Magic: The Gathering is a card game like no other. Sure, there are several trading card games in the world that rely on strategy and careful selection of what you include in each deck, but none take it to the level that this game has. At the same time, every new card that’s introduced is perfectly balanced with every other card in the game, meaning that old cards aren’t at an immediate disadvantage (looking at you, Pokemon TCG).
However, as Wizards of the Coast gets more creative in the effects they place on cards and how they relate to the rest of the game, some anomalies come into play. After all, they’re not perfect. Through competitive play, it becomes apparent that some cards are either broken, can cause infinite loops, or are too powerful to make the match fair. This leads to several bans going out on certain cards, and they are illegal to use in any official tournament. Those powerful cards are what we’ll be examining today. Dust off your old Magic deck and get ready to relive your childhood with these 15 cards that were banned from official events. This will include, artifacts, land, creatures, spells, enchantments, instants, and planeswalkers.
At first glance, Cloudpost doesn’t seem like much. It looks like a typical land card that you place and tap to add one little mana to your pool. However, the problem comes when you notice that it adds another mana for each other Locus card in play. Again, this doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize that if people fill their decks with this card, they end up increasing their mana pools at an exponential rate.
For example, if someone has two Cloudposts down, each one will tap to add two mana, making for a total of four. If you have three of them, that total increases to nine. It’s not long before people end up at an advantage with the crazy numbers that anyone else simply can’t keep up with.
In Magic: The Gathering, getting the right cards is key to victory. That’s why there exists some that help you look through your deck and others that help you rearrange it. That’s where a little instant called Preordain comes in. It allows you to draw a card and has a little ability called Scry 2. What this means is that you take the top two cards your deck (or library) and place them on the top or bottom in any order you like. You do this before you draw a card, so you can somewhat stack the deck in your favor.
What makes this card a little too good is the fact that it only costs one blue mana. With several of these in your deck, it won’t be long before you start fixating on the cards you need for total domination.
13. SEETHING SONG
The standard way to get mana is by having a bunch of land on the field and tapping them to use special cards. However, there are some spells that can do the same thing. Take Seething Song, for instance. For just two of any kind of mana and one red mana, you can cast this spell and add five red mana to your pool.
That said, in total, that’s simply an increase in two mana. What becomes a problem is you have several of these cards as well as other spells that can pull instants out of the library. Your mana pool can quickly go to extreme numbers all in one turn if you have all the cards you need. Then you’re almost guaranteed victory.
When it comes to searching your deck early game, there are few cards better to use than Ponder. For just one blue mana, you can cast this spell on your turn to look at the top three cards of your library. You can place them back in any order and choose to shuffle the library or not. Regardless of what you do, you draw a card right after.
It’s not hard to see why this card was banned. Having such visibility for such a low cost is a huge advantage for anyone running a blue deck. Then, if someone stacked many of these in their play, then anyone else on the field was in for a world of hurt, especially considering how blue decks run on making opponents lose their whole library.
11. DREAD RETURN
When it comes to bringing monsters back from the dead, there’s no better strategy than using a black deck. Fused with zombies, vampires, and all kinds of unsightly creatures, there are few ways to deal with someone who keeps reviving their army. However, it can get out of hand, like with the Dread Return card.
For a total of four mana (two of any and two black), you can pull any creature you want from your graveyard and onto the battlefield. Then, after Dread Return goes in your graveyard, you can use its Flashback ability. By sacrificing three creatures, you can bring this card back from the graveyard and use it again, essentially giving your strongest monster a total of three lives. It’s not horribly broken, but Dread Return isn’t a fair fight for certain.
10. BLOODBRAID ELF
Most creatures prescribe to a certain color, but some have multiple, like the Bloodbraid Elf. Being both a green and red creature, it will have to be cast using both types of mana. Once you do, though, you may end up turning the tide of battle in your favor. On top of having Haste (meaning that it can attack as soon as you put it on the battlefield), Bloodbraid Elf has an ability called Cascade.
This means that you exile the top cards of your library until you find a non-land card that costs less than four mana and cast it for free. Every exiled card then gets put at the bottom of your deck. What makes this card a little powerful is how it can be used in combination with other cards to get some powerful combos going. By itself, it isn’t so bad.
9. SPLINTER TWIN
Many times, Magic games can turn into a match of “who has the strongest creature?” Once people get massive armies and buff certain monsters with spells and enchantments, they go in for the winning kill. That’s where Splinter Twin has caused severe problems. Being an enchantment (for just four mana), it can attach itself to any creature and stays there until it’s removed or the creature dies.
What does Splinter Twin do? Well, instead of attacking with any creature, you can tap it to create a duplicate of itself that has haste and is exiled once your turn is done. You can repeat this every turn. What makes this an issue is the fact that you can essentially keep attacking with your strongest creature without ever having the fear of losing it in battle. You can just slowly chip away at your opponent’s army.
