Last Tuesday, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) announced an upcoming Magic: the Gathering Banned & Restricted (B&R) list update on Monday, March 9. This update will ban or restrict at least one card in one or more of Magic’s Constructed formats: Standard, Commander Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Pauper, and Vintage.
This is the first update to the list we’ll get under WotC’s revamped B&R system. Starting this year, instead of announcements scheduled soon after each new Standard set release, Wizards will only announce a ban when new cards are hitting the list. They promised players a week’s notice, and we’re seeing that here.
Cue the many jokes on social media about WotC announcing an announcement. They didn’t even clue us in on which format will see a ban! Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you feel about this issue, this lack of information has provided us with a week of exciting—or tiresome—speculation about Magic’s latest addition to the list of the game’s most broken cards in history.
In this list, I’ll go over the most likely ban scenarios, ordered according to how strongly I feel about the card or cards in question. If you find something you disagree with, as I’m sure people will, feel free to leave a comment on the site or on social media, and I’ll gladly discuss potential bans with you!
Why it could be banned: Frankly, I think that a banning in Standard is very unlikely, if not impossible. But if WotC did decide to take action after a dominant showing by Paolo Vitor Damo da Rosa’s Azorius Control deck at the 2020 World Championships, then they will probably go after the card that leads to the most unfun game states. Banning Teferi would make straight UW a less attractive option and make three color decks other than Bant and Jeskai stronger by comparison.
Why it won’t be banned: The format is in a really interesting place right now! Control, Midrange, and Aggro are all playable—Combo, too, if you stretch the definition to include sacrifice synergy decks, and players can play almost any combination of colors without giving up a ton of win percentage.
Sure, decks featuring Teferi do sit at the top of the heap of metagame decks, and the card is as enjoyable to play against as drywall, but I don’t think the Time Raveler warrants a banning. Theros: Beyond Death was an incredibly powerful set, and I’m sure players want to see a Standard that has access to as many awesome cards as possible.
Why it could be unbanned: I think this B&R update announcement has also given players the opportunity to discuss potential unbans in Modern, which has reached a pretty spectacular power level with the release of Theros: Beyond Death.
Splinter Twin was originally banned because having access to the combo made all the Blue decks look the same and pushed out other strategies. Now, a lot of very good players believe that the Twin combo deck would be merely great in the format and not broken. New and better answers to the combo also exist, such as Veil of Summer and Mystical Dispute, which mess with the combo deck’s counterspells in a big way. The deck can also give Urza and Amulet decks a run for their money and force them to make deckbuilding concessions.
Why it will stay banned: I personally believe that Splinter Twin will never leave the Modern banned list, mostly for the same reasons it was banned in the first place. In the archetype’s heyday, players were jamming the combo into Control and Midrange shells on top of playing a dedicated combo deck.
Unbanning the card could force Blue mages to choose between Twin combo and Urza shells, with little room to innovate in between.