Banned and Restricted Targets in Modern

Banned and Restricted Targets in Modern

Michael RappModern

Fresh off the heels of the Modern Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings (but not yet into Wilds of Eldraine season), we have a wonderful time of year: Banned and Restricted Limbo! On Aug. 7, Wizards of the Coast will announce their first eternal format focused yearly banning update. So, we’re going to do what any good Magic player would do and speculate about their targets.

Before we do that, though, understand that the paradigm is a bit different because the gap between ban cycles is so long now. If something slips through the cracks, it’s around causing problems for a good while. That being said, we’ll get to find out if a longer cycle gives the metagame a chance to adjust without a premature ban.

The One Ring

The One Ring lands in a fairly unprecedented territory. Being undeniably one of the most powerful cards in Modern with the ubiquity of an artifact makes for a likely ban candidate. That being said, at four mana, The One Ring does have a fair amount of counter play. 

At Pro Tour Barcelona, we saw players adjust to a format with The One Ring in mind. Rhinos showed up with Questing Beast, Bonecrusher Giant and Commandeer; cheap countermagic was on the rise; and Leyline Bindings were prevalent. We even saw Cast into the Fire in a number of sideboards. 

Orcish Bowmasters is another great punishment for The One Ring, as it turns up the pressure quickly. The question is: are these healthy adaptations to a powerful but not ban-worthy card, or is The One Ring warping Modern around itself, forcing changes in an unhealthy manner? 

Personally I would let The One Ring ride, but it is risky going into Modern RCQ season if that decision happens to be wrong. I wouldn’t be truly surprised if Wizards of the Coast decides to take the conservative route and get rid of The One Ring before the RCQ season, just to be safe. 


Fury has been getting a lot of press lately as Scam has risen to the upper echelons of competitive Modern. Ironically, Scams performance has driven down the number of copies of Fury in non-scam decks due to the risk associated with Furying the Scam player’s Fury and walking into an Undying effect. 

Scam does arguably use Fury the best of any deck in Modern, either combining it with an undying effect to act as a Plague Wind or simply to put a 4/4 double strike creature in play on turn one against decks that can’t effectively interact with it. 

Fury seems like an unlikely ban to me among the Scam threats; it is among the most manageable, as most removal spells will get the job done. Fury has been an important tool to combat go wide strategies and planeswalkers, which would be a difficult tool to give up in Modern.

Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters seems to have a target painted on its back as one of the more divisive cards in recent memory. Personally I don’t think you can even consider banning Orcish Bowmasters without also banning The One Ring, which I also wouldn’t do. 

It is true that Orcish Bowmasters does suppress cards like Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler, which you probably like or dislike based on your feelings about the red creatures. But Modern has lacked a good way to punish the opponent for drawing a lot of cards for a while, and the fact that it is in Black, a color weak to the opponent drawing cards, Bowmasters is nice. 

While Bowmasters covers card draw and small creatures, it isn’t much more than an upgraded Resolute Reinforcements in many matchups, which certainly insulates it from being banned. 


My hot take is that Grief is among the more likely ban targets. Scam is clearly the best deck, and when the best deck arrives, players put it under a microscope and start talking bans. While I hold my stance that I think no changes is both the likely and correct outcome, I can envision a world where Grief doesn’t grace Modern RCQ season. 

Among the bannable targets in Scam that could have any real impact, there’s Grief, Fury and Orcish Bowmasters. Banning one of the Undying effects doesn’t accomplish anything, as there are more of those effects than Scam even plays. And Blood Moon is a needed tool in Modern to check the increasingly greedy mana bases. 

That said, the key thing to keep in mind is Grief seems the least necessary to the health of the Modern metagame. What’s more, Grief specifically has the worst play patterns of the three primary suspects. A turn one Fury or a well timed Orcish Bowmasters just asks you to have a removal spell, but a scammed Grief gets to take your interaction and force you to draw another piece, all while being pressured.   


Potentially unbanning cards is another hot topic that comes up around the B&R update. Players wish for fan favorites such as Splinter Twin, Birthing Pod, Deathrite Shaman, Punishing Fire, Ponder and more to be released from the banned list. 

I am of the opinion that anything that seems “safe” to unban either does nothing of relevance once unbanned or is too powerful and needs to be re-banned, like Golgari Grave-Troll. The slight potential upside doesn’t seem like it is worth the dramatic risk of needing to add something to the list a second time after players have invested time and money into decks containing these cards. 

For that reason I do not believe there are any reasonable cards to unban. 

End Step

I always find myself waiting in anticipation refreshing the page waiting to know what the decision is. Do I get to start exploring new options because a card or a deck blocks another strategy from succeeding, or is it business as usual? I suppose that we’ll have to wait and find out!

As always you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne for questions, comments, and feedback. Until next time, be well!