Wizards of the Coast’s next announcement of MTG card bans is slated for Monday, May 29, and hordes of concerned Magic: The Gathering fans are watching closely to see how the various format metas will be affected by this latest Banned and Restricted (B&R) update. Read on to find all the cards we reckon are for the chop in each MTG format.
With the change to the length of the Standard rotation going from two years to three, and MTG banlist updates becoming rarer, we’d say there have to be some sweeping changes on Monday to keep things from going stale over the next year. We’ll be running through our headline predictions for Standard, as well as a look over each format to scout out some potential bans and unbans for other formats.
If you’re more of a beginner, check out our guide on how to build a MTG deck, or scoop a bunch of free cards for Magic’s digital edition with our guide to the latest MTG Arena codes. Otherwise, let’s put our predicting hats on – we’ll start with the MTG Standard format.
MTG card ban predictions – Standard
Our predictions are made on the basis that we think Wizards needs to shake up the metagame for Standard quite a bit to combat a stale environment, so – unsurprisingly – we’ll be taking swipes at some of the best MTG standard decks that are dominating competitive play at the moment.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
The first card that makes sense to be banned in Standard is Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. It’s one of the key players across multiple decks, and really puts a stop to most aggressive strategies in the format. It’s a card that a lot of non-black decks have a difficult time answering, and it very quickly takes over the game. This card is one of the main reasons that the infamous Rakdos Midrange has been so dominant for so long.
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker / Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
Next up is Fable of the Mirror-Breaker / Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. This powerful saga made a huge splash on its release, and has become one of the most powerful sources of mana, card advantage and is a must answer threat when it transforms. It’s another card that’s ubiquitous in every top deck of the format. This is also a star player in the rampancy of Rakdos Midrange.
Atraxa, Grand Unifier
Atraxa, Grand Unifier is what we’re going to call a pre-emptive ban. Yes, Atraxa is gaining some traction in the format in various Ramp and reanimator strategies, but if Sheoldred and Fable get banned, it stands to reason that Atraxa could take over the format.
The Wandering Emperor
Another ‘pre-emptive’ ban is The Wandering Emperor. We’ve seen in the past how this card can be a major deciding factor in games if left unchecked, and, if the current top end decks take a dive, Wandering Emperor could rise up to take over.
Raffine, Scheming Seer
Now, Raffine, Scheming Seer is a card that we don’t necessarily think needs to be banned, but it’s the helm of the Esper Legends deck. In the current Standard, Esper Legends is still a great deck, but it was once better. The deck would lose Sheoldred, but Raffine holds the deck together, so it could make sense to do something here.
Another card that we could take or leave when it comes to a ban – but we’ve seen lots of chatter about it, so we’ll give it a mention. Reckoner Bankbuster is a value machine, seeing play in nearly all midrange decks in the format. It provides a consistent flow of cards and a decent beater – all for a measly two mana.
We don’t necessarily see a compelling reason to ban Reckoner Bankbuster, but it’s definitely a possibility, given it appeared in seven out of the top eight decks in the March of the Machine pro tour.
MTG card ban predictions – Pioneer and Explorer
Pioneer and Explorer are actually in a pretty decent place. We think if there’s any changes, they’ll be fairly light touch.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
In the same vein as Standard, it makes sense to see Sheoldred, the Apocalypse take a hit in Pioneer and Explorer. We think taking one of the key tools out of Rakdos will bring the deck into check, while still keeping it around as a popular option.
Karn, the Great Creator
Karn, the Great Creator is a prominent card in the Nykthos Ramp decks, providing a very powerful sideboard of artifacts. While the deck’s power lies in its ability to ramp with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Karn serves as the deck’s toolbox enabler. Taking this card out would still keep the deck around and strong, while removing its unfettered access to a ton of tech cards pre-board.
MTG card ban predictions – Modern
Modern is also in a pretty solid place. There’s one MTG Modern deck that’s sticking out a little bit above the rest of the field, but we don’t think there’s anything egregious enough to target with outright bans. That being said, there may be some beneficial trimming to be done.
Wrenn and Six
Wrenn and Six is a card from Modern Horizons that may seem unassuming, but, in actuality, it’s the backbone of the early game for a lot of the four and five-color decks in the format, namely the Indomitable Creativity and Omnath decks.
While the latter has fallen down a bit in the meta share, the consistency that Wrenn and Six provides these decks is quite strong, and we could see something happening here.
Unban – Mox Opal or Artifact Lands
Looking across the current Modern banlist, a lot of the cards there deserve to be on the list – but there’s a couple that could come off, given how drastically the overall power level of the format has increased since they got their ban. One of those cards is Mox Opal, and the other is a set: the original Artifact Lands from Mirrodin.
At the moment, the only ‘artifact’ deck that’s seeing play is Hammer Time, and, while these cards would slot right into the deck and possibly gain some metagame share, it’s probably a safe call to bring either of these off the banlist. We don’t think Wizards should bring both of them off – but one of them would probably be OK.
MTG card ban predictions – Legacy
One of the recent B&Rs from last year made some changes in Legacy, so we don’t expect any changes to either of these two formats.
And that’s our predictions! When Wizards announced its shift to a three-year Standard, we suspected there had to be some wider swings and more liberties taken with card bans in the format – otherwise things would grow too stale. Hopefully Wizards agrees, and makes some positive changes to revitalize the Standard environment – we’ll see, come Monday!
In the meantime, why not take a look ahead at this year’s sets to come, in our MTG release schedule guide – or catch up on all the specific news and spoilers for MTG Lord of the Rings. Not too fussed about upcoming stuff? Dive into our history of all the MTG sets ever released.