Magic: The Gathering is arguably the most popular card game ever, and it is even credited for spawning the genre. Fans of the game are extremely dedicated, and the game has a vibrant tournament scene, with all kinds of tips and strategies for players. In these tournaments, some cards can mean the difference between victory and defeat and those banned.
However, some of these banned cards don’t really deserve their place on the banned list for all kinds of reasons. The game’s power balance has grown a lot in recent years, and some tourney-banned cards can be dealt with better nowadays.
10 The Moxes Are Only Useful In The Opening Stages Of The Game
The Moxes are artifacts cards that cost zero mana and give the player one mana of the color type they’re associated with. Some of the most expensive and hardest to find cards, Moxes has been on the banned list for a long time, but it makes little sense.
Mana advantage can be hard to overcome, but Moxes are really only useful on the first few turns when they allow a player to play two mana production cards in one turn. However, if the card isn’t drawn in the game’s opening stages, they’re just another artifact that can be destroyed or countered.
9 Ancestral Recall Gives A Card Advantage But Not An Insurmountable One
Ancestral Recall is one of those cards that power balance killed. Back in the old days, each color had a card that cost one mana and did something the color did best. Blue has always been good at hand manipulation, so Ancestral Recall allowed a player to draw three cards for one blue. One of the more powerful Alpha cards, it’s been banned for a long time.
Ancestral Recall can make a huge difference early in the game, but players are ready to deal with most things in the late game. In the early game, the draw’s random nature means there’s just as much chance of drawing cards one doesn’t need or can’t cast yet as ones that will make a big difference.
8 Vampiric Tutor Is Powerful, But It Doesn’t Break The Game
Vampiric Tutor is a Black card that costs one Black mana. It allows the player to search their library for a card, then shuffle their library, and put the card on top, with an additional cost of paying two life. The early game can be handy, but as the game goes on, it loses its utility. Is it powerful? Sure, but it doesn’t break the game.
While it’s very cheap, finding one card for a combo isn’t exactly a killer card. Most combos can be dealt with rather handily nowadays, and combo fads mean players always make decks that can fight them. Vampiric Tutor can be a bit much, but it’s not a game-winner.
7 Veil Of Summer Nerfs Black And Blue But Isn’t Unstoppable
Veil of Summer is pretty damaging to Blue, Black, and Blue/Black decks, so it almost makes sense why it’s banned. This powerful card from the Throne Of Eldraine set is a Green instant that costs one Green mana, and it allows the player to draw a card if the opposing player plays a blue or black card, makes all of the player’s spells unable to counter, and gives the player and their permanents hexproof from blue and black.
It pretty effectively nerfs Black and Blue, but it can still be dealt with, and it’s only good against Blue and Black. It can still be countered, and if it isn’t, the opposing player can do nothing that triggers it on their turn, and that’s it. It’s a good sideboard card but not anything that’s going to end the game.
6 Field Of The Dead Is Too Specific To Be Dangerous
Field Of The Dead is a land that produces one colorless and has an extra ability to allow a player to bring a 2/2 Black Zombie token into play every time they play a land, but only if they have seven lands with different names in play. This ability is just so specific that it makes the card useless, honestly.
In the early game, it’s just a source of colorless mana. By the time a player can draw and play enough lands with different names to trigger its ability, the opposing player should be able to deal with a 2/2 Zombie token every turn. Zombie decks are known for swarm tactics anyway, so one more way to swarm isn’t a game-breaker.
5 Ponder Is A Bit Old Fashioned But Not Insurmountable
Ponder feels like a card from the heady old days of mid-90s Magic but comes from the Lorwyn block. For one Blue, it allows a player to look at the top three cards of their library, put them back in any order, and draw a card. While that’s useful, it definitely depends on what the top three cards are.
There’s the potential that it will allow a player to get some game-breaking combo, and it’s a little rife for abuse, but it doesn’t do anything that completely screws up the game. The chance that out of a forty to sixty card deck, the three cards will be difference makers is slim at best.
4 Banning Simian Spirit Guide Makes No Sense
Simian Spirit Guide is a Red 2/2 Ape Spirit for one Red and two colorless. It can be Exiled from the player’s hand and gives the player one Red mana. That’s it. There are barely any good combos for it. It’s an okay early game blocker or mana source, but there are plenty of cards that do either, and they aren’t banned.
Maybe if it were sent to the graveyard, it would be worth banning, but as it is, there’s nothing that screams for it to be banned. It’s useful in the early game but loses most of its utility as the game goes on.
3 If Opponent Lets Dark Depths’ Ability Trigger, They Deserve What’s Coming
Dark Depths is a Legendary Snow Land that comes into play with ten ice counters on it. For three colorless, a player gets to remove a counter, and once all ten are removed, the player gets to put Marit Lage into play, a 20/20 Black Avatar creature token that has flying and indestructible.
While there are cards that would allow a player to remove counters faster, there are many ways to deal with Dark Depths or Marit Lage that get around its indestructible ability. If it had trample, it would be harder to deal with, but it isn’t unbeatable.
2 Splinter Twin Doubles A Creature, But You Have To Tap The Enchanted Creature
Splinter Twin is weird in that it feels like a Blue card, but it’s Red. An Enchantment-Aura gives the enchanted creature the ability to tap and create a duplicate of it with haste and gets Exiled at the end of the turn for two Red and two colorless. Honestly, it’s just weird that it’s banned.
It can be useful, but it’s not a game-breaker without a card that lets one untap the other enchanted creature, and even then, it isn’t that much of a game-breaker.
1 Dread Return Is Too Expensive For Its Ability
Dread Return is a Black Sorcery that lets a player return a creature from their graveyard for two Black and two colorless mana. It has a Flashback cost of three creatures to play it from the graveyard. Honestly, the card is a bit expensive, to begin with, and its Flashback is definitely a bit much.
Four mana to bring a creature back is a bit steep but sacking three to get one is a bad bargain regardless of the creature. In a token heavy deck, the cost is mitigated a bit but even then, giving up three blockers in the later stage of the game for a creature that was already killed once is a bit much.
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