BANNED’MRAKUL: Early Banned & Restricted Announcement Jan 9th/17

Hey all,

Wizards of the Coast surprised everyone this morning by announcing the Banned & Restricted list changes for all official formats a week earlier than was planned.

Here are the results:

Ok, so that list was a bit, er, unexpected. Let’s unpack the signals.


Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul, the Promised End is banned because, as part of the various flavors of Marvel Aetherworks combo decks she represents a massive feel-bad scenario as early as Turn 4. The ability to put Emrakul into play in the early game and absolutely wreck opponents on the spot has been a central figure in the perception that we were in the midst of a “bad” Standard format since a few weeks after the release of Kaladesh. Now that sales of Eldritch Moon are no longer a priority, shaking up Standard carries massive benefit as we head into the release of Aether Revolt and Amonkhet, and this ban was widely discussed in the context of potential fixes for the format heading into the announcement.

Smuggler's Copter

Smuggler’s Copter was targeted for being so pushed that it was impacting the diversity of the format. Translation? It gets played in too many decks, but it also reduces the chance that many other cards will get played, including other Vehicles and Planeswalkers, of which we have several incoming in upcoming sets. Still, this is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the many Standard players that bought full play sets and the stores that are carrying heavy inventory of the card. My head is now on swivel for this card to crash in price immediately, and I will be looking to pick up foils on the cheap in case it ends up making a splash in Modern (via aggro, Ensoul Artifact or BW tokens builds) or Frontier continues to grow (where it may be safe for now given the unsanctioned nature of the format and some folks desire to make use of their copies.)

Reflector Mage

Reflector Mage is a very odd choice that WoTC explained was necessary to ensure U/W Flash didn’t run rampant in the format with the other bans on the table. I’m not sure I agree that such a ban was necessary, but at least this one doesn’t cost us much money. Had they targeted Archangel Avacyn, Spell Queller or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, the financial body count would have been getting pretty high, so a powerful lower cost target makes some sense from that angle.

The most important takeaway from all of this is that Wizards is more than willing to ban for participation issues rather than big tournament/on camera dominance. This factors heavily into the safety of future specs since any card that might be deemed to be impacting sales is now at risk.


Gitaxian Probe is a card that has been discussed as ban worthy by many pros on the basis of being too flexible, too easy to cast and too useful in sussing out the likely shape of a game in Modern. In decks like Infect and Death’s Shadow Aggro the card allows a pilot to dig deeper, check whether the opponent has a relevant answer in hand, and fill the graveyard with Delve count. The card doesn’t win games by itself, but eliminating it makes some of the most dominant aggro decks a little weaker, and hopefully provides some breathing room for other strategies to rise.  Thankfully, I sold any spares I had lying around months ago as ban whispers were rising, and I hope you did the same.

Golgari Grave-Troll now holds the dubious distinction of being a card that has been banned not once, but twice in Modern. In fairness, Drege did not look like a threat when the big green guy last came off the list, but the printing of Prized Amalgam and Cathartic Reunion in particular helped turn the deck into a finely tuned juggernaut capable of ridiculously explosive and non-interactive game play. There was a good time to sell this card earlier in the year, and I hope you took the chance if you were holding because we are highly unlikely to see this card at relevant top tables again any time soon.

New B&R Schedule

The other noteable announcement is that we are now going to get B&R changes before and after Pro Tours. Here are the details:

From a financial perspective this is going to make speculating on especially strong cards a bit more risky, since there is now an official safety valve on hand should things get out of hand. This should be read as a measure being introduce primarily to ensure that Standard seasons stay on track in terms of sales and participation, since problems of this kind can’t really be easily discerned on this schedule for Modern, since there are no longer Modern Pro Tour stops.

Make sure to note the relevant days in your calendar so that you can stay on top of things moving forward.

James is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.


33 thoughts on “BANNED’MRAKUL: Early Banned & Restricted Announcement Jan 9th/17”

  1. “Now that sales of Eldritch Moon are no longer a priority”
    “it also reduces the chance that many other cards will get played… of which we have several incoming in upcoming sets”
    “The most important takeaway from all of this is that Wizards is more than willing to ban for participation issues”
    “a measure being introduce primarily to ensure that Standard seasons stay on track in terms of sales and participation”

    Non-stop smiles over here

  2. All my son wanted for xmas was a set of Emrakul for one of his magic card decks. I splashed out $100 for his xmas present. He is in tears now.

