An Analysis of Legacy's Banned List

  • #1

    By Lennie Brookes (AKA Qwerty)

    Currently, Legacy is one of the healthiest formats in Magic: The Gathering. You can look at the top 8 lists of many different events and in each list see a plethora of different decks. So why am I writing this article? There are a few reasons. First, I want to; second, I believe some of the cards on the banned list should not be there.

    For your reference, here is the Legacy Banned List.

    I am going to focus on some cards which I think have been overlooked by Wizards simply because they were, or are, too powerful.


    I’ve talked about banning Force of Will and Survival of the Fittest on MTGS and MTGN. Even though both cards fit Wizards' own rules for banning, they also contribute to keeping a stable meta. Not to mention, if either were banned, none of the cards I am going to list could possibly come off of the banned list.

    Entomb
    As tutors go, Entomb is very specific. If you cannot take advantage of your graveyard, you cannot take advantage of Entomb. This drawback led to it only being played in Reanimator type decks in old Extended.

    What would happen if unbanned?:
    Worldgorger Dragon is on the banned list, so that monster can't rise from the dead. However, deck types revolving around the Reanimator effect will appear. Is this bad? Not really. Another deck in the meta will just make it more healthy. Is it easily stopped? Swords to Plowshares is the deciding factor here, as any deck could splash white if it wanted to deal with a reanimated creature. In addition the graveyard hate in Legacy is a lot more effective than it has been in extended for a long time.

    Hermit Druid
    When Hermit Druid got banned in Extended, it was due to the fact that Extended could not handle a Hasted 20+/20+ Sutured Ghoul. It was just too fast for Extended.

    What would happen if unbanned?:
    Without a doubt Angry Hermit would raise its head in Legacy. Angry Hermit, coupled with the mana base in Legacy and cards like Shallow Grave, it would be even faster. Is this bad? No, it is yet again another deck added to the meta. Decks are already assuming control early in the game and this would just add another. Is it easily stopped? Yes, for the same reasons as Entomb and a few more cards. Hermit Druid by itself is a small creature at 1/1 and has a casting cost of 1G. Any creature control in the meta can kill it. You also see the wider use of Stifle and the better counterspell base of blue. Which can stop Angry Hermit from dominating rather well.

    Land Tax
    Without a doubt, Land Tax is the most debated card on the Legacy banned list. A lot of people have argued against Land Tax's unbanning, but I think a lot of the reasons they give are skewed. The most popular argument against Land Tax coming back is that it allows white to draw cards. While this is theoretically true, what people miss is that it doesn’t net you card quality other than guaranteed mana drops each turn. It thins the deck, but in the early game this is less important and, to be frank, the decks that would play this won’t last into the long game (with the possible exception of BwBS). The last argument is in my view the silliest, but has some mild validity. The argument is that the card does not fit white's place on the colour wheel because of the excessive cards that are effectively drawn. I think this comment is complete and utter trash. If that were the case, why isn’t Swords To Plowshares on the banned list?.

    What would happen if unbanned?:
    What Land Tax will do is enhance aggro decks a little more and give a possible rebirth to Parfait. Is this bad? Why would making the aggro decks stronger against control and aggro combo be bad? It could be abused with Scroll Rack, but you have to cast it and activate it. This generally means that the Land Tax player is at a mana disadvantage (having less land than the opponent in play). And casting and triggering the Scroll Rack is a lot harder to pull off; than a turn one Land Tax. Is it easily stopped? Of all the cards listed here Land Tax is one of the hardest to stop. That said, it is also the least powerful listed. After Land Tax hits the table it is often there for the duration of the game unless it is being utilized by the Scroll Rack combo. Even then, the Scroll Rack will still be destroyed first in a lot of case’s.

    Skullclamp
    Skullclamp is another hotly debated card. Many people are still sore about its abuse in Standard and Extended. Moreover, they think it would allow the creature decks to dominate. This is partly true. My main counter argument to this was that before the September bannings (in Legacy), Skullclamp had hardly any impact on the format. Yes, it was played, and it definitely helped decks, but not on the same scale that it did in Standard and Extended.

    What would happen if unbanned?:
    Obviously, Aggro would rise in power. This would be a good thing, as currently the meta has been getting more control and Aggro-combo oriented. Decks like Red/Green Survival Advantage and WW would become more playable (note: the former was playable anyway). Is this bad? Maybe, I think it is that "maybe" that is keeping it on the list. Although I think the benefit is worth the risk; it would be easy to put it on the "watch list" like Doomsday. Is it easily stopped? Yes and no. In Legacy there tends to be more Artifact hate, and there is a lot more first turn denial. Blue is actually good as a mono-color and not a support color. In addition, equipping is sorcery speed meaning that creature control can deny the Clamp as well.

