A Comprehensive Reference Guide to the MTG Banned and Restricted List, by Kerry Meyerhoff

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A Comprehensive Reference Guide to the MTG Banned and Restricted List MTG

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In a game as old as Magic: the Gathering, and one with a consistently growing playerbase and therefore a constantly changing development team, there are bound to be some mistakes. Every few months, Wizards of the Coast review the formats and decide if action needs to be taken to balance them. If so, cards are added to the lists below, to indicate they are not legal in a given format. Cards can also be taken off the lists, so make sure to continue to check back regularly. The next banned and restricted announcement is on 17th October 2017.

Tip: Please use the “Ctrl + F” function if you’d like to jump to a specific piece of information.

 

Cards Banned From All Formats

There are a number of cards that are not legal to play in any format listed below:

 

Ante Cards

Ante is a mechanic that involves playing for keeps, and this counts as gambling in many countries. Therefore, no ante cards are legal in sanctioned formats.

 

Conspiracies

Printed in the Conspiracy and Conspiracy: Take the Crown blocks, these cards are only legal in the limited format for which they were created.

All cards with the ‘Conspiracy’ card type can be found here:

 

Vintage

Vintage is the format which goes all the way back to the beginning of the game, and except the cards on this list, every card is fair game. It is often very expensive to buy a deck, so despite the awesome power levels, the format is rarely seen outside of GPs and other large events.

Banned Cards

  • Chaos Orb– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Falling Star– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Shahrazad– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set

Restricted Cards

A restricted card means you are allowed only one copy in your 75-card deck. This rule only applies to the Vintage format, to allow showcasing of the most powerful cards in the history of MtG, but balancing the games at the same time.

  • Ancestral Recall – one of the Power Nine, a draw spell which would be too good in multiples
  • Balance– because it’s very powerful mass destruction for low mana
  • Black Lotus – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Brainstorm– in a deck full of very important one-ofs, cantrips also have to be checked
  • Chalice of the Void– because most of the cards in the format are one mana and it’s not very fun
  • Channel– because Fireball exists
  • Demonic Consultation– cheap tutors are very good in Vintage
  • Demonic Tutor– cheap tutors are very good in Vintage
  • Dig Through Time– it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard and find your power pieces early
  • Fastbond– very powerful and cheap mana ramp
  • Flash– it can be used to abuse creatures’ ETB effects and enables multiple combos
  • Gitaxian Probe– it gives perfect information on your opponent’s hand for no cost
  • Gush – a very powerful card draw spell that’s ‘free’
  • Imperial Seal– cheap tutors are very good in Vintage
  • Library of Alexandria– it’s a land that draws you a card for free
  • Lion’s Eye Diamond– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Lodestone Golem– because Shops was pretty oppressive
  • Lotus Petal– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mana Crypt– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mana Vault– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Memory Jar– anything that says ‘draw seven cards’ on it makes Wizards scared
  • Merchant Scroll– another cheap tutor that gets you three of the Power Nine
  • Mind’s Desire – because the Desire deck was very very oppressive
  • Monastery Mentor – because Mentor decks were a very large meta percentage
  • Mox Emerald – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Mox Jet – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Mox Pearl – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Mox Ruby – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Mox Sapphire – one of the Power Nine, a mana rock which would be too good in multiples
  • Mystical Tutor– cheap tutors are very good in Vintage
  • Necropotence– have you read it?
  • Ponder– in a deck full of very important one-ofs, cantrips also have to be checked
  • Sol Ring– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Strip Mine– uncounterable land destruction that can target basics isn’t fun for anyone
  • Thorn of Amethyst – because Shops needed to be checked
  • Time Vault– it can easily provide infinite extra turns, at least they make you tutor for it
  • Time Walk– one of the Power Nine, an extra-turn spell that would be too powerful in multiples
  • Timetwister– one of the Power Nine, a draw-seven spell that would be too powerful in multiples
  • Tinker– because turning one of your free mana rocks into a win condition seems good
  • Tolarian Academy– in the format that’s basically entirely mana artifacts, jog on
  • Treasure Cruise– because it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard early
  • Trinisphere – because most of the cards in the format are one mana and it’s not very fun
  • Vampiric Tutor– cheap tutors are very good in Vintage
  • Wheel of Fortune– we’re back to this ‘draw seven cards’ thing again
  • Windfall – please Wizards stop printing these
  • Yawgmoth’s Will – it makes Storm completely bonkers

 

Legacy

Much like Vintage, this format includes all the oldest cards, however it has many more banned cards, so it is overall a lot fairer and easier to afford.

