Mind's Desire | Strixhaven Mystical Archive
7, Aug, 23

MTG Announcement Unbans Former Staples After Literal Decades

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Back in mid-May, Wizards of the Coast announced a dramatic change to the MTG ban schedule. For the first time in a long time, there is going to be one. Rather than banning cards without any warning, now there will be predetermined allotted windows for Wizards to take action. After plenty of anticipation, the first one of these is finally here. 

Ahead of the spoiler season of Wilds of Eldraine starting on the 15th of August, today, Wizards unveiled the latest yearly MTG bans. Or rather, they didn’t as, in a somewhat unsurprising twist, nothing was banned during this momentous announcement. Instead, Wizards of the Coast decided to unban two cards to shake up a pair of classic formats. 

As a note, all the bans, or rather unbans covered today, are effective August 7th, 2023.

Preordain is Unbanned in Modern

Preordain | Magic 2011

Originally banned in 2011, Preordain hasn’t been allowed in Modern for over a decade at this point. During this time, the format has seen multiple dramatic shifts, especially thanks to direct-to-Modern sets such as Modern Horizons. Thanks to these controversial sets, Modern today looks dramatically different from the modern of 2011. This, in turn, can make the format’s ban list appear rather bizarre. 

While an unnecessarily large ban list isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s an issue Wizards is nevertheless eager to fix. This is stated outright in the recent announcement article. “While it is not something that we do often, we are interested in finding opportunities to reduce the size of the Modern banned list when we believe it will make the format more fun and provide players with more options.” 

As you might expect after reading that, Preordain being unbanned should accomplish both of these goals. By increasing the consistency of combo strategies, which have taken a beating following Modern Horizons, Preordain should allow combo players to have more fun. Alongside this, Wizards noted how this will “give something back to Blue-Red Murktide,” which has fallen out of favor recently. 

Overall, considering combo decks are still suppressed by numerous Modern Horizons cards, this change may not upend the Modern format. That being said, however, it should hopefully provide players with a fun new option to help spice up their decks. Whether or not this will be enough to keep the format’s metagame interesting, however, remains to be seen. After all, as we’ll get to shortly, there are still problem cards in the format.

Mind’s Desire is Unbanned in Legacy

Mind's Desire | Vintage Masters

Shortly after its release in 2003’s Scourge, Mind’s Desire became the fastest-ever ban in MTG history. Thanks to this, you may well expect this card to never be unbanned, as surely it’s beyond dangerously powerful… right? Surprisingly, not really. Rather than being Time Walk 2.0, Mind’s Desire is remarkably tame, especially compared to modern MTG cards.

Similarly to Preordain, a lot has changed in MTG since Mind’s Desire was first banned. In fact, two decades have passed, with new card types, staples, and formats emerging throughout that time. Thanks to this, Mind’s Desire has been left looking rather tame, as the power level and design space for MTG cards have evolved a lot over the years.

One of the main areas of change, as seen in Mind’s Desire, is the design space for free spells. While this ability was previously kept under lock and key, now there are numerous cycles and cards allowing players to play spells for free. Subsequently, having Mind’s Desire be banned in Legacy seems rather odd, even when you consider it does have Storm. 

While Storm is obviously powerful, evidently it isn’t reason enough to keep Mind’s Desire banned in Legacy. After all, it’s fairly common to see Tendrils of Agony ending games on the spot. Thanks to this, there’s nary a reason to keep Mind’s Desire out of Legacy any longer.

Ultimately, thanks to the changes over the years, Wizards feels Mind’s Desire no longer needs to be banned in Legacy. Especially not after The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth has shaken up the format with Orcish Bowmasters. This has allowed Wizards to make the change that should ensure that “combo players also get the same level of new content and strength that other archetypes incidentally gain through our tentpole offerings.”

No Changes Elsewhere

The One Ring | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth

Curiously, for the major ban announcement of 2023, that’s it… On the surface, this may not seem like too bad of a change, as most MTG formats are in a rather healthy place right now. That being said, however, there is one card that is proving to be a problem all over the place. Newly released in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, The One Ring is a multi-format all-star. So much of one, in fact, that it may well be the best MTG card released all year.

Thanks to its strength, The One Ring has seen extensive play in Alchemy, Commander, Historic, Legacy, Modern, and even Vintage. Subsequently, many MTG players (including us) have been predicting its demise in this ban announcement. Obviously, despite the card’s prevalence, this hasn’t happened. Instead, during the announcement, Wizards only stated that the card and others from Tales of Middle-earth are on their radar. 

Ultimately, this means we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters. Should their dominance continue, it’s entirely possible these cards could be banned before too long. Alternatively, if the formats continue to shift and evolve, especially following upcoming sets, they may not be a problem. Currently, it’s just too early to tell what will happen, so we’ll have to wait and see. 

There May Be More Bans Soon

Hungry for More | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Hungry for More | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

For better or worse, that’s all the bans, or rather unbans, that Wizards of the Coast have announced today. Due to this, you may understandably expect we’re now stuck with the current MTG ban lists until this time in 2024. Thankfully, that might not be the case. 

Alongside revolutionizing the ban schedule with this yearly planned overhaul, Wizards has allows for several post-release windows. Scheduled to take place roughly three weeks after every set release, this ban window allows for swift and needed reactions. Should another Oko, Thief of Crowns be printed, for instance, Wizards would need to deal with this rather quickly.

While these mini-ban windows are available for every MTG set, keep in mind that they won’t always be used. After all, Wizards of the Coast doesn’t want to be banning cards constantly since it makes Magic significantly more confusing. Saying that, however, you can still expect to see plenty of powerful cards in MTG that toe the line of acceptability. 

Hopefully, these new MTG cards won’t push the level too far in the wrong direction. Ultimately, however, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. Until new spoilers get revealed and combos concocted, there’s no telling what problems may arise. Subsequently, we’re just going to have to sit tight and wait for the next ban wave to come. 

Read More: MTG Finally Returns to the Most Requested Plane Ever in 2025!

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