Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on August 6, 2014. Because we actually have a lot of interesting content on the site that has been out there forever, occasionally we’re going to unearth something like this that is germane to current EDH conversations. If any of you read Sheldon’s article on SCG (go google it), it may have gotten you thinking about the banned list. So here’s Mr. P delivering some serious truth with his usual, snarky brilliance. 

Hey y’all!

Here’s a list of cards that should be banned in EDH:

Hey, that was fun!

XO, ->Mr. P





Oh, you want an actual article?  OK then! Banning cards in EDH is a slippery slope.  In the past, there has been some suggestion that banning cards is based on a variety of factors, including

  • Excessive price and/or relative scarcity
  • Ubiquity in the metagame in a way that makes games “oppressive”
  • An overwhelming sense of a card being “unfun” or “game wrecking”

The first of these factors explains why things like Library of Alexandria and the Moxes are banned, the second is the reason we broke up with Prime Time, and the last is the reason why things like Biorhythm and (I guess) Trade Secrets are banned. There are lots of logical reasons why these criteria are rubbish.  First off…

Wait, stop. Who are we kidding? We don’t read articles on the Internet to appreciate the good-ass wordplay and intricate thought processes of the author! Hell, most of us just skim anyways looking for the good stuff! And what is “the good stuff”? Why, it’s quick data points and snappy comments that we can parrot at our LGS to impress the noobs and scrubs! Boom! Ok, let me write this article correctly.


(NOTE: in order to use this guide correctly, it’s important to recite these things verbatim, preferably with lots of arm flailing and/or looking like a total scumbag.  Welcome to being Mr. P!)

Scenario #1: Someone has just lost to an unanswered Constipated Sphinx.

They say:

“Wow, Constipated Sphinx sure is broken! I can’t believe they haven’t banned that!”

You say:

“Sure, but think about why Constipated Sphinx is good.  Yeah, it draws you a bunch of cards, but it’s just a creature.  You can throw removal at it all day, and it’s not like you’re going to win by swinging with a 4/6 flyer.  There are plenty of ways to deal with it.”

To which they say:

“Yeah, but if there are two of them in play, those people both draw their decks! That’s why Trade Secrets is banned!”

To which you say:

“OK, so first off the banning of Trade Secrets is a desecration and an embarrassment, and who are we kidding? Sure, Trade Secrets allows people to madly collude and both draw their decks, but if you’re playing with people like that then you’re playing with scumbags and you should make better friends. Boom!

(Note: you can get away with saying things like this if you say it in a way where it kinda seems like you’re joking, even if you’re not. Just sayin’.)

I understand cards like that seem problematic, but what are you going to do, ban Fact or Fiction?  If we start banning every card that has the potential for collusion, you would have to ban pretty much the entire Political Puppets precon, as well as a bunch of horrendous cards from Masques block.  Is that really what you want?  Hey, here’s a better idea: throw some removal at Constipated Sphinx! Or, make new friends!”

Scenario #2: Someone has just paired Deadeye Navigator with something annoying and ruined everyone’s life.

They say:

“Wow, Deadeye Navigator sure is broken! I can’t believe they haven’t banned that!”

You say:

“I know, right? That game sucked! But here’s the thing: Deadeye Navigator isn’t the problem.  Ok, well actually it is the problem, but you can always throw removal at it as long as it’s unpaired, or you can Wrath it all day long.  Also, you know Torpor Orb exists, right?

The real problem is that EDH is overrun by creatures with comes-into-play abilities, and people don’t necessarily run enough removal for them.  Also, if you’re playing with people who want to pair Deadeye Navigator with (insert name of irritating pairing target) then maybe you should make new friends!”

To which they say:

“Yeah, but they could just ban Deadeye Navigator and stop all the trouble!”

To which you say:

“I know, right? But then, if you really want to fix the problem, you would have to ban most of the things that it goes infinite with, like Palinchron and Great Whaleas well as a bunch of other things with good come into play abilities.  You don’t really want to ban a bunch of things, do you?

(Note: this is what’s known as a “rhetorical question.”  You want to keep talking really fast here before they have a chance to answer “Uh, yeah, banning Palinchron seems totally reasonable.”)

How about this: instead of banning Deadeye Navigator, maybe just have a conversation with your playgroup about it, and see if other people feel the same way.  Then, if everyone agrees that Deadeye Navigator is assy, you can all stop playing it.  Problem solved!  Or, make new friends!”

Scenario #3: Someone just played Mana Crypt and everyone had to read it.

They say:

“Wow, a free Sol Ring?  That’s b0rk3n, yo! They should probably ban that! Also, I bet that’s really expensive!”

You say:

“I know, right? But here’s the thing: I know the rules committee used to ban cards because of price, but who are we kidding? We now live in a world where cards are routinely $50+ while they’re still Standard legal.  If they were to actually ban cards because of some arbitrary price threshold, we’d end up with a banned list that was like 200 cards long.

I mean, seriously, think about it.  Let’s say the price threshold is $50, as that’s more than most people want to pay for anything.  That means you have to ban pretty much every Planeswalker, including the crappy Green one from the set that came out two weeks ago.  If you want to ban everything over $100, that would include pretty much any card from Legends and/or Portal Three Kingdoms, regardless of playability. Also, that would include banning Juzam Djinn, and that card is worse than most commons printed these days

(Note: being Mr. P means you are not tethered by the annoying need to say things that are 100% accurate.)

You don’t want to ban Juzam Djinn, do you?

(Note: this statement is more effective if you then give them the “duh” look and/or hold up a copy of Juzam Djinn [if you have one] and point to it while giving them the “duh” look.) To which they say:

“Yeah, but there are lots of old cards that are really ‘spensive!”