Banned Cards

  • Ancestral Recall– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Balance– cheap mass destruction of permanents, lands and hand size isn’t fun
  • Bazaar of Baghdad – because it enables Dredge to do silly things
  • Black Lotus– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Channel – because Fireball exists
  • Chaos Orb– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Demonic Consultation– cheap tutors are too good in Legacy
  • Demonic Tutor– cheap tutors are too good in Legacy
  • Dig Through Time– because it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard early
  • Earthcraft – because infinite squirrels was actually a deck at one point
  • Falling Star– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Fastbond– because it allows you to ramp very quickly
  • Flash – because you can abuse ETB effects for multiple creature-based combos
  • Frantic Search– combos with lands which can produce more than one mana
  • Goblin Recruiter– it completely eliminates any element of randomness from your deck
  • Gush– it draws you two cards for free and allows you to save your lands from Wasteland
  • Hermit Druid– because it enables Dredge to do silly things
  • Imperial Seal– cheap tutors are too good in Legacy
  • Library of Alexandria– it’s a land that draws you cards for free
  • Mana Crypt– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mana Drain– you ‘steal’ your opponent’s play to drop a big early bomb, does not promote fun
  • Mana Vault– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Memory Jar– it says ‘draw seven cards’ on it
  • Mental Misstep– many cards in Legacy are one mana, this counters all of them for free
  • Mind Twist– if you resolve this for any decent amount you probably just win
  • Mind’s Desire– the Vintage deck was too good, no way they were letting it in Legacy
  • Mishra’s Workshop– it lets you drop a turn one Trinisphere and then just win
  • Mox Emerald– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Mox Jet– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Mox Pearl– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Mox Ruby– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Mox Sapphire– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Mystical Tutor– probably actually shouldn’t be banned, but it’s a very good tutor
  • Necropotence – have you read it?
  • Oath of Druids– allows for a turn-two combo that gets Emrakul or Griselbrand
  • Sensei’s Divining Top – because it takes ages to use it properly and rounds go to time
  • Shahrazad– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Skullclamp– when it was in Standard it literally made people quit the game
  • Sol Ring– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Strip Mine– uncounterable land destruction that can target basics isn’t fun for anyone
  • Survival of the Fittest– the deck was too consistent so it was banned to open up the meta
  • Time Vault– infinite extra turns probably shouldn’t be a thing
  • Time Walk– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Timetwister– Power Nine, too good for Legacy in any context
  • Tinker– because turning one of your cheap mana rocks into a win condition seems good
  • Tolarian Academy– not as busted as it is in Vintage but still makes way too much mana
  • Treasure Cruise– because it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard early
  • Vampiric Tutor– cheap tutors are too good in Legacy
  • Wheel of Fortune– we’re back to the ‘draw seven cards’ thing again
  • Windfall– please Wizards stop printing these
  • Yawgmoth’s Bargain– see Necropotence
  • Yawgmoth’s Will – it makes Storm completely bonkers

 

Modern

Modern allows cards from the current sets dating back to Eighth Edition. This removes most of the super-powerful ‘mistake’ cards from the early years and allows for a more balanced metagame. Still, there are a number of cards that have been banned out.

Banned Cards

 

Standard

Standard is a rotating format that only contains cards from the most recent few sets. There are only bans in Standard when absolutely necessary, and the cards are removed from the list when they rotate out of the format.

Banned Cards

 

Commander

Commander is not technically a properly sanctioned format, and so Wizards of the Coast do not manage the banned list. Rather, it is more a set of guidelines for stores and general play, set down by a group of players who manage it; it is by no means necessary to follow it as strictly as the other formats in your own games, if your particular playgroup disagrees with the list.

Banned Cards

  • Ancestral Recall– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Balance – just the least fun card in the world in Commander
  • Biorhythm– enables too many ‘quick win’ combos
  • Black Lotus– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Braids, Cabal Minion – it’s too easy to cut people out of the game very early on
  • Chaos Orb – because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Coalition Victory– too easy to win
  • Channel– because Fireball exists
  • Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – because it could be your commander with a ton of mana rocks
  • Erayo, Soratami Ascendant – it’s too easy to flip in Commander
  • Falling Star – because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Fastbond – it ramps you out too quickly and gives an unfair advantage
  • Gifts Ungiven– tutoring for four cards in a singleton format seems good
  • Griselbrand– ‘draw seven’ WHY WIZARDS
  • Karakas – constantly bouncing peoples’ commanders for free doesn’t promote fun gameplay
  • Leovold, Emissary of Trest– in multiplayer he’s just far too good
  • Library of Alexandria – it’s a land that draws you cards for free
  • Limited Resources– in a multiplayer format, this card just means nobody can do anything
  • Mox Emerald– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Jet– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Pearl– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Ruby– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Sapphire– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Painter’s Servant– makes it too easy to build a deck that counters other peoples’
  • Panoptic Mirror– because you can put Time Warp under it and nobody else gets to play
  • Primeval Titan– tutoring for any two lands in Commander is a dangerous thing
  • Prophet of Kruphix– it made one person get a turn every time anyone else got one
  • Recurring Nightmare– because you can swap a 1/1 for an 11/11 and get it back to hand after
  • Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – it taps for 756357843567843562 mana
  • Shahrazad – because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Sundering Titan– a supremely not fun card in multiplayer
  • Sway of the Stars– enables too many ‘quick win’ combos
  • Sylvan Primordial – really, really good in multiplayer
  • Time Vault – you take infinite turns and nobody gets to play again
  • Time Walk– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Tinker – because turning one of your free mana rocks into a win condition seems good
  • Tolarian Academy– in a format with a ton of free and cheap artifacts? Jog on
  • Trade Secrets– you and your friend just draw all your cards and leave everyone else in the dust
  • Upheaval– if you even want to play this in Commander then clearly you hate fun
  • Worldfire– enables too many ‘quick win’ combos
  • Yawgmoth’s Bargain – see Necropotence in the Legacy or Vintage section

