The Modern Ban List is a subject that a lot of players tend to debate about. Conversations go from what should go ON the ban list, to what needs to come out. A lot argue that nothing needs to change since Modern seems to have a fair, balanced out meta with nothing going over 10% play rate from Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. Others argue that Modern is in a state that feels a lot like Yugioh, where you’re either getting turn three killed out of the game, or you are facing Tron that beats up on your fair deck.
There is something I never see talked about, and that’s what needs to stay in that infamous ban list that always manages to make people riled up. While I have my opinions on what is in it and how it’s handled, I do think that WotC made the right decisions with some of these cards. With that being said, let’s talk about 5 cards that DESERVE to be banned in Modern.
- I will not be talking about Skullclamp and Mental Misstep in this article since I feel like these two are a given as to why they are banned. If you don’t have an idea of these two’s power level, let me know, and I’ll explain in detail.
5. Gitaxian Probe
This card was legal in Modern ever since the format officially started, and I still don’t know why it took them so long to ban it.
Effects like Thoughtseize and Peek are one thing because you have to invest resources to look at the opponent’s hand. Thoughtseize is especially needed in the format since there is a lot of combo decks roaming around. It’s another when that kind of effect costs you no mana.
The problem with Gitaxian Probe is that it takes away an element of Magic: the Gathering that is pivotable to the game, and that is the prediction of what your opponent is going to be playing. There is a reason why all players have their hands a secret in this game until someone plays a spell that reveals a hand of cards. Gitaxian Probe takes away this part of the game virtually for free (this card costs you two life most of the time, but that isn’t exactly a lot to pay for such a powerful effect).
This card gave you information and card draw while allowing you to play an additional card on turn one. If that’s not broken, I’m not sure what is.
A deck that was known for playing Gitaxian Probe was Infect. The win condition of the deck was to deal 10 poison damage to your opponent (if a player receives 10 poison counters, they lose the game). Gitaxian Probe allowed the Infect player to check to see if the opponent had an optimal hand to counter their plan. If the coast was clear, the Infect player could win on turn TWO with one creature by using pump spells to increase its power. If they had no information on the opponent’s hand, it was much harder to kill the opponent on one swing and turned the entire strategy into a glass cannon.
Another deck that used Gitaxian Probe to combo off safely was Storm. This is actually ironic because Storm wasn’t near the competitive monster it was not too long ago. A lot of Storm players were scared that they weren’t going to be able to play their deck anymore because it was believed that Gitaxian Probe was a crucial piece of the puzzle. Turns out, the ban didn’t affect it much at all other than changing how it played a little. Storm was a Tier 1 deck for a long time thanks to the printing of Baral, Chief of Compliance and the addition of Gifts Ungiven.
Death’s Shadow was yet another deck that used Gitaxian Probe, surprise surprise. Back then, the deck actually relied more heavily on the self-damage plan to kill your opponent as quickly as turn 2-3 thanks to cards like Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage. This was another deck that did a lot better when Gitaxian Probe was banned because it got turned into a midrange style of deck that still had an aggro element to it. Then, Grixis Death’s Shadow was invented, and it gave the archetype a tempo strategy.
Banning Gitaxian Probe did the format a lot of favors, and made a handful of decks even better because your opponent didn’t say “show me your hand” every single turn one you played against them. I’m still amazed by the fact that it is legal in both Legacy and Pauper. Regardless, may we never see this card in Modern again.
4. Second Sunrise
Newer players probably have no idea why this is a banworthy card, while longtime Modern players just got horrible flashbacks to when this card was legal (or pleasant memories, depends on if you’re a monster or not).
This was a pivotal piece for a deck called Eggs. The idea was to play out a lot of low-cost artifacts that got you mana and card draw such as Chromatic Star, sacrifice them, then play out Second Sunrise or Faith’s Reward. Once the spell resolved, you got back all of the artifacts you put into your graveyard back onto the battlefield. To help out the strategy, you would play Reshape to tutor up other artifacts that the specific match required. You would keep doing this until you eventually got a hold of Pyrite Spellbomb to slowly kill your opponent over time.
This card wasn’t banned because it was overpowered. It was banned because it took a frustratingly long time for Eggs to kill its opponent. The fact that the strategy was challenging to pilot didn’t help the case for Eggs at all. This meant if you played against someone with this deck that had no idea what they were doing, you had to prepare yourself to either have the match end without a game three, or you were going to sit there for a good while before you got to do anything. On top of that, it wasn’t like you could concede the match because there was a good chance the Eggs player fumbled. It was equally as frustrating to watch a game of Eggs vs. any deck on a livestream because there would be little to no interaction in the said game.
With all of this into consideration, and after its first place victory in Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, WotC decided that enough was enough, and banned Second Sunrise so that Eggs lost access to its best recursion spell. The only other effect that was similar to Second Sunrise was Faith’s Reward, which WotC didn’t bother to touch. Considering that you never see this deck break Tier One, they didn’t need to.