To which you say:

“I know, right? But here’s the thing: what are you going to do, ban dual lands? The blue ones all cost more than Mana Crypt, and I don’t see anyone madly advocating that Tundra should have been banned in EDH a long time ago for ‘price matters’ reasons.  Maybe the whole ‘price matters’ argument is totally invalid and should be removed from the discussion.   Next we’re going to be talking about whether they should ban high end foils, and then you will for reals have people rioting.  I’ve seen it happen!

(Note: I haven’t.)

Here’s a better idea: how about we unban everything that is only on the banned list for ‘price matters’ reasons? If you are crazy enough to want to play your Moxes in EDH (where they aren’t that good anyways) then why not? Hashtag YOLO, baby! It’s 2014! Lookout!”

Scenario #4: Someone just played the Ad Nauseam deck.

They say:

“Hey, that’s the most broken thing you can do to someone! That card is a One Card Combo™! It is totally irresponsible that I haven’t gotten that banned yet they haven’t banned that yet!”

You say:

“OK, so I know that you have read online that Ad Nauseam is ‘the worst thing you can do to everyone’ and that it is a ‘one card combo’ and… just stop, okay? The reality is that Ad Nauseam is broken in exactly one deck, and that is the deck that is built around breaking it. In everything else, it’s profoundly terrible. If I put Ad Nauseam in my mono-Black thing, here’s what would happen: I would draw three cards and lose about 25 life. Does that sound broken?

So sure, if you build the Ad Nauseam deck you can totally combo off a lot of people who don’t play counterspells very easily. However, there are lots of other cards that meet that particular criterion: Hermit Druid is a card that if, you build around it, will single-handedly win you the game. So is Edric in the deck built around him.  Those cards aren’t broken, they just allow you to do something broken if you are willing to build your entire deck in order to accommodate them.

So, here’s a better idea: if you really think this deck is so horrible, don’t play it, encourage people not to play it, and whatever you do, don’t build it and take it to big events to troll people with it.”

To which they say:

“But…ummmm…one card combo™? Worst thing you can do to everyone? Should already be banned?”

To which you say:

“Sure. Let’s ban it because it’s a combo piece.  In fact, let’s ban all combo pieces, just to be safe.  Congratulations – you just got 5,000 cards banned and killed the format.  Are you satisfied?”

Scenario #5: Someone just Tooth and Nail‘ed for something obnoxious and comboed off.

They say:

“Wow, Tooth and Nail sure is broken! I can’t believe they haven’t banned that!”

You say:

“Ok, so first off try to not use the word ‘broken’ so much, ok?  Sure, Tooth and Nail is good, but it’s also a sorcery, and it costs nine to entwine it.  To use the term ‘broken’ correctly, you have to think about cards that have effects that are way, way, WAY outside of what they are costed at.  Time Walk is broken, ok? Ancestral Recall is broken.  Tooth and Nail costs nine.  Let’s all agree that Tooth and Nail is ‘powerful,’ ok? Thanks!

So, sure, sometimes Tooth and Nail is just going to find a two card combo.  How original!  Granted, there are some people who ONLY use it to combo off and win, and if you only ever play with those people then maybe you should find a new playgroup.  The rest the time, Tooth and Nail is just going to find two giant idiots, or two value guys, or a giant idiot and a value guy.  Isn’t that why we play EDH, because we want to play giant idiots and value guys?

Sure, slippin’ ’em in directly from your deck is powerful, but what are you going to do, ban every card that is powerful? It’s supposed to be a format where people play huge things, and if your deck can’t deal with a couple of huge creatures, then maybe need to think about changing your deck. Also, there are plenty of cards that turn off library searching and/or are Torpor Orb.

To which they say:

“Yeah, but Torpor Orb and things that shut down library searching are totally unfun!”

To which you say:

“Fair enough! Here’s the thing though: one approach is to play ‘fun police’ cards like that, which may solve the problem or may create different problems.  Most likely, a better approach is to have a conversation with your playgroup about what seems like a ‘reasonable’ power level, and then try to adhere to that as much as possible.  If you can all find a common ground around what seems reasonable, then it will lead to more interesting and fun games for everyone! Or, you can find a new playgroup!”

Scenario #6: someone has just asked you about Staff of the Mind MagusAli from CairoGoblin Test Pilot/some other random thing that isn’t even remotely close to being banned in any format ever.

They say:

“Hey I think (this random card) is banned!”

You say:

“Okay so I know that card just ruined your life, but that doesn’t mean that it should be banned. Really, there are almost no cards that should be banned in EDH: EDH is a social format, and so (for the most part) people should be allowed to make their own decisions about what cards are banned within their particular playgroup. If your playgroup does not like a particular card, feel free to make a house ban on it, and everyone will agree to not play it.

However, this doesn’t mean that the card you don’t like should be banned the rest of the world, as different people have different standards for what constitutes ‘fun.’   For example, some playgroups hate counterspells.  That’s totally fine, and everyone in that playgroup can have an awesome time playing games where no one plays counterspells.  However, banning counterspells in EDH would be a terrible, terrible idea.  I know that seems illogical, but when you advocate for any particular card to be banned because you just lost to it, you are invoking exactly that type of thinking.

Instead, have a conversation with your playgroup about the busted up power of Staff of the Mind Magus and whether it is fair.  If it is, play more removal for it!  Or, find a new playgroup!”

To which they say:

“Dude, you make the same argument for everything!  What do you insist on repeatedly telling me to find a new playgroup? I think you suck.”

To which you say:

“Baby, I’m Mr. P.”

(Drops the mic.)
->Mr. P
@ thingsMrPthinks ——————————
Rain makes corn
Corn makes Whiskey
Whiskey makes Mr. P
Feel a little frisky.