Introducing Max Banlist Modern!

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No Banned List Modern is the South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut of Magic. Playing No Banned List Modern today feels like sneaking Sharon Stone's Basic Instinct on Sunday-afternoon cable when you were five. Or watching the opening fight of UFC #1, where a shirtless Vladimir Putin in karate-pants kicks the Hawaiian singer of Somewhere Over the Rainbow so hard his tooth flies out. Rock on, 1993. It's fun to reminisce about those no-holds-barred glory days, but I'm older and wiser today than when my friends and I got busted for playing MS-DOS Doom in the basement when we told his parents we were playing Sim City. It's 2016 and now I know the importance of regulation. There are some things you just can't do: play Skullclamp and Hypergenesis in Modern, play Oddjob in GoldenEye, eat ten lemon Warheads, and give the Batsuit nipples. If we want Modern to thrive, we're gonna need structure. We're gonna need management. We're gonna need a bigger banlist.

If you agree this is not 'Nam, this is bowling Modern, if you agree there are rules, and if you've ever wanted anything banned in Modern, then MAX BANLIST MODERN is the format you've been waiting for!


Can't beat 'em? Ban 'em. All of them.


What is Max Banlist Modern?

Max Banlist Modern is a community-driven, unsanctioned (so far...) format where anyone can add anything to the official banlist just by submitting an Official Max Banlist Modern Submission Form. That's right: anyone can select a card for bannning and any card can be banned. Not just R&D members. Not just a card in a 20%+ metagame deck. Anyone and anything, all for the sake of the format's competitive diversity.

Here's how the format works:

Ancient GrudgeOnce banned in Max Banlist Modern, a card can never become unbanned again. No second chances, take-backs, or do-overs. This isn't after-school 2nd grade Chess Club. This is bet-fifty-bucks-per-game chess on a park bench. Better be sure you really want that Storm Crow banned because once it's on, it's never coming off. Think of it like Donald Trump's grudge-list, except you're Donald Trump and all of 8th and 9th Editions are Fox News. Speaking of "grudge," how am I supposed to Goblin Charbelcher anyone with Ancient Grudge around? In the interest of competitive diversity, Ancient Grudge is banned.

...speaking of Charbelcher, how is that still legal? Banned too!

I'm sure some jokester has already added Island to the banlist before getting to this sentence, but remember: Max Banlist Modern has rules. Specifically, four rules.

  • Rule #2: Nothing can ever be unbanned. That's just not fair to those who wanted it banned in the first place.
  • Rule #3: In casual settings, the official banlist goes into effect at the beginning of every match. No, not every "game." Can't you ban maniacs calm down even once? You can't decide a card is totally, irredeemably broken once and for all after just a single game! That level of confidence takes at least 2-3.
  • Rule #4: In tournament settings, the official banlist goes into effect at the beginning of the tournament but not every game. People actually need to play the format. If we wanted people tearing up their decks because everything got banned, we'd just play regular Modern.

I'm all about community organizing and community-driven, grassroots Modern, so I'm open to changing the rules. Just don't waste your time arguing for or against a ban. Want something banned? Ban it. Want something unbanned? Tough. There's always regular Modern for... well, unless your name is Golgari Grave-Troll, maybe not. And Golgari Grave-Troll is basically Ancestral Vision because Wizards more or less told me so, so consider the dredger gone for good. How else is Golgari Brownscale going to see play? In the interest of competitive diversity, Golgari Grave-Troll is REbanned.

Why Max Banlist Modern?

I know, I know. There are some horrified optimists out there who think Modern needs fewer bans, not hundreds more. That includes the thrill-seeking No Banned List crowd, the guy hiding his foiled Jund deck in his backpack while arguing for Bloodbraid Elf's unbanning, and the #TeamMaritLage conspiracy theorist with a 90% market share of foil Vampire Hexmages. It even used to be me!

Mad ProphetWell, dear Nexus readers, I've participated in one too many Twitch chats since my idealistic days and I'm changing my tune. A man can only endure so many iterations of the MTG Salvation Banlist Discussion Thread before wondering if Leyline of Sanctity and Slippery Bogle really do need to be banned. Like I said earlier: games need rules. Magic is about casting spells, so why can my opponent play an untargetable creature? Why can they become untargetable themselves? Why are they winning when I'm not?? Talk about unfair design. Banned and banned.

Max Banlist Modern restores balance to the format and, more importantly, power to the people. If I wanted arbitrary and opaque decisions, I'd join the MPAA's rating board. Frozen is PG? For "emotional thematic elements"? Toy Story 3 was rated G and I know mothers who are still recovering from that last scene. Max Banlist Modern sets the expectation bar at the Marina Trench bottom, puts the ban power in the players' hands, and never looks back. Case in point: Frozen reminds me of ice. Ice reminds me of [tippy title="Thing in the Ice" width="330" height="330"]1_thing[/tippy]. Someone once suggested [tippy title="Thing in the Ice" width="330" height="330"]1_thing[/tippy] needs to be preemptively banned (THAT WAS A REAL SUGGESTION!) before Shadows releases, and we wouldn't want to take the risk. In the interest of competitive diversity, [tippy title="Thing in the Ice" width="330" height="330"]1_thing[/tippy] is emergency banned.

Max Banlist Modern FAQs

New formats spark a lot of questions, and I'm here to preemptively answer some of the most common. I'm happy to address more in the comments, unless it's about whether we can undo that Ancient Grudge ban (no: see Rule #2) or whether Dread Return can stay now that Troll is gone (no: I just banned it).

