We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

This MTG Modern Horizons 3 card is probably getting banned

Magic designer Gavin Verhey has hinted that one Modern Horizons 3 card may end up on the Pauper banlist - and we have reason to believe it's this one.

MTG art showing a weird xenomorph-like helmet

A card has been spoiled for MTG Modern Horizons 3 today, which is likely to get slapped with a ban pretty much out the gate.

The Xenomorph-shaped new equipment card, Cranial Ram, is almost certainly the card which designer Gavin Verhey hinted “has a high likelihood of needing to be panned in Pauper”. That’s because it’s extremely similar to an already banned card, Cranial Plating.

In an MTG banlist update on May 13, Gavin discussed All That Glitters getting axed in Pauper (alongside stickers and attractions) and said that Modern Horizons 3 has a common that could be a problem for Pauper, as it’s like a card that’s already banned in the format. Since then, he’s joked that fans have jumped to this conclusion about every new common revealed this preview season.

MTg meme by Gavin Verhey

We’re doing the same thing right now, but Cranial Ram actually does seem like a serious contender.

For context, Cranial Plating is an equipment card that gives its wielder extra power for each artifact on the field. It’s been banned since before Pauper was even an official MTG format, thanks to the persistent high value it provides, and how difficult it is to remove.

The MTG card Cranial Plating

Even when the creature wearing Cranial Plating is defeated, you can quickly pop this MTG equipment straight onto another terrifying monster, and artifact lands and tokens make the damage boost very strong indeed. It would be way too good in Pauper Affinity decks, and make it too easy to defeat a player with a well-timed Fling or two.

Cranial Ram is an obvious reference to Cranial Plating, and while it’s weaker in some ways – higher equip cost, restrictive casting cost, and no ‘auto-equip’ ability – it also has some factors in its favor. Specifically, Cranial Ram immediately makes a creature that equips it, so it has more immediate impact than Plating when you play it.

The MTG card Cranial Ram

An added wrinkle is that Wizards of the Coast gave this card to a Pauper Magic channel, PauperMTGjp. It seems a bit odd to do that if the card’s likely to be banned in Pauper. However, the channel itself seems to think this is the card Gavin meant. And Gavin did only say it was likely to be banned.

If this Cranial Ram doesn’t get banned immediately, it’ll probably be because Grixis Affinity is a fairly unpopular deck in the Pauper meta right now. It’s possible Verhey and the Pauper team want to see how dominant the deck becomes with Cranial Ram and other MH3 cards in play before taking action.

For more MTG content, you could check out our Modern Horizons preview card, or the new face commanders from the precons.