What would you ban in edh?

EDH, the casual format of choice for so many Magic: the Gathering players, has a banlist governed by a different set of rules compared to the other popular formats. In most formats, the banlist is there for one purpose and one purpose only; to balance said format. Its to prevent warping the format around a single card, like Deathrite Shaman in Modern, and promote diversity. The EDH banlist, in contrast, is there to promote more enjoyable games in addition to balancing the power levels of the format. A good example would be Sol Ring, a card that is now so well known in the format that realistically EDH decks are 98 card decks because you more or less always start with a Sol Ring when you are building your deck. With the next banlist update just days away, I figured that it was a good time to address some of the cards, either new or old, that fans of the format have called out to be banned.


For my research (and I am using that term very loosely), I turned to the employees and patrons of various game shops I frequent, as well as some of the online communities, asking them all one question:


“If you could ban any 3 cards that are currently legal in EDH/Commander, what 3 would you ban?”


Now, as I expected, there was a handful of cards that were commonly named, and a much larger collection of cards were only named once, presumably because that person had a bad experience with that card, even though there is nothing inherently wrong with the card being in the format.


The 5 most named cards by people asked were (in alphabetical order, not a ranking):

  • Consecrated Sphinx
  • Cyclonic Rift
  • Deadeye Navigator
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria
  • Prophet of Kruphix


Honourary Mentions:

  • Mind Twist
  • Tooth and Nail
  • Serra Ascendant
  • Cataclysm
  • Time Stretch
  • Armageddon


Now, I feel as though I should preface each card analysis with a few reminders.

  1. EDH bannings are sometimes to balance the format in terms of power level, but it is also a matter of “fun”. This is a vague term at best, but if a card is considered largely unfun and it is very powerful, the chances are good that it will eat a ban.
  2. EDH is a format played by people of all backgrounds in the game, from little Johnny from down the street to Pro Tour champions, and everyone in between. Because of this, the power level varies greatly, and sometimes causes gameplay issues. However this is, in my opinion, not a problem with the format, but rather an issue with the uninformed expectations of some (but not all) players.

With those points in mind, I would like to briefly address each of the cards that would have been banned if the community was in charge of the banlist.


First up on the block…Consecrated Sphinx!


This card is a very powerful card advantage engine that doesn’t do something on the turn it comes down, but starts putting in work as soon as your opponents draw a card, which, in normal situations, means the beginning of the next turn. The problem with a card like this is that it so quickly warps the game that I do actually think that it is bad for the format and might be ban worthy. As soon as people realize that there is a Consecrated Sphinx in someones library the game moves away from the regular rhythm of multi-player magic and becomes a game of “who can control the sphinx?”. Bribery, Reanimate, Control Magic, etc. all come into play, everyone vying for control of the blue creature, in an attempt to get some of the card advantage it provides. Oh…and did I mention that it is a 4/6 flier? So while, yes, there are a variety of cards that warp the game like this (the Praetors come to mind), Consecrated Sphinx is, in my humble opinion, the worst offender. All that said, I do not think that it will be banned for two reasons. First reason, it does provide an obscene amount of card advantage, but it doesn’t directly prevent any other players from doing anything, so it cant really be considered “unfun”. Second reason, EDH is the format of broken cards, and in a format in which Necropotence is legal, banning a creature for drawing too many cards would be seriously lacking in logic.


Final Verdict: Unlikely Ban, play it politically rather than just jamming it whenever you can to avoid warping the game.



Following one powerful blue card is…you guessed it…another blue card. Cyclonic Rift.


