Announcement Date: August 7, 2023


Preordain is unbanned.


Mind's Desire is unbanned.

Effective Date:

  • Tabletop and Magic Online: August 7, 2023

The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.

In the last announcement, we talked about the new cadence of changes and Standard rotation growing from two years to three. In that article, we stated that most format changes would happen once a year at this timing—just before previews of the fall set that (normally) accompany a rotation. While our goal is to make changes only once a year to promote more confidence and stability in Standard, we've left ourselves a window with each major set release (the next one is October 16)—windows we plan to use sparingly. In that smaller window, we will be more amenable to making changes to non-rotating formats over Standard. Because the previous announcement also contained several changes to Standard, and because the format has looked healthy and varied in that time, today we will focus on Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. Unless there is a significant issue, expect our next Standard update to happen next year at this time.


Written by Michael Majors

Preordain is unbanned.

A lot has happened in Modern since our last Pro Tour-level event, which also took place in Barcelona, four years ago. During that time, various strategies rose and fell, more changes were made to the B&R list, we released Modern Horizons 2, and Modern transformed into a more interactive format.

Recently, our third set with direct-to-Modern legality in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ released to set the stage for the Pro Tour that occurred last weekend. Early buzz was that The One Ring, being a powerful colorless artifact, was showing up in a lot of different decks, with Orcish Bowmasters picking up steam shortly after.

When the metagame preview for the Pro Tour was showcased, it was initially concerning. While the metagame share of decks is in normal ranges and is relatively diverse, the play rates of brand-new cards in The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters as the number-one and number-two cards, respectively, is something we rarely see in high-level Eternal tournaments.

As we watched the tournament unfold, and after we had many conversations with players both competing in the Pro Tour as well as attending MagicCon: Barcelona to play Modern, much of our concern subsided. A variety of decks were performing well, and the games and interactions within those games looked healthy. We saw some amazing matches over the weekend that were textured, interesting, and interactive.

While it is true that these two cards made big waves at the Pro Tour and within the format, these cards—The One Ring particularly—can fit into a variety of decks and a spread of macro-archetype strategies to comfortably compete within the format without overshadowing everything else present in Modern.

Games can be frequently decided by having The One Ring in play for multiple turns, but the bar for four-mana cards being too strong in a format as powerful as Modern is high. Not many games are quickly decided by a runaway from either The One Ring or Orcish Bowmasters, allowing players to play longer interactive games with plenty of back-and-forth. I must have witnessed Urza's Saga recruiting Haywire Mite to take care of The One Ring about a dozen times, which begs the question: who is the real hero of the story?

That said, while we aren't taking action against any cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth today, we do want to be clear that these cards are on our radar. Despite the healthy tournament results and there seemingly being plenty of wiggle room to explore further in the format during the upcoming Regional Championship Qualifiers, the play rates of these cards are still high. We'll be monitoring the long-term fun of The One Ring's play pattern, especially given its ability to be looped and/or reset to repeat its enters-the-battlefield ability. Similarly, Orcish Bowmasters has done a substantial amount of work to suppress one-toughness creatures in the environment, to the point where Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer isn't seeing much play in the format outside of Rakdos Evoke.

So why are we unbanning Preordain? While it is not something that we do often, we are interested in finding opportunities to reduce the size of the Modern banned list when we believe it will make the format more fun and provide players with more options. As I noted at the top, a lot has changed in the format in the last four years. Even more so since 2011, when Preordain was banned.

Preordain and Ponder were originally banned due to the amount of consistency they added to powerful Izzet combo decks—Storm and Splinter Twin, which have both seen multiple bans since. There was a vision for making Modern a slightly slower format where it was not so frequent that players were dying to their opponents' combinations of cards within the first four turns of the game.

On average, Modern is a lot more interactive now, in part due to the Modern Horizons sets. It was a goal of those releases to offer powerful options to stop your opponents' combos and play longer, more interactive games. As a result, we believe that Preordain will do more to boost fairer blue decks rather than simply increase the consistency of combo strategies.

This is also part of a goal to give something back to Blue-Red Murktide, which was one of the most popular decks in the Modern metagame between the release of Modern Horizons 2 and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth but has since fallen out of favor in part due to the release of Orcish Bowmasters.


Pioneer, Legacy, and Vintage Written by Carmen Handy

The Pioneer metagame continues to have a wide spread of play styles and archetype representation from tournament to tournament. While there are known pillars in Mono-Green Devotion, Rakdos variants, and creature-centric aggro decks, their metagame shares rise and fall at a healthy clip. Recently, new versions of Lotus Field Control have gotten some extra attention, but its win rate and metagame share sit about where we would expect any reasonable deck to fall. Without a clear top dog or unanswerable archetype pushing other decks out, we've elected for no change at this time.


Mind's Desire is unbanned.

Magic has a rich and storied history, including the fastest-banned card in the history of the game: Mind's Desire. At the time of its release, Magic's threats far outweighed the power of its answers, and creatures were a much, much smaller portion of the Legacy (or Type 1.5) metagame. A lot's changed.

Two decades have passed since Mind's Desire was banned, and in that time, creatures have become more powerful, new planeswalker cards have been introduced, and there are multiple cycles of free spells that have made it much harder to be a lover of the storm mechanic. In the interest of making sure that combo players also get the same level of new content and strength that other archetypes incidentally gain through our tentpole offerings, we've decided to unban Mind's Desire in Legacy.

Outside the spell's combo presence, the Legacy metagame is still evolving with the release of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Orcish Bowmasters is making a huge splash on the metagame thus far, punishing cheap card-draw spells that have been historically omnipresent throughout the format. Up until now, many of the decks that Mind's Desire punishes appear to be adapting while leaving additional space for previously underrepresented archetypes to shine. We will continue watching how things adapt in the coming months but don't feel the need to ban anything at this time.


Finally, Vintage players have been given a new tool recently in the form of The One Ring, but we don't believe it's necessary to take any action against it at this point. Despite it having some of the baggage that many powerful artifacts do in the format, we believe that players are still exploring its potential in the format and would like to see where it settles. Urza's Saga has also cemented itself as a powerhouse for these decks, but we're generally happy with the portions of the metagame they occupy, relative to decks like Doomsday, Mono-White Initiative, and fairer blue archetypes.

We'll be keeping an eye on the aforementioned cards as the format evolves, but the success of decks without either card communicates that there isn't a need to act yet.