Seedborn Musings – If Commander Isn’t As Powerful As Vintage or Legacy, Why Does It Have the Cards They Don’t?

My suggestion today is simple.  Instead of Commander adhering to the Vintage banned list plus others, it should adhere to the Legacy banned list plus others.  Now, both the Commander rules committee and WotC clearly disagree with me, so this isn’t happening soon.  If your playgroup is starting to embrace the new format, however, I’d suggest adopting the Legacy+Commander banned list for the following reasons/opinions.

I did not sign up for a casual format so I could play a tournament one.  Yet the cards considered too good for the most-played Eternal format are running around Commander as staples!  Commander decklists start with Vintage-level fast mana in the same way that Vintage decklists start with the Power 9, and those cards bring similar consistency in their respective formats.

It’s easy to say that having 100 cards and a multiplayer format effectively limits the power of any one card.  I have yet to see it happen personally, and while that’s not controlling, there are plenty of 2- and 3-player Commander games that don’t have the traditional balance of multiplayer for having too few players (in the former’s case definitionally so).  At that point you’re playing close to 100-card Vintage singleton which, given Vintage’s restricted list, is like playing Vintage with a few extra Timmy cards.  (And yes, Commander has its own banned list, but those cards are primarily because they’re unfair in multiplayer, which rules out what I’m talking about here.)

Vintage, Legacy, and Commander all ban the same 12 cards, the ante/dexterity/subgame group.  Those aside, by my count Vintage restricts 43 cards, Legacy bans 49…and Commander bans or de-commanders 34.  Take that in for a moment.  Vintage is concerned about the power level of more cards than Commander is.  You want to know why pros and other Spikes embraced/engulfed a casual format?  It isn’t because of Muse Vessel readers adapting WotC preconstructs.  It’s because they get to play all these broken cards that the other formats frown on!  I am aware I’m painting broadly and rantingly and that ultimately I can’t speak for them.  But time and again, in every format, Spikes are drawn primarily to power, and the power considered too heinous for Legacy flows freely in Commander because it’s a slower and supposedly clunkier format.

If aggro didn’t exist in Legacy, it wouldn’t matter if Legacy slowed down.  Since the aggro of Legacy can’t exist in Commander, the extra turns for everyone to develop slow the game down literally but not practically.  If everyone gets 3-5 turns and then all manner of broken and disgusting things happen, that’s a Legacy game with multiple players, 40 life, and suspend.  That’s not a casual format; they shouldn’t even sniff each other in terms of gameplay, and adding the Legacy banned list would be a great start to fixing that.

Why not the Vintage restricted list?  Two primary reasons: 1) Legacy is a sufficiently thriving format to where WotC actively monitors the banned list, as opposed to Vintage which few are even playing competitively; and 2) the non-artifact Power 9 residing in blue means a large portion of the Vintage restricted list penalizes blue, a problem that doesn’t exist in Commander.

So with my heated opinions out of the way, what would adding the Legacy banned list change?  Not as much as you’d think, but its changes would be significant.  Read-walk with me through the 61 pariahs of Legacy to see the changes.  Of those 61, what’s the same on the Legacy and Commander lists?

12 ante/dexterity/subgame cards and the Power 9 I.e. the 21 cards you’d expect to be here.

Balance – I don’t think anyone opposes this being on the list.

Channel – King of fast green mana made even better in a 40-life format.

Fastbond – Queen of fast green mana made even better in a 40-life format (though not as strikingly as with Channel).

Library of Alexandria – Perfectly defensible.

Time Vault – Not only can you do ridiculous things with it, its Oracle wording has changed so often that the card ought not get played for confusion’s sake.

Tinker – I shouldn’t have to explain.

Tolarian Academy – See Tinker, both for explanation and reason it’s banned.

Yawgmoth’s Bargain – Made even better in a 40-life format.

