Banned List Update: 04/24/2020

Banned: Dark Ritual []

Unbanned: Nothing at this time

Dark Ritual []

The testing from Dark Ritual [] led to games that were very noninteractive.  The most oppressive of which were from the combination of Liliana of the Veil [] and Smallpox [].  Although it is fine for this type of strategy to exist, Dark Ritual [] powers out Liliana, allowing for Smallpox [] on turn two.  The regularity of this happening was very oppressive, even against our top tier decks.  The other major deck to abuse Dark Ritual [] was anything involving Ashiok, Dream Render [].  Against decks playing fetch lands, Dark Ritual into Ashiok turned them off before other players had taken a turn.  This is also something that we deem fine to exist, but not on turn one.  

We have taken a fairly strict stance when it comes to fast mana, and this decision falls in line with that.  We realize there is still some fast mana available, but most of those only add one mana for one card. You can read more farther down about green ramp strategies.  

Painters Servant []

We were able to spend some time on Painters Servant [] following it’s unbanning in Commander.  When unbanning cards, we don’t want to just see how they affect competitive decks, but how they affect more casual decks.  What we found is that the Painters Servant [] decks could effectively lock other players out of the game far too quickly.  We should not be requiring people to play Force of Will [] style effects in a casual format, so we are leaving Painter’s Servant banned.  

Sylvan Primordial []

We tested this on the heels of our unbanning of Primeval Titan [].  We found is that the card advantage generated can be overwhelming in a strategy that is already very powerful.  We may revisit this in the future, but for now we are leaving this card banned.  

Griselbrand []

We tested Griselbrand [] at the request of the community.  This card was very powerful, even against our competitive decks.  Griselbrand decks were still winning games far too quickly, even when the table knew what was going on before the game started.  Griselbrand is simply not healthy for the format, and so we are leaving the card banned. 

Future testing

Because of the pandemic, our testing has been limited.  However we do have some ideas of where we are taking our testing next.  As the format evolves, and we receive input from the community, we want to continually evaluate cards on the ban list.  It is our goal to ban as few cards as possible, while still maintaining a healthy format.  Our to-do list includes the card Gifts Ungiven [] and the strategy of green ramp.  

Gifts Ungiven []

We have been testing this card for a while.  We have tested it in a few different strategies, and Gifts Ungiven [], though a powerful enabler, does not happen at a speed that greatly concerns us.  We expect to have a final answer on this card by the time of our next announcement.  

Green Ramp

This is a strategy that we have been concerned about for a while.  We have classically taken a strong stance against fast mana, but as a primary strategy in Green, we have largely left it alone.  However, green based ramp strategies are one of the most powerful in our play groups, and we are concerned that they are faster than is healthy for the format.  We are currently looking at ways to remove power and consistency, without rendering a multitude of decks unplayable.  


Our next ban list update will be on July 10th.  Normally it would be 90 days after a set release, however with the pandemic, Ikoria has not come out on time.  We chose this date because, as of this writing, it is the first Magic Fest that has not been cancelled and the home Magic Fest for our core group.