Modern is my go-to competitive format. It has a great mix of extremely powerful cards, a ton of ways to build around said cards, and enough interaction to make sure the plans those cards enable go through. There are quite a lot of pitch spells warping the format, specifically the five elementals. I don’t think they’re ban worthy, but it does make it much harder to build decks that don’t pass those checks. You basically have to build a deck powerful enough to go through at least two of them, or succumb to your opponents just having one or two of them early and hoping your average draws are better than theirs. This is a tough pill to swallow, as many players do not want to feel at a disadvantage in a tournament for simply being paired against Rakdos Scam.

Now, while I do empathize, I also think it’s not all doom and gloom either. Time and time again we’ve seen innovation and tweaks that are always in the running. This also might be an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s okay for formats to settle and stay the same for a long time, especially eternal formats. This is a point of accessibility that isn’t talked about enough. When players invest in their decks this expensive, it’s important that their investment becomes worth it. There is no worse feeling than spending hundreds, if not thousands on a good deck, just for it to become unplayable a while later. It’s for this reason why I don’t really want anything necessarily banned.

Unbannings, however…

Taking a long look at the Modern banned list has led me to a conclusion that I’m sure a lot of people would agree on: There are a lot of messed up cards! It goes without saying there are some that would and should never, ever get unbanned. Not only because of the potential warping power they could have, but a lot of them aren’t fun. For the purpose of this article, I want to focus on unbans, as I think it would be more productive to explore unbans instead of bans.

There are three cards that are worth unbanning to me: Faithless Looting, Mox Opal, and Ponder

I want to preface this by saying I don’t think all three of these cards should be unbanned all at once. Having three of these together would certainly make for some annoying decks that would just stagnate things way faster than it already tends to be. With that said, let’s explore a bit.

Faithless Looting kind of took the brunt of the blame for Dredge’s sins way back when. It never really got a chance to shine when Arclight Phoenix was the talk of the town. I do think unbanning this would push that archetype over the top, but in a format where everything is over the top, is it really that bad? Unfortunately, I think the chances of this actually happening is a lot slimmer, now that Preordain recently got unbanned and will enjoy some time in the limelight.

Mox Opal is a bit of a different story. The only popular deck I can see benefitting from this card is Hammer, but I think that’s okay. Hammer decks tend to be a turn behind when Fury, Solitude, and Grief are running rampant, so allowing it to catch up, while also giving a bit of a push to Affinity and Hardened Scales can’t hurt.

Lastly, there’s Ponder. I don’t think Ponder has as much potential to be as broken as Looting, but the problem with this and Preordain being in the same format is the hyper consistency. Izzet Murktide decks will always have their early drops online quickly, and their Murktide Regent out early and big. The other issue is the ever present fetch land interaction, which dips in the consistency point, but also allows decks like Omnath to go from kind of perfect mana, to definitely perfect mana, with just a small cost of a couple more blue fetches. Even so, I think the more fringe decks would make great use out of this, and it might be worth entertaining.

Despite the Modern banlist being fairly big, the amount of actual cards that would be worth unbanning are fairly slim. That said, it’s always worth taking a look periodically, and assess what could have a significant enough change on the format to consider. No one likes stagnation, but having new things enter the fray could shake things up very favorably!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.


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