So Legacy’s 49 Vintage-legal banned cards have 17 in common with Commander already.  We’re adding 32 cards to a theoretical Commander banned list.  What I want to show through this list is that its cards aren’t banned by and large for being problems specifically in multiples.  Multiples increase the odds you find them, but so do tutors, and the decreased speed of Commander means you have enough turns to “waste” on tutoring, where Legacy doesn’t.  It comes out in the wash more times than it would seem in the abstract.

Here are Legacy’s unholy 32:

Bazaar of Baghdad – I haven’t seen this played in Commander, but that’s probably more about availability than anything.  A land that gives you two new cards, regardless of what else you do with it, is all kinds of ridiculous.

Black Vise – It’s oppressive in duels but not in Commander since it involves only one opponent.  It’s probably nonthreatening.

Demonic Consultation – Are there U/B decks trying to win with Laboratory Maniac?  If so, maybe this is a problem.  I’m just unfamiliar with the play in this card’s joints.

Demonic Tutor – Kick it to the curb.  Yes, you only have 1 in Commander.  Also yes, the expanded size of your deck gives you a much bigger toolbox to play with, and it’s not like Demonic Tutor is ever your only tutor in the first place.

Earthcraft – It takes very little support to make this absurdly powerful.  At least it says basic land…

Flash – Does this get played in Commander?  Protean Hulk is banned, so the biggest worry here is gone.

Frantic Search – Probably takes a specialized deck in Commander, but I can certainly see worrisome power levels.  I think it’s normally eclipsed in the format, but that’s more preference and love of The Big Play than anything else.

Goblin Recruiter – Is it because Goblins aren’t considered a problem in Commander that an effect this powerful isn’t banned?  You can abuse this card 17 ways to Sunday.

Gush – Not a problem in Commander.

Hermit Druid – It’s been on the Commander chopping block occasionally, and many a player would agree with banning it.  You could do an odd combo with it and Goblin Recruiter, I guess…

Imperial Seal – Obviously powerful, but too scarce and pricey for me to be concerned.

Land Tax – I think this one’s borderline, but I’d prefer a format where this wasn’t around.  It always feels quite cheaty when it’s out.

Mana Crypt – It’s banned in a 20-life format.  It ought to be banned in a 40-life format.

Mana Drain – Price/scarcity make this one probably a moot point.

Mana Vault – See Mana Crypt.

Memory Jar – As an artifact with an immediate and powerful sacrifice effect (therefore dodging a lot of hate), the potential ubiquity makes me suspicious of it.

Mental Misstep – This would be odd to ban.

Mind Twist – So would this.

Mind’s Desire – I’ve faced a deck with consistent turn-6 storm kills thanks to this card.  It was pointless facing it.  It’s not pointless banning it.

Mishra’s WorkshopIt taps for 3 mana that you can spend only on…well, basically more ridiculous mana acceleration.  Certainly banworthy, though its costing over $300 makes this less of a point in non-proxy groups.

Mystical TutorThe card type restriction makes it probably fine v. Demonic Tutor, but I have no problem banning it.

Necropotence – Why isn’t this one banned in Commander?  Is it the lack of discardability that supposedly balances this one out?  I genuinely don’t understand why this has been allowed to stay.

Oath of Druids – Another one that surprises me.

Skullclamp – How many decks make 1/1s easily?  A lot of them, more than Legacy anyway.  This card is ridiculous, it’s always been ridiculous, and it ought to be flung to the far reaches of space.  And, unlike the other cards on this list, I’ve enjoyed making Skullclamp decks in the past.  I sympathize with the appeal.  But it’s ridiculous.

Sol Ring – You know what I think.

Strip Mine – This one probably does more good than harm in Commander, although recursion engines make it close.

Survival of the FittestYep.  Ban.  Easy.  Next!

Vampiric Tutor – Black shouldn’t be a color to play in Commander simply because it has awesome tutors.  It’s a running theme on the Legacy banned list, and Commander should get the hint.

