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MTG: Should Commander’s Ban List See An Update?



When it comes to MTG, Elder Dragon Highlander, aka Commander, is the main format I play. It’s a fun, chaotic format that allows for a lot of random shenanigans. Essentially, any card from the history of Magic the Gathering’s large card pool is legal, with a small exception that are on the ban list. For the most part, I agree with the ban list. Most of the cards included on it are there for a very specific reason and it’s pretty transparent as to what that reason is. Cards like Braids, Primeval Titan, The Power Nine Cards, Emrakul, cards with an Ante Cost, etc. are all part of the ban list.

That’s why I’m here to talk about a few more cards that could be added to the list.

Cyclonic Rift

Rift is a 2 CMC (1U) instant that allows for a player to bounce a non-land permanent card from the field back to a player’s hand with an overload cost of 7 (6U) that makes me  a bit overpowered and bounces all non-land permanents you don’t control of back to their owner’s hand. If it was just a 2 CMC bounce spell, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but the overload ability is what makes it just too strong. The only thing that is worse than having all permanents bounced back to their owners’ hand is that it happens to every single person except the 1 player. It’s a major disadvantage to those who now have to play catch-up, and while it can be a great achievement to beat that, it’s highly unlikely at that point. It’s definitely more of a defensive tool that can save your ass, but more often than not it’s an instant-win for the caster of it.

Another reason why it should be added to the ban list is that Upheaval is already on the ban list. Upheaval is a 6 CMC card (4UU) that says “Return all permanents to their owners’ hands.” which is basically the same thing as Cyclonic Rift but it hits every permanent, including the caster’s as well. It really does slow down the game too much. When you’re 2 hours into a match and someone does that, it usually ends up with someone scooping because they don’t want to sit for another 2 hours at the slightest shot of redemption. The inclusion of lands doesn’t tend to prolong the game longer than it should, but it doesn’t benefit a single player. The fact that it’s a sorcery speed spell makes it a bit fairer compared to Rift.


Stasis is a 2 CMC (1U) enchantment that reads, “Players skip their untap phase. At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Stasis unless you pay (U).” By itself, it seems like a horrible double-edged sword because sure, your opponents can’t untap their permanents but neither can you. The thing is that usually when you’re playing this cards, you have ways to abuse or bypass the effect when it comes to it hitting you. Cards like Time Elemental/Temporal Adapt, Paradox Engine + Mana rocks, Teferi-Temporal ArchMage, Mana Rocks+ Isochron+ Dramatic Reversal/Reset, etc. allow you play around Stasis while your opponents usually have to concede because they literally cannot play the game. There is nothing more annoying or less fun than sitting there, twiddling your thumbs while your opponent continues to lock you out from playing. Personally, I don’t see the point of playing a deck like this because the lack of interaction you’re about to get would make for the most boring game ever. If that’s not a good enough reason for this card to be on the ban list, I’m not sure what else should be. Magic is supposed to be an interactive game but cards like this, make the game come to a complete halt if it is played at the right time. A player just has to wait for everyone else to be tapped out, drop this bad boy on the field, and it goes from a game of MTG to a staring contest.

Paradox Engine

Now, Paradox Engine is a card that just recently came out, but it didn’t take players long to figure out a way to break the card. Paradox is a 5 CMC (5) artifact that reads “Whenever you cast a spell, untap all nonland permanents you control.” In the right decks, there are too many ways to abuse the shit out of this card and go infinite. Isochron Sceptor with a couple mana rocks and Engine out, boom! Infinite mana at your disposal to do whatever you want. Toss that combination into an Arcanis the Omnipotent deck and you have infinite draw/mana combo. A deck that runs something like that, gets very degenerate very fast. I should know because I built a deck like that. I played the deck about 5 times and I had to take a shower after every single match because I just felt dirty winning. Yes, usually with Paradox, you need a lot of pieces for it to go off but the issue that I have is that a player will sit there for 5 minutes running through their deck, looking for the answer they need, all while building an infinite amount of mana. Once again, it becomes a boring and one-sided game of Magic.

Eminence Cards

For those that don’t know, the most recent Commander set (2017) introduced a new ability, Eminence. Eminence is an ability that can be triggered from the command zone or from the battlefield and each effect or trigger varies on each of the 4 creatures that gained this ability. On Edgar Markov, it reads “Whenever you cast another Vampire spell, if Edgar Markov is in the command zone or on the battlefield, create a 1/1 black Vampire creature token.”, on Inalla, it reads “Whenever another non-token Wizard enters the battlefield under your control, if Inalla, Archmage Ritualist is in the command zone or on the battlefield, you may pay {1}. If you do, create a token that’s a copy of that Wizard. The token gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.” and so on.

The biggest issue I have with this ability is that it triggers whether the commander is on the field or not, so outside of somehow forcing your opponent to put their commander in their hand or in the graveyard, nothing can stop this ability from triggering. Most other creatures have to be on the field or be casted in order for their abilities to trigger except for these creatures. And in that sense, it breaks the game. I’ve played games against these commanders where my opponent have never casted the commander. I mean, if you get the ability from the command zone, why waste the mana on that, right? Also since the ability is coming from a card in the command zone, there is nothing you can really do to counter that ability. While I get that at least most of these Eminence abilities are limited to running tribal decks, it still seems like a broken ability since you leave your opponent with no real way to counter it.



As you all know, I love to rant and nitpick things out there. I could easily talk about another 30+ other cards that should be considered for the great big ban list in the sky.. but I think I’ll save you all and keep it for another time. So far, what do you all think? Valid cards to be added to the ban list? Maybe some cards that you’ll add to your own house rules set of ban list? What are some cards that you think should be added? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.