Winners of the Banned & Restricted Announcement

January 10, 2017

by Connor Bryant

Yesterday, WotC ( Wizards of the Coast) announced bans in the two most popular formats, Standard and Modern. The bans are as follows. 

Standard bans

  • Emrakul, the Promised End is banned
  • Smuggler’s Copter is banned.
  • Reflector Mage is banned.

I think these bans are all justified. Emrakul, the Promised End and Smuggler’s Copter were the best cards at their spots on the curve and stymied deck diversity. Emrakul’s effect also led to a helpless feeling that was really fun and interesting at first but got old pretty fast. Reflector Mage is a bit less obvious of a ban but I think they wanted to remove a card from the Jeskai Saheeli Rai – Felidar Guardian decks without just straight banning the combo. The card has also been a part of the best aggressive- midrange decks throughout its life in Standard and is a frustrating card to play against. I do think there are a few big Standard winners from these bans.

Standard Winners

  1. 6 Drops

With Emrakul at the top of every midrange/ ramp decks curve, powerful cards like Noxious Gearhulk, Chandra, Flamecaller and Sorin, Grim Nemesis were outclassed. Why play these cards when for one more mana, you can get a 13/13 unkillable mindslaver? Endgames beyond Emrakul should flourish in the absence of the Eldrazi Titan.

  1. The Baneslayer Angels of the World

Cards like Reflector Mage warp what creatures are playable because if it is too backbreaking to get your awesome creature bounced to your hand, it isn’t playable. Cards that just have impressive bodies but no value otherwise struggled with Reflector Mage in the format.  I think this ban will help cards like Gisela, the Broken Blade and Mindwrack Demon raise up in playability.

  1. Other Marvel Threats

Despite the loss of Emrakul, I think the deck is still very playable. Getting 10 drops for free is just too good to not be playable. I assume Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the new Titan that will be a 4 of in the deck. I could see players playing Kozilek, the Great Distortion as well. The red and green planeswalkers in the more recent evolutions of the deck have been playing could also become a larger feature of the deck.

  1. Aggressive Two drops

With the removal of Smuggler’s Copter, there is less competition at the 2 slot in the aggro decks. This void could be filled by utility creatures like Selfless Spirit or the new vehicle Heart of Kiran. Smuggler’s Copter was the best aggro card in the format but its removal may also incentivize players to pack less cheap removal maindeck and give the fast decks a better game 1 against the field.

  1. The Players

The Standard format has not been the most enjoyable for the last few months. Across the country, player numbers at the local game store have been down and I think that is due to the unfun-ness of the cards that had taken over the format. I am excited for the new Standard format and we will see what comes out of Aether Revolt. There is a lot of powerful things coming out of that set and it will be interesting to see what materializes. Hopefully players that fell out of the fold will come back and the format will be more appealing to new players.

Modern Bans

  • Gitaxian Probe is banned.
  • Golgari Grave-Troll is banned.

The two bannings in Modern make a lot of sense to me. The banning of Golgari Grave-Troll is a good thing for modern. In a world of fast, linear decks, the modern sideboard is overworked. It is hard to have cards for artifact based decks, graveyard decks and land combo decks, plus cheap removal for creature based combo like Infect or the Death Shadow decks. Saying goodbye to the Troll means that the modern sideboard will be slightly less crowded. I never really understood the upside of having Troll back in the format when it was unbanned a few years ago. It isn’t like Dredge is a healthy mechanic/deck for a FNM format. WotC corrected their mistake.
The Gitaxian Probe ban makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. WotC finally came around to the fact that the card is an unreasonable magic card and has no reason to exist. The card does a lot of positive things for no real cost. Being able to play a pseudo 56 card deck is a huge advantage and the free information allows decks like Infect to walk the high wire and sequence perfectly against their opponent’s hand. The card fuels delve and storm strategies. This innocuous card fuels lots of degenerate things in the modern format and its banning is a better solution than banning each of the different things it fuels. 

Modern Winners

  1. Other Graveyard Decks

The removal of the main graveyard combo deck in the format means that most decks will ditch their Grafdigger’s Cage, Leyline of the Void, and Ravenous Traps. This sudden lack of hate is good for the other graveyard decks in the format. It may be a good time to cascade into some Living Ends, go infinite with some Kitchen Finks or reanimate a hasty Griselbrand.

  1. Tron and RG Valakut

These land combo decks have always struggled with the fast creature combo decks. With thehamstringing with the Gitaxian Probe ban and the printing of Fatal Push in Aether Revolt, these creature combo decks will struggle in the near future. This puts the fair black decks ( Jund and Grixis ) in a good spot. The land combo decks crush the fair decks. It’s a good place to be with your worst matchups disappearing and your best matchups becoming more plentiful. Karn has been liberated people, look out.

  1. Golgari Thug

Golgari Grave-Troll’s little brother may finally get a chance to come out and play in the format. The card wasn’t good enough previously but it may be enough now. Cathartic Reunion is still a messed up Dredge enabler and the step down to Golgari Thug may not be enough to kill the Dredge monster. We shall see if Dredge can still float around the edges of the format.

  1. The Modern Watchlist

These bannings show WotC is willing to ban things they view as mistakes. Modern has always been a frustrating format because of the inconsistency in banning cards. Rite of Flame is banned but Simian Spirit Guide is legal. Blazing Shoal is banned but Become Immense is legal. The Artifact lands are banned but Mox Opal is legal. I never could find WotC’s line in the sand but these bannings show they have drawn it and they may keep working their way through these offenders. Mox Opal, Become Immense and Simian Spirit Guide have been put on notice.

  1. The Modern Format

Most players have been dissatisfied with the most recent Modern interation. A lot of matchups are just two ships passing in the night. If you drew too much interaction to stop your opponent, you didn’t have enough juice to get them dead. If you drew no interaction, they would run you over. The format was all about die rolls and praying you play against the decks you have sideboard cards for. The format certainly had skill to it, but not a skill that is as rewarding to use for a lot of players. These bans plus the printing of Fatal Push should cause big change in Modern, and that change is welcome... 


These bans were surprising but good for Magic moving forward. Wizards care if players have fun playing Magic and they are going to do what they can moving forward. These decisions may come across as rash but as someone who has been in the trenches with these cards the last few months, I think WotC was just. I am excited for Constructed Magic again, which is a good thing to say.

If you liked this article or disagreed with anything, please leave me a comment below. If you enjoyed what I had to say and want to hear more from me, check out the Mindcrank Podcast under our podcast page.