Wheel of Fortune – Probably fine; certainly balances red for Commander better than the other cards on this list balance their colors.  (The tutors unbalance their colors the opposite direction.)

Windfall – In a Commander preconstruct, it’s about the same power level as Wheel of Fortune and is also probably fine.

Worldgorger Dragon – Recently unbanned in Commander.  Although I don’t think anyone’s worried about it, it’s not like anyone’s investment is shattered by having it rebanned after a few months of playtime.

Yawgmoth’s Will – This is another I simply don’t have experience with.  The exiling might balance it in Commander, but I can’t say for sure.

The majority of these cards are the ones that annoy me the most about playing Commander, and I don’t think it should paint me as a complainer to say that cards already banned in an Eternal format should be banned in another Eternal format.  You’d lose a couple fine cards by observing the Legacy banned list, but few of them are esssential to any deck’s functioning, whereas the bad seeds on this list are often considered essential to every deck’s functioning thanks to them being mana artifacts or tutors.  Besides, using the Legacy list as opposed to house rules takes the weight and power of research out of the hands of personal views or “well I saw this one game”itis that makes good evaluation difficult as it is.

Maybe it was the way in which I wrote this article, but I’m now strongly on the side of using the Legacy banned list as the base of Commander bannings instead of the Vintage one.  I think it’s the cleanest way to get the format closer to a casual one – just take out the things you couldn’t play in tournaments and voila!  If I wanted to play Vintage or Legacy, I’d spend the money there and at least maybe win some prizes instead of making sure my casual decks are as sleek as tournament decks but with more broken cards.  As mentioned, the powers that be disagree with me, but they at this point would have a hard time telling the pros who helped promote the format that they were promoting a game intended to be more casual than they’re playing it.

But from this inveterate casual player’s perspective, banning these 32 cards would improve the health of the format not only from de-stapling it but also from giving newer players better access to it.  Looking back, I think the cards on this list have been my principal problem with playing Commander outside my playgroup (which is fairly healthy in its metagame).  The format isn’t about me, but I’m also not picking cards out of thin air to ban; I’m picking banned cards to ban.  Why not ban the banned cards?


About Brandon Isleib

Author of Playing for a Winner: How Baseball Teams' Success Raises Players' Reputations; sometimes-writer at GatheringMagic and Muse Vessel; card name/flavor text team for Magic 2015; Wizards of the Coast's first Digital Event Coordinator; directly responsible for the verb "create" on Magic cards; legislation editor for Seattle; voracious music consumer; Christian.
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20 Responses to Seedborn Musings – If Commander Isn’t As Powerful As Vintage or Legacy, Why Does It Have the Cards They Don’t?

  1. kyzneg says:

    Wall (moreof a fence really) of text incoming.

    First off, I will say that I like the current banning strategy in Commander, I like that there is the ability to pay these cards when you can’t in any other format, and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’d prefer to see bannings happening on a playgroup level for anything beyond the most degenerate/broken cards. However, for the sake of argument, I’m going to comment on your list assuming that the only banned cards ar the the officially banned ones.

    I do realize that the “Regulate within your playgroup” solution isn’t one everyone has available, but I also worry that if the banned list were used more often, the opposite direction of unbanning a card within a playgroup wouldn’t happen nearly as often as it could/should. I seem to remember one of the stated ideas behind Commander, at least at this point, as being to give people a place to play the cards that they couldn’t competitively. I’d much rather see house bans of cards that are causing problems within a particular playgroup than see the bannings spiral out of control, which I feel is a major risk if you make a banned list more expansive, and an area Modern seems to be tipping dangerously toward.

    Bazaar of Baghdad – Personally, I don’t see a need to ban this for the same reasons that you seem ok or apathetic to Mana Drain or Imperial Seal. The price/age just make it a non-issue for most groups.

    Black Vise – “It’s probably nonthreatening.” – Agreed, though I have trouble thinking of Vise as “Non-threatening”.

