Seasoned players already know the history of Magic: The Gathering. As days goes by, new players are getting involved in our most beloved game. As part of the community, I would like to contribute this article for them to see what happened in the past in regards to banning.
Magic: The Gathering is a game of combinations and strategy. Sometimes, the path to victory can be brutally executed by your or your opponent that leads to a specific list of cards nailed by the banhammer. Here are the list of cards that have been banned at one point during their time in the Standard environment according to their time of banning to the most recent. Standardformat (then called "Type 2") was created on January 10, 1995.
November 1995: Channel
Channel was banned.
Channel iwas the first card that got banned in Standard when it was created as a format in 1995. On your first turn, you can play a Mountain and cast Black Lotus. Crack it for three green mana, cast Channel and convert 19 of your life into 19 colorless mana. Tap the mountain and cast Fireball for 20 damage paying 19 colorless mana and the remaining one green mana from Black Lotus. You just won the game before your opponent could even play a land. See how insane those cards interact back then? I highly doubt that kind of combo will ever come back in Standard nowadays!
February 1996: Mind Twist
Mind Twist was banned.
At the time when Balance and Mind Twist were legal in Standard, players would just include mana rocks such as Moxes, Mind Stone and Dark Rituals to wreak a devastating turn two by casting Mind Twist for five or six mana eventually leaving your opponent an empty hand and an empty battlefield. They were the two of the strongest cards to combine at the time and that is literally not fun for everyone not using the same pieces.
June 1997: Zuran Orb
Zuran Orb was banned.
After Ice Age had officially rotated from the format, Zuran Orb was eventually banned in Standard. Wizards at the time decided to change how Standard includes sets, exactly the same paradigm when the last time we had a core set (two blocks and one core set). Ice Age block suddenly returned to Standard after it had rotated when they applied that changes. Zuran Orb was banned due to how the combo works with Thawing Glaciers, gaining you two life everytime you sacrifice a land to Zuran Orb while filtering your library every now and then is really that good by that time.
December 1998: Tolarian Academy and Windfall
Tolarian Academyand Windfall were banned.
In a world full of fast-mana artifacts like Mana Vault, Mox Diamond and Lotus Petal, one cannot deny the power level of the cards combined with Tolarian Academy. With Mind Over Matter in play, you can tap out your opponent to avoid getting your combo interrupted. When you have a couple of artifacts in play, tap Tolarian Academy to produce a huge amount of blue mana, discard a card and untap it to add more on your mana pool. You cast Windfall, Time Spiral or Stroke of Genius to refill your hand to repeat the process. When you have enough mana, let’s say a hundred floating blue mana. Target your opponent with Stroke of Genius to force them to draw their entire library and when your turn ends, they simply lose the game by drawing on an empty library on their next turn.
March 1999: Dream Halls, Lotus Petal, Time Spiral, and More
Dream Halls, Earthcraft, Fluctuator, Lotus Petal, Recurring Nightmare and Time Spiral were banned. Memory Jar was banned retroactively in mid-March.
Wizards decided to eradicate problematic cards once and for all, as they thought so not until Memory Jar went crazy right after. Earthcraft got hit by the banhammer for the reason that it can go infinite with Wild Growth and Sacred Mesa. Lotus Petal, on the other hand, serves to speed up the process, it enables combo decks to use multiple colors for free as well. Fluctuator at the time is a little bit crazy allowing a player to cycle cards for free when at that time Standard format is full of cyclers. It went wild when paired with Astral Slide and Recurring Nightmare for an endless loop from the graveyard. R&D thought that a six mana card won’t be a problem, but that turned out not to be the case. The power level of Dream Halls,to draw seven new cards for no mana eventually leads to more brokenness. It became a key card to almost every combo deck back then.
Memory Jar was the very first card to ever subject to emergency ban. The reason behind was because the very health of the game was being threatened by "Combo Winter." At the time, Wizards thought they have eradicated all the busted stuffs in Standard but when Memory Jar came out seems to be repeating the same old mistake. What made them ban Memory Jar? For the reason that it combines very well with Megrim, another busted combo forcing your opponent to draw seven cards and take fourteen damage and if not enough, you can tutor for another Memory Jar and repeat the process.
June 1999: Mind Over Matter
Mind Over Matter was banned.
Just three months prior the first "emergency ban" occurred, Mind Over Matter got banned.
June 2004: Skullclamp
Skullclamp was banned.
Skullclamp was probably the card that got banned the quickest after seeing how it warped the format. The Darksteel card Skullclamp is banned in Standard simply because it can be found everywhere. It’s either you include four of it on your main deck or sideboard or try to defend yourself against it. The result of it became unhealthy, it literally warps the metagame. In a German Nationals event report, a combined total of 58 out of 64 possible Skullclamps were played across all the decks in the top 16. Aaron Forsythe explained that they did not ban it to hurt Affinity players, they just don’t want to see a metagame where having one card be the focal point of every viable strategy.
March 2005: Arcbount Ravager, Vault of Whispers, and More
Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault, Darksteel Citadel, Ancient Den, Great Furnace, Seat of the Synod, Tree of Tales and Vault of Whispers were banned.
Ravager Affinity decks had risen as the deck to beat even after banning Skullclamp. They dumped the whole deck out of the window to prevent a two-sided metagame where either you play Affinity or play against it. The deck is just so overpowered that everyone wants to win, so players just built the deck and play with it against mirror matches 90% of the time. Wizards really had no choice but to ban those eight cards to prevent players from quitting the game because it is no longer fun when all decks you played with were Affinity decks.
June 2011: Jace the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic
Jace, the Mind Sculptorand Stoneforge Mystic were banned.
Six years later, Wizards made a new broken card again -- “Jace, the Mind Scupltor". Along with Stoneforge Mystic, Caw Blade deck was born and dominated Standard which turned the format stagnant and unhealthy. During Day 2 of Grand Prix Singapore, 88% of the decks contained multiple copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and almost 70% contained Stoneforge Mystic. Along with other events, the data were almost the same. Arguments around the internet had risen where players thought that nothing needs to be banned since the format was highly-interactive but formal complaints all over the world came in, followed by a drop in attendance in Pro Tour Qualifiersthus leads to the decision that Wizardsactually need to take the banhammer in effect. They at least tried to answer the deck by printing out solutions but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Emrakul, the Promised End,Smuggler’s Copterand Reflector Mageare banned.
Six years later, a couple of cards were banned in Standard once again. The announcement was made a week earlier than normal, giving players the time to evaluate Aether Revolt without ever thinking what to include to the existing decks that contains the banned cards. For the reason that those three cards prevented players from having fun, they finally took the banhammer and smashed it to the following cards. Emrakul, the Promised End truly delivered its promise very well by making their opponents scoop once she landed on the battlefield, mostly at times where your opponent doesn’t have much to deal with it. Smuggler’s Copter, as they say, was the best vehicle printed, allowing you to fix your top deck when it attacks. It showed up as well on almost every archetype on the top eventually destroying the format's diversity. 12 months later, another uncommon card was banned in the form of Reflector Mage. Simply because the card prevents you to have fun playing your creatures by returning it to your hand after the turn you played it with an added restriction that you will only be able to play it again until your next turn ends. It really sucks when that turn came and you were able to play it and when you passed the turn to your opponent, he just cast another copy of Reflector Mage just to bounce it off again while putting up pressure to you. According to the data Wizards were able to collect, Reflector Mage has been the most disliked card since the days of Collected Company.
That’s all folks! I hope you enjoy reading some part of the game’s history!!