not from a particularly polarized point of view. I expect wild disagreements from a couple of my selections.

What is Banned That Shouldn't Be?

I understand how people feel about this card. I recognize that people think it warps games, and that it just should not have been printed. Quite frankly, I think it's worse than Seedborn Muse  except in a particular few decks. I think the issue here is many decks than ran Prophet ran the Muse before Prophet existed, and now that Prophet is banned many players simply shrugged and returned to running Seedborn Muse.

For years Braids fell under the old "banned as a Commander but legal in the 99" rule, but due to technical limitations of Magic Online, the EDH Committee was pressured by Wizards of the Coast to do away with that rule. In the process, three of the banned Commanders (Braids, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary ) were outright banned from the format. Out of these, I believe Braids was the least necessary. There are cards that are still legal that do a lot more harm than she does such as (e.g., Smokestack ) and she is typically quite easy to get rid of. I think the committee should have simply kept the old ruling, as not being able to play with Braids leaves a sour taste in mouth.

Mass Board Destruction (except Upheaval)
Cards like Worldfire and Sway of the Stars don't deserve to be on the banned list. They're not strong enough for competitive play, and in most casual play groups I've been in, people ask that cards like Jokulhaups and Decree of Annihilation aren't included in decklists so it's not difficult to extend those house rules to other similar spells. I think more people would enjoy being able to fool around with these cards from time to time than people would be upset at the one time they see them every 100 games or so.

Of course, these are all cards that I feel would be fine. Other people may disagree or think other cards should be unbanned first. The ban list is quite small and fair for the most part, so there's little debate to be had beyond a few cards. It's what should be banned that causes a lot more argument. Which is why I'm discussing this, too:

What Should be Banned But Isn't?

Deadeye Navigator is a fine card most of the time. The issue is it coincides with a bunch of other cards that are banned in the format in terms of philosophy. I feel that if they're going to ban cards that have decks revolve around them, they should be banning them all. I also firmly believe that Deadeye was more deserving of a ban than Prophet of Kruphix.

Similar to Deadeye Navigator, I don't personally have a problem with this card. I just think that the committee should be more dedicated to having consistency in their bans. They banned Primeval Titan because it provides one player with too much of an advantage in a multiplayer format. I don't see how Consecrated Sphinx is any different. If I untap with it after casting it in a four player game (the standard for EDH) I've already draw 6 cards and gotten a big flying guy for six mana. Every turn that passes with this guy in play creatures absurd card advantage.

Another philosophy for the ban list was that the format should be accessible. I feel like losing to a card like Timetwister just feels bad, because it puts a financial limit on certain types of win conditions. Many of the other expensive cards that are legal don't function as ridiculous engines like this one. Like Imperial Seal or Mishra's Workshop they tend to be utility or ramp. Where in the right deck Timetwister resolving can literally end games.

In Conclusion

You may notice a bit of double-sidedness in my list. The reason being that I think that ban list should either shift in one direction or the other. I feel that they should either unban a great deal of cards and allow people who want to play more powerfully to do so. Or if they're going to claim the ban list functions the way it does, at least add more things to it so there's more balance in options. I feel they shouldn't be banned "overpowered" spells and then leaving a few of them legal, because it hurts deck building when every Blue player needs a Sphinx to play to the best of their ability.

Thanks for reading, I'll be back next week with another deck list!