Cyclonic Rift is one of the most recent cards on this list, and while people complain about it, I have a real hard time agreeing that it is bannable. Blue, as a color, is lacking in ways to permanently deal with things after they resolve, and while there are a few things (Pongify, Curse of the Swine, etc), bounce is typically the colors answer. In terms of power level for the format its not overpowered, its definitely good, but unless you win the game that turn, most decks can rebuild and restabilize really quickly, and often the game shifts from a 1v1v1v1v… to everyone gunning for the player who cast the Cyclonic Rift, which will further restabilize the board state. Within 2 or 3 turns after a Cyclonic Rift, the game is back to its regular pace. In addition to this, it was just printed in the blue CMDR14 precon deck, leading me to believe that a ban is practically impossible.


Final Verdict: Wont be banned, not broken, doesn’t directly enable degenerate plays, its just a good answer to permanents and out of control board states.



Moving on, if you take away only one thing from this article, it would probably be that if people want a card banned, there’s a good chance its blue, and our next card is no exception, the infamous Deadeye Navigator.


I’m going to try to be brief on this one, because this card has been discussed to death. My opinion is that it does not deserve a ban. Reasons for this are:


  • It costs 6, plus 2 more to activate it. So even assuming you can somehow guarantee that it will both resolve and survive the turn, it costs 8 mana plus the cost of the creature paired to it to do anything. Now, I know that fast mana exists, but the turn and relatively extensive mana investment required makes the effect balanced in the format.
  • ITS BLUE! And while blue is often cited as the best colour in the game, it sucks at finding creatures, has virtually no ramp, and goes against what you want to be doing as a colour. There is no way in the colour to efficiently and assuredly get the creature outside of Long-Term Plans and Ethereal Usher. So its good when you find it, but not format breaking.
  • It does virtually nothing on its own. Without another creature in play it is just an inefficient vanilla creature.


All that said, I’m not trying to claim that it isnt powerful once you get it going as an engine to support the rest of your deck, but there are more powerful engines in the format that are rarely named on the list of cards people want banned.


Final Verdict: Enjoy playing it, its a good card, but not broken. Expect it to be removed quickly because of the casual hatred of the card.



Going to shift gears a little bit, and move away from blue cards, to a card that, unlike the previous 3, I wholeheartedly believe needs to be banned. Iona, Shield of Emeria.



If you have never played a game of EDH with me you wouldn’t know this, but I am a major fan of mono colored EDH decks, I love the consistency they can offer and the deckbuilding challenges that they prevent, finding interesting ways to cover the weaknesses of your chosen color. In terms of the consistency offered, I can understand the desire to have an answer in the format to punish mono colored decks, but completely locking them out of the game is too much. 95% of the time, if you are playing a mono colored deck and someone lands Iona on your color, they have killed you. Sure, you can stay in the game for as long as you’re alive, but the majority of the time the mono colored player will just scoop because there’s no reason for them to keep playing. However until the ban us mono colored players will just have to stock up on Spine of Ish Sah to deal with her.


Final Verdict: Unfun if you enjoy playing mono coloured decks, needs a ban.


And finally, the newest card on the list, from Theros, Prophet of Kruphix.


In every set for the last few years there are always cards that competitive players look at and laugh, and those are the cards that EDH players fall in love with. Prophet of Kruphix is no different. Its a blue green creature with an awesome effect, although on a fragile body. I have heard the same “game warping” argument applied to the Prophet as Consecrated Sphinx, although I have to disagree for one main reason: not every deck wants to be playing creatures, regardless of whether they are at instant speed or not, while every deck ever wants to be drawing lots of cards. The reason that so many people have an issue with this card is that, if left unchecked, will ramp the controller of it very quickly in resources, both creatures and mana. However I don’t think this means it needs to be banned as there are quite a few cards that fall into the same group, in that if they are left unchecked they will generate lots of value, but that rarely makes them banworthy. However as this is the newest addition to the list I think that the format needs more time to explore the uses of Prophet of Kruphix, so maybe it will end up getting banned.


Final Verdict: Doesnt need a ban, just a solid source of advantage.


So there you have it. The 5 “worst” cards in the format, along with my opinion on each of them and their place in the format. So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think that I missed a card that should have been in the top 5? The banlist is an everchanging entity, and who knows, maybe all 5 of these cards will end up on it.


