Legacy is a Pro Tour format this year and is more relevant in competitive Magic than anytime in recent memory. That means Wizards might be more willing to make some changes.
I’m going to go over the cards that I believe are most likely to be banned as of the next announcement on Monday, April 16. I also want to highlight some of the cards that I believe have a shot at coming off the banned list.
This is the best creature in the format by far. It has blurred the format so that every fair deck has to have this card to keep up with the rest. Delver, 4C and BUG Control, Food Chain, Aluren, Elves and many more archetypes play this card. You don’t even need green mana in your deck to take advantage of it.
Deathrite Shaman offers ramp and fixing all off of primarily black mana in most decks. If you are playing a fair matchup and one player has Shaman and other doesn’t, the player that doesn’t falls so far behind on tempo that Deathrite Shaman just produces unbeatable starts.
Deathrite is also a maindeck graveyard hate card able to hit all spells, creatures and lands. You have a card that accelerates, stabilizes and wins the game all at once. If you’re playing a fair deck I believe you are forced to play this or have a real good argument why you aren’t. Sometimes I view this card as a format pillar like Brainstorm, Force of Will and Wasteland. However, I recognize the power level and can completely get behind banning Shaman next.
I think this is the most subtly stupid-powerful card in Magic. It has been quickly getting removed from all other non-rotating formats and I would really like Legacy to be next.
This is an uncommon opinion but if I had full control I would ban this card first and see how the decks change instead of banning Deathrite. I would like to see how Grixis Delver can adapt to losing some velocity and perfect information. Grixis Delver has all the tools to have full control over a game and can really abuse the perfect information from Gitaxian Probe. It also is a free spell for Young Pyromancer and an extra card to fuel early Gurmag Anglers.
Taking a small amount of power from the combo decks doesn’t hurt either. This card makes an otherwise interesting card like Cabal Therapy completely insane. Delver and Storm are the decks that get to abuse this interaction most powerfully, with Storm taking the card that will stop them and Probe+Young Pyromancer+Therapy shredding the opponent’s hand on turn two.
True-Name Nemesis and Leovold, Emissary of Trest are other considerations for banning. Both of these cards come from supplementary products that wizards decided would be a good way to print into Legacy.
I agree with the approach, but there are some cards that just break once you are in a 1v1 game. I think Leovold becomes suitably powerful if Deathrite isn’t around to power it out. The card is absurdly powerful but if not easily powered-out on turn two it should balance within the format.
True-Name Nemesis, however, will spike in popularity if and when Stoneforge Mystic decks re-enter the format. It is also one of these most difficult threats to engage with out of Grixis Delver. Arguably, the protection from player in a 1v1 game is just too good, the card has been checked by Terminus in the past but with Miracles de-powered and no broken Delver deck to get under this card, True-Name plus equipment would make players slump in their chair again as they get dismantled by this unstoppable attacker and immovable blocker.
Now to talk about cards that can be unbanned. as I write this article this stuff is way more fun to think about. You have to see if these are format warping or slot into existing decks, how was it broken before and whether past-broken is even good now in the context of current Legacy. All these are pretty dangerous and if I had last say I would probably not unban any. But let us walk through them anyway.
This is the safest unban in my opinion. This format is incredibly efficient and in order for this card to get up to par with Hymn to Tourach you need to invest an extra mana into it. It is important to note that this card is more splash-able than Hymn to Tourach, so it can be played in less committed black decks. One possible home for the card might be Eldrazi Stompy which, hypothetically, can utilize Urborg and two-mana lands to maximize this card’s power.
On power level this card probably doesn’t deserve to be banned but at the same time this sort of effect just isn’t fun. It feels awful to be on the receiving end of random discard and for that reason this card likely should just stay where it is, even though the growing group of Mono-Black Pox players in Toronto would be happy to have another tool.
This is the first card on a lot of people’s personal list to come off.
This card is banned because of the interaction between it and Squirrel’s Nest. This combo lets you make a squirrel, use that squirrel to un-tap the land with the nest on it and make another squirrel, creating infinite 1/1s. This is a combo that features two enchantments so it’s pretty hard to interact with once assembled without making major deckbuilding concessions.
There isn’t really a diverse set of homes for this combo and I would also argue there are way more powerful two-card-combos in this format. A deck like Enchantress is basically the only home for this card and with that said I would be surprised to learn if that deck would rather win with this than with its current win conditions like the Rest in Peace plus Helm of Obedience combo.
Ultimately, I have a problem unbanning cards that just create another broken combo in an already high-powered format. Even if it isn’t as powerful as other interactions in the format. There is just very little upside to just adding combos to the format.
This card costs one more mana than Ad Nauseum and creates a very similar effect for Legacy Storm decks.
If you take the average converted mana cost (CMC) of a sample ANT deck you get an average of just over one. I’m no Frank Karsten but for a similar subset of random cards you should pay close to the same amount through Ad Nauseam and Bargain in current iterations of Storm. Show-and-Telling this into play instead of Griselbrand also seems worse. Academy Rector would get another sweet enchantment to get off the trigger, however.
All this being said, there could be some new deck that can abuse this card, or we could see Storm built differently with a higher average CMC to take advantage of Bargain. This card is so busted I would probably leave it banned but I can see an argument for seeing what Legacy players can do with a new combo tool. Storm is currently so badly positioned that a it might help, but all of this could change if we see Deathrite Shaman banned in the coming days.
Sensei’s Divining Top
I understand when this card was banned that U/W Miracles was by far the best deck. However, I really wasn’t a fan of the argument in favour of banning it.
The argument that it slowed down tournament play is paper thin; judging staff need to be more active to snuff-out slow play in my opinion. If you find yourself accruing warnings it forces you to get better and more efficient with your mechanics. I know when I played this deck I never picked up a draw and that was probably true of most of the great Miracles players.
I also believe that we didn’t give enough time for some predators to emerge and take advantage of Miracles being on top of the metagame. I feel the 4C Control deck was starting to give Miracles a hard time, for example. There wasn’t enough time for the 4C Leovold deck to settle in and establish its place in the Miracles metagame.
In addition, I don’t think top was the best card to ban from the deck. Terminus is probably the card I would like to see gone to keep these decks from having such a tempo-efficient one-mana sweeper. The deck might have been less oppressive if it had to lean on clunkier and slower cards like Supreme Verdict.
Banning Top also effectively killed off more decks than intended, Imperial Painter for example. These non-blue decks lost a big tool that gave them something close to blue cantrips to make their decks more consistent. I would be in favor of giving Top another shot and banning the proper card, Terminus, if that’s what it takes.
Bonus Unbans Just For Me
Not a chance, since these would be degenerate in the format, make Wasteland obsolete and give Lands more broken tools. Not in a million years are these two unbans ok.