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MTG bans no new cards for 2023, unbans two cards

Wizards of the Coast has revealed its annual ban announcement for 2023-2024 - but no new cards are banned, and instead some are getting unbanned.

MTG banlist art showing art from preordain

The latest set of MTG bans are in, and rather than adding cards to the MTG banlist, Wizards of the Coast is removing them instead. Two blue cards, Preordain in Modern and Mind’s Desire in Legacy are both getting unbanned. And that’s it, the full extent of the banlist changes for 2023.

Potential problem cards such as Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring (the version that’s not $2 million) were touched upon in the new banlist update from Wizards, which was published on August 7. These Magic: The Gathering cards have seen plenty of play in every format they’re legal in, from Modern to Vintage. However, throughout the update, Wizards repeated the sentiment that the team “don’t feel the need to ban anything at this time”.

It seems that Modern was given the most consideration, but when it comes to The One Ring, the article explains, “The bar for four-mana cards being too strong in a format as powerful as Modern is high”.

A further explanation for not banning the troublesome duo from the Lord of the Rings MTG set is that “Not many games are quickly decided by a runaway from either The One Ring or Orcish Bowmasters, allowing players to play longer interactive games with plenty of back-and-forth.”

As for the unbannings, Preordain, a card banned since 2011, is back in Modern, and Mind’s Desire, which was swiftly banned in 2003, is back in Legacy.

Wizards says it wants to reduce the Modern banlist’s size, and thinks the cheap and consistent card draw spell Preordain will boost fair blue decks instead of just turbocharging combo strategies. Mind’s Desire is getting unbanned, meanwhile, specifically to give a boost to combo strategies, to keep them on par with Magic’s gradual power creep over the years.

According to Magic: The Gathering’s new plan for card bans, we’ll now not receive a new update for any format until late summer 2024. That is, if nothing calls for an emergency ban before then. These can occur in the first three weeks after a major new set releases. Of course, based on how packed the MTG release schedule tends to be, that could mean we’re inside an emergency ban window more often than we’re not, but Wizards has said they’ll make use of these windows very rarely.

The most recent MTG bans were for Standard, just before Wizards began to follow its new banning cadence. These chucked out problem cards like Fable of the Mirror Breaker and Reckoner Bankbuster. The Phyrexian Sheoldred escaped the chop however, and is still powering the best MTG Arena decks to this day.