    Demonic Consultation – Seems OK IMO, though it may be worth watching, yes it’s a potential near-instant win with Laboratory Maniac, but it’s still either easily dealt with if the Maniac isn’t protected, or requiring at least 3 cards if it is, and I really like the swingy-ness of Lab Maniac combos anyway, if someone has the answer there generally isn’t a second chance.

    Demonic Tutor – Hard to argue if we’re assuming no playgroup level control over how degenerate people are playing, however in most groups I’m fine with Demonic Tutor, the issues it can cause are reasonably dealt with in other ways most of the time. I also feel like you can’t just ban Demonic/Vampiric and expect it to solve whatever problems your playgroup may be having, it seems like most of the non-land tutors would end up banned if you’re really having problems with people tutoring for combos every game and not taking another route to dissuade them.

    Earthcraft – No strong feelings here, I don’t think it needs to be banned, but I wouldn’t complain if it was. I think it can be useful in a lot of decks without being broken, unfortunately the most obvious fits are where it will be rather broken, and that’s even without a certain nest of rodents.

    Flash – As long as Vedalken Orrery and Leyline of Anticipation are in the format, this is not ban worthy.

    Frantic Search – I can see this having uses, but I feel like blue already has access to co much other good card draw that removing this wouldn’t balance much of anything. No ban.

    Goblin Recruiter – Seems narrow enough to be fine, especially when you only get one ringleader. Sure there’s some very good things you can do with it, but not enough to need banning from where I sit.

    Gush – “Not a problem in Commander.” – Agreed

    Hermit Druid – No argument here, it’s either not that good or completely broken, and newer players especially aren’t going to see the threat until it’s too late.

    Imperial Seal – See Demonic Tutor. I’m not personally a fan of price-based bannings, but this is the obvious next target after Power if you are in that mindset.

    Land Tax – I think this one’s borderline, but I’d prefer a format where this wasn’t around. It always feels quite cheaty when it’s out.

    Mana Crypt – At this point, I feel like the artifact fast-mana is really a playgroup call. In a more competitive playgroup, banning the artifact mana gives green decks a huge advantage, in the more casual playgroups, don’t be a jerk with your fast mana, regardless of color (or lack thereof)

    Mana Drain – See Imperial Seal/Bazaar. There are enough acceptable alternatives (yes they aren’t as good, but they still say “No” just fine) that I don’t have a problem seeing a have/have-not dichotomy here.

    Mana Vault – “See Mana Crypt.” – See Mana Crypt

    Memory Jar – Makes me nervous, but the increased chances of someone else drawing an answer/you whiffing make me think it’s OK for now at least.

    Mental Misstep – “This would be odd to ban.” – Agreed

    Mind Twist – See Mental Misstep

    Mind’s Desire – As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more a fan of playgroup level answers than global ones, and I think there are some fun things you can do with this card, but I wouldn’t shed a tear to see it go either.

    Mishra’s Workshop – See Bazaar of Bhagdad/Imperial Seal. I do think it’s going to be a pretty rare hand that can really abuse this to its fullest, it can pump out a bunch of acceleration, but you still need to also have something that can restock your hand or a big threat right then and there, because I guarantee that you just set the sights of every other person at the table. Regulate on a playgroup level.

    Mystical Tutor – Mentioned in concept in my point on Demonic Tutor

    Necropotence – I think the balancing factor is that you don’t get the cards until your next end step. This is another one I’m on the fence on. I just haven’t seen it actually used enough to feel like it needs to be banned, but I wouldn’t be upset to see it go either.

    Oath of Druids – Definitely abusable, but a lot more risky in multiplayer than in duels. Watch list.

    Skullclamp – It is ridiculous, but I’m not sure I want it banned. For the same reason I like the non-green ramp, I like the non-blue draw, it provides a way for the other colors to keep up. And my experience has seen clamp be more used to give a creature unblockable or a rattlesnake effect than it has to see a bunch of 1/1s being eaten for cards. Again, if it’s a problem for your group, ban it there.