    I ask WoTC: What the FUCK?

    1. If your son knows the game well enough (and apparently he does), tell him to read the reasoning behind the ban. he should understand why this occured

    2. Why did you tell him about the ban, amigo? If he’s young enough to cry’mrakul, then he’s young enough to give no poops about what WotC says is banned.

  3. Interesting point re: Copter… I wonder if that will actually juice interest in Frontier. It does for me to be honest as a player. I want to play my Copters!

  4. For those of you who do NOT feel bad for the father who spent $100 to get his son a set of Emrakuls for Xmas, u r the same loser cry baby trolls that don’t figure out a way to beat a card and just ask for it to be banned. Saying the son and father have problems, you heartless losers are the ones with issues!! Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people!?!?! I hope you internet bad-asses and bullies rid the world of your pathetic existence (that means go kill yourself, please). Go flush $100 down the toilet, how does that feel?? Not everyone has an endless supply of cash like you ballers, some people have to work overtime shift after overtime shift to afford holiday gifts for their families. Then to buy a gift that is useless, has no value, and you can’t even return to the store for a refund…who wouldn’t be upset?

    On that note, I think this is signals the sharp decline of Standard and Magic. The bubble has certainly burst. Next year there will be many parents and families NOT buying Magic gifts for kids. If a Magic player is between 10 and 14 yrs old how do you convince your family or yourself to continue spending money on cards that literally can have zero value at any moment. Wizards is screwing too much up, with the rotation of Standard to now mass bannings of Standard Legal cards, I don’t know why a new player would ever want to learn or play the game. Plus the Magic community, as you heartless A-holes above prove, is a miserable group of people. So tremendously demeaning and belittling, always so quick to blame their problems or match losses on bad luck or someone else’s good luck, why would anyone reading this article and comments’ section ever want to play this “game”?? #FirstNailInTheCoffin

    1. The comments about the kids were rude but calling the ban of three cards in Standard the end of Magic is just silly.

    2. Put simply, you’re overreacting. This will blow over shortly, as have a million scandals before it. There are however real player growth issues the brand must face and overcome in the next few years to avoid reversing the progress from 2008-2012.

      1. James, every established player I know, and I know some pros from the PA, NJ, NY area, are pretty sour on Standard. Last I checked and heard all the FNM numbers are down. People are VERY unhappy with the MTGO redemption changes. And long term players kept asking me when was the last time 3 Standard cards were banned at one time we had to Google it and it was back in Mirrodin with Arcbound Ravager and artifact lands!! The cards banned are not as dominant as those cards nor are they JtMS, Stoneforge, Skullclamp level (maybe Emrakul is but only one deck can cast it on turn 4. Turn 8 Ugin was typically game over, Emrakul typically gets cast on 7 in BG delirium.)

        Younger players (12-17) are not coming to FNM because they can’t afford the ever changing Standard meta game cards and the mainstay cards are typically too expensive for them (per the FNM players I randomly see at my LGS). So younger players (still) can’t afford Standard cards with the Masterpiece series, veterans of the game don’t want to spend money on Standard cards, and basically everyone with a brain has to be nervous buying Magic cards going forward.

        James, I personally think the Aetherworks Marvel deck is too good now. Reflector Mage and UW was one of the few decks that could compete with it (cause Mage would just bounce Emrakul). Online there’s a bunch of RB artifact aggro decks that run Copter and now they aren’t powerful enough to beat Marvel. Wizards kills the UW deck and most aggro decks but Marvel can just put in Ulamogs, Ishkanahs, and World Breakers!!! That’s probably the deck I’m going to play…Turn 4 on the play I Marvel into Ulamog and leave u with 1 land, sounds super fun! Great job and thinking Wizards! MARVEL was the card to ban, not the other 3. I feel like it will probably be banned after the Pro Tour or by Amonkhet, but Magic and players can’t take Standard bannings every few months. Consumer confidence is way WAY down. Is Magic dead, no I obviously was being hyperbolic. But every, and I do mean EVERY type of Magic player and collector that I know has significantly lost confidence in the game and it’s future. Will it survive? yes. Will it flourish? Well that answer seems to be NO. I hope other people and players have a more positive experience in their areas, I truly do, because both players and collectors seem unhappy. That’s not a good sign.

