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MTG head designer: Magic would be less fun without bans

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater is in favour of banning MTG cards, saying the TCG wouldn’t be as fun without Wizards’ banlist.

Wizards of the Coast art of MTG character Kiki-Jiki

According to MTG head designer Mark Rosewater, bans are more a feature of Magic: The Gathering than a flaw, and the trading card game would be less fun without them. “Cards being banned aren’t always a sign that things went wrong”, Rosewater says in a personal blog on May 29. “We could make a world where cards never (or almost never) get banned by never pushing boundaries, but we don’t think that would be as fun of a game.”

“I truly believe if nothing ever gets banned, we aren’t doing our job properly”, Rosewater continues. “We’re supposed to come up to the line, which occasionally means we step over it, as where exactly the line is changes based on so many conditions.”

The MTG banlist has been around almost as long as Magic: The Gathering itself. Despite its age, the list of cards banned from various MTG formats remains ever-changing. Just a few weeks ago, Wizards of the Coast announced it would change the frequency of MTG card bans to an annual affair.

Blog post from MTG head designer Mark Rosewater

The latest banlist update has also seen plenty of discussion, with plenty of predictions and even fake leaks found across the internet. It may be this buzz which prompted Tumblr user danielduclos to ask Rosewater for insight on his blog. “Banning cards is necessary but it’s always a sign that something went wrong”, they write to Rosewater. “I’d like to suggest a post/article about lessons learned from bannings.” Given Rosewater’s stance, it seems unlikely the suggested article will arrive.

For more from Mark Rosewater, check out our interview with him about designing March of the Machine. We can also keep you updated on all things new and shiny in the MTG 2023 release schedule. Or, if you’re after some digital Magic, here’s the latest on MTG Arena codes and MTG Arena decks.