This report was intended to be about FNM, then it morphed into being about Darigaaz in EDH League, but that will wait another week. This week, I’m bringing you a ChannelFireball exclusive: the first look at the Official EDH update for June 20th!

First, though, there is a brief story about EDH insanity. I had the unusual opportunity to spend about 10 hours at the game shop on Friday (that’s Armada Games in Tampa, sponsors of the Armada Games $3k in September: http://www.armadagames.com/). I went to the shop after dropping off family at the airport. Armada drafts at 3pm on Friday afternoon, and it was already 1pm, so there was no sense in going home. I was ready to bring the beats with Craig Edwards’ PTQ-winning Bant Aggro deck (Pridemage main deck!), but I got sidetracked along the way.

Additionally driving me was the fact that some of the guys at Armada, to include owner Aaron Fortino, have gotten excited about the Rainbow Stairwell format. Briefly, the original format called for 56-card decks: 1 card of each color plus artifacts in each mana cost from 1 to 6 (no X spells allowed), plus 2 of each dual land. Having the duals seemed a barrier to entry, so when we were playing it in my local group in Virginia, we just made it 24 mana-producing lands. Lands that do something other than make mana (such as Strip Mine or Kor Haven) are not allowed. There are obviously no gold cards, but hybrids had just come out, and we decided to allow them. You just had to pick which color slot they were filling.

Aaron and I played right up until draft time. When I would have been the 11th guy in the draft, I told them to take me out so that things weren’t awkward. I played some super-casual EDH with a few of the guy and hung out.

We start a moderately serious EDH game at about 6pm. FNM is scheduled to start at 7, so I figure we’ll just scoop up to play. The game gets interesting, and only 15 people show up for FNM, so I decide to skip it and keep playing EDH. I’m glad I did.

We finish that game and move into another. This time it’s me with Kresh, Aaron with Ertai, the Corrupted, Aaron’s brother Michael with Sliver Overlord, Jose with Child of Alara, and Todd playing Jose’s Venser deck. The game goes along normally, and then on about turn 8 or so, Jose plays Time Stretch and sets up infinite turns. We say “Good for you, you win. And now we’re going to finish the rest of this game.” This seems like a good tactic for socially constraining the early infinite combo guys. Honestly, EDH is sufficiently degenerate as a format, and its multiplayer nature means that you can pretty much just pick your spot and go off. A huge banned list isn’t going to change anything (although we’ll try to take care of the most egregious offenders). Spikes will still be Spikes. Social control is the only real way to ensure everyone’s enjoyment of the casual format. Sure, Jose “won,” but did he really? He sat and watched for the next couple of hours, not really being part of the action, and not getting to be part of one of the most memorable games ever.

It’s a few turns later. Things have gone back and forth, with a reset button or two. Michael has in play Sliver Overlord, a random Sliver or two, Heartstone, and Ashnod’s Altar. He taps out to search up and play Sliver Queen. Todd has in play Frozen Aether, Venser, and lands. I have Sprouting Thrinax, Fallen Angel, Creakwood Ghoul, Goblin Bombardment, and [card]Vicious Shadows[/card]. Aaron has a fair amount of land and artifact mana, but nothing else.

Michael passes the turn and Todd plays Control Magic on Sliver Queen. Seems like a good play. Michael responds by saying “OK, I’ll make 200,000 Slivers.” I don’t know if he missed sacrificing the Sliver Queen as well, or just figured he’d get it back when he killed Todd with the swarm. Todd has nothing else and passes to me.

Michael is at 48 due to some life gain and three cards in hand, so attacking him and sacrificing all my guys isn’t going to kill him. I obviously know Vicious Shadows is the only route to victory here. I’m three damage short of being able to kill him with his own tokens: I can attack for nine (all his guys are tapped due to Frozen Aether), sacrifice Thrinax and then the three tokens to kill four Sliver tokens (killing tokens nets three damage instead of just flinging one at his head, and my attackers are bigger than the bonus they’d give Fallen Angel), then sacrifice Fallen Angel and the Ghoul to kill two more, but that’s only twelve guys going to the yard (which would take him to 3). I have nothing appreciable in my hand, but I can hope for a creature to play for the final three I need. I draw a Swamp. Cycling Decree of Pain would have been infinitely cooler than my, well, nothing. I attack for the aforementioned nine, taking Michael to 39, but otherwise, I’m not much help. If someone can push through some damage, we might have a chance, or if I can catch him with another card in his hand things might get interesting, but otherwise it’s looking bad.

