Cards I expect to get banned: None.
Cards I would ban: Well—funny story about that. I would do crazy things to the Legacy banned list. I’m talking absurd, filthy things. Borderline war crimes.
It all started when I realized I was playing more Modern than Legacy on MTGO, and I started thinking about why, and I realized that a large difference in the quality of play between the two formats comes down to the existence of one card in particular.
The most miserable, fun-sucking card in Legacy is:
Hear me out.
It instigates bad game play.
Sure, Wasteland has some play to it. Some hands you need to plan out and save it to pay for a Daze or an equip cost or something, and sometimes you need to hold it to shuffle away with Brainstorm, and every once in a billion games a sweet play will come up like Wasting an opponent’s lone untapped fetch while they have a spell on the stack so that you can Daze the spell in response to the fetch crack.
Most of the time, Wasteland is way better if you use it immediately, as it has a higher chance of screwing the opponent and winning on the spot. Curves need to be hyper-tight and efficient to compete, which means fewer lands, and there are a decent number of land-light keeps that are necessary to avoid mulling to oblivion. You can’t just mulligan every hand that loses to Wasteland, especially in the dark when your opponent might not even have it in the 75.
It feels like everyone with a fair deck needs to run Wasteland to get the free 5% win against their opponents, all while also losing to that same 5% from said opponents, and then there are the games where both people Waste each other into oblivion, and when it all adds up a significant percentage of games are non-interactive, miserable Wastefests.
I’m not saying that mana screw doesn’t have a role in Magic, but it is one of the worst aspects of game play, and things that alleviate screw (like the new mulligan scry rule) tend to improve it. Wasteland is batting for the wrong team.
Why is Strip Mine banned? What percentage of the time is Wasteland functionally Strip Mine?
It punishes mulligans.
After a mulligan, you’re much less likely to have an extra land, and even if you’re running a sound mana base you can still lose to Wasteland.
Sure, other 1-for-1 removal also gets better against a mull, but Wasteland is particularly egregious because lands are what we need to actually play Magic. If we can play spells, there’s a chance we can outplay the opponent or otherwise come back, but that can’t happen if we get Wasted out of the game.
It’s also bad to draw on a mull, as that’s one less card that’s producing colored mana or applying pressure.
It punishes greedy mana bases.
I’ve heard this defense of Wasteland a lot, but I’m not sure it holds up to scrutiny. That’s partly rooted in why people might be playing a third (or fourth) color in Legacy. In Limited, people often splash for bombs at the expense of consistency, so we get in the mindset that more colors=more power.
In Legacy, people splash for answers or synergistic threats more often than anything else, like Lightning Bolt in RUG. Anyone that’s trying to play fair is going to need a specific set of tools and disruption to compete, and different colors are going to fill those holes.
The most powerful decks are generally 2-color combo decks like Ad Nauseum or Sneak and Show. If they’re focused on putting together a game-winning combo, they don’t need the diverse answers that the creature-based midrange decks do, allowing them to stick to two colors.
The mana bases getting punished are all the 3-color midrange decks Wasting each other. Again, they can’t just not play Wasteland and give up the free percentage points, and they can’t play a more basic-heavy mana base without giving up some tool (and thus losing that percentage somewhere else) or by switching archetypes.
Deathrite Shaman facilitates some actual greed, and it works well with and against Wasteland.
This is the point where the thought experiment starts to get interesting. How much of an inhibitor is Wasteland? Would a Cloudpost deck dominate in its absence?
Who knows. But if both of these cards are viable despite Wasteland’s omnipresence, then a preventative ban seems reasonable.
Cloudpost, Dark Depths
Sensei’s Divining Top
By virtue of Miracles being top dog, Sensei’s Divining Top makes my list as the second-most miserable card in Legacy. I’ve already written about it, Sperling covered the other side, and you should check them both out.
This card enables greedy mana on a fiercer level than Wasteland inhibits it, and all while turning into a real threat in the late game.
Maybe black doesn’t need a mana dork. Maybe mana dorks shouldn’t also hose graveyards and dome the opponent for 2 a turn. Maybe Magic is a more balanced game if this card doesn’t exist.
Brainstorm is one of the most fun cards of all time.
It’s also impossibly good, to the point where nonblue decks don’t have much of a chance. The few non-Brainstorm decks that can compete are doing some ridiculous things themselves. For example, Glimpse of Nature draws a broken amount of cards for a single green.
Have you seen what Storm does with Brainstorm? That shouldn’t be legal. Not in Magic, not anywhere. Brainstorm should be a controlled substance. Customs should frisk people for it at the border.
Casting Brainstorm is like bringing a gun to a knife fight. It’s like using a motorcycle in the Tour de France. It’s like playing Reanimator against Elves.
What’s that? You’d quit Legacy if Brainstorm was banned?
1) I don’t believe you.
2) Fine, no one likes a quitter anyway.
3) Just kidding, please come back.
Show and Tell
Remember when the best thing to Show into play was Progenitus? Wizards isn’t going to stop printing sweet permanents, and Show and Tell will continue increasing in power as time goes on. In The Legacy Banned Series, Sneak and Show was our only gauntlet deck that consistently gave the banned cards a run for their money.
As a 2U sorcery, Show and Tell:
Lion’s Eye Diamond
I’m not sure if Storm could survive both the loss of Brainstorm and Lion’s Eye Diamond.
As you can imagine, my proposed Modern-style overhaul would hit Legacy players right in the salt dispenser. It’d also shake things up, bring balance to the force, increase the quality of game play, make the format better for coverage, and make it more attractive for the larger tournament organizers.