8 Cards That Should Be Unbanned In Legacy

Wes Wise is a buyer for StarCityGames.com and likes to speculate on cards and the various formats. In this article, he wonders what would happen if Wizards unbanned old Legacy powerhouses.

People often remember the times when cards on the banned list dominated formats until Wizards put a stop to it, but I believe some of those cards have
become more balanced in recent years. The power level of Magic cards has steadily increased over time (barring mistakes like Yawgmoth’s Bargain),
and because of this, decks are now able to put up a fight against some of the more powerful cards that, until recently, were too broken to be
considered fair.

I was looking at the Legacy banned list, and I saw a lot of cards that I feel don’t really need to be on there. I also noticed that over the past
few years, Wizards has been removing cards from this list, which is great! Keep it up, Wizards!

These trends lead me to believe that Wizards doesn’t want so many cards on the banned list, but they obviously can’t just remove all of
them at once—it’s too unsafe and could potentially destroy the format. I’m not suggesting that they’ll eventually remove all
the cards from the banned list, but broadening the format seems like a solid goal. Below is a list of cards that I think Wizards could potentially
remove from the banned list without severe repercussions.

Why do they ban cards?

In my opinion, the majority of times they’ve banned cards were because there were interactions involving those cards that made formats
degenerate. Cards like Tolarian Academy, Arcbound Ravager, and Necropotence are all examples of this. The decks they were in overtook the format and
ruined the game for a lot of people. Most people don’t like a format when you’re forced to either play a deck or lose to it. When this
happens, Wizards corrects the issue and takes the necessary actions required to balance a format.

Other times, cards were banned because they were causing interactions that were, to be blunt, unwanted in the format; for example, Shahrazad—that
card is just ridiculous. Having to start and play out additional games during a match isn’t something that can realistically be done in a
50-minute round. It’s not particularly overpowered; it’s just irritating and causes matches to go to time quite often. In order to prevent
unnecessary draws and speed up tournaments they ban cards like this.

They’ve also been known to ban cards because you’re generally not playing for ante in sanctioned events. For this article we’ll
ignore those.        

Before I post this list, I want to make it very clear to everyone that I’m not saying on June 20, 2011 this list of cards is going to be
unbanned. The list below contains the cards that I feel could be removed from the banned list and all Hell wouldn’t break loose.

Land Tax

There aren’t a lot of decks that play enough basic lands to be able to abuse this card. I understand that if Land Tax were to be unbanned, this
would change and a lot more decks would shove basic lands back in. Furthermore, would that really be a bad thing? Dual land prices are absurd right
now, and something will eventually need to be done about that, or Legacy might suffer. They don’t want to break the reserve list policy, so
unbanning Land Tax seems like one way they could slightly decrease the value of dual lands.

Also, with Mental Misstep being in almost every deck, it just neutralizes the power level of Land Tax that much more. While I feel the power level
would not be too high, it might increase the time of matches. One of the drawbacks to unbanning this card is that any Land Tax deck is usually
glacially slow. It’s a lot of shuffling and time-consuming interactions that might be unwanted in Legacy.


Well, I really love to draw cards—so this is more hope than anything else. In my opinion drawing two cards for free in Vintage is a lot better
than drawing two cards for free in Legacy. The games are usually a lot longer in Legacy since the cards you’re drawing are a lot more balanced. I
realize that comparing Vintage and Legacy is like comparing apples to oranges; however, time has proven that unrestricting Gush wasn’t a huge
mistake in Vintage, and this leads me to believe that its power level has been toned down enough to be fair in Legacy.

I feel like a number of combo decks could emerge if Gush were legal in the Legacy. A deck like ANT wouldn’t be able to play it out of fear of
hitting it off an Ad Nauseam. Also, the High Tide deck couldn’t gain a lot of value from Gush. Time Spiral and High Tide aren’t very
synergistic with Gush.  

Gush doesn’t have anything like Mental Misstep to keep it in check, which is unfortunate, however the tempo loss a Legacy deck would suffer from
using its alternate cost might be enough to level out its power. A bonus to unbanning Gush is that it would force people to play smarter with their
Wastelands. If every land in your deck is “gushable” then your opponent will have to think twice about using Wasteland.