    Vampiric Tutor
    This is one of the few cards that was almost universally agreed shouldn’t be on the list. For the life of me I cannot figure out how they banned Vampiric Tutor, but not Survival of the Fittest. If you rate either on a power scale, Survival of the Fittest comes out on top 80% of the time. I cannot give an argument for why this card was banned, so I will just move on.

    What would happen if unbanned?:
    Black would be played in top tier decks, combo would become more reliable, and multi-purpose decks other than Survival of the Fittest-based decks could appear. Is this bad? Nope; currently, combo decks are very stagnant in the Legacy metagame. Giving them a reliable way of doing things will help them immensely. Is it easily stopped? Yes, but most of the time players will let the Vampiric Tutor resolve and then simply counter the tutored card, Brain Freeze it or use denial such as Duress if the player is building up combo pieces.

    This is the meat of the article, but other cards were discussed and here is the general consensus on the cards that should not leave the list, that were put up for discussion on unbanning.

    Frantic Search
    This is a poor card. However, it can make combo too good and can be abused for the storm engine. Or any combo deck for that matter.

    Gush
    Giving blue anything for free is bad. Giving it draw for free is very bad. Unbanning Gush could also spawn a new age of Tog and its sister decks.

    Mind Over Matter
    Even with Tolarian Academy banned, the amount of mana that this can help produce is obscene. Its other applications are broken and sick as well. Imagine it coupled with Isochron Scepter, the control player just discarding land he no longer needs.

    Replenish
    This very nearly made the first list, but its ability to swing games in one go knocked it straight off the list onto here. Now in this case I think the color wheel has been pushed too far. It is card advantage as well as denial evasion at the same time.

    Conclusion
    When Wizards first made the banned list for Legacy, they took the Extended banned list and the Vintage B/R list and slammed them all together. Looking back, I think they made a mistake. Legacy has already evolved into a wildly varied metagame. They banned some cards just because they were banned in Extended or restricted in Vintage which seems a very bad way of doing things. It’s a while until Extended rotates and Legacy gains a major influx of players. They could have been using this time to perfect the format and make sure that only cards that needed to be on the banned list; were on the banned list.

    Qwerty
    &Yawgmoth's Will>>>>:bmage:


    Thanks to Static, Someone, and Wolfwood for first reading and giving feed back, Feyd_Ruin for the great IMG tags, Senori, Tawnos, and Goblinboy for formatting and editing help. Everyone in Banned List threads I have started on both MTGS and MTGN: Without you people I would not have been able to write this.
    Last edited by Qwerty: 2/23/2005 5:56:02 AM

    Legacy
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    zooGRW
    Soladarity U

    Modern
    4c delver WURG
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  • #2
    good article! although, i myself enjoy the current format of legacy. they have really hurt combo decks, which, in my opinion, lets more interesting decks pop up. ATS can be a fun deck based on creatures and landstill is also a fun control deck. many of these decks would not have the same potency with combo cards floating around, and i think wotc was trying to protect those decks.
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  • #3
    An Excellent article , covering the diverse background that our rich format has Smile

    P.S never ever even suggest clamp should not be on the list Wink
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  • #4
    nicely done, not much comment on the stuff you actually wrote since I'm a casual player myself... but the ways you presented your material is nicely done.

    keep it up Smile
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  • #5
    The formatting does look a lot nicer out of .doc, and I agree on the land tax being unbanned. I haven't really played enough of the format to really comment on the others though.
  • #6
    Great work Qwerty. It visualy looks great too.
    Official MTGsneakyhomunculus Mod
  • #7
    Nice work I realy like how you examined why they were banned and what would happen if they were taken off of the banned list. Keep up the good work



  • #8
    For all, those that said it was presented nicely , but they don't know the format .... Now is a wonderful time to learn Smile Pop on by the Forum and we will be glad to help you out Smile
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    Quote from VestDan »

    Btw, Belgareth... could you give the rest of us awesomeness lessons? Please?

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    Belgareth, I second the quote in your sig. You should teach a class.
  • #9
    Thanks for the comments, and I agree with Bel, the format is fresh and easy to get into :).

    Qwerty

    Legacy
    UWR delverUW
    FishU
    zooGRW
    Soladarity U

    Modern
    4c delver WURG
    Fish U
    Standard
    Mono Blue devU
    White Wheenie W
    Centered text, because when you call me on it, I know you see my argument, but do not want to counter it
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  • #10
    Just because I don't agree with several of your points doesn't mean I can't see them; it's a nice article, albeit short.

