Hey Wizards, here’s an idea: let us play with the cards you sell us

Why is Magic: The Gathering Banning so Many Cards?

MTGA
MTGA Colossal Ban Hammer

The ban hammer has never been this big (Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Magic The Gathering used to have an amazingly stable Standard environment where the game was kept fresh with the instant adding of new cards, but also fair, sporting a healthy competitive environment. That all changed a few years ago and today cards are banned as soon as they come out, or sometimes even as soon as they’re spoiled! Let’s find out what the hell happened!

Standard Sucks

Honestly, it’s not a great time to be a competitive Magic player. The global pandemic is seriously limiting the options to go out and play home games in your local game store and the problematic metagame doesn’t offer too much variety in MTGA, so climbing the ladder is often a dull grind. Since not many people go to play in person, Wizards is pumping out set after set, shooting out expensive limited and VIP editions, announcing announcements, and taking away much of the excitement from current and still fresh expansions to talk about the next 4 things that are about to come out. It’s tiresome and takes away much of the enjoyment.

Of course, aspiring pro players are always focused on one thing: winning. Spikes, as we call them, have always had the tendency to put power first and fun second, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Normally, more sets coming out means more strategies to try out and a more challenging environment to compete in. But there’s one big problem - crazy power level. Every new set introduces busted cards that crush the format, dominate big-money tournaments, and soon enough get banned. This is frustrating for all players, not just the pros.

If you’ve been paying attention to Reddit and other online Magic discussions this summer, you might have seen this lovely picture:

MTG bans 10 years

Damn. And that’s not even accounting for the latest high-profile bans of powerhouses Omnath, Locus of Creation, and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

There is so much to unpack here. The stark contrast between 10 whole years of healthy metagame versus the complete mess in recent years is very, very telling of the state of our favorite game. The way we see it, things boil down to a few major flaws in the current way Magic is being made.

Hype

Wizards of the Coast wants to sell cards. Duh. They want every new set to be seen as the new great thing, they want people to talk about it, they want to see comment sections filled. The way they achieve this currently is through the push of power. They would schedule a preview season and give cards to content creators and media outlets to spoil. Sometimes these are regular, nice cards. Other times these are the stars of the set - the cards that really get people going.

Currently, Wizards seems to be focused on these. They need to be in every set. Reprint of that expensive old thing! A new planeswalker with how many abilities? An amazing combo that will win you every game! Rinse and repeat. What they seem to not account for is the fatigue that’s building up in the community. They say the hype train has no breaks. Well, at some point, people simply jump out of the train.

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation destroyed the Grand Finals (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

A Digital-Only World

We live in a world where many of us simply can’t go to a Friday Night Magic event. Maybe your store is closed; maybe you’re quarantined; maybe you’re simply being cautious (as you should!) In any case, most of the Magic games these days happen inside MTG Arena. That means that Wizards have much better ways to closely monitor game data and see exactly what cards are problematic. Cool.

That also means that Wizards can now issue bans much faster than before and not even provide warnings - if there’s a major tournament on the weekend and one deck kills it, the card is banned on Monday. Effective immediately. Not cool.

The push to buy buy buy new cards leads to a disregard for people’s collections and sentimental value of older cards - a pillar of Magic: The Gathering and the very reason many veterans are still enjoying the game. This is a dangerous thing to play with and might lead to great harm to the community.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and the wrath of many players (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Money

Did we mention that Wizards wants to sell cards? We also want them to sell cards because we enjoy their game and want them to thrive. But not like this. Printing good cards guarantees they’ll be sought after and therefore command high prices on the secondary market. Proceeding to ban money cards takes value away from the players, leaves to disappointment, and finally, to distrust. And a player who can’t trust a game maker ultimately moves on to other games.

Let’s not allow this to happen, Wizards! Pretty please?

For more MTGA, keep reading EarlyGame!

Nikola Petrov

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