Black Vise

I’m not a dinosaur, so I’ve never gotten to see the full power of this card; however, I’ve heard horror stories. This card was
unrestricted in Vintage not too long ago, and it hasn’t really caused any problems yet. I feel it would be a similar situation in Legacy. Most of
the decks are too aggressive to have a large number of cards in their hand past the first few turns, and any control deck should have ways to counter,
bounce, or otherwise remove it.

I also think resource denial is a lot harder to pull off nowadays. When you were allowed to play Strip Mine, Wasteland, and other cheap mana denial
spells, the power level of Black Vice was increased exponentially. With Wasteland (and kind of Sinkhole [okay, and Stifle too]) being the only forms of
viable mana denial, Black Vice seems a lot more fair. Not to mention, everyone now has access to a counterspell designed specifically to beat cards
like this.    

The amount of artifact removal that has been printed in recent years should easily keep any deck that might emerge to abuse Black Vise. The card has a
very powerful effect that allows a single card to deal a significant amount of damage and that might be enough to keep it banned. Between Mental
Misstep, artifact removal, and an aggressive format, Black Vise should be fair enough to see play in Legacy.


Just kidding!

5.     Earthcraft

This seems perfectly fair in Legacy. I know it’s a popular casual card due to Squirrel Nest and other similar cards, but I don’t see that
being a huge problem in Legacy. A combo that is vulnerable to counterspells, hand disruption, Beast Within, and any other type of permanent removal
just seems too easy to disrupt and still be overpowered.

A deck like Enchantress could benefit slightly from Earthcraft. Untapping a suited up land through your Argothian Enchantress seems like a good
interaction, but not one I would consider unfair. Unbanning Earthcraft would likely make some sort of Elf combo deck more viable. Turning all of your
guys into a Llanowar Elves with an active Glimpse of Nature seems like it might turn into a quality deck; however, a deck like that is still stopped by
all of the anti-combo spells, thus keeping it in check.

There are a number of combo decks that are already viable in Legacy, many of which can win on the first few turns of the game. Unbanning Earthcraft
opens the gate for a lot more combo decks to start seeing play in Legacy. With the format already being pretty balanced, Wizards might not want to
introduce a card that could exponentially increase the number of combo decks being played. Legacy is already a format that relies heavily on winning
the die roll, and increasing the number of matches that are just two decks racing to go off seems like it could become really unfun, really quickly.
While the card appears to be balanced in Legacy it could potentially lead to a format that is less enjoyable than what we currently

 Mind Twist  

I realize that unbanning this card might be controversial, but there are already tons of easy ways to strip your opponent’s hand in Legacy. Also, by
the time you have the mana to cast a devastating Mind Twist, there is a good chance your opponent won’t have that many cards in hand. It already
takes four mana to make Mind Twist more powerful than Hymn to Tourach.

One of the more realistic “nut draws” you can get with Mind Twist, not factoring in nine rituals, would be: Turn 1 Ancient Tomb into Grim
Monolith, turn 2 Mind Twist for five. Assuming your opponent has done nothing to interact with you, this draw would be much better if you were casting
a Hive Mind because then you’d just win the game instead of stripping them for five cards.

Still not convinced? See Mind Shatter—I realize that one mana can make a huge difference, but I find it hard to believe that Mind Twist deserves
to be banned when its gimp second cousin hasn’t seen a Legacy decklist in its entire existence.

Don’t be confused, I will windmill-slam this card in cube; it’s probably on my top 10 most busted cards list. However, I feel that Legacy
is at a point where the decks are so aggressive that it’s hard to get “abuse-able” value from Mind Twist.

Mind Twist’s effect is obviously extremely powerful, and having the ability to destroy your opponent’s hand could simply be enough to keep it
banned. I feel that with all the disruption available in Legacy, it would be a lot easier to stop a Mind Twist from resolving. On top of that, just
close your eyes—for one second; imagine casting Misdirection targeting a Mind Twist. Tell me that isn’t something you want to do one day!

Hermit Druid   

Really bad things have happened in the past due to this card. All cards that have a very unique affect, like Hermit Druid, generally only get better as
more cards are printed. However, I feel that with all of the graveyard hate that Wizards keeps printing, Hermit Druid has been powered down. Although
this card has the ability to be completely broken, I feel like it could be hated out of a tournament just as easily as any other reanimator or combo

One thing to consider is that a Hermit Druid deck would probably play more lands than a deck like Dredge, allowing it to combat Leyline of the Void and
other graveyard hate easier. It also has the benefit of playing green, making it a lot easier to destroy an enchantment or artifact unlike most
Reanimator decks.

