What we wanted banned

Magic Banned and Restricted assessment: October 2022

Michael RappLegacy, Modern, Pioneer

Wizards of the Coast updated the Banned and Restricted list on Monday, which naturally led to the kind of discussion that always comes up when this happens  — whether the update hit everything players wanted. Naturally, some players ended up happy while others wondered if this approach was enough. Many players expected bans across Pioneer and Legacy, too, with additional targets in Modern. While I’ll admit that I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on whether The Meathook Massacre was enough for Standard, I do want to compare what should have happened to the cards that actually caught bans.


What I wanted: Either Nykthos, Shrine to Nix or Oath of Nissa banned.

What happened: No changes.

Mono Green has either been the best deck or in the conversation for a while now. Nykthos sets the green Devotion strategies apart from a normal ramp strategy by giving the list an enormous power spike starting around turn four. That’s the point where they can, fairly easily, make mana totaling in the double digits, enabling powerful combo turns revolving around a looping combo. 

Karn, the Great Creator grabs The Chain Veil, which is then untapped with Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset, which also untaps Nykthos to provide infinite mana as long as your devotion is more than seven. And sure, there is a green combo deck that relies on making a bunch of mana. That archetype is fine, right? 

Well, mono green gets its devotion from cards like Old-Growth Troll and Cavalier of Thorns, which are just powerful cards in Pioneer on their own. Having access to combo turns while also having the ability to spew out a ton of powerful creatures and planeswalkers makes playing against this deck difficult. 

Getting rid of Nykthos would still leave the powerful green creatures intact while even protecting the outside chance to still pull off the same combo with a bit more work. Using so many resources for that may kill the deck, but that isn’t a reason to avoid the ban.

Oath of Nissa

Meanwhile, Oath of Nissa was previously banned in Pioneer before returning to the format. And while the card doesn’t look ban-worthy on its face, the subtle power is high. It isn’t actually a Ponder (which is a Legacy staple and banned in Modern), but Oath of Nissa comes shockingly close in Mono-Green Devotion.

The consistency boost and the draw smoothing provided by Oath of Nissa is just the tip of the iceberg. It  doesn’t even touch on the fact that this card lets you spend any color of mana on planeswalkers — an ability which is historically little more than flavor text. 

However, Mono Green Devotion once played Nicol Bolas, Dragon God as a combo piece, which the deck had no chance of casting reliably without Oath of Nissa. Now it plays Teferi, who Slows the Sunset — an easier card to cast with some splashing but still a tall order at times. Oh, and on top of both of those things, Oath also adds devotion to aid in the combo. 

When you combine a Ponder-like effect with a mana fixer and have it provide Devotion, it adds up to an effect that may be too powerful if mono green is too good.


What I wanted: Yorion, Sky Nomad, Wrenn and Six, Violent Outburst and Teferi, Time Raveler banned

What happened: Yorion, Sky Nomad is banned.

First thing first: I wasn’t a big fan of companions from the jump, especially when only some decks had access to one. There was often a noticeable power gap between decks that could easily support a companion and ones that couldn’t. And once they banned Lurrus of the Dream-Den, I was of the opinion that if Wizards of the Coast needed to change the Companion rule and still ban one, they should just scrap the entire mechanic and ban the rest of them. 

That being said, Yorion was certainly one I wanted to see go alongside Lurrus, as it offered the clear best way to build your deck. Yorion pushed every other midrange deck out of Modern because, if you just trade resources back and forth with Four-Color Yorion, eventually they just cast their free eighth card that happens to be a 4/5 flier that draws like four cards. 

That is incredibly difficult to contend with in a resource-based game. Yorion also secretly lets Solitude decks cheat on the number of white cards they register because they can easily add one to their hand.

That being said, part of the Four-Color Yorion deck’s strength comes from Wrenn and Six, which has been a Modern staple since its release. The planeswalker actually lets the deck play fewer lands than it would need to otherwise, and their mana is better than it should be. It turns out picking up a fetch every turn will make your mana cleaner than it would be if you had to draw lands naturally.

In addition, Wrenn and Six provides some much-needed early defense against Ragavan, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Esper Sentinel and other powerful, one toughness creatures. This lets the deck focus more on late game power than early game defense. 

Finally, from a tournament logistics position, Wrenn causes players to shuffle A LOT. When combined with the slow nature of Four-Color Yorion, matches go well over time on a regular basis.

Violent Outburst, meanwhile, is a close call for me. I could go either way, but if I’m advocating for a bunch of fair cards to get banned, we probably also shouldn’t ignore one of the best strategies in Modern: Cascade. 

Violent Outburst in Rhinos is powerful because two instant speed 4/4s is strong. Violent Outburst in Living End or Glimpse Combo is a gamebreaker because those decks often win on the spot if whatever they Cascade into resolves. What’s more, that spell probably will resolve because Violent Outburst is the one of the only cards in Modern that lets you use Force of Negation offensively.

Glimpse Combo and Rhinos are already splashing white, so losing Violent Outburst wouldn’t put them short on three mana cascade plays thanks to Ardent Plea — but it would make resolving a Living End, Crashing Footfalls or Glimpse of Tomorrow a bit less free. This would also still allow the Cascade decks to use Force of Negation defensively, as it was intended, to protect themselves from other combos or most hate pieces.

Finally, I don’t think Teferi, Time Raveler is problematic in terms of power level, but I want to see it go because of play patterns (or lack thereof) it creates. I can’t figure out for the life of me why Teferi’s static and +1 aren’t flipped, or why the minus ability draws a card and lets Teferi survive. 

Teferi’s most common application is some kind of one sided Defense Grid which also gives sorceries flash and interacts with the battlefield while replacing itself…what? Teferi somehow removes basically all interesting layers to a game that existed before it, because, well, it’s hard to attack and you must hope you don’t need to interact with anything at instant speed while going about the game. 

Honestly, If I could remove any card from Modern, it would likely be Teferi, and that says something considering Veil of Summer exists.


What I wanted: Daze Banned

What Happened: No Changes

The debate in the Delv— I mean Legacy community is how to effectively manage the Delver archetype, which is currently an Izzet deck. Wizards of the Coast has previously banned: Dreadhorde Arcanist, Gitaxian Probe, Deathrite Shaman and Wrenn and Six (to name a few) in an effort to bring Delver back down to earth. 

None of that has done a whole lot to knock Delver down. Daze and Brainstorm, in addition to Wasteland and Force of Will, make up a rock solid blue core that is also extremely adaptable, which is Delver’s actual strength. Wasteland when paired with Daze makes for an extremely potent mana denial strategy since Delver operates so well on low land counts. 

I can’t see Brainstorm, Wasteland or Force of Will going anywhere, and we have a track record that shows Delver will just pick up the next best threat available — so banning those doesn’t work. That leaves us with Daze. 

The counterpoint is that Daze acts as a safety valve for Legacy against combo decks, but thanks to Force of Negation, that is less of a concern than it was before. Would this even be enough to knock Delver down a peg? Who knows. Something has to work, eventually.

End Step

In the end, the bans we did get were a step in the right direction, though they didn’t completely address all the issues ailing Magic at the moment. Hopefully we’ll see further updates in the coming months, perhaps after the current competitive cycle ends. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions, comments or feedback. I’ll see everyone next week!