 

Duel Commander

Much like regular multiplayer Commander, the banlist is managed by a group of players and is not official. It is an entirely different list, so if a card is on the regular banlist but not here, it is legal in Duel. This list is used for in-store tournaments but does not need to be followed in your own playgroup, if you do not wish to.

Banned Cards

  • Ancestral Recall – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Ancient Tomb– it gives one player a very quick early advantage
  • Back to Basics – does not promote fun as almost all decks run nonbasics
  • Black Lotus – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Channel– because Fireball exists
  • Chaos Orb– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Chrome Mox– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Dig Through Time – it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard early
  • Entomb – it can lead to turn-two kills
  • Falling Star– because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Fastbond– it gives one player a very quick early advantage – also grossly unfair
  • Food Chain– enables a silly infinite mana combo
  • Gaea’s Cradle– it gives one player a very quick early advantage
  • Gifts Ungiven– a tutor for four cards seems good in singleton
  • Grim Monolith– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Hermit Druid– it’s a one-turn kill in a Dredge-style deck
  • Humility– honestly probably so you don’t have to call a judge every five minutes
  • Imperial Seal– one-mana unconditional tutor is too good in a singleton format
  • Karakas– constantly bouncing commanders does not promote fun gameplay
  • Library of Alexandria– it’s a land that draws you cards for free
  • Loyal Retainers– part of a game-winning combo with literally any good legendary creature
  • Mana Crypt– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mana Drain-‘stealing’ your opponent’s play and then dropping a big bomb early is unfun
  • Mana Vault– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mind Twist– resolving this for any decent amount usually means you just win
  • Mishra’s Workshop– it gives one player a very quick early advantage
  • Mox Diamond– free mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Mox Emerald – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Jet – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Pearl – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Ruby – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mox Sapphire – Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Mystical Tutor – one-mana tutor is really good in a singleton format
  • Natural Order– too easy to combo off and get a quick win
  • Necrotic Ooze– part of a combo including Sidisi that was very oppressive
  • Oath of Druids– too easy to combo off and get a quick win
  • Protean Hulk– too easy to combo off and get a quick win
  • Sensei’s Divining Top– it just takes far too damn long to use
  • Shahrazad-because it’s frankly ridiculous and more like something out of an Un-set
  • Sol Ring– cheap mana rocks enable silly shenanigans
  • Strip Mine– uncounterable land destruction that can target basics isn’t fun for anyone
  • The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale– this card definitely does not promote fun
  • Time Vault– enables infinite turn combos really easily
  • Time Walk– Power Nine in a singleton format makes games one sided
  • Tinker– because turning one of your free mana rocks into a win condition seems good
  • Tolarian Academy– it gives one player a very quick early advantage – also grossly unfair
  • Treasure Cruise– it’s too easy to fill up your graveyard early
  • Vampiric Tutor– one-mana unconditional tutor is too good in a singleton format

These cards are banned from being your actual commander:

 

Block Constructed

Block is a format in which you build your deck, but you can only use cards from a certain block or set. The cards mentioned here are only banned in block constructed, NOT in sealed or draft.

Banned Cards

Innistrad Block:

 Mirrodin Block:

 Masques Block: 

Urza Block: 

Tempest Block: 

Mirage Block: 

Ice Age Block: 

 

Pauper

Pauper is a format where your deck must consist of cards that have all been printed at common rarity. Though technically a format made only for Magic Online, Pauper has recently been gaining ground in local stores as a paper format, and so although it is not yet sanctioned outside of MtGO, the banned list is here for your reference. 

Banned Cards

 

The next Banned and Restricted Announcement will take place on 28th August 2017.

You might also be interested in: A Comprehensive Reference Guide To Every Magic: The Gathering Set (Inc. Lore, Mechanics, Etc)

Kerry Meyerhoff

A Comprehensive Reference Guide to the MTG Banned and Restricted List, by Kerry Meyerhoff
Every few months, Wizards review the formats and decide if action needs to be taken to balance them. If so, cards are added to the lists below, to indicate they are not legal in a given format. Cards can also be taken off the lists, so make sure to continue to check back regularly. The next banned and restricted announcement is on 28th August 2017.

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