Aaron tells us all we’re pretty much sunk, since his Wrath of God is already in the yard. He thinks he might have one more out, but there are 70 cards left in his library. It’s a long shot. He peels a Swamp. He then tells me there’s one more chance. He plays Solemn Simulacrum. I see where he’s going. He fetches his land, and then I sacrifice Sprouting Thrinax to Goblin Bombardment to do one damage to Jens. I then sacrifice one of the tokens to do the same. He puts Jens in the yard. I tell him that if he peels an answer, I won’t kill him. He knocks the top of his library and flips over Gifts Ungiven!!!

So 600,000 damage later (and not killing Aaron, although I make short work of him thereafter with Kresh), we have an EDH memory for the ages. But that’s only part of what you came for.


Before we get to the actual update, I’d like to introduce you to a few folks. The EDH Rules Committee is not a bunch of shadowy men on a shadowy planet. The majority of the committee you may already know.

There’s me, obv. There’s fellow L5 Toby Elliott, who I’ve mentioned more than once. Toby is a driving force behind the Magic Floor Rules and Penalty Guidelines. There are few keener Magic minds. There is L3 Judge and Official Magic Rules-L NetRep Gavin Duggan, who has been a steadfast supporter of EDH since nearly day 1, and who is the keeper of the official rules forums (http://edh.truespace.ca/EDH_Forum/). In the last year, we’ve added L4 Judge Kevin Desprez from France, who is a leader in the truest sense of the French EDH community, and a major proponent of 1v1 EDH. There is also one member who chooses to remain private about the fact that he’s on the committee, but I will say that his insights have helped shape the format since its popularization.

OK, onto the update. Effective 20 June, 2009:

Gifts Ungiven is BANNED

Fastbond is BANNED

Braids, Cabal Minion, is BANNED as a GENERAL

The Watch List is DISCONTINUED

No other changes


We know that this will raise a great cry from some players, but as we previously noted, Gifts is simply broken (especially at the 3U cost and the fact that it’s an Instant). The ability to tutor for two combo pieces and two ways to recur them generally makes this a one-card game-ender, which we feel is completely contrary to the EDH vision.


The overwhelming reason Fastbond gets played is to fuel a degenerate combo. The EDH life total makes Fastbond easy and safe to use for an inconsiderable cost. Couple that with the land destruction combo with Crucible of Worlds (which we’re still very happy we unbanned), and Fastbond becomes even worse. We’re not opposed to land destruction or even mass land destruction, but asymmetrical mass land destruction that’s nearly uncounterable worries us a great deal.



If you’re not absolutely prepared for it and capable of doing something about it on the first few turns, a Braids lock is nearly inevitable. We also don’t want games to devolve into being about a single card every time that card hits the table (see [card Kokusho, the Evening Star]Kokusho[/card]). Braids as a General defines “unfun,” and we want to keep the format as friendly as possible.


We have come to believe the Watch List is an unnecessary tool that requires additional administration and adds little value. We found that having the list created more confusion that clarity, and it doesn’t serve a purpose other than as a forum for discussing cards. In part, the Watch List created the expectation that banning a card is a two-step process, which is inaccurate, so we’ve dropped it.


We’re pretty happy with the action from March. Unbanning Crucible has opened some design space for deck-builders, and with the except of insanity with Fastbond, showed no negative impact on the environment (and we’ve taken care of that). It’s obviously made land destruction a little worse, but it’s made recovery from land destruction a little easier. All in all, seems like a good balance. Rofellos seems to be a good General but not broken. Occasionally it can go insane (but it certainly has company in that regard), but for the most part, we’ve observed that it seems to be an all-or-nothing thing. Its mono-green nature seems to have kept it in check. Most happily, the Tinker banning seemed to really help with the problem of Sundering Titan, which is why we felt no action was required.

That’s the EDH 20 June update, and you heard it here first on ChannelFireball. Keep turning them sideways, and I’ll see you next time on “We Play Too.”

38 thoughts on “WE PLAY TOO #6: EDH EXCLUSIVE!!!”

  1. Shouldnt Magistrate Sphinx be on the watch list? Under the same reasons why Biorythm and Sway the Stars are already banned?

  2. Sheldon,

    Why no Sensei’s Divining Top? I was looking forward to this article in hopes of not having to play another game of EDH with three or four Tops in play. Oh well, kinda happy about Gifts.

  3. Why didn’t you just win the game when he made 200,000 slivers? It takes a lot of sacrifices to do that, and you had vicious shadows.