8. GITAXIAN PROBE
A lot of the anxiety players have in Magic is not knowing what their opponents are going to do. This is where cards come in to have you look at your opponent’s hand. While many of these cards are fairly balanced, Gitaxian Probe is kind of a problem in this regard. For just one mana or two of your life, you can not only look at your opponent’s hand, but draw a card as well, feeding into your strategy.
Early game, this can be a big nuisance to other players, as everyone is trying to get their mana on the board. Meanwhile, someone is looking at your hand and drawing more cards in the end. One is alright, but multiple Gitaxian Probes gets to be a little broken when all is said and done.
7. DARK DEPTHS
As you acquire rarer cards in Magic, you’ll come across the “Legendary” class. These cards are not only extremely hard to find, but extremely powerful as well. In some cases, it causes them to be banned from the game, like with Dark Depths. This land doesn’t tap for mana, but instead, has ten ice counters that can be removed for three mana. Once you remove all of them, you place a 20/20 creature with flying and indestructible on the battlefield.
While it might take a while for people to remove the ice counters on Dark Depths, once they get that massive creature up, it’s hard to defend. Indestructible means it can’t really be killed other than outpowering it in battle, but in order to defend against it, you have to have creatures that fly as well. Needless to say, this creature can end the game in two successful hits.
6. GOLGARI GRAVE-TROLL
When it comes to green creatures, you’re working with massive monsters that can take a lot of damage and deal it as well. However, the Golgari Grave-Troll does that and so much more. It doesn’t have any attack or defense, but instead gets 1/1 counters for each creature in your graveyard. Considering green decks are focused on cranking out creatures, he could potentially have a lot of power backing him up when attacking.
Furthermore, if he dies in battle, you can remove a 1/1 counter to regenerate him. Then, once he finally dies, you can discard six cards to put him back on the battlefield. If you discard a bunch of creatures, then you basically bring the grave-troll back stronger than ever. It’s a perpetual cycle of death.
There are some spells in Magic that really shake up the game and Hypergenesis is one of those spells. Apart from having a Suspend ability (which is basically a time counter), what caused the need for it to be banned was based on its primary effect. Every player, taking turns, places just about everything they have into play. The effect doesn’t stop until people don’t play anything at all.
Hypergenesis almost requires the fact that opponents place down their cards prematurely, though. If not, then one opponent will have all kinds of creatures, land, and enchantments in play while everyone else is at a disadvantage because of it. It shakes up the game quite a bit, and for that, it was removed from official play.
4. UMEZAWA’S JITTE
Artifacts are quirky little additions to the Magic game. They typically don’t have a specific element attached to them and just latch themselves onto any one creature. Some of them can get a little ridiculous and become really, really overpowered, and that was exactly the case with Umezawa’s Jitte.
This little sword gets two charge counters every time a creature deals damage. One of these counters can then be removed to administer the following effects: creature gets +2/2, a target creature gets -1/-1, or you gain two life. Where this gets broken is the fact that two counters are acquired with each attack, but only one is used when doing an ability. You slowly gain more benefits to either your life or overall power, giving you a pretty huge advantage.
3. DEATHRITE SHAMAN
Some creatures love playing around with graveyards, but the way that Deathrite Shaman handles it is downright unfair. When you place it on the battlefield (for just one mana, mind you), you have the of either attacking with it or doing one of three things: you can tap it to exile a land card from a graveyard to add one mana, exile a target instant or sorcery from a graveyard for an opponent to lose two life, or exile a target creature from a graveyard to gain two life.
What makes Deathrite Shaman so broken is the fact that the card does not specify “your graveyard.” If you want to keep exiling cards from an opponent’s graveyard, thus making them nearly impossible to get back, then you can do that. There is no downside to this card.
2. JACE, THE MIND SCULPTOR
Blue cards are focused on screwing with your opponent’s library and manipulating your own into your favor. That’s where Jace, the Mind Sculptor comes in. Being a Planeswalker, he functions on a bit of a different level and is deadly on the battlefield. We won’t explain specifically how it works, but know that most of his abilities are fairly standard for a blue planeswalker.
Where Jace gets a little broken is with his ability that costs 12 of his counters. This devastating power allows you to select any opponent, force them to exile their entire library, and then have them shuffle their hand as their new library. Not only does this nearly guarantee you win (it certainly does if someone has no cards in their hand), but it makes Jace one of the best Planeswalkers ever created.
1. GREEN SUN’S ZENITH
Getting the right creatures is key to your success in Magic. However, you may find yourself in a spot where you’re not getting the right cards by simply drawing them. That’s where Green Sun’s Zenith comes in. For a mana cost of “X” (any amount you choose), you can pull a creature from your library and onto the battlefield with that same cost or less.
There are several cards like that in the game, but where Zenith gets ridiculous is in the fact that it goes straight into your library after you cast it, ensuring that you can keep using it unless someone interrupts it and throws it in the graveyard. It also helps you last longer in the game by feeding your library more.
Which of these cards is the most OP to you? Let us know in the comments!
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