    Sol Ring – “You know what I think.” – I do, and I disagree on a global perspective, see Mana Crypt et al. vs. Seedborn Muse.

    Strip Mine – No ban, way too many broken lands in Commander already, and this is one of the few answers that’s considered socially acceptable.

    Survival of the Fittest – I won’t disagree there, this card is nuts. I enjoy using it, but I’ve cut it from my decks for a reason.

    Vampiric Tutor – See Demonic Tutor. I agree somewhat with your argument, but I think that’s more a problem of lazy deckbuilding than anything else, and I don’t really want to punish the good builders because of the lazy ones.

    Wheel of Fortune – Agreed that it’s fine, though I will point out that the other colors would be at least almost as bad as Red if you stigmatized playing one of their historically relevant areas (mass LD), and negated another one with the rules (burn and 40 life)

    Windfall – Fine, no ban needed

    Worldgorger Dragon – I kind of agree with the logic used here by the RC when they unbanned it. There are enough other 2-card combos that I don’t want the banned list to just reactively ban each combo that comes up (see Modern). Regulate on a playgroup level.

    Yawgmoth’s Will – It’s a very good card, and will sometimes win games outright, but I don’t think it needs to just be banned. If it’s a problem in your group, address it in your group.

    tl;dr – I’m mostly fine with the legacy cards remaining unbanned.

    • kyzneg says:

      For what it’s worth, I would actually be OK for the most part playing an a legacy-based Commander format, this comment was based on my overall preference for the current format, and because I think “I agree” wouldn’t give nearly the same chance for a good discussion as playing devil’s advocate (or is it Artifact Mana’s advocate?)

      In any case, interesting topic, I’m hoping to see a good discussion come out of this one.

  2. I personally would have no problem with a Legacy banned list. With that said I don’t believe that will solve all the problems. I’ve talked to several people who honestly DO NOT believe that Commander wasn’t meant for Spikes and that a turn 8 consistent win with Ghave going infinite is perfectly acceptable and definitely not a Spike thing to do. Combos will exist and so will the mean spirited people who believe that winning is everything and only have fun when no one else wins. I stray away from those people and play with you and others in our group that would rather have fun. Yes, my Mimeoplasm deck can be sick. Turns 3-5 can result in Buried Alive + Living Death and threaten to end the game quick. I see that vastly different from seeing the same infinite combo going off every game. Maybe that’s just me loving my deck, but at least you would only be one wrath effect away from making me very sad.

    • Seedborn Muse says:


      For purposes of this reply I’ll contrast a tournament deck I wanted to like but ultimately couldn’t with one I liked but that had a near-infinite combo: Valakut v. Seismic Swans. Seismic Swans killed with a combo that was very difficult to stop, drew plenty of cards on the way to it, and could respond to your disruption by killing you with the combo. Then again, Seismic Assault cost RRR and Swans 2 w/u w/u. I realize it was Vivid land era, where color-fixing wasn’t an issue, but getting to those two cards took some effort, to the extent that Cascade Swans was a legitimate build, running jank in the rest of the deck just to achieve the combo.

      Valakut, on the other hand, got to its plan consistently by playing absurd amounts of ramp and sometimes Summoning Trap. If you didn’t aggro them out (which was dependent largely on how much ramp Valakut got, not your own deck’s performance), then it was basically over for you, as the deck then mainly wanted to draw Mountains. Color protection? You were getting hit by a land. Kill Primeval Titan? The lands are already there. Kill the lands? Primeval Titan’s already there. Few people look back on it as a fun deck to pilot, it seems – could be wrong.

      The mana ramp/cheap tutoring/etc. that exists in Commander and also the Legacy banned list makes Commander a format where every deck wants to outValakut each other. Get the mana online, and everything forward is ridiculous.

