9, May, 24

Upcoming MTG Bans Could be Surprisingly Boring

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Article at a Glance

For a long time, ban announcement truly felt like the Wild West for MTG players. They would mostly show up with little warning, reap a few problematic cards from some formats, and potentially ruin the financial value of some players’ collections. This, obviously, is not the best way of doing things for players, so things became a bit more scheduled.

Now, there is a ban window after the release of each MTG set, and Outlaws of Thunder Junction’s ban announcement hits this coming Monday, May 13th. Are there any bans coming to Magic’s major formats? We’ll talk about what we think will happen, as well as what we want to happen.

Legacy: No Changes, but Grief is Reasonable, and Bowmasters is Being Watched


We’re kicking things off with Legacy because, honestly, this is the only format where we actually expect a ban to potentially take place. While ‘no changes’ would surprise absolutely no one, there is a case for a Grief ban in Legacy.

Dimir ReScaminator is the most popular deck in the Legacy format by a decent margin. According to MTGGoldfish, Reanimator strategies are rather far ahead of the pack percentage-wise. Evoking Grief and Reanimating it is akin to the Scam strategies in Modern, but Reanimate can also be repurposed to do much more powerful things.

Notably, Wizards of the Coast did say that they are keeping an eye on Orcish Bowmasters in this format. in a format where Brainstorm is everywhere, Bowmasters is at full power.

Ultimately, we believe that no changes will be the prevailing decision in Legacy for one reason, and one reason only: Modern Horizons 3. This set is slanted to release in June, which is quickly creeping up on us, and will likely have a big impact on Legacy.

As a reminder, Modern Horizons 3 itself is not the only thing legal for Legacy, the Commander cards will also all be legacy legal. We haven’t seen much of the Commander cards as of yet, but there are some powerhouses amongst them that may shake up Legacy somewhat. With the potential for big changes on the horizon, deciding to wait and see where things fall is a perfectly reasonable decision.

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Modern: No Changes

If Modern Horizons 3 weren’t just around the corner, there would be room for a very different discussion. Because the format-shaking set is on its way shortly, banning anything now would likely be pretty shortsighted. Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 completely warped the metagame and made a lot of previously oppressive strategies totally obsolete. While MTG designers state that this shakeup won’t be quite as devastating, the playing field should still see a big change.

Even if Modern Horizons 3 wasn’t literally on the horizon, the Modern format isn’t in a terrible place at the moment. Scam, Yawgmoth, Amulet Titan, Living End, Domain Zoo, Creativity, Goryo’s Vengeance, Tron, and Murktide all seem perfectly playable. Sure, Scion of Draco does threaten to have a homogenous effect on the format alongside Leyline of the Guildpact, and while that was definitely a concern for some period of time, and will likely continue to be a concern moving forward, it doesn’t seem to have an overbearing presence right now.

Pioneer: No Changes, but Vampires Could Use Some Attention

Vein Ripper

Modern Horizons 3 will not impact the Pioneer format, so what you currently see is what you’re gonna get for some time now. Like Modern, there are a lot of playable strategies in Pioneer, but the power level between those strategies feels a bit more varied. Rakdos Vampires and Izzet Phoenix are ahead of the pack, easily being the two best things to do in the format. Thanks to metagame changes, Niv to Light is gaining a lot of ground. That deck overall has very positive matchups against the majority of the field, but basically auto-loses to Lotus Field Combo. Lotus is having a tough time with metagame developments, however, which has opened the door for Niv to Light.

Rakdos Vampires has been the best thing to do in Pioneer ever since Seth Manfield won Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor with it. The strong midrange gameplan combined with dropping the occasional turn three Vein Ripper is difficult to overcome. That said, is it so problematic that it needs a ban? That is something I am unsure about.

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Standard: No Changes

Raffine, Scheming Seer

This is the healthiest competitive format right now, in my opinion. We’re seeing consistent innovations at the highest level, and while Raffine, Scheming Seer is a very good card, it will rotate out soon and is not an unbeatable force.

With rotation so close and no heavily problematic strategies in the format right now, we would be very surprised to see a ban for Standard in this upcoming ban announcement. These smaller ban windows also tend to focus on older formats, making things even less likely to change in Standard. If there were a change to Standard, it would likely be addressing the continued dominance of Esper Midrange, which we don’t even think really needs to be addressed.


Splinter Twin | Rise of the Eldrazi
Splinter Twin | Rise of the Eldrazi

While we definitely think there is some room for unbans, Modern Horizons 3 certainly puts a wrench in things once again. Green Sun’s Zenith, for example, seems like a very reasonable unban in Modern at the moment. That said, something out of Modern Horizons 3 could make this card a lot better, turning it back into a problem.

This discussion summarized into one sentence would simply be ‘wait for Modern Horizons 3.’ Standard seems to be in a perfectly healthy state and Pioneer has some powerhouses, but they may not be strong enough to warrant a ban. Any other format is going to be majorly impacted by the new set.

The ban announcement following Modern Horizons 3 is likely to be much more interesting than this one. What unexpected powerhouses will completely warp formats? Will a Commander card take over Legacy? We’ll have to wait and see!

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