    3. Some very interesting points.

      Gaming has definitely gone more online. MTGO
      sadly does not cut the mustard. It is not
      enjoyable, and it is expensive compared to the
      mountain of free-to-play franchises available.

      Not integrating with the times & keeping up with
      interface, other business models are now making
      billions in profits selling virtual gaming product.
      Where MTGO should be at the forefront it is
      trailing in last place, being left behind for dead.

      For casual / kitchen table play Magic is fantastic, accessible &
      extremely cheap to build fun decks. The only way the game
      will sustain going forward is if seasoned (& not so seasoned)
      players are more gracious & out to build community.

      Winning isn’t everything.

  5. Def don’t agree with the negative comments against the parent who dropped $100. Have some heart.

  6. Personally I think Wizards of the Coast really screwed this one up… The Promised End is undeniably the best creature card ever printed in Magic… even better than Aeon of the Torns… because of the versatility of the card and its pro instant ability.

    But whose fault is that? The consumer? No. Its WOTC for printing an overtly powerful card which they should have known would have warped the format. And they printed it knowing full well that standard had few if any answers to Emrakul.

    Does that mean they have to ban the freaking the thing. Imho no!!!

    I love the card. I love playing it and against it, the problem is Wizards didn’t print a reliable answer to it. But whatever… count on WOTC to completely screw its customers to save a deteriorating format.

    Affordability of the format is the real issue which has decade long players quitting the game en masse and because of those declining sales the creature creep has gotten out of control with undeniably the most broken card ever in The Promised End which basically says you win the game when you cast it.

    That is WOTC solution to declining sales.. ramp up the creature creep. Smells like a desperation move to me.

    And with turn 4 options to put it into play to put it into play I am just starting to rehash what you losers are complaining about. Some of my favorite and most powerful decks ever in standard are being played right now and instead of enjoying the format for what it is you losers whine because its not a $2 pack rat winning every game.

    And now because of these bans we have a completely broken format that no one is every going to want to invest in to play … with broken cards at risk of being banned. Hey I waited for this ban list to come out before I bought ensnaring bridge.

    If wizards thinks they are protecting standard with these bans they have completely underestimated what is behind in there decline in attendance over the last couple years which is undeniably the affordability of the format.

    You want to restrict Emrakul to a 1 of …..? Maybe I can live with that but a complete and outright ban is insane and a slap in the face to the majority of the card palying community… the squeaky wheel gets the grease right?

    This is absolutely insane and jsut shows WOTC is all about the dollars… but even more than that is it shows they are indesperation mode at WOTC looking for answers to increase declining sales. doing anything including printed clearly broken cards.

    This really could be the beginning of the end of standard.

    People can’t buy all the crap WOTC is shoving down our throats. The reality is standard is expensive because there are not enough cards to draw from. The reality is standard is expensive because there are too many cards to buy every year. The reality is standard is not diverse enough because there is not a large enough pool of cards to draw from. The reality is for us outside of the USA magic has increase 30% to 40% because of foreign exchange.

    Until WOTC addresses these core issues they will continue to see declining sales.. this is not rocket science. Emrakul didn’t ruin standard WOTC did…

    The reality is standard should encompass at least three years of sets… possibly 4… until this core issue is address… you will never see a golden age in standard because it is mathematically impossible to have enough diversity of decks with the limited amount of cards in the format.

    F U WOTC

    1. I actually really really like this post. I don’t completely agree with the beginning about Emrakul being the best creature ever, but the rest of the post is pretty spot on to me. Nice work Chris S!
      (FYI I play a rogue UW Control Deck online which has numerous answers to Emrakul. She is format defining as my deck is designed to beat her game 1 and post board, but I basically lose to all aggro pre-boarding unless they have and draw their creature removal. There are cards like Stasis Snare and Summary Dismissal, just most players would rather complain about Emrakul than play and build decks to beat her. Ce la Vie)

  7. So much “the sky is falling” from some people here. It’s as though they are all one person posting under different names. It’s as though they’ve never read a ban announcement before.