      An outSwansing format involves nasty endgames, to be sure, but the way to get to them is different. The way up to the top is more fragile. If you put one piece out, you might find it smashed before you can lay the other piece. There’s actual destruction of the plan rather than forcing the deck with the most mana simply to “play fair.”

      The comparison might be going too far afield, but that’s the basic difference I see, and I’m tired of playing Valakut-based Commander, so to speak.

  3. Seedborn Muse says:


    A lot of the difference between us stems from our beliefs in both the Rules Committee and the efficacy of playgroup solutions. Over the years some have suspected that the RC has too much tunnel vision, i.e. they’ve banned what they’ve seen/heard is a problem rather than do anything more rigorous, and at this point I agree with that perspective. When the RC announces a banning/unbanning, it’s from theory and some amount of complaining, not data. Not that I’m sure how to collect non-anecdotal data for Commander anyway, but Chapin could write articles about the ubiquity of Survival of the Fittest that involved hard numbers, and that gives me more faith in Legacy’s banned list than Commander’s, backed up generally by what’s on that list.

    When a playgroup has a clear leader or is making Commander decisions for the first time, I think house rules work out fine. Once decks are built, however, I don’t think it’s possible to regulate democratically, as it winds up picking on specific players with access to the cards in question, etc. As much as I’d like to see this list become The List (TM), I don’t anticipate persuading anyone in an existing group, and ultimately that’s fine. It allowed me to rant more here. 😀

    Interesting that Sheldon had a similar topic today. Like him, I didn’t go into this exercise knowing what I’d come up with. I was surprised the list made the transition as well as it did.

    • kyzneg says:

      I’m not sure we actually differ that much in our beliefs on the RC (I agree that they tend to get tunnel vision, and probably should be more active in banning than they are.)

      A big part of what I’m seeing and concerned about is that it feels to me like a RC ban has little actual difference from a WotC ban in a sanctioned format. In theory, yes, a playgroup can just decide to ignore that ban, but at that point there’s a perceived authority figure saying “this card is not fun in EDH and you shouldn’t play it.” Whereas if a card isn’t banned there’s nothing indicating that the opposite statement is in effect.

      I have heard RC members mention asking local groups to play with/without cards they’re considdering for unbanning or bannig respectively, and report feedback, but this is obviously nowhere near being able to crunch numbers from a host of top-8s/day-2s, so the point that the legacy list has more empirical data behind it is definitely true, but at the same time, the two lists serve different purposes, and have different criteria for what they ban, and rightly so. For example, the difference between Demonic and Diabolic tutor is clearly the efficiency of the spell and how quickly it’s available, which matters much more in a duel format than it does in a multiplayer one (not that it’s irrelevant in EDH, but there are more decks that can handle waiting an extra turn for what they’re tutoring for in EDH than in legacy, which somewhat negates the extra mana cost)

      As far as the playgroup regulation goes, obviously it is easier to make those changes early, and will vary from group to group, but I still think that democracy can work there, just not the simple majority. There are plenty of different ways you can ensure that the only cards being banned on a group level are the ones that only a small minority of the group wants to see kept in, even as simple as requiring a certain threshold of the group to support it’s being banned locally, to limiting the number of cards that one person can suggest to ban over a certain span of time (this isn’t perfect, just throwing ideas out there.) Admittedly a lot of these options are not available for less formal groups (stores, large events, etc), or groups with other dysfunctional aspects, so that’s an issue, but I personally don’t want to see the format punishing the players who “get it” to deal with those who don’t. I’m reminded of one of the Commandercast episodes recently that had one of the RC on as a guest and were going over things they would do if they could be EDH tyrant for a day. The idea given was to require each player to announce what they were looking to get out of the game before play started. Unrealistic, and unnecessary in established groups, but it would help a lot if that was possible for the places where the EDH DB is most likely to be an issue.