  • "This format seems incredibly unfun. Doesn't everything just get banned?"
    Don't be selfish. What's more important in the long-term? Appeasing all the ban maniacs to ensure the widespread cessation of banlist talk? Or playing the same broken deck every week?
  • "Max Banlist Modern feels very expensive if cards get banned every day."
    First of all, cards are banned by the second, not by the day. Second of all, if a card is too expensive for you to buy, just ban it. Then no one can play it: problem solved.
  • "Why is most of the current Modern banlist still legal in Max Banlist Modern?"
    Whoa there. This is a "power to the people" format. I don't want Wizards or I influencing the list before you all get your hands on it! Except that Ancient Grudge and those hexproof cards from earlier. Keeping those around was just too risky.
  • Eye of Ugin"Is Eldrazi Temple getting banned on Monday? Or Eye of Ugin?"
    In Max Banlist Modern, both got banned before you finished typing that sentence. In that other, more volatile Modern, it's probably going to be Eye of Ugin alone. I've banned it twice in Max Banlist Modern just for good luck.
  • "What happens when we've banned everything and we're just playing basics?"
    Well, you're definitely not playing Countryside Crusher too, because that creature can outclass even a Tarmogoyf and how is that fair? In the interest of competitive diversity, Countryside Crusher is banned. Tarmogoyf too, and I'm scared it took us this long to do it. As for Max Banlist Modern, once everything gets banned (over 9,650 more cards to go!) we can just go back to ban maniaing with boring Normal Banlist Modern. Or Standard. Minus Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound, post-Shadows Standard shouldn't be much different power-wise from Max Banlist Modern.

I'm excited to see where Max Banlist Modern develops after today. I can already envision Grand Prix and Pro Tour streaming in its future: it's not as if the coverage team would have to change their rhetoric and banter much to fit the new Max Banlist format. Come find me in the comments with any rules changes you want to propose, particularly odious cards you've banned, or decks that you think will be absolutely, 100% ban-proof. I've got my money on Goblins. Is banning Exiled Boggart really going to advance the interest of competitive diversity? It's Max Banlist Modern, so I'll let you decide. Now, Wandering Goblins on the other hand...

19 thoughts on “Introducing Max Banlist Modern!

  1. 10/10. Would ban again. And again. And again. Whahahaha! Take that stone rain! Take that Ghostly Prison! Cool idea, though I think this format should be the only thing that gets banned.

  2. Wow! I’m glad you shared this! I’ve been playing the Max Banlist Modern at my local LGS for a while now! It’s a really fun format, I think Wizards should transition the existing format into this! Of course, by now, a lot of stuff has been banned, so the only things left really are mostly non-delve cmc 7+ cards. Anyways, here’s my Mono-black…er…deck!

    4 Chimney Imp
    4 Marshmist Titan
    4 Phantasmagorian
    4 Tresserhorn Skynight
    4 Skeletal Wurm
    4 Mournwhelk

    4 Ichor Explosion
    4 Phthisis
    4 Absorb Vis

    24 Swamp

    Also, someone banned all non-basic lands, but didn’t ban Blood Moon for some reason, weird. Don’t have a sideboard, the meta is kind of wonky, so I haven’t really decided what I wanted to put in yet. Anywho, thank you for the great article!

    1. I’m glad Thomas banned it, because I was getting scared. This definitely looked like it would decrease the format’s competitive diversity.

  3. Obviously the correct solution to banning all of the cards is to wait until they all get banned, then start over again! We will have gotten to see all of the dumb things we didn’t like so we can ban all of those right away and see how the new meta forms. It is like a new puzzle every time!

    1. Good idea. We’re only at about 100 cards banned so far, so we have a long, long way to go before we get there. Plenty of wacky decks left in the mix, and I still don’t think anyone banned the key Goblins!

      1. We have recognised this to be a large issue issue in the Max Banlist Modern community as we do not want goblin decks dominating and preventing a large range of archetypes. Goblin decks based around cards such as Bog Hoodlums and especially those with Ally sub themes based around Tuktuk Giants are recognised to be too mana efficient and aggressive for the format.
        We have also noticed the dominance of Big Rig decks that power out powerful low costed creatures such as Mothdust Changeling and Woodland Changeling, whilst giving them late game relevance using Steamflogger Boss. This mixture of synergy and aggressiveness means that these decks can win consistently as early as turn 15!
        Normally we would like to ban fewer cards to allow a wider range of strategies, and recognising Steamflogger Boss to be the core of both these decks, in the interest of competitive diversity, Steamflogger Boss is banned.
        Despite this, due to a large outcry against these decks in the community we are banning the rest of the cards as well.

  4. I had to bring down the hammer on runeclaw bear and black lotus. Those cards aren’t OK in the context of our new modern format. A hand with a black lotus could cast TWO runeclaw bears on the first turn.

    1. Happy April 1!

      More seriously, grape juice sounds pretty dangerous. In the interest of competitive diversity (and shirts), grape juice is banned in Modern.

  5. This is amazing. The best satire shows the idiocy of a position, and you expertly bought the Hive Mind of ban maniacs to their logical conclusion.

    Oh yea, and Hive Mind has to go. Competetive Diversity and whatnot.

  6. I am really concerned that Apocalypse Chime has not yet been banned. There is no way that any Narwhal decks and Dwarven Pony decks would be able to compete in the format when Apocalypse Chime is left to run amok.

  7. Well, it is inevitable that every card gets banned. I have already started brewing for this occasion, a very spicy work. Behold, the greatest deck that can never get banned.
    x1000 island

    For you see, once everything is banned I will simply mill them out over the long 53 turn game. This is true next level brewing.

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