    1. Your right… the sky isn’t falling… it already has.

      Long time players are quitting and selling their cards. frustrated where things are going.

      Standard is broken and inaccessible for most who want to play and currently scares away most new players because of price.

      There is little to no variety of decks.

      WOTC can’t fix it because they refuse to dramatically increase the pool of cards for the format which would help both price and variety.

      Hey I already took a massive hit on expeditions so might as well extended the print run another year.

      1. Very valid points Christopher,

        As a long time player, I am not quitting, but definitely
        preparing to move cards & downscale in the game.
        Having nephews who enjoy playing, a new deck for
        birthdays & holidays is usually in the cards. No longer
        cracking packs or boxes for several years to be frank.

        Once players have a considerable collection, most “new”
        cards are just slightly altered versions of MTG staples.
        A conscious consumer is more discerning in purchasing,
        compared to new consumers of the cardboard crack.

  8. Telling people to go kill themselves is a much worse reaction than people stating what equates to “rough beats” and even offering advice (which is sympathetic in a way). This is a mtg finance website. The first thing I thought when reading your post was “ouch, he paid $25 each. Ebay had 75 for a playset since November.”

    Hard to have empathy for someone with such a malicious temperament.

    1. There were people bashing this dad for buying his son the Xmas gift that he wanted, another person told them to go kill themselves. Hard to feel bad for Internet trolls too.

    2. Max, I was the one with the malicious reaction, not the father. So you can have sympathy for the father and anyone and everyone who lost a ton of money on Emrakul. I have had “relatives” commit suicide cause of bullying, so I am overly adamant against it. People making fun of a father and son because they are upset over wasting $100 dollars and making jokes at their expense is absurd to me. Did I go to far?? Yes. But I’d rather a bully or drunk driver kill themself than cause the death of another. I’m sure this isn’t the only forum where those posters above made fun of someone else’s unfortunate situation. I know in this PC world one can’t say that, but I did.

  9. Max, the person who responded with the also poor response about people killing themselves is different from the original person posting about their kid getting the emrakuls.

  10. Lol, I feel like an “old timer” from the great depression, people talking about mtg being in trouble, and that it could die. Anything going on today isn’t nearly as bad as Chronixles, Urza’s, and Mirrodin. People need to chill out and quit acting like the times are so rough for mtg. They still have tons of players, and there have all time lows worse than this, just saying.

    1. Magic is a luxury collectible card game.
      There are plenty of other games around,
      & thousands more free to play online.

      It is interesting playing online free to play
      games where people spend $10-$20 a
      pop on cosmetic skins. The second the
      gaming network goes down the purchases
      are worthless. All gaming comes with risk /
      reward scenarios, that is part of the appeal.

  11. And the dad comment?

    Ya, where to begin…..

    First off, why would the kid be in tears, he didn’t pay 100$, the dad did. So, unless his dad made him feel fuilty, then the kid has no reason to be upset. A CHRISTMAS present shouldn’t have the “cost” counted. It’s from the heart so who cares about the price.

    To see your kid light up with delight Christmas day with joy is more important than a b & r announcement 3 weeks later.

    The message is weird, because it sounds like the dad and kid are the same person, and the poster is using his kid to try and gain some footing into why he us upset with Wizards. Dont get me wrong, it’s fone to be upset, but don’t use your children as extra ammunition to push your displeasure.
    If the kid paid 100$, I could understand why he would cry, but he got it for free from his dad. He still gained monetary value and 4 Emrakul’s.
    It’s sad, do I really need to sPell all this out, so ya, the “arsehole” responders I can understand why they are reacting the way they are, bease in my mind the dad doesn’t know how to own up to his expectations, and he’s allowed a silly ordeal of 100$ to disrupt tranquility in his home. It is very silly for a man to complain about 100$ online and then use his son as a defensive wall.

    Just saying…jeez people…chill out.

  12. You know what, before I read Kevin’s comments, I was thinking the same thing!

    Just my two cents.

    That being said I will be happy to pick up some foils on the cheap for EDH

  13. The banned list is always going to incite reactions & ruffle
    some tail feathers. It is to be expected, this wasn’t a huge list.