      I had seen that Sheldon’s article was on a similar topic, and I look forward to reading it when I get the chance (read: when I’l at a computer that doesn’t block the word “game” in a URL)

      And I can’t believe that you would ever rant. It’s not like you’re a big fan of David Mitchell or anything. /sarc

      • Seedborn Muse says:

        Honestly, a bunch of cards on the Commander banned list don’t bother me. I’d be perfectly fine to see Kokusho unbanned, at least as a non-Commander, and Coalition Victory seems far less problematic than most of the cards we’re discussing, if for no other reason than its being 5-color is pretty limiting. I can’t figure out from the Banned List or its context what the philosophy actually is. I at least know what it is in Legacy, and I’d take that certainty and extra data over what’s currently available. That doesn’t mean automatically that the known fix is the best fix.

        “What kind of [banned list] do you imagine I would be imagining?”

      • kyzneg says:

        Agreed, though I think I’ve read someone saying that a lot of those were banned very early on in the format’s life, when they weren’t sure what they needed to be worried about.

      • Seedborn Muse says:

        It’s my understanding as well. But that just says the RC is letting moss overtake its vigilance, sort of like the media portrayal of the September Red Sox. Kokusho doesn’t seem as bad as Child of Alara as a commander or more powerful than Exsanguinate, and there are better exiling methods since Kokusho’s printing.

  4. Zach says:

    It seems like going to the Legacy banned list would let mono-Green get out of control. It already dominates many metagames, and it loses Survival – not an insignificant loss, but Green has so much card draw these days that they can just draw out of it.

    Meanwhile, all the best colorless ramp options available to the other colors (particularly Red and White, the weakest colors in Commander that get hurt even more by this list) are eliminated, along with the best Gaea’s Cradle killer. So with this list, only Green can go over the top with acceleration (with its accelerants protected by the social contract) and get to Stage 3 while other decks are barely set up. It seems like we would be seeing even more of Avenger of Zendikar than we do now, and I’m not sure that’s a healthy format, either.

    The solution might be to ban Azusa and Omnath as generals, but I’m not sure if that would be enough.

    • Seedborn Muse says:

      I’d put red at the bottom, sure, but white I would have put second for being able to handle so many types of permanents.

      I have faced an Omnath deck and it was quite nasty, so I know a little of where you’re coming from. I think monogreen’s general inability to wipe the board of creatures while being itself vulnerable to board wipe (minus Asceticism and other scattered cards) puts it behind the 8-ball in many ways. I’ve just been under the impression that monogreen is easily ganged up on. Is this incorrect?

  5. Alex P. says:

    I think the commentary in your list actually undermines your argument. For cards like Gush, Black Vise, and Mental Misstep, you’re basically saying “Shrug, it’s not a problem but I doubt anyone would miss it” — and you’re outright defending Strip Mine and Wheel of Fortune as beneficial to the format’s health! I think that speaks to a rather pronounced gap between Legacy and Commander. A lot of thought and data goes into making the Legacy banned list, but it’s all for a format that’s defined by cards like Force of Will and Tarmogoyf, not Sharuum and Doubling Season. If a Legacy banned list is going to be only accidentally and occasionally relevant to Commander, then it doesn’t really matter how well-tuned it is.

    • Seedborn Muse says:

      Not quite how I’d summarize my commentary, though I understand the beef. I can make the same shrugging comments on things already banned in Commander: Ancestral Recall; Coalition Victory; Kokusho (insofar as it’s around the same power level as Child of Alara and Exsanguinate); Library of Alexandria; and possibly Panoptic Mirror.

      I didn’t defend Wheel of Fortune absolutely. I defended it relative to the other cards on the list. As for Strip Mine, your point’s well taken, but if this was just an auto in-my-favor sort of argument, there’d be no point in discussing. What I’m looking at is whether the tradeoff is worth it, and I think it is. I’d rather be thorough and undermine my argument (although I don’t believe that I undermine it fatally) than be too biased to be worth something.

