The EDH banlist – Take the Power Back?

Happy Monday ladies and gents, and welcome to a break from routine!

Kaladesh is on the horizon, and we’ve had to break out the Spoiler-umbrella once again. We’ve had dwarves, motorcycles, and (my personal favourite) the tease of an Egyptian themed plane. So, what brings this about?

Well, avid reader, let me phrase it like this; New standard set, new banlist update. While most are lapping up spoilers and cool ideas (Dr Jank has some doozies lined up, rest assured), some of us are on pins wondering how many of their unbelievably abusive tools are truly safe. Being completely transparent, I don’t expect the banlist to last forever in its current state; lots of my favourite cards (Iona, Shield of Emeria, Sensei’s Divining Top) are my highest speculations for banning each time spoilers roll around. No bans doesn’t mean the format’s perfect, and something HAS to give.senseis

Enter my selection of musings for today; should the rules committee give the reins over to wizards? The argument is more balanced than you think. For all of the hate the RC gets, they just represent one facet of the complex diamond that is EDH. I’m not looking to incite rebellion (viva la revolución), I’m hoping to give a balanced viewpoint on the two sides, and to show that the argument to change rules committee isn’t black and white.

First off, I’ll put this one out there first: Traditionally, this is their baby. They raised it from a tiny babby, back when commanders could go into decks, and the only available commanders were the elder dragons. To forcefully prise them away from their format would be highly insensitive. To tack an additional small point onto this one, they’re a lot more approachable. It isn’t difficult to find the man, the myth, the legend Sheldon Menery at an event and quiz him on how he views the format and potential ban candidates (bandidates? Does that work?); anybody at Wizards willing to do this and tell you what’s viewed as confidential information would be dragged out to be uh… ‘sent to the cocouncilmmand zone’.

To bolster that point, contrary to popular belief they aren’t incompetent. Some of their decisions may be questionable by some (#FreePrimeTime) but largely they make good calls. Why yes, Prophet of Kruphix WAS backbreaking. Off-colour fetches ARE fine (though I’m not convinced they’re off this train of thought), and sure there are other things that are higher priority for ban status, but they’ll get around to it in their own time – which brings me to my next point…

The committee can only do so much. This extended muse so far has only been one way, but allow me to speculate; what if more extensive testing could be done? If the committee could test as extensively as Wizards, we may have an answer on whether Deadeye Navigator is fine or not. Indeed, we could see if any of the current bannings are worthy of coming off the long, long list (#FreeBraids) but we don’t know, because the rules committee can only be in so many games at once, so their banlist remains a large grey area.

Though, another thing kicking it back into the committee’s favour is something that upset many at the launch of Oath of the Gatewatch; when was the last time the committee performed a ‘shake up ban’, in an effort to shake up the format? None that I can see. For context let us rewind a year, with the surprise banning of Splinter Twin in Modern. Twin was never that oppressive a deck on its own (though that’s merely my opinion), and would have put up some resistance to the colourless eldrazi tide that barrelled down onto the format for the months after. Ultimately it was deemed a good decision that was seen as bad in the onslaught of Eldrazi, thoughcouncils the community still has stalwart supporters of the unban; personally I’d like to see it unbanned purely from a spectator standpoint; though I understand why it is. We don’t know how Wizards would treat the meta. ‘Storm doing reasonably well? Let’s ban Ad Nauseam and Necropotence for a bit, see how that does.’ Though this could all be exaggeration..

After all,they DO have format balancing experience. This wouldn’t be their first rodeo, and (while debated by some) have the right idea about what is upsetting the meta and where. As last banlist update (or lack thereof) showed, something must be working out reasonably well. Nothing is really being complained about, as Yin and Yang appear to finally be in balance. Relatively speaking.

To put the cherry on this cake, I’d like to make the case that Wizards design for the format. They aren’t only capable of watching over the formats, they can actively design against them. Is something powerful braidsright now? In a year there might be a great card that makes it worse. Same with unbans; unbanning Black Braids for example, then creating a hatebear that prevents sacrifice effects if she becomes out of control. This sort of micromanagement would require a more hands-on approach than the current annual supplement, but recent times have shown that they are becoming VERY apt at seeding cards for other formats into sets (Abrupt Decay, Recruiter of the Guard). Afforementioned hatebear wouldn’t seem too bad slotted into a graveyard set, or seeded into a draft set, and would help people looking for answers to problem commanders find them.

That’s it from me for this week. What side of the fence do you rest on? Either way, I’ll be back to schedule programming next week. For now, Unmistakable out.


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