Data Dump – Categories of Banned Cards in Modern

Dig Through TimeThe new Banned and Restricted list was announced today. I don’t have much to say about that since I don’t play the formats regularly. But with the three cards banned today from Modern, I thought it might be good to take a look at why these cards got the axe. This is by no means an extensive list nor the only reason why these cards are banned, but they give you an idea of what kind of cards continue to be problem cards.

You should care about this because when you’re looking at mechanics you should analyze them from a Spike’s point of view. The Spike player wants to maximize any and all value our of every card they have and usually a card gets banned because it has become too oppressive. You need to get some perspective from people who play the game competitively to see if your cards are balanced (besides playtesting to see how they operate of course).

Good designers are not always good developers, and vice versa.

When I saw Treasure Cruise for the first time, I didn’t think it would make it out of Standard as the cost of exiling seven cards in a format where you might want your graveyard (Modern/Legacy) was a bit too much. Obviously I was wrong.

You obviously need playtesting to see how your created cards pan out, but don’t just subscribe to what someone on the internet about cost. In recent years, I’ve tried to stay away from that more and more since you need to know too many things to get the cost just right (Like the environment the card is being printed in, for example). All I can do is give you a best guess based on previous cards that do roughly the same thing. A vanilla 2/2 for 1G is going to be a safe bet; a vanilla 2/2 for U is a much harder sell.

This is just an observational list to see if your cards fall into any of these categories. This doesn’t mean that don’t design any cards that fit into any of these (some of my favorite cards can fit into these categories), but just pay attention of what the cards do. Please pay attention that the more ban worthy cards fit into more than one category like drawing cards cheaply. Some cards I leave off this list because they weren’t broken unless they were combined with another card (Dark Depths, the Artifact Lands) or they were just too good without really breaking any of these rules (Deathrite Shaman).

Cards that reduce their own casting cost:

  • Ancestral Vision
  • Blazing Shoal
  • Dig Through Time
  • Dread Return
  • Hypergenesis
  • Mental Misstep
  • Treasure Cruise

Cards that cheat a cost:

  • Ancestral Vision
  • Birthing Pod
  • Blazing Shoal
  • Bloodbraid Elf
  • Hypergenesis
  • Stoneforge Mystic

Cards that provide more than 1 mana:

  • Cloudpost
  • Rite of Flame
  • Seething Song

Cards that have repeatable effects:

  • Birthing Pod
  • Green Sun’s Zenith
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  • Punishing Fire
  • Skullclamp
  • Sword of the Meek
  • Umezawa’s Jitte

Cards that draw extra cards cheaply:

  • Ancestral Vision (3 cards for free)
  • Dig Through Time (2 cards out of next 7 for UU)
  • Glimpse of Nature (X cards for G)
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor (1 card out of next 3 for free)
  • Ponder (1 card out of next 3 for U)
  • Preordain (1 card out of next 2 or 3 for U)
  • Sensei’s Divining Top (1 card for free)
  • Skullclamp (2 cards for 1)
  • Treasure Cruise (3 cards for U)

Cards that extend game time that for tournaments:

  • Birthing Pod (Repeatable Shuffling/Decision Making)
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor (Repeatable Decision Making for 2 Modes)
  • Second Sunrise (Repeatable Loop)
  • Sensei’s Divining Top (Repeatable Decision Making)

This is not a commentary on any of these cards, just an observation.

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