    I wrote my opinions in the discussion thread, so I won't stress them here.
    Please note that while "Ad Nauseam" literally means "to the point of nausea", "Ad Nauseum" means "to a place closely associated with nausea", with nauseum being a nonsensical neologism with unpleasent connotations.

    And although a storm combo pilot may at times feel as if trapped by artillery fire, Ethersworn Canonist has nothing to do with Cannons.

    Thank you.
  • #11
    Good article, I really liked it.

    May I suggest e-mailing it to someone like Aaron Forscrthy? (cant spell lol)

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  • #12
    Nice article! It basically covered everything it should have without wandering off to other subjects.
    I hope to see more Legacy-articles from you in the future.
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  • #13
    Nice article, I don't play the format personally, but I did find the article interesting and and fun to read.
  • #14
    Nice read. I've played the format on and off and Im starting to become wagley familiar with the metagame.. it does indeed seem very intesesting with the b/r list. I really think it need to be changed on some points. Esepcialluy on the entomb question.. if it was unbanned it would make reanimator tier 1 methinks Smile

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  • #15
    Great article. I totally agree with you on the vamp wtf where they thinking? Now you know what they should unban, Tolarian Academy. That would be fun because I have 4 and a whole bunch of 0 acc artifacts and well 3 strokes and well I have academy built. When Extened goes to crap b/c wizards keeps printing bad cards in newer sets I will go to T1.
    toot

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  • #16
    I think I would feel very vain if iImailed this to wotc, sorta like pushing my own boat out, as for academy being unbanned are you crazy man ;).

    Qwerty
    :bmage:
    Last edited by Qwerty: 2/22/2005 10:35:44 AM

    Legacy
    UWR delverUW
    FishU
    zooGRW
    Soladarity U

    Modern
    4c delver WURG
    Fish U
    Standard
    Mono Blue devU
    White Wheenie W
    Centered text, because when you call me on it, I know you see my argument, but do not want to counter it
    Quote from wolfwood »
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  • #17
    nice read.

    biggest part I agree with: Vampiric Tutor.
    I can understand most of the cheap tutors, but Vamp just doesn't cut it for the banned list. Extended decks even pass it up. Tutoring in Legacy is good, but not THAT good when you look at the card.

  • #18
    Quote from Qwerty »
    I think I would feel very vain if iImailed this to wotc, sorta like pushing my own boat out.

    I think if this was better worked out (= longer), so as to be a real all-covering analysis of each card in the format (which would be too tiring for an article), I can't see a reason why not.
    In fact, I'm thinking of doing that myself - not before I see the March banning, though.
    Please note that while "Ad Nauseam" literally means "to the point of nausea", "Ad Nauseum" means "to a place closely associated with nausea", with nauseum being a nonsensical neologism with unpleasent connotations.

    And although a storm combo pilot may at times feel as if trapped by artillery fire, Ethersworn Canonist has nothing to do with Cannons.

    Thank you.
  • #19
    Quote from Noman Peopled »
    I think if this was better worked out (= longer), so as to be a real all-covering analysis of each card in the format (which would be too tiring for an article), I can't see a reason why not.
    In fact, I'm thinking of doing that myself - not before I see the March banning, though.


    After I had the research and comments down, All I would of been doing is filling the article out, Its short compared to my articles coming on the 25th and early march. But it contains all the relevant information.

    If you want to write contact wolfwood :), if possible give him a sample; more legacy writers the better (Currently have 3)

    I ended up getting a few pms suggesting I mail a link to WoTc so I gave in to demand and vainity Wink and went in search of a email address then mailed it last night :).

    Qwerty
    :bmage:

    Legacy
    UWR delverUW
    FishU
    zooGRW
    Soladarity U

    Modern
    4c delver WURG
    Fish U
    Standard
    Mono Blue devU
    White Wheenie W
    Centered text, because when you call me on it, I know you see my argument, but do not want to counter it
    Quote from wolfwood »
    I've figured it out, You type like how Ozzy Osbourn speak.

  • #20
    Good article. I think that Land Tax should stay banned though, for the same reason that so many people use sac lands. This card allows you to hugely thin your deck, and rarely-if ever-get a dead draw. It wouldn't be used in those mono white decks, though. Like you said regarding Entomb, any deck can splash white for StP, which happens to have the same mana cost as Land Tax. Any deck that can splash for StP can splash for Tax, allowing it to be very versitle, and really downright nasty.
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  • #21
    Thanks for compliment; The big point there though is that the Tax, fetch's basic lands. Meaning its use in decks like ATS and Land Still. Won't be the same effect/play as Swords to Plowshares.

    It would be good to see it in WUBS, with Scroll Rack although the artifact count is already high in WUBS.

