What if Modern Had No Banlist?

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It's an interesting question. What if Magic's newest format had no restrictions? We know it would certainly be much different, but what exactly would that look like?

Jesse Mason set out to answer that question.

Would this terrorize Modern?
Would this terrorize Modern?

What would happen if no cards were banned in Modern? The majority of replies were somewhere between hyperbole and misunderstanding what happens when powerful cards are allowed. No, not every game would be over on turn two, determined by the dice roll. Aggro and control would be plenty viable, though not in any way we’d recognize in Modern. Thinking about it in those terms, though, is like measuring a space shuttle in horsepower.

I know one thing: my precious Merfolk probably wouldn't stand a chance. If you want to know what Mason thinks would, you can find the full post here.

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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13 thoughts on “What if Modern Had No Banlist?

  1. Aggro would get pushed out of the format (save Affinity, though it might be considered a combo deck with Skullclamp and artifact lands legal), due to combo ruling the day, along with Punishing Fire, 12 Post, and Stoneforge into Batterskull becoming legal again. Is there a way to shoehorn in the Thopter-Sword/Thopter-Depths/Stoneforge Mystic-Batterskull into the Countertop deck?

    Also, get ready for Mental Misstep wars (I think the author forgot about this card)!

    I’d probably start running either of these lists:

    #1: Manaless Dredge

    4 Golgari Thug

    4 Golgari Grave Troll

    4 Stinkweed Imp

    4 Shambling Shell

    4 Greater Mossdog

    4 Narcomoeba

    4 Phantasmagorian

    4 Bridge from Below

    4 Street Wraith

    4 Gitaxian Probe

    4 Dread Return

    4 Chancellor of the Annex

    4 Disrupting Shoal

    4 Mental Misstep

    1 Flayer of the Hatebound

    3 Balustrade Spy


    4 Sickening Shoal

    3 Faerie Macabre

    4 Mindbreak Trap

    4 Leyline of Sanctity


    #2: Charbelcher

    4 Goblin Charbelcher

    4 Simian Spirit Guide

    4 Manamorphose

    4 Rite of Flame

    4 Pyretic Ritual

    4 Desperate Ritual

    4 Seething Song

    4 Chancellor of the Tangle

    4 Chrome Mox

    4 Lotus Bloom

    4 Gitaxian Probe

    4 Street Wraith

    4 Mishra’s Bauble

    4 Empty the Warrens

    4 Stomping Ground


    3 Nature’s Claim

    3 Autumn’s Veil

    3 Leyline of the Void

    3 Leyline of Sanctity

    3 Pact of Negation

    I’d probably put the combo hierarchy something like this:

    Storm (still a solid choice in the hands of a competent pilot, even with all the bannings and hate cards, and you give it back 2 rituals, 2 cantrips, and potentially 3 other cards it might use – Chrome Mox, Mental Misstep, and Ancestral Vision)

    Dredge (only because Leyline of the Void is a card, otherwise it switches with Storm as it has ways to deal with grave hate aside from a potentially well-timed Tormod’s Crypt or Ravenous Trap, which could probably just be solved by finding room for Pact of Negation somewhere)

    Charbelcher (immune to grave hate, mostly Mental Misstep-proof)

    The rest in no particular order (Hypergenesis, 12 Post, Blazing Shoal Infect, Elves, etc.)

      1. I’d imagine it’d be good when people skimp on grave hate, and less so when they don’t (same as Dredge now). If Leyline was the go-to GY hate spell, I suppose you could find room for Dryad Arbors and Nature’s Claims in the board. Otherwise, counters, Chancellor of the Annex, and Sickening Shoal should handle/slow down other hate (maybe add Serum Powder so you can actually mull). You’re pretty much running the Legacy version minus FoW, Ichorid, & Nether Shadow (hence the extra dredgers in Mossdog), but with Mental Misstep legal.

  2. It would be interesting sure, but I think (like many others) that combo would once again rule Modern.

    Most aggro decks wouldn’t get a whole lot. Affinity gets a monstrous buff with the Artifact Lands and Skullclamp. Other decks, not so much. Deathrite, Jitte, and Stoneforge are sweet cards for sure, but Stoneforge and Jitte are usually slow enough to not matter vs. hard combo decks. Greensun is another powerhouse, but I’m not sure there exists a suite of creatures to tutor for that will lock out enough of the combo decks.

    Control doesn’t get a huge boost either, outside of Sensei’s Top. I suspect CounterTop would be tried, and would probably be playable, even without Brainstorm. No Brainstorm means you’d have to quickly identify what your opponent is on, so you have a better chance of hitting their key combo card. Jace and Vision are both very powerful, but they do stuff on turn 4 at the earliest, and in a ‘Nothing Banned’ world, I think turn 4 would be a rarity. Ponder would be a great addition to the control decks, but I still feel like they’d be under the boot of combo.

    Combo gets all their old toys from the days of Modern past, plus other goodies. Infect/Shoal, mana rituals, Skullclamp, Chrome Mox, Hypergenesis, Dread Return, even Dark Depths if you wanna go down that road.

    And then, of course, tons of Mental Misstep everywhere. As we saw from Legacy, it goes in everything. Freaking Goblins was playing maindeck Misstep. Unless the entire format migrates away from 1 drops (which would never ever happen), this thing would be almost everywhere. No thanks.

    – – –

    While I certainly don’t agree with everything WotC has done with the Modern banned list, I think we are way better off, and having more fun as it stands, than we would be if nothing was banned. Interesting food for thought though.

  3. Kun kaivos lopettaa toimintansa, eli?st? palaa ennalleen 5 – 10 vuoden kuluessa, yhti? arvioi. Kilometrin p??ss? on toinen samanlainen hydrotermisten aukkojen alue, josta yhti?n mukaan voi merivirtojen kautta tulla eli?st?? elpyv?lle kaivosalueelle.

  4. Dialogue or trade with India should not mean giving up our principled stand on Kashmir – not only would it be unfair and going against the principles of justice, it would also be unsustainable. Even in its new-found enthusiasm, the foreign office cannot forget the thousands who have lost their lives in the Kashmir Valley. The wishes of the Kashmiri people should be the prime decider in their future as was decided in the UN resolution.

  5. Asia kannattaa tarkistaa etuk?teen, sill? jokaisen tuvan verkkosivulla kerrotaan, saako tuvalle vied? lemmikkiel?imi?. My?s alueittaisissa tupalistoissa kerrotaan sivun alussa, mik? on kunkin alueen k?yt?nt? lemmikkiel?inten suhteen. Retkell? oltaessa asian voi tarkistaa tuvan sein?ll? olevista tupas??nn?ist?.

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