Until next time, may you hit all your land drops and take no damage from Mana Crypt.




Legendary Status Post #1

What is it about EDH/Commander as a format that draws in its fan base? Is it the complex interactions of cards that never get played anywhere else?  Perhaps it is the casual aspect – the idea of being able to get together around a kitchen table and play longer, more challenging games in a relaxed environment in a multiplayer match.  Or maybe it is the challenge of building a 100-card singleton deck around a particular mechanic or legendary creature.  Then, of course, there is the ability to personalize one’s deck to the maximum – to pursue strange themes, or pimp out a deck with foils, alternate artwork, and customized boxes and sleeves.

For me, the format is a wonderful amalgamation of all of the above.  I get to experience a fun afternoon with all of my friends, seeing what crazy shenanigans each player can contribute.  However, I must say that my favourite aspect of the format is the ability to express myself creatively through deckbuilding.  I like having decks that are scaled differently, require being piloted in different ways, and which continually challenge me as a returning, non-competitive player.  I also like challenging myself to adapt to certain themes, forcing a new playstyle that I might not have pursued previously.  One such challenge is to create a deck for each of the 27 legal color combinations for the format, a 100% completion goal of sorts.  Choosing random commanders is another.  Obviously, building on a budget comes with its own limitations – something that I, as a graduate student, am quite attuned to.  On the other hand, I still maintain a firm grasp on my Timmy roots, even while expanding out to more Johnny and Spike-ish levels of magic (if you are unaware of Magic’s psychographic player profiles, I urge you to read Mark Rosewater’s articles on the matter).

But what of those who are simply getting introduced?  New players to the format are often confused by the format’s differences, even as I relish in them.  For those uninitiated, here is a look at the basic rules of the EDH/Commander format:

  • EDH, or Elder Dragon Highlander (now officially known as Commander), is a variant of the Highlander (also known as ‘Singleton’) format, meaning that there can be no more than 1 card with the same English name in a deck, save for basic lands (with two exceptions: Relentless Rats and Shadowborn Apostle).

Here’s to cards trumping rules!!!!!

  • Players start at 40 life, as opposed to the traditional 20.
  • Commander is an eternal format. As such, most all vintage-legal cards are legal in Commander.  It does, however, have its own official Commander banned list to consider.
  • Each deck is constructed of exactly 100 cards, including the commander. Ordinarily, decks do not run a side board, though this differs between play groups.
  • The commander (aka general) must be a legendary creature (exceptions: In the new Commander 2014 sets, WotC printed new planeswalkers specifically to be available as commanders.)

No, the other planeswalkers can’t be generals, but that’s probably for the best.  I’ll leave it to your play group to hash out the legality of the Nephilim.

  • The color identity of the commander determines the colors of the set. This includes any colors in its mana cost, as well as in its rules text.  For example, Rhys the Redeemed and Captain Sisay are both Green-White commanders, as they have access to both colors in their mana costs.  Bosh, Iron Golem, on the other hand, is considered Red for commander identity due to his ability, while Thelon of the Havenwood is considered Black-Green.

All are pretty solid generals, with the right build!

  • No card in the deck can have a color identity that is not present in the commander. For example, one cannot run Fracturing Gust or Elves of Deep Shadow in a Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury deck.

The exception to this is with the Extort mechanic from Dragon’s Maze.  Since the hybrid mana symbol appears in the reminder text of the ability as opposed to being actual rules text, and as such is essentially “unnecessary” for the function of the card, the official ruling is that the symbol does not affect color identity.

Mono-black Necropotence decks will certainly be happy to know this.

  • The restriction on color identity includes basic lands and artifacts, by the way. Remember that each basic land effectively has the wording “T: Add (insert color) to your mana pool” (older lands are much more explicit with this).  Though the advent of the basic super-type negates the need to spell it out, the symbol on the bottom half of the card effectively reads as that same function.  Therefore, a Freyalise deck can’t run mountains any more than Bosh can run forests, and neither can run a Crystal Shard, despite technically being able to use it.  This means no using basic lands for Karn, Silver Golem.