    One of the main sticking points I have with tax being on the list personally is that it is on the list and SoTf is not on the list (listens to Bel screaming for my blood edit: ok head).
    Qwerty will no longer be available as his head appeared to come off when i pulled it -Belgareth
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    Edit: sticks head back on Wink
    Last edited by Qwerty: 3/2/2005 11:18:20 AM

    Legacy
    UWR delverUW
    FishU
    zooGRW
    Soladarity U

    Modern
    4c delver WURG
    Fish U
    Standard
    Mono Blue devU
    White Wheenie W
    Centered text, because when you call me on it, I know you see my argument, but do not want to counter it
    Quote from wolfwood »
    I've figured it out, You type like how Ozzy Osbourn speak.

  • #22
    Nice work.

    Land Tax shouldn't be banned.

    Tutor... iffy. take it off and watch it maybe. Only updating the B/R list 4 times a year though is a double edged sword... it means you give stability for deck builders but it trades for lack of overall control of the format. And then if you "watch" a card and it proves to be too powerful, you then need to use the emergency banning which will irk a lot of folks who just went out and blew $40 on a couple pieces of cardboard.

    *shrug*
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  • #23
    Unbanning Skullclamp would be format suicide.

    This card has proven itself to be broken in just about every possible way, and the format would probably end up with Null Rods having to be sideboarded everywhere again. I understand wanting to make Aggro better, but making R/G Survival, Goblins, and other Aggro decks THAT powerful is a huge mistake. Hell, even Suicide Black could be competitive if you gave it Skullclamp. It is a format warping card, and needs to stay banned.

    Vampiric Tutor is one I also think should stay banned. The ability to get any card in the format (And therefore just about every card printed in Magic history) is too powerful for only one black mana. It'd only make the Aggro-Control Combo worse.

    I also think Land Tax should stay banned. The ability to think your deck out so quickly and so early is too good for this format, even with the loads of enchantment hate.

    Replenish is a card I'd like to see unbanned. There was never any evidence that this card was so horribly broken except for its brief stint in Extended. Even with fast mana, Replenish decks are as vulnerable as any other combo decks. If Solidarity and Belcher are legal, why can't Replenish and Pande-Burst be legal?
  • #24


    Like you said regarding Entomb, any deck can splash white for StP, which happens to have the same mana cost as Land Tax.



    Swords to Plowshares can be splashed and used in a deck with basic lands or nonbasic lands. Land Tax decks are restricted to basic lands only, not to mention that even though they increase your draw's quality they're not getting you anything more than three basic lands. You can't go on and splash any ammount of colors you want. I guess you can safely make a two-colored deck, and that's as far as it goes. Solid but not degenerate to the point of being ban material.

    Vampiric Tutor is one I also think should stay banned. The ability to get any card in the format (And therefore just about every card printed in Magic history) is too powerful for only one black mana. It'd only make the Aggro-Control Combo worse.

    I know most are feeling iffy about Vampiric Tutor due to the ammount of mana available in Legacy right now, but it's unbanned in Extended, where it has been proving a staple, but not a dominant and degenerate card, nor it fuels degenerate decks. Vampiric Tutor will, mostly, help combo find the niche it misses in the format. The best combo deck currently available in the format is just way too easily disruptible and hated (2-land Belcher), and just about any other is way slow.
    Force of Will exists and keeps combo in check, not to mention that there are a lot of hate cards for any possible combo deck.

    The only mistakes I can see are Skullclamp. Aggro already has a niche in the format. No need to make it any stronger than already is, specially with Clamp!
    And... worst choice of them all, Hermit Druid. I see people waving about Land Tax and Vampiric Tutor but none mentions Hermit Druid? What gives?!
    Hermit Druid can, even without Vamp Tutor, go off turn 2 with a couple of Cabal Therapies being flashbacked from the grave that same turn! It's way too good, even if it's easily disruptible, because the deck is very very fast and very consistent.

    And for those saying that Replenish is broken, think again... Bazaar of Baghdad is banned. Oath of Druids is banned. Hermit Druid is banned. Frantic Search is banned. The best and cheapest graveyard fillers are BANNED. How are you going to fill your graveyard? By casting over and over again Attunement? Or by playing Cephalid Illusionist+en-Kor creature? If you said Attunement... well, you're going to take time, by which you're probably already losing.
    If you picked Cephalid+en-Kor creature, well, think again, you'd prefer to be bringing back a Sutured Ghoul with Reanimate/Exhume/Shallow Grave which cost two to four times least than Replenish does. People... Replenish is NOT broken.
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  • #25
    Umm...why exactly did you feel the need to necro this thread?

    And Vamp stays banned. Extended is MUCH different than Legacy. The bigger the card pool, the more broken the card gets.
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