The Five Cards That Should Be Banned In Commander

Welcome back,

Instead of looking at a new Commander brew, I decided to take a look at the ban list. Note that we are not talking about the Dual Commander ban list, we are talking about the ban list featured on Wizard’s official website.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Commander is one of the most balanced formats in Magic today. Yes, you can do some amazingly powerful things and get into some really complex and crazy board states, but there is almost always a way to answer what’s going on. Many of the Commander players in my area stated that they want to see specific cards banned because they may seem oppressive. Cards like [c]Animar, Soul of Elements[/c] and [c]Kaalia of the Vast[/c] are extremely powerful and sometimes busted commanders, expecially [c]Animar[/c], but you have ways to deal with them in every color. It may seem hard to deal with cards like these, but you can do it.

However, I do think that the cards about to be featured on this list should leave the format. These cards either warp the game around them, lock people out, or just don’t fit in the Commander theme. They take over the game over time, or just end the game right on the spot. They are either unfair, or unfun.

Granted I have played with these cards because they are amazing, but I will not be sorry and will happily replace them if they do get kicked out of the format. This list goes from least ban-worthy to most ban-worthy. Just because it’s the least ban-worthy doesn’t mean it’s not obnoxiously powerful. These should all leave the format in my humble opinion.

Top 5 cards in Commander that should be banned

Let’s take a look at these stupidly busted cards that need to go.

5. Blightsteel Colossus

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Blightsteel Colossus is by far the least egregious card on this list. It still completely destroys the board state and warps the game around it. If you don’t deal with this card immediately, which is hard because it’s indestructible, you are going to die. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. You will die to this card.

This card is on here because it doesn’t fit the Commander mold. This format is meant to be a casual and fun format. It’s about the epic struggle for power and the crazy board states. This card doesn’t really fit that. It immediately changes the game and will knock down any player that doesn’t play blue or white (and black in corner cases). Red and green mages will find it almost impossible to deal with this card.

It turns all of this crazy build-up that you and your opponent have been doing for turn after turn into nothing. It’s one of the ultimate feel bad cards to lose to. Plus, with the many ways to cheat out artifacts and creatures, it’s easy to get out early and consistently. It changes the game and just is not a healthy card to have in the format.

4. Iona, Shield of Emeria

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Iona, Shield of Emeria is an awful card to play against. Once she enters the battlefield, she locks your opponent out of playing most of their spells, and destroys their chance to come back. You can reanimate her early, and end the game before your opponent even had a chance to do anything of note. If your opponent is playing her and you’re playing a mono-colored deck, you better hope that she never enters play, cause you’re not going to be playing Magic for long.

Much like [c]Blightsteel Colossus[/c], she falls into the “unfun” cards in the format. She locks your opponents out of the game and will destroy any sense of fun from every other player at the table. Unless you’re a heartless monster and don’t like friends, I advocate not playing this card. It ruins the spirit of the format, and the fun.

3. Serra Ascendant

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She is just a one mana 6/6 flyer with lifelink. Having access to her turn one will end the game. It will be next to impossible for any player to come back after she connects a couple of times. Many of the good removal spells in the format cost two or even three mana, which gives her free reign for a couple of turns. In those couple of turns, she will wreck your opponents face, and keep you out of reach from anything your opponent can do for the rest of the game. Even if they can get rid of her on turn three or four, the damage has already been done. Its a crazy unfair card and warps the game around it in the early turns, and has done too much damage for the late game to matter. It’s just not the right card for the format and should be ushered out immediately.

2. Deadeye Navigator

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This guy is the biggest combo enabler in the format. No question about it, the amount of times I have see people lose to this card is absurd. He is almost impossible to kill as well as whatever creature he is paired with. He almost blanks any removal spell as he can protect every creature on the board by blinking itself and blinking the creature that’s being targeted. With him in play, you pretty much don’t need to cast many more spells before you win the game.

Beyond blanking removal, he enables so many enter the battlefield based combos. Any creature that untaps more than two lands and him nets you infinite mana. [c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c] and him will ramp you out harder than any green-based deck. Paired with [c]Angel of Serenity[/c], your opponent will never have creatures ever again. This card is an absolute nightmare to play against. It creates some of the most degenerate board states in the game, and should quietly leave the format.

1. Prophet of Kruphix

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Prophet of Kruphix is beyond busted. Its a hybrid of [c]Seedborn Muse[/c] and [c]Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir[/c], and ends up being leagues better than both of them in Commander. She allows you to hold up countermagic while being able to advance your board state, which is really hard to deal with. It’s easy to protect and easy to get out of control. The game warps around her, because if you don’t answer this card, you are going to loose.