    Regarding the bans, I don’t think they should surprise anyone. I’ve read articles mentioning Gifts & Fastbond as stupidly good and unfun, and heard plenty of people talk about Braids as being unfun as well. Sadly these bans will go into effect just in time to keep me from running Braids in the EDH side events at the Boston SCG 5k.

  4. Vicious Shadows is my favorite card in my EDH deck. I second John’s question, is there a reason you didn’t win off ashnod’s alter sacrifices?

  5. He said that the game continued for a while after the infinite turns which would imply that he didn’t have viscous shadows out yet.

  6. Cool article. It’s fun to hear about some of the crazy things that happen in EDH. I’m sort of disappointed to hear about the Braids ban. Yes, I have a Braids deck. Its best use is to teach people what the format isn’t necessarily about, and that you don’t have to try and win so hard, but it actually seems really balanced in EDH 2HG, which I’ve found to be a pretty fun format. I’d rather see individual playgroups ban generals rather than the committee do so. Some of the individual card bans are pretty useful. Gifts can be really busted, for instance. Good work, I’m sure you guys are doing what you think is right, and I guess I can play whatever I want with my friends.

  7. I have no problems with the cards that were chosen…. BUT I’m am very unhappy that time stretch was not on the list as well, my play group agrees that the card is nearly degenerately broken and usually when its casts it more or less means the end of the game especially when we who run it also run things like mirari, fork, twincast, wild ricochet to take 4 turns at a time and relearn, recall, izzet chronarch to get back time stretch to go try to go infinite While we all agree the card isnt at all fun to play against, we don’t want to start banning cards ourselves if the people in charge of the EDH ban list hasnt seen fit to ban it yet, but we are at a crossroads, until they ban the card I will continue to abuse time stretch into taking 2-6 turns and look forward to them banning it, oddly enough my deck doesnt run Gifts to find these pieces PLEASE CONSIDER BANNING TIME STRETCH NEXT TIME

  8. Aww, my Braids deck’s gonna have to find a new general… 🙁
    (She was pretty ridiculous, though. Seems fair enough.)

    Overall a good set of bans.

  9. Yeah, sorry to be unclear. Vicious Shadows didn’t hit play until my turn, cryptically described as “I obviously know Vicious Shadows is my only route to victory here.”

    @BDM: Tops, if used properly (in the multiplayer fashion–Topping way before the EOT of the guy to your right), aren’t annoying. My complaint about the Top all along has been that it slows down the game too much. In my experience, players have risen to the challenge. I’ve also started packing Krosan Grip just for Top.

  10. Amen to the social beatdown to infinite combo degenerate players….but man, banning of Braids as General, though I’ve never built that deck, I hate to see it. I really think that’s something that local metagame should handle, not global banning…IMO, Sliver Overlord as General is the definition of unfun, but I’ve built my deck to handle it. Being unprepared is no excuse.

  11. Why is it that everytime a banning comes around, I have to remove a card from my deck ? Now I have to shell out $15 for an Intuition.

  12. And I just got my Gifts for my EDH decks… *Ugh*

    But yeah, I’m a little shocked Magister Sphinx isn’t on this list, especially with people using blink effects to abuse him.

  13. Great article as always! I wish players in my area played EDH. Now that I’m going to start traveling to judge, hopefully I can get some games in.

  14. I fully agree that Magister Sphinx should be banned. We have already banned it in my play group because it is way too easy to “fireball” someone for 28 damage, blink it, and repeat. There have been numerous times that I have been waayyyyyy far behind and come back to win on the back of a Magister Sphinx. I love the EDH format and the versatility in deck designs that it generates, but there needs to be an addenda to the latest bannings to add Magister Sphinx to the list in my opinion.

  15. the way that my play group looks at magister Sphinx is that if you are the one whom has it in their deck, your going to always be the first target for an aquire or bribery finding said Sphinx and getting yourself put to 10…

  16. Magister Sphinx does not need to be banned.

    I agree with the banning of Gifts Ungiven and especially Fastbond.

    Time Stretch…maybe.

    Accelerators like Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, etc. should NOT be banned.

  17. I agree w/ MikeD. Waaaaaayyyyy too many situations have arisen in our EDH playgroup where a single Magister Sphinx changes the entire landscape of the game. It is not too hard in this format to search him (or any other creature) out, and he is a 30-point life swing JUST FOR PLAYING HIM. As MikeD stated, we have already self-imposed its banning in our group and we hope that you’ll consider doing the same.