    Yeah I know, blue mana hurts.

    As for lands and mana rocks that produce “a mana of any color,” this is technically not true in Commander.  Instead, if a land or an opposing ability would grant mana of a color not indicated by a player’s general, it produces colorless instead.

    • The general starts out in a special “command zone.” It can be played at any point as if it were in the player’s hand, but are not and so do not contribute to actual hand size.  As such, sneak plays that bring a card from the hand onto the battlefield do not work on a commander in the command zone.

    Pro Tip: don’t play her as your general.

    • If at any point a commander dies or is exiled, that commander’s controller may elect to remove it to the command zone rather than letting it resolve in the graveyard or exile zones. Unfortunately, this does not happen if it is bounced to its owner’s hand or tucked into the library. Also, this is a replacement affect, meaning that abilities triggering on creatures entering the graveyard will not trigger with the commander.

    Here’s looking at you, kid.

    • Each time the general is cast from the command zone beyond the first requires an additional 2 colorless mana to cast. This is called the “command tax.” As such, poor Child of Alara would cost 7 mana after being removed once, then 9, then 11, etc.
    • If the commander is bounced to its owner’s hand, then it can be played for its traditional mana cost. The commander tax only applies when it is played from the command zone.
    • The commander also may provide a special alternate win-condition. If at any point in a game a commander does 21 points of damage to a single opponent (even if it is controlled by another player at the time), that opponent automatically loses the game due to “commander damage”, no matter his/her life total.
    • Traditionally, EDH/Commander is a multiplayer format, focusing on casual and interactive play. As such, the format prides itself on adapting itself for a variety of groups.  House rules are common in EDH, such as to raise the number of poison counters from 10 to 15 (or even 20), or even edit the banned list to fit their group’s play style.  Players may even decide to allow the Nephilim cycle from Ravnica as commanders, to allow for 4-color builds.

    Clearly, there is a lot going on in the Commander format which may overwhelm a newer player.  A format where one starts at 40 life, but a commander can kill with only 21, may seem too chaotic. A 99-card library may similarly be seen as too unwieldy.  A deck in which its inspiration comes from a single creature may be considered too focused.  Additionally, the higher-than-average mana curves may shock a player used to curving out at 3 or maaaaaybe 4 mana.  As such, I hope that this column series serves to alleviate these fears, and provide these new players with the tools necessary to start their own builds.

    Through this medium, I hope to provide some basic techniques for EDH deck-building, and give possible ideas of what one can do to break into the format.  This will be semi-regular, meaning that I will post as regularly as my schedule will allow – ideally once a week, but I cannot guarantee consistency.  The main focus will be on choosing a possible commander, weighing its pros and cons, and suggesting a possible build one could pursue.  This is not to be taken as gospel, however! Deckbuilding is a personal process, and there are many lines of thought on the issue.  Rather, take these suggestions as just that – suggestions – and adapt as seems fit.  Of course, I urge anyone to comment with suggestions, ideas, or even constructive criticism – but please, keep it kind and family-friendly.  Aside from that, I hope you all enjoy, and welcome to Legendary Status!

    Devon Armstrong


    Youtube user: egyptcraze

Alter Artist Highlight: Jaclyn Foglia

I know I missed last month’s installment, so here is an all new installment for December.  Jaclyn is a very talented artist whose work is absolutely amazing in my opinion and i am more than pleased to highlight her on the site!  Please enjoy reading the following interview with Jaclyn Foglia!

