We wrote about bans last week because, ultimately, they’re a divisive topic. It’s fun to talk about them because people have different views on how to approach things, but most of us don’t actually have the power to influence what will or won’t get banned.
Despite that, there is nearly always some kind of discourse around what should or shouldn’t be in any given format. While it’s understandable when you’re talking about something in a more competitive format like Modern, Standard, or Legacy, it’s a little odd when people start hating on something in Commander.
Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it should be banned
Now, some people play Commander in a competitive manner, and we know that and understand that. However, it’s still, generally, a far more casual format. A lot of playgroups have their own banned lists in addition to or instead of the official one.
It’s the format that most people play to mess around with brewing decks and playing with cards they might not otherwise get a chance to. It’s also, mostly, cheaper than other formats because you only need one copy of a card instead of four, and you can very comfortably build a powerful deck without the best possible version of any given card.
Despite this, the latest call for bannings online has been with regards to wheels. The argument got extra oomph from a Sheldon Menery article on Commander cards in Modern Horizons 2, but he’s also explained that he doesn’t want wheels to be banned.
Now, wheels in MTG, as you’re probably aware, are cards or effects that have you discard your hand and draw some new cards. They’re a lot of fun most of the time, but can feel incredibly oppressive when paired with something like Hullbreacher (one of the best Merfolk in Commander). However, that’s not really a good enough reason to ban them.
Maybe your deck is the problem
A lot of people tend to build their Commander decks with a laser-like focus on whatever the theme is for it. That means tribal decks filled to the brim with nought but relevant Creatures types and supporting spells, and theme decks with nothing but the best Equipment cards or whatever the preferred strategy is.
What most players don’t do, is fill your deck with relevant answers. Now, I’m obviously not talking about you, because you definitely wouldn’t complain about a card just because you don’t have the answer to it in your hand.
However, for players that commit too much to their theme, it often means they lose out on interaction. That’s fine if you’re happy for that to be the case, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a Counterspell or any other lower c counterspells can have on your matches.
It’s not always about fun
Also, and this is something I think we could all do with remembering, not everything has to feel fun to play against. Sometimes things are mind-numbingly boring to sit opposite, like Stax, but that’s okay, because you’re probably never going to be that enamoured of the things that make you lose.
It’s okay for some games not to be fun, or for you to hate specific playstyles. We’ve all got personal likes and dislikes, but, irrelevant of how passionate we are about them, that doesn’t always mean things should be banned. Nor should we be calling for things to be banned when that’s the case.
Magic: The Gathering has a lot of banned across its many formats, and they do help to keep things in balance, even if it’s not a balance we all agree with. However, Commander is a different kettle of fish, and disliking a strategy, or even that strategy being hard to beat, isn’t actually a cause for a banning. It’s all fairly complicated stuff, but our main feeling on all of this is that we should all try not to call for bans the moment something happens. If you’re that against it, then ban it in your playgroup, or ban specific combinations of cards. The point is to have fun, but sometimes getting your butt handed to you is also part of the fun.