Battle of Commander Ban Lists

As usual, I’m a bit late with this, but still, it’s worth it to discuss the two different banlists.

The two lists are quite different in many ways. They have pretty different basis for them. For simplicity, I’ll call one of them the Menery list and the other the WotC list. Menery list is obviously the “classic” one maintained by Sheldon Menery and his compatriots in the committee. WotC list is the one maintained by Wizards of the Coast for their Magic Online leagues.

Here are the full lists:

Both lists also include all the ante cards (9 of them) and conspiracies (25). You’ll also note that WotC list is 13 cards longer. They are not simply additions, but a result of a different approach. It’s also worth noting that certain cards aren’t banned in the WotC list, because they don’t exist online. Here are the differences:

Since over half of the WotC list is not on the Menery list, there definitely is a lot of differences here. Of course, this is partly because the WotC list is largely based on 1 vs. 1 play, so they have very different needs.

However, it clearly does also have things that should have been banned a long time ago, such as the fast mana (namely things like Sol Ring and Mana Vault among others). What Menery list doesn’t seem to get is that the inclusion of these in the ban list removes many, many other problems. They swing the game far too easily in the first few rounds. They enable many other broken things.

Another thing Menery doesn’t seem to get is this quite a bit more complicated. You see WotC sees people who come in their leagues to have a good time. They don’t know each other and thus they can’t assume that everyone thinks the game is as casual as they feel. Actually, its probably quite competitive online.

When you play with your friends, you know what to expect. You have a spoken or unspoken understanding that everyone tries to maintain certain level of power in their decks. You don’t do the most broken things possible, if your friends don’t do them.

On the other hand, the point of the game is that you can play with anyone. So, if you play with people from another group, you don’t know what to expect. Maybe they have precons with a few modifications or a bunch of commons, or they have very punishing decks they’ve honed for years to beat everything they can imagine. I’ve been in both situations.

Generally, I like to keep my decks fairly non-competitive. I like to have options and powerful cards, but I’ll also slot in some random stuff, like Liliana’s Caress just because I’m playing Liliana, Heretical Healer as my commander. (I actually mention this because of something that happened last weekend, but I digress, that’ll remain an injoke.) I like to think my deck through curvewise and have answers and so forth, but I’m in the 80% camp (which I possibly coined right now, possibly not, I’m not sure) meaning my deck is about 80% honed to perfection. The rest being stuff I like to play.

So, sometimes I crush, sometimes I get crushed. However, when I do get crushed, its mostly because they play fast mana, which I generally don’t.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we just knew that when we sit down to play with people we haven’t played with before that we won’t just get ran over? That we do actually get to play? Winning is fun, but not having a challenge makes it much more interesting. Only assholes think otherwise.

So, in the interest of building a healthier community, I would suggest the following:

Just follow both lists.

That’s kind of simple. In addition, without asking anyone else, from here on out, I will be doing exactly this. I’ll take out the ten or so (mostly because of several copies of Sol Ring cards out of the collection and get rid of them. There is an exception to this, however: I will adhere to what I’d like to call the Stoneforge Mystic rule, meaning that I won’t change the precons I still have built, which include Sol Ring.

I’m trying to lead by example here, so I do hope others follow. This is of course just a small step towards leveling the field, but its something.

I would still urge different groups to follow their own rules and form their own spirit, but I would hope players understand the situation when they get together with players outside of their group. We are trying to build a format for everyone.

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