  18. So I await patiently as I think I’ll be reading about the week I finally win an EDH tournament only to find Sheldon writes about another game. Boo hiss Sheldon…

    Just kidding.

    Dale, Still picked on

  19. I support these bannings very strongly. Fastbond is, as competitive Magic has proven, absolutely busted. Gifts Ungiven IS nearly 100% of the time a card that wins the game that turn or the next simply by resolving, and as such, should be banned. The thought of playing Gifts in a deck that doesn’t just win with it makes me cringe, because that seems horrible in EDH I suppose…Well said sir.

  20. Im with Todd lol… Now banning gifts helps make things easier for me to be broken 😀 Ill just run Intuition now and nothing will change. Not every deck can abuse 3 cards so it limits the possibilitiy of Gifts Being Used against me. So I applaud my deck getting stronger while other blue gets weaker. Id like to play with Sheldon one day so I can show him some other stuff to ban ;] “Yes Riki its me and you know what I do lol & you know my silly combo is good :D”

  21. The loss of Gifts is a little sad to me, and probably other non-degenerate-combo players, since it was just a really good card. Nothing really replaces it, and I certainly don’t have money to get a Intuitions for my decks. Blech.

    Also, do people not run counterspells or ways to change targets to answer Time Stretch? It’s not that crazy a card, and it costs 10.

  22. @ Scout

    Where I play thats all mono blue decks run is counter/bounce and misdirection lol But thats what Boseiju is for and or Tapping Down lands and playing bombs.

  23. I was shocked when i saw those cards weren’t banned. So I went and got ’em. Now….crap! I can’t say I disagree though.

  24. Pingback: The MISER – Bans de Julho « The Mise!

  25. My playgroup has resolved the magister sphinx “problem” by ripping them up when i play them. ive gone through about 7 of them. the sphinx is ofcourse less fun when blink and sherrum are involved.

  26. Wow! Some decent discussion. I guess the bannings always fire folks up. I will throw down my two pennies. We play weekly multiplayer events with 16+ players, I have played in a couple of states and 1v1, chaotic 4, etc.

    Fastbond was not only a good call, but never even felt right to play. If you hit it in your opening hand, you were just basically cheating and felt dirty. The crucible x fastbond interaction was “unfun” and led to a couple of really lame experiences.

    Gifts never bothered me. I played it. I abused it at times and just ran it out for card draw at others. It never really seemed that busted and most good groups seemed to keep it in check. Intuition does the same thing basically and should make for a good replacement. I imagine that getting one less card should keep it away from the banned list? 🙂

    Magister is a funny card. It is quite potent, but you are basically going to die to its effect 50% of the time. Clone, graveyard recursion from other players, bribery, etc. should make this a dangerous card to pack. We used to play with it and found that you are basically giving a sly opponent ways to just come back from nowhere. If it were banned, most folks would not miss it much. I have never been a fan.

    Timestreeeetch, however, should be a sacred institution in EDH. It costs 10!!! This is a huge investment and should be respected. If folks play something that cost 10 mana, then they deserve the payout. Further, other players should have time to set up the defenses, responses, counters, and reasonable answers to deal with it. The fatty cards in the game that could very rarely be used in “regular” magic make the format a blast. I love winning games with storm herd, insurrection, by taking 2 extra turns, or by pulling off some huge, complicated win condition.

    Powerful and fun should rule the format in concert.

  27. I know time stretch costs 10 mana, but a lot of games at my store have turned into racetoresolvetimestretch.game. If someone isn’t playing it they generally just lose. 10 mana should give a big effect but not auto-win game(which time strech has been almost everytime I’ve seen it played in EDH). In a format where almost every turn massively powerful spells are cast, taking 2 extra turns unleashed way too much extra power.

  28. I’ll add my vote to those wanting to see the Sphinx banned. Not every deck I run has Acquire/Bravery..Not even all the ones with access to them.
    I’ve been blown out several times by Sphinx Fireballs, because it’s easily searched for and almost impossible to stop its come into play ability when not playing blue (counters, stifle).

  29. ban magister sphinx. it ruins the integrity of the game. its not just powerful; its stupid. yes, it is dangerous to pack in your deck. it can be bribery’d and aquired, and animated…and thats all stupid. the card fundamentally changes the game in a way that runs counter to “fun” and “deck building” and “strategy”.

    my vote: axe it.

  30. Pingback: MTG Metagame

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top