Once your opponent resolves her, they will climb ahead of you quickly, as they are able to do anything they want to do at any time. Any opponent with her in play will have a huge target on their head, and will probably be able to deal with anything that is thrown at them as long as she is still around.

In these colors, she is arguably the best thing to be doing. If you’re in these colors, your going to be playing this card no matter what you’re doing. She is just too good not to be playing. She creates just as degenerate of board states as [c]Deadeye Navigator[/c] and is just as easy to protect. She warps the game around her in the ugliest of ways and will catapult you so far ahead of everybody else. She’s overpowered, degenerate, and unfair.

She absolutely needs to leave the format as soon as possible.

Wrap-Up

Well there you have it, those are my thoughts on the ban list and what cards need to be put on said list. Like I said earlier, I do believe Commander is one of the most balanced formats in the game. These blemishes, though, stand out and can turn almost any fun game completely sour. If these cards get banned soon, don’t be surprised. There are plenty of other powerful options to take their place that are not as broken, but still will provide the same type of effect. Once these cards have left, I think Commander will be an even sweeter format than it already is.

Thank you guys for checking out this week’s article. Next week we will have an all new Commander brew for us to discuss and what not, featuring a new card from Dragons of Tarkir, no less. If you have any thoughts on this list, or other cards that you think should have been on here, let me know in the comments below.

See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

How To Survive In Post-Cruise Modern

Hi all,

Since the banning of [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], everyone has dropped Delver. Unfortunately, no other deck must have been able to grind out the first few turns of the game and replenish its gas in a similar way.

Affinity, Infect, Amulet, Storm, and Burn are tearing up the format.

become immense

Affinity has the most consistent turn 4 wins of any aggressive deck out there. Its creatures are difficult to block. Removal spells are often pointless; the 1/1 creature you targeted simply becomes a +1/+1 counter on another creature.

Infect just picked up [c]Become Immense[/c]. With [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and [c]Spellskite[/c], the deck can prevent all successful interaction and easily earn a win by turn 3. Any attempts to nickel and dime the Infect player only fuel the immensity that it can become.

Amulet has always been a problem. It seems that online players have known this better than paper players because until Justin Cohen tore through Fate Reforged, not many people were talking about it. On the first turn, [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] can win or set up the turn 2 win. You attempt to board in [c]Primeval Titan[/c] hate, and then you become assimilated into the Borg and unwisely cast [c]Summoner’s Pact[/c] in spite of not being able to pay for it thanks to [c]Hive Mind[/c].

Similarly, Storm wins on turn 3. You bring in graveyard hate and enchantment hate in game 2 only to lose to a [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c]-fueled chain of spells. Do you have 1-for-1 creature removal to handle Electromancer? The storm player will simply play a couple [c]Pyretic Ritual[/c] into [c]Empty the Warrens[/c] and easily crush you with six 1/1s.

Burn. You may not realize that you’re losing on turn 2 because you have 15 life, and your opponent only has [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], but when you have to cast two spells to have a chance, and your opponent is holding 9 points of burn in their hand, they know well that they have won. Thanks to [c]Skullcrack[/c], even [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] can’t keep a [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] at bay. He just becomes a “gain 1 life, prevent combat damage from one creature for one turn” spell that costs you a ton of life to cast thanks to fetchlands and shocklands.

What can men do against such reckless hate?

skullcrack

Each of these decks succeed in the face of “the turn 4 rule” that has led to the banning of [c]Seething Song[/c], [c]Rite of Flame[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], [c]Dark Depths[/c], [c]Blazing Shoal[/c], Artifact Lands, [c]Glimpse of Nature[/c], and maybe [c]Second Sunrise[/c] and [c]Dread Return[/c].

I suspect the last two are arguable.

Still, a good 14 cards on the Modern banned list for this reason, composing almost half the list.

So what do we do in light of this infraction of a fundamental rule of Modern?

amulet-of-vigor

Well, on his Twitter, Tom Martell suggests a sweeping ban of the worst offenders: [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Manamorphose[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c], [c]Griselbrand[/c], and [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]. That’s a solid list, although I think [c]Summer Bloom[/c] is both more difficult to interact with and more powerful than [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] in the same deck.

tom-martell-bannings-modern

On the other hand, players who have long since given up on Modern argue that the fundamental rule is in itself the problem.

