10 Awesome Magic Cards I'm Thankful Are Banned

Justin Clouse | 28 Nov 2014 12:00
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With well over 10,000 unique cards printed in Magic the Gathering's run so far, it's perhaps not a huge surprise that a few of them have been just a tad broken. With that many cards, it's virtually impossible to not have a few slipups. Whether it's enabling some "I win" combo or just getting too much value for too little cost, cards have been banned or restricted based on the needs and issues of the various formats of play. I'm highlighting a few of my favorites here, for my purposes I'm sticking to cards as they pertain to Standard, Modern, Legacy, Vintage and Commander.

Ancestral Recall

Restricted in Vintage, Banned in Legacy and Commander.

With all the talk lately of whether Treasure Cruise needs a banning or not, the original draw three for one mana really takes you back to an era when Magic was a very different game. While it's a generalization that doesn't get into a lot of the nuance, the basic principle is that over the years creatures have gotten better while spells have gotten worse. Compare the effect of drawing three cards at instant speed, Ancestral Recall does it for a single blue mana, but in order to get that same card, without jumping through hoops or paying extra costs, you need to go all the way up to three and double blue at Jace's Ingenuity. That's a huge increase and you can see how this card is all but unavailable in basically every format since it offers super cheap card advantage.

Black Lotus

Restricted in Vintage, Banned in Legacy and Commander.

When folks think of overpowered, and expensive, Magic cards, there's a good chance most of them are going to first go to Black Lotus. Black Lotus may put you down a card since you're using it up for mana, but the tempo advantage of being able to deploy a powerful card way earlier is often too much for your opponent to come back from. Similar to Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus only gets better as the quality of the rest of your cards increases. Getting to play something like a Turn 1 Abzan Battle Priest in Khans draft would be pretty powerful, but it's hardly on the same level as say playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor on Turn 1. There's also at least a little monetary concerns as well. There are just not that many Black Lotus cards, so making it into a staple card in more formats than just a one-of in Vintage would be really oppressive to those who couldn't afford it.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Banned in Commander.

Arguably the biggest, baddest, and most unfair creature card Magic has every printed, unless your opponent controls 15 squirrel tokens. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is an absolute monster, but, and it's a big but, this was all supposed to be balanced with one of the most expensive casting costs in the game. Reaching 15 mana requires some serious deck dedication, usually leaving you soft to other strategies, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn's graveyard trigger keeps most of the easier ways to cheat it into play off the board. However, a lot of this goes out the window when you bring the discussion to Commander. Getting a lot of mana in play is not only easier in the generally slower format, but it's often what most good Commander decks want to be spending their early turns doing. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is also dreadfully hard to interact with. It can't be countered, so the only spells that can do something to it on the stack are things like Venser, Shaper Savant. Even if you manage that, you still get the the extra turn just for casting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Once it's on the field it doesn't start looking much better either. Flying makes it hard to block, protection from color spells means you need specific answers like Oblivion Ring - because it's an ability that exiles not the spell itself, and this is all while you're sacrificing six of your permanents to annihilator. Just all in all, not a card I would prefer to see at a game of Commander.

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