Jaclyn Foglia



-Chris @ Mana Burn: Thank you for taking the time to be part of Manaburned.com’s Alter Artist Highlight series! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, my name is Jaclyn Foglia. I am 24 years old and I am from Albany, NY. :)
-Chris @ Mana Burn: How long have you been altering?
I have been altering since January 2010. I started out casually just for friends and in mid 2011 I started taking commissions.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Is there any particular commission in the future that your excited for?
I am always looking for new and exciting projects. My favorites are the pieces that have meaning, or pieces that I can do for my friends. I have so many ideas I want to put on cards (my own original art) but there just is never enough time. My commissions take priority.
-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you currently play mtg or any other games?
I do play Magic the Gathering, but only in limited formats. I really enjoy sealed and draft. Pre-releases are fun for me because I can get new cards early on and alter them to sell. I also play a miniature game called Hordes. I paint the pieces for that game as well which is a lot of fun.
Yoda Alteration
-Chris@ Mana Burn: Do you alter full time?

I don’t alter full time, but I would absolutely love to be able to do this on a full time basis. Altering started out as a hobby for me and then turned into a part time job. I enjoy every minute I get to spend doing art. :)
Sol Ring alteration
-Chris@ Mana Burn: How long does a commission take from start to finish?
Each alteration is different. For example, a border extension can take anywhere from 1-4 hours. A character extension or completely altered card can take multiple days to complete.
s.d.t. alteration
Chris @ Mana Burn: What kind of forums and groups do you find yourself in?
I am currently on Instagram, Twitter, tumblr and Facebook for showcasing and displaying my art. I also use them for community involvement with customers and other artists. I am part of the MtG altered cards and artwork community to share my art and learn from others.
Nightshade alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: Is there a style of alter you prefer or find yourself enjoying more than the other?
I really enjoy doing border extensions since it requires color matching and that is something I find myself excelling at. On the other hand, I love being challenged. Doing full art alters and being able to succeed and complete something that I find challenging is a great feeling.
restoration angel alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: What steps do you follow in order to create a flawless alter?
I always start out determining my color palate. If it’s a character, I sketch it onto the card before applying paint. I use proper supplies, such as high pigment paints, small acrylic brushes, and mixing mediums to allow me to create high quality alters. I take as much time as I need to get the quality and details up to the standard I want.
baneslayer alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: What type of artists do you look up to for inspiration?.
In the alteration department I look up to Marta Molina. Her landscapes are simply breath taking. Someone who really has helped me and inspires me everyday is Brandon Brown. He is a very talented alterist and has a wide range of talents as an artist. In regards to fantasy art, Terese Nielsen and John Avon (both illustrators for Magic the Gathering cards) are two of my major inspirations. Just by following their careers and art, I have been able to learn more about the genre which I love.
badlands alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: How many hours a week do you find yourself altering?
I try to dedicate an hour each day to altering after work and spend time on my days off from work altering as well. On average, I spend between 15-20 hours a week altering, but it all depends on the amount of commissions I have to complete.
savannah alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you have a favorite and least favorite card you’ve done?
Honestly, my least favorite cards I have altered are from when I first started altering. I tried to do realistic pieces and portraits. Scaling artwork down to such a small size to fit on MtG cards takes a lot of practice.
My favorite card I have altered to date is a tie between a Yoda on Worldly Tutor and a Savannah I fully altered and added a lioness to. Both were challenging and fun pieces to work on and I am very proud of the final outcome.
plateau alteration
-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you have a lot of out of country requests?
I have a lot of clients locally and scattered throughout the U.S. as well as clients overseas such as Canada and Austrailia. I am hoping to expand overseas more but I really enjoy painting for local players.
-Chris @ Mana Burn: What is your full time job away from altering?
Outside of altering I have a full time job at a local credit union.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and alteration examples that were provided.  I think we can all agree that Jaclyn has some serious skills for a part time alteration specialist.  Keep it going!
 If you would to request a comission or see what is for sale, you can contact Jaclyn at the information below:
Tumblr @ jfoglia
Twitter @ jaclynfoglia
Instagram @ jaclyn_foglia