      Like the Commander banned list, the Legacy banned list was put in place piecemeal. Many of the Legacy bannings predate Tarmogoyf by many years, just as Commander bannings predate Sharuum and the rise of Doubling Season (or for that matter the rise of Commander). The current banned list doesn’t do a blamed thing to deal with Sharuum or Doubling Season, and even if it did, I’m not calling for its repeal.

      I think it’s reasonable to look at the Legacy list and say that its bannings have tangential relevance in balancing Commander. I look at the Commander list and say its bannings have tangential relevance in balancing Commander. I can’t follow the logic of the Commander list, whereas I can follow Legacy’s. I’d rather import square-peg logic than look at the gaping round hole. At best it’s well-reasoned opinion. No idea if the above article is that, but hey.

      • Alex P. says:

        I feel like my criticism went over a bit more harshly than I intended. I’m not saying you’re wrong to look at the Legacy banned list for ideas, just that I feel the environment is radically different due to the “40 life + singleton + multiplayer + generals” setup of Commander.

        I feel like what makes a deck viable in an “Enternal” format is determined more by which cards are forbidden than by which cards are allowed. Modern, Legacy, and Vintage have all sculpted their banned/restricted lists rather differently, to achieve different environments. Your article raises a very important point — why should Commander’s ban list imitate Vintage, when the play experience we’re shooting for is more like (if I had to pick one) some kind of Casual Modern? (Card pool difference notwithstanding, it is useful to note that both formats have had bannings explicitly to keep Emrakul in check. 🙂 )

        I guess I’m just not seeing the Legacy banned list as all that different from the Vintage banned list, although when I focus on just the fast-mana cards, I think I see what you’re getting at as far as the spirit of EDH.

    • Seedborn Muse says:

      That’s entirely reasonable. I think Casual Modern is as close as it could get. Ultimately, I wish the Commander banned list made sufficient sense to know what we’re aiming for. I think Legacy’s banned list is closer to the *spirit* of its list’s intent, I guess. Legacy has certain things it must balance, and I think its banned list is pretty good at balancing those things. Vintage kinda does, but it has the baffling Ponder restriction while Preordain is a 4-of. Modern’s too much in flux to know for certain, though I admire the intent. Commander’s banned list intent is straight-up unknown. That makes me look to Legacy even as it’s not without quirks.

      • Alex P. says:

        I thought about this some more and I’m coming around to your point of view. If you want to play Vintage without cards like Black Lotus, Time Walk, Ancestral Recall, Fastbond, Time Walk, and the Moxes, that means you just plain don’t want to play Vintage in the first place. Which does naturally suggest Legacy as the better baseline for a banned list.

  6. DJ says:

    Interesting that I just read this now. I posted this:

    …the day after you posted. I do see valid points to where you’re coming from, and I’m probably leaning far too heavily on the belief that people will do the right thing by the social contract, but I can’t help it. I want my toys back. 😉


    • Seedborn Muse says:

      Just read your article and it’s a good one, particularly with the note about one rule being two.

      And I think we’re seeing that money WAS an issue in the initial bannings and probably ISN’T now. It’s keeping some things banned but isn’t an ongoing, updated concern (which it ought to be if it’s a principle of banning, IMHO). I value consistency and sustainability in my rules more than I value some inherent idea of fairness or those rules’ effect on my gameplay, and I just don’t see it with the money item. It could be made consistent, but right now it isn’t.

      • DJ says:

        I’d agree whole-heartedly. My crazy ramblings about Power 9 aside, the real takeaway is that there’s a loophole in the criteria, and you’ve nailed it exactly. Whether or not I agree with them, I find the Rules Committee to generally (no pun intended…) be very consistant and reasonable, but I’d like to see them close this loophole for the sake of being completely transparent.


  7. Pingback: Graveborn Musings—The Fast (Mana) and the Furious (Timmies) | Muse Vessel

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