Mattias Kres argues that only [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c], [c]Mental Misstep[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], and [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c] should be banned, leaving everything off the list. The power-level would be similar to Legacy and the last days of Extended, when Zoo ruled the roost.

That’s right, Zoo, an aggro deck, in a field of insanely fast combos.

I don’t know which of these is the better option. I don’t really look forward to both, and also I don’t really mind Modern at the moment.

All I’m concerned about is how to succeed with the hand we’re dealt.

To do this, we have two options.

Option One: Join ‘Em

Aim to win by turn 3. Here’s my most recent attempt to do so on a regular basis.

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[d title=”Drinkard Infectless Infect (Modern)”]
Land
4 Arid Mesa
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Forest
1 Mountain

Creatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Guide
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Steppe Lynx

Other Spells
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Temur Battle Rage
4 Become Immense
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth

Sideboard
4 Hooting Mandrills
3 Destructive Revelry
4 Sudden Shock
1 Stony Silence
3 Phyrexian Arena[/d]

This deck is hell-bent on assembling three mana, an attacking creature, four cards in the graveyard, and [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] in hand on turn 3.

You have 12 fetches and 8 free cantrips to fill the graveyard and draw more lands and the combo.

The advantages the deck has over Infect include haste creatures and creatures with higher toughness. The benefit of this deck over Super Crazy Zoo is that you can manage your life total more conservatively against Burn.

I have only played in one Daily Event with the deck, and I went 2-2 after losing the die roll and thus two games on turn 3 against Infect. I am interested in developing the deck further, and I am super excited about how effective Delve and Ferocious are in an Eternal format like Modern.

If we don’t want to join the players who are breaking the fundamental turn 4 rule, then we have to beat them. And to beat them, we have to apply the breaks very quickly.

Option Two: Beat ‘Em

I hate these decks.

I would hate myself for entering them into a Daily Event, and my opponents would probably hate Magic after losing to them.

But that’s where we are at.

SF20150106_uheygsfvsf2_icon

[d title=”Humble Red (Modern)”]
Land
22 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Scrying Sheets

Creatures
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Humble Defector

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Skred
4 Pyroclasm
4 Koth of the Hammer
2 Anger of the Gods
4 Blood Moon
2 Volcanic Fallout [/d]

When I saw [c]Humble Defector[/c], I thought that [c]Skred[/c] Red would be a natural home for him. He provides draw to a deck that sorely needs it, and his drawback is mitigated thanks to the mass-removal spells. He simply draws two and then goes away with the rest of your opponent’s board.

This deck has an answer to everything, and the decks like Affinity, Infect, and Combo Zoo will certainly fold to the amount of removal, but sometimes the wrong answers come up facing the wrong decks.

Time will tell whether additional draw will help here.

Verduran-Enchantress

[d title=”Enchantress (Modern)”]
Land
4 Temple Garden
4 Nykthos, Shrine To Nyx
8 Forest

Creatures
4 Arbor Elf
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Mesa Enchantress
4 Verduran Enchantress
4 Eidolon of Blossoms

Other Spells
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Sphere of Safety
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Fertile Ground
4 Overgrowth
4 Garruk Wildspeaker [/d]

This is another take on a different Enchantress list played by MTGO user Brainless96, and his win condition was [c]Banefire[/c].

I’m happy to lock the opponent out of the game, allow my mana-ramp to assemble the pillow fort, and win with [c]Overrun[/c]. Well, sort of happy.

Finally, a brew that wins against Burn and Creature-based aggro decks, but is absolute garbage against everything else.

gatekeeper-of-malakir

[d title=”Mono Black Control (Modern)”]
Land
24 Swamp

Creatures
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Divinity of Pride

Other Spells
2 Sorin’s Thirst
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Sorin’s Vengeance
4 Geth’s Verdict
3 Devour Flesh
1 Darkblast
2 Slaughter Pact
3 Phyrexian Arena
2 Go for the Throat
2 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Inquisition of Kozilek [/d]

Like I said, it’s good against Burn and creatures.

It’s a mono-removal deck with a load of 1-for-1s that will get its gas back with [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c]. You’re steadily gaining life, playing lands, and killing threats until you’re ready to win. Destroy creatures, lose to Tron and other control decks. Never a close match.

Enough Diversity?

I don’t know if we’re at an optimal Modern right now. Maybe there is enough diversity, and we are.

There are some decks who are trying to win before turn 4 at all costs. Others are trying to stop them at all costs. Some ride through the middle. That sounds healthy to me, but then when I play in Events, it doesn’t feel as good as it did a few months ago.

Hope this gave you some direction.

-drinkard