    Having phased out of Standard after Battle for Zendikar, the
    Expeditions & Masterpieces have totally warped card values,
    where 80% of packs are now considered chaff. Not chasing
    after standard has totally re-charged the love of the game.

    Making pauper decks for each color combo, just shows how
    much stronger & less complicated the older sets were.
    The amount of text on cards now is verging on overwhelming.
    If the cards were Urza Block power level that would be fine.

    Hoping for a more streamlined experience going forward.

    Happy 2017 Everyone!

  14. Kevin and Daniel, you likely aren’t fathers. Imagine this family is blue collar and struggling to make ends meet. The son loves Magic but can’t compete at his LGS because he can’t afford the cards he needs to bring his deck to the next level. He gets maybe 2 gifts a year, his birthday and Xmas. The father works extra shifts or saves money to buy his son a $100 gift (that is NOT cheap), the son can finally compete at his LGS at FNM or weekly events or States or whatever…2 weeks later they find out the $100 gift is now $25 (if lucky) and unusable. The son doesn’t have money for new cards, the father doesn’t have money for new cards, so the son continues to fail at his Magic dreams of achieving success whether that be winning an FNM promo or top 8ing an SCG IQ…whatever. He/they can’t afford Gideon and Avacyn so he’s not playing white, he/they can’t afford Liliana the Last hope so black is out, do you see where this is going yet??

    To not have sympathy for the father and son, or to say the father is the one crying and using the son as a shield is very dismissive and disgusting. Can you people please understand that not everyone is made of money? Can people show that they have a heart and stop picking on others’ misfortunes? Maybe that’s way too much to ask of people. Or Magic should just advertise itself as it really is, the hobby/game of the upper class. Either spend $1000s or shut up and get out!!

    1. I understand what you mean. Given how much you’ve commented on here, I assume you are invested in this particular comment section, (which is fine).

      My point has to do with words. Language is a powerful tool to communicate. No one will ever know who this “father” person really is, so we can just take his comment at face value.

      In the comment, the father never mentioned the inability for his son to play in tournaments. That was something assumed, but not clarified. The father only mentioned money and then gave it as a reason to throw an insult at wotc.

      Don’t misunderstand, if the father phrased his message in a Manner like, “I spent 100$ on my son, and now he can no longer play at fnm or w/e tournament “. That is something I can sympathize with. The message only portrayed money, and therefore it came across as tacky.

      To close, I believe everyone is to be offered some modicum of respect and toleration, although, when language comes across as dishonest and not forthright, I can speak out against, or offer an interpretation of that message. I have that right just as the dad has the right to complain, if he so chooses.

      I felt there was something fishy about his message, and I explained why it felt that way. Are my thoughts incorrect? Could be, maybe the father just isn’t the best at communicating. I hope it is the later rather than using his son as a low blow just to get at wotc.

      Anyways, thanks for your interest. I am not rich, and I am not unfeeling toward others. I just want the “arseholes” to be given that benefit of the doubt, just as you obviously give the “father” that same benefit. Enjoy mtg, and thanks for communicating with me.

  15. The retail price of cards combined with the mythic/lotto ticket cards makes it feel bad to spend money on booster packs, because it’s lucky to get 1 or 2 cards you might want to play.

    It feels like better value buying a sealed set of commander decks (@120$) and skipping all the normal sets. I honestly gave up on 60 card constructed @mythic rare. Highlander formats are so much better when it comes to trying to get copies of mythic/masterpiece.

    I used to collect a copy of each set in addition to the cards I wanted for decks. Since they added mythic the same money just can’t get you there, because it would take 2-4 boxes to get 1x of a given set not including masterpieces.

    WotC could increase sales by:
    -Reducing the cost (per pack) to consumers.
    -Do what Pokemon has done for ages and give digital codes for online packs inside boosters (to get an online presence, and promote enthusiasm among online players).
    -Changing the way they capitalize on the secondary market by selling singles rather than random packs.
    -reducing rarity to all cards/redistribute packs to have less commons (ex: 5 commons, 4 UC, 3rare, 2mythic, 1 foil at random rarity)

    Consumer growth is a huge issue within publicly traded companies (Hasbro). But MTG can’t continue to grow if the availability of cards is so low/expensive. They have introduced too many products to the market in ’16.

    My question is; How does this ban help the game? how does it help sales?

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