You can watch the game that put the final nail in the coffin for Eggs here. (Just prepare for a lot of sighs)
If you read my Tron Article, you know that I talked about this card, Glimmerpost, and Vesuva before I talked about the deck in question. Here we are again talking about Cloudpost and how incredibly busted it was. What you wanted to do with this deck was to put out as many Locus onto the battlefield so that way Cloudpost could generate an amount of mana equal to the amount Locus on the battlefield.
Tron and 12 Post had two different lines of attack when it comes/came to their win conditions. Tron’s goal is to assemble the three Urza lands to produce seven total mana to cast threats such as Karn Liberated by turn three. 12 Post wanted to get Emrakul out as soon as possible by turn four or five, while also playing out a variety of threats such as Primeval Titan that put the deck into overdrive.
Playing out Emrakul in most situations is going to often lead to an automatic win in Modern since she makes the opponent sacrifice six permanents whenever she attacks (Annihilator) AND gives you an extra turn if she was cast from your hand. You’ll often see decks that are built that try to cheat out Emrakul or generate a bunch of mana to cast her. WotC usually refers to the Annihilator mechanic as a “mistake” and goes out of their way to make sure she doesn’t break Tier One. That’s why you never see Cloudpost in Modern.
This has sparked up a lot of debate about Tron being legal, 12 Post’s smaller cousin. The argument is that it doesn’t make sense to ban 12 Post while allowing Tron to exist. Tron is a control deck that can end the game on turn three with Karn alone. The deck’s access to colorless cantrips and eight tutors makes it extraordinarily consistent and reliable to do just that. The fact that it exists makes it to where fair decks like Mardu Pyromancer and Abzan Midrange don’t do as well as they usually would or could be doing.
Personally, I’m okay with it either being in Modern or out. I’m not going to go out of my way to demand a ban on Urza’s Tower, but I’m not going to be surprised if that is what ends up happening on 2/12/2018.
At least we can agree on one thing: keep Cloudpost away from Modern, please.
2. Deathrite Shaman
This is the card that put Jund Midrange over the top for quite a while after the banning of Second Sunrise. The absurd aspect of this card is that it does three separate things for only ONE mana!
Only ONE mana and it has this much power. There are so many abilities here that a one drop card should not have. This card is a mana dork (a creature that can make mana), a beater, and a life stabilizer. Not to mention that this is a 1/2, meaning that it can be an efficient blocker against 1/1 tokens and creatures. Usually, these kinds of creatures are 0/1 (Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, etc.) but WotC didn’t want this card to die to spells such as Darkblast.
If you’re going to put this amount of power into a one drop creature, maybe it NEEDS to die to Darkblast? Just saying.
This is the card that got Bloodbraid Elf banned because WotC thought it was that card making Jund overpowered, not Deathrite Shaman. After the banning, WotC realized that Jund was STILL overpowering and it was because of the one mana creature that thought it could and did. So we said farewell to Deathrite Shaman on 2/3/2014.
Seriously, nobody should be saying “Well, I’m going to lose because that mana dork is about to kill me.” It happens sometimes, but that by itself shouldn’t be a win condition.
1. Eye of Ugin
There was a time where I would say that this card was okay because there weren’t that many Eldrazi cards and the ones that were playable were very high costed. It was primarily played in Tron to get Emrakul as an alternate win condition (and yes, 12 Post played it as well). However, it would take a bit in the game before the Tron player could cast her, so Eye of Ugin wasn’t the most busted card in the world…
…until these three showed up…
When you only make Eldrazi high-cost cards, Eye of Ugin is balanced. When you make Eldrazi LOW-cost cards, you open Pandora’s box and create what is known as Eldrazi Winter. This period of Modern was so miserable to play in if you weren’t playing some variation of an Eldrazi deck, creating the most warped metagame I had ever seen in the format.
The centerpiece of the archetype was actually Eldrazi Mimic, and the idea was to play out bigger Eldrazi so that way this creature’s power and toughness matched theirs for that turn. With Eye of Ugin, it was possible to get more than one of these out on the field turn one. Next turn, play out Eldrazi Temple with Simian Spirit Guide to play Reality Smasher, and you could possibly kill your opponent on turn two as long as you had the right amount of Eldrazi Mimics.
These decks could consistently go faster than the Burn decks around that time. In fact, this deck actually pushed Burn out of its Tier One spot and wasn’t able to recover it for a long time.
This nightmare lasted until April of 2016 when WotC finally banned Eye of Ugin. Unfortunately, Modern wouldn’t see a stable metagame until much later thanks to the emergence of Dredge. This was a deck that wouldn’t see a banning for a while until later in the year.
Just… never again with any of these. Keep them banned. That is all I have to say.
What are your thoughts on these cards? Do you too think they need to stay out of Modern? Or do you think they deserve a second chance?
That will do it for now. As always, thank you for reading! If you want to keep up with my content, follow me here or like my page on Facebook where I post all of my new material.
Just a reminder, I will be coming out with my next philosophy article going over the color Blue. Stay tuned for that.
I will catch you guys next time!