A huge drawback to Hermit Druid is that in most cases it has to live for a turn unless you find a way to get a Mountain in play, bin an Anger, and
fight through any disruption, while that guy is sitting on the board, vulnerable for a turn. This opens him up to a wide variety of removal spells.

Decks that previously played Hermit Druid could win after one activation from him; with the current card selection being as broad as it is, I feel like
this is still a threat faced from Hermit Druid. While Hermit Druid’s power level has been absurdly unfair in the past, I honestly believe that
Legacy is a resilient enough format to stop Hermit Druid from being completely unfair.

While we’re talking about controversial cards, :cough: Memory Jar

Everyone remembers the time when Memory Jar was extremely broken; you could play Tolarian Academy, and it won consistently on the first few turns of
the game, but I think we’re past that now. Without the ways to cheat it in, reliably recur it, or otherwise abuse it, I feel like it’s a
pretty fair card. I feel like all the combo decks that are currently being played couldn’t really benefit from Memory Jar. Combo decks already
have to fight through tons of disruption, and I don’t think they could afford to dilute their deck with a five-drop artifact.

Memory Jar is obviously a very good card and has a ton of room to be abused. Wizards might just leave it banned to prevent this, but with our current
card selection, I can’t think of a deck that could be built to abuse it. If people want to start building Megrim decks to “abuse”
Memory Jar, more power to them. I’ll gladly take my chances. 

I’ll admit, this is definitely a long shot, but I honestly thought they would unban Memory Jar before they unbanned Time Spiral. Before they
unbanned Time Spiral, I never would have guessed they had plans to do that. Anyone who had ever cast a Time Spiral knew that card is ridiculous, but
it’s been proven to be okay. A point that I’m trying to make is that a lot of these cards are still extremely powerful, and the threat of
having them legal causes people to freak out. I feel like Legacy has the cards to combat these powerful spells, allowing them to see play without
ruining the format. 

What happens if they unban some of these cards?

If you look back to when they unbanned cards like Time Spiral and Grim Monolith, you’ll notice that they pretty much tripled in price overnight.
Cards being unbanned not only affect the value of that particular card, but they also can cause other cards to skyrocket in price. Cards like
Candelabra of Tawnos were already legal in Legacy, but once Time Spiral was unbanned, it too found itself soaring in price.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I really enjoy speculating on stuff like this. I can’t count the number of hours that I’ve sat
around with a group of friends having pointless arguments about all the “what ifs” in Magic. 

Well, when are the next bannings?

The next time the banned/restricted list is due to be altered is on 6/20/2011. I expect a few things to happen on that day. First and foremost, I
honestly think that Stoneforge Mystic is getting axed. It’s currently Standard PTQ season, and they don’t want a season of PTQs to be
tainted by Caw-Blade.

I feel like Wizards is usually reluctant to ban cards for a number of reasons; one of the reasons is because they don’t want to upset the Magic
community. I’m sure Wizards acknowledges and appreciates the amount of money Magic players spend on their game, and the last thing they want to
do is bite the hand that feeds them. To prevent some of the potential outrage of banning Stoneforge Mystic they put two of them in the most recent
event deck in hopes that it would lower the price enough to keep everyone happy after a banning.

On the other side of that argument, it’s a sign they might not ban Stoneforge Mystic. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to put
cards into event decks that are designed to help introduce players to the game and then ban cards in those decks. I guess we’ll have to wait and

As for Legacy, I think Legacy is extremely healthy right now, and they might want to leave it that way. However, with bannings only occurring once
every few months, that gives the format a lot of time to solidify and potentially become boring. Maybe they’ll wait and have unbannings every
other quarter, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that some of these cards will one day be legal in Legacy. 

Hopefully you all enjoyed my first semi-financial article. I realize that this is an interesting theory, but it has thus far proven to be true.
They’ve unbanned a decent amount of cards over the past few years, and I predict they will continue this trend.  

Thanks for reading!

-          Wesley David Wise