Card Games, Play

EDH Banned and Restricted update

On 8 July 2019, the EDH rules committee made a surprise announcement updating the Banned and Restricted list. Iona, Shield of Emeria and Paradox Engine were both banned, with Painter’s Servant coming off the banlist. All of these cards have incredibly powerful and abusable effects, and this shift is already making big waves. Let’s take a look at each card.

Iona, Shield of Emeria

Many players, myself included, have stories of seeing this big stupid angel hit the field and instantly regretting playing a monocolored deck. Unless they already have a colorless removal spell in hand or have an answer already out, they’re more or less shut out of the game.

While I don’t like the card, I don’t know that I ever expected it to be banned. It doesn’t outright win the game but its ability chokehold other players did lead to groans of frustration. I feel a little bad for people who have her in their decks, but she still has potential in other competitive formats. I’m not sure I agree with the ban completely, but I won’t complain about it either. Overall feeling: meh, sure.

Paradox Engine

This artifact has been in the crosshairs of potential banning since its release. Widely recognized as a game-breaking combo card, Paradox Engine allowed for crazy amounts of mana and explosive turns that usually ended in victory. It’s a powerful card that enabled some of the most competitive decks in EDH and I know scores of players are rejoicing that this thing finally got the ax.

Here’s the thing, though. Paradox Engine doesn’t see play outside of EDH, and it’s $40 USD at the time of writing. Iona has Legacy playability, as do many other cards on the EDH banlist. Engine’s expensive because of the commander format, and with this banning copies will likely plummet in value. I feel bad for the people who lost value on part of their collection and those who were using it fairly (somehow). That said, the card was often way too good, so while I don’t like banning cards, I agree with this one.

Painter’s Servant

Painter's Servant

Ah, Painter’s Servant: the little scarecrow that knows all the colors of the wind, but really likes one in particular. The Legacy Painted Stone strategy aside, Servant opens up new options for color-specific cards to see a lot more play. It’s got some cute combo potential but with how powerful the format is becoming, it might become another Protean Hulk: used for value in casual games and weaponized in competitive realms.

With recent sets returning to color-specific mechanics, we’re going to be getting some interesting little toys to try. This unbanning also opens up the possibility for shenanigans like Deathgrasp and Lifeforce. It’s too early to tell how many players will build around the servant and how many will slot it in out of curiosity. Maybe the format is powerful enough to allow its shenanigans.

As I type this, the EDH and MTGfinance communities are already reacting. Copies of Servant have already quadrupled in value, jumping from $11 USD to 45 over the course of a couple of days and foils hitting $130. If that isn’t evidence of EDH being a driving force in MTG, I don’t know what is.

Overall thoughts

I’m a little surprised at these bans, but I understand why they happened. They weren’t fun cards to see and they quickly became the focus of the table. But does a card being unfun warrant a ban? Given the right amount of time and people calling for it, apparently, it is. As for the servant, only time will tell if the little robot shakes things out of control. Either way, things will be interesting.

As always, this has been Crab, and I’m off to find a paintbrush.