Delving with Devin: To Ban or Not to Ban?

Welcome back to another episode of Delving with Devin. Today we will be going back to our roots, with some modern discussion. To ban, or not to ban, that is the question! I am going to be doing a four piece series on something that should probably have some light shawn upon it, the banned list.

There will be three pieces dedicated to the current banned list; which cards I feel should stay banned and which are probably fine to come off, and the fourth installment will focusĀ on what cards I feel should be added to the banned list, with a wrap up conclusion on what my banned list would look like. Without further ado, lets delve in!

Before we delve in, here is the complete list of banned cards in modern as of May 10th 2017:

Ya, thats a lot! Lets start by talking about the artifact lands: Why are they banned?

Affinity, since moderns inception has consistently been one of the top decks in the format. Cards like Cranial Plating are already busted without these lands being legal, and it would only be stronger with more free artifacts in play.

These lands also make playing cards with the literal ability affinity much more powerful, as these lands can drastically reduce the cost of a card with the keyword affinity on them. Should they be unbanned?

Power creep has come a long way since Frogmite was an oppressive card, and cards like Kolaghan’s Command, Ancient Grudge, and Stony Silence have all been printed since these cards were originally banned. I feel like these lands would not push affinity that much more then it already is. I feel the real oppressive card in affinity is Mox Opal, but we will get to that at a much later article. Verdict? Unban

Birthing Pod: Oh birthing pod, it feels like it was only a few years ago that you were demonic tutoring the perfect card every turn against me. And it was. Why is Birthing Pod banned? Birthing Pod is the type of card that only gains power as more cards are printed. As more powerful, universal, silver bullet-type creatures get printed, the more powerful the tutor effect is. Modern hit a point of critical mass a few years ago, and it was decided that Birthing Pod needed to be banned for format diversity. This ban I did agree with, as the card was almost unbeatable once it had resolved, it was just too consistent, and represented too big of an advantage to the player who got this into play to over come. It lead to very repetitive game states.

Should they un-ban Birthing Pod? The only thing going for Birthing Pod to be unbanned is that it’s a little slow, and it inevitably leads to “longer” games.

Even if those longer games are just an inevitable loss for the player without the pod in play. kind of like a boa-constrictor taking its victim down. So Birthing Pod can be beat by hyper aggressive aggro or combo decks where the pod player can’t get value from the said card. However having a format with hyper combo decks isn’t the direction wizards or players in general want modern to go. So that being said, Birthing Pod should remain banned. Verdict? Stay Banned

Blazing Shoal: Why is Blazing Shoal banned? Blazing Shoal was one of the first cards to be banned in modern, and the reason is simple. Infect + high mana cost red cards such as Progenitus. If you thought infect was too good with Gitaxian Probe legal, you haven’t played against Blazing Shoal. The fact that this card can represent +10 power for no mana is pretty absurd.

Should they un-ban Blazing Shoal? While better removal is now available (Fatal Push, Murderous Cut, etc etc.) the potential for turn 2 kills with this card is just too real of a thing. Verdict? Stay Banned

Bloodbraid Elf: Why is BBE banned? a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a world where mid-range Jund was thought to be the best deck in the format. Deathrite Shaman, and Abrupt Decay had just been printed, and the deck was dominating. Bloodbraid Elf was thought to be the main culprit along with Deathrite Shaman. I think we all know which card was the real offender. The rest is history and Bloodbraid Elf has ever since been locked away in the banned list.

Should they un-ban Bloodbraid Elf? At the time of the banning I was a supporter of banning the card, however since that time, modern has sped up, and I feel that Bloodbraid Elf at 4 mana might give reason to play the slower version of Jund instead of the Death Shadow version. In this sense, unbanning Bloodbraid Elf might actually improve format diversity. Verdict? Unban

Chrome Mox: Why is Chrome Mox banned? Fast mana has proven itself to be busted, it’s no secret. One thing that can remove decisions and interaction from any game of magic is too much fast mana. Being on the draw is bad enough for the balance of the game, but when your opponent on the play has access to fast mana it compounds this problem. Combo and degenerate decks would have a field day with this card.

Should they un-ban Chrome Mox? If Wizards wants modern to be a turn four format, then this card definitely should remain banned, as this card would push combo decks to be turn one or turn two. Verdict? Stay Banned

Cloudpost: Why is Cloudpost banned? A silly question, if the tron lands are at all playable then this card needs to be on the banned list. Its ability to pump out tonnes of mana is un-matched. With cards like Wasteland not being in the format, lands like Cloudpost needs to be kept on a short leash.

Should they unban Cloudpost? Until they print Wasteland into modern, Cloudpost needs to remain on the sidelines. Verdict? Stay Banned

Dark Depths: Why is Dark Depths banned? This card is a big combo piece in legacy, using cards such as Vampire Hexmage, and more prevalently Thespian Stage to create an indestructible 20/20 flier is no doubt a powerful play. Add to that the ability to use Life from the Loam to chain these through removal spells and it might be a bit much for modern to handle. Mind you there are some answers, such as Pithing Needle, Surgical Extraction, and Path to Exile, this might be asking to much from the opponent.

Should they un-ban Dark Depths? Negative, I just don’t feel the card would add anything of value to the format, and it would just further polarize the format forcing every deck to have answers to one more potential pillar of the format. Verdict? Stay Banned.

Deathrite Shaman: Why is Deathrite Shaman banned? This card is one of the best creatures ever printed, and it is probably one of the top 5 best cards in legacy. This is basically a one mana planeswalker, it can ramp for you, it can stabilize your life total, it can pressure your opponents life total, it can mess with your opponents Snapcaster Mages or their graveyard shenanigans. It is also multi colour, giving black the ability to have a turn one mana accelerant. This card is a literal swiss army knife.

Should they un-ban Deathrite Shaman? As much as I enjoy playing with this card in legacy, I feel that it needs to stay out of the modern format. It simply does too much for such little investment. This card is single handedly responsible for getting Bloodbraid Elf banned, and a turn 2 Liliana on the play is just too strong of a play. Verdict? Stay Banned

Dig through Time: Why is Dig through Time banned? Guilty by association. Treasure Cruise was running rampant, and Wizards had to react. There was fear that decks would simply replace Treasure Cruise with Dig through Time and continue to sing kumbaya all the way to the top tables. At the time, Dig through Time was primarily seeing play in Splinter Twin, as Treasure Cruise was better in almost all other archetypes. With Splinter Twin being on, and no other oppressive blue decks in the format, perhaps Dig through Time deserves another shot?

Should they unban Dig through Time? While Dig through Time is card advantage and card selection, there are other cards in the format that offer the same type of card advantage and are legal. Cards such as Kolaghan’s Command having the opponent discard a card while getting back a Snapcaster is equal or more value. Also, with modern being such a fast format (I’m not surprised to be dead on turn 3), people are not going to be getting value from Dig through Time on turn 2 or rarely turn 3, as it takes time to fill the graveyard, and then more time to actually use those resources. unbanning Dig through Time, in a format without Splinter Twin, might be a push in the right direction to allowing decks to slow down and become more reactive, as finding reactive cards is more likely. Verdict? Unban

Alright spell slingers, we are approximately 1/3 of our way through the current banned list in modern, tune in next time for the next instalment of To Ban or not To Ban, that is the question!

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