On Restriction and Banning

Discussion in 'CPA/WOTC Magic Issues' started by Seeker of Truth, Jun 15, 2000.

  1. Seeker of Truth New Member

    OK, looking at the Voting Booth, I can see that I'm in the minority when I say that no cards should be banned. In this case, I felt that I should clarify my position.

    Ever since Magic was created we, the players, have trusted WotC R&D with coming up with interesting, balanced cards that allowed everyone to create their own decks and still remain relatively equal to one another. Now, granted that R&D sees over 700 cards a year (minus some reprints), I still feel that it is R&D's duty to see that not only are there no worthless cards that have no redeeming qualities (except as challenges in "break this card!" articles), but also that there are no cards that are so overpowered players will have no choice but to play the broken cards if they want to win.

    Obviously, WotC R&D fails in this capacity from time to time, and we end up with cards like Time Spiral, Tolarian Academy and Lin Sivvi. As a result, the cards find their way into many of the top decks in the tournament scene, and the cards are eventually banned. The card then becomes worthless because no one wants to play with it anymore.

    Were these cards broken and deserving of banning? Quite possibly. Did they stifle creativity and cause the entire field to play similar decks in order to win? Definitely.

    That's why they should never have seen the light of day.

    WotC R&D should be doing so good a job that no card should be in this position. Not only do broken cards stifle creativity and dominate the tournament scene, they also cost players much $$$ when they go to their card shop, pay $10 for a Tolarian Academy and then find out two weeks later that it's banned. In the end, banning isn't good for the game, either on a tournament level or on a business level, which is why I believe, in a perfect situation, bannings should never occur.

    However, this isn't a perfect situation, so bannings do (and should) occur, but I would also like some kind of consistency concerning banning as well, and the other two options didn't seem to address that part of the banning process.

    If anyone who voted on the topic has an opinion (and I'm sure you do), I'd appreciate seeing some other people's viewpoints on the whole thing.
  2. TomB Administrative Assistant

    I couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    It would be nice to think that companies are infallible and WOTC specifically would not DARE let a "broken" card through. However, let's face it: WOTC is made up of humans and humans make mistakes. And basically, there's a small set of playtesters compared to the large number of players and I would say it's pretty hard to think of all of the combinations that someone might think of.

    Knowing that but acknowledging your point about paying x dollars for a card, I'm advocating Restricting before Banning so at least you can play with the card. The chances of getting it are lessened but if it's really broken you'd have to weigh whether you'd want even one in your deck or not.

    I think the various departments in WOTC are doing a fair job; on one hand you have dumb things that get by like Hollow Warrior but on the other you have them revising things as the "before" and "after" cards look like during any of the "behind the scenes" in the Duelist or Top Deck. I guess we would get a small inkling of the process here when CT get the CPA cards out (although the whole Magic world would not know about it and thus the chances of finding broken cards would be diminished).
  4. Apollo Bird Boy

    I wasn't sure what to put on the voting topic. I like the current way they do banning, but I often disagree on the card banned. If they could get the players involved witht the decision, that would be cool. I'm not sure how that would be done, though. Maybe an online poll, though it might not be representative of the whole Magic population. I ended up saying that the current method is fine.

  5. Seeker of Truth New Member


    Well, the very idea of not being able to think up all the possible broken combos a card can be involved in, and the fact that there aren't enough playtesters to match the number of Magic players also ties in with the previous voting topic, which focused on the speed at which sets are released. I voted that sets should be slowed down somewhat, precisely for this reason.

    Of course, development for these sets begin a year in advance, though, so that's an awful long period of time in which to recognize something like, say, Lin Sivvi is unbalanced.

    As for the CPA cards, I've seen some of the examples, and I have to say that many of them (as is usually the case when dealing with player-created cards) are probably a little on the strong side but may be just short of being broken.


    Thanks for the vote of confidence. :D
  6. Mundungu grumpier than ever

    How many people does WOTC have in R&D ...
    20 .. less ... more, I dont know.
    How many players worldwide ... 5 million ?

    How many cards are they working on for each set ?
    I dont know but maybe around 200 or 300 for a 143 card expansion.
    How many cards do we get to see... 143 for the small sets ..

    How long do they work on a new set.
    Probably 4 month.
    How long does a set stays in the environment ? 1 year for block, 2 years for T2 ...

    So there you have MILLIONS of players, to break a small amount of cards, over a longer period of time ....

    I think R&D makes a pretty good job at the moment.
    I hate banning, but yes some cards can be abused and I am for restriction instead of banning.

    But R&D cannot possibly be as good as THE REST of the community in a lesser time ...

    BTW, if all the cards wher 100% proof, they would probably be boring. See Starter anyone ?

    I agree banning isnt nice, but it is good for the sake of the game. And definitly not everything can be blamed onto R&D, who BTW is making a good work at the moment.

  7. Gryphonclaw New Member

    Slow down the speed of set release to allow more time to playtest.
  8. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Seeker: I also voted (I think) to slow down the sets and in fact of the opinion that they should do away with stand-alones altogether and just make expansions for the "basic" set like it was before Ice Age. Even then I would still advocate Restriction for Banning because (I reiterate) no one's infallible and it's a simple check and balance thing when something gets through. Sure it'd be nice if nothing's on it but it'd be good if it's there.
  9. Seeker of Truth New Member

    Spiderman and Mundungu:

    Well, you both have good points, and it's true that there is no guarantee that R&D will put out a set that's free from abusable cards. In fact, it is the nature of the game to find cards that can be abused and, well, abuse them. Heck, what is the deck-building contest being run right now by the CPA but an attempt to find ways to abuse cards normally thought of as un-abusable? So, like you said, Mundungu, a set full of cards that cannot possibly be broken would be a set full of cards that no one would play.

    I guess, then, if banning is something we can't do without, I suppose I would say that if the DCI thinks something is overpowered, they should ban it. I don't think restriction is a good idea, at least not while Tutors are still legal in Type II, but if there is a card that is too powerful, it's important for the DCI to ban THAT CARD. For example, if Necro decks are too strong and no one is playing anything else but Necro or anti-Necro, BAN NECRO. Don't ban Hymn to Tourach or Dark Ritual or whatever, ban the card that's overpowered. Likewise for ProsBloom. BAN BLOOM. Don't ban Squandered Resources. If we could count on the DCI to make banning decisions like this instead of the commonly-held belief "ban everything until Necro is good again, then ban Necro," maybe overpowered cards won't dominate the Magic scene as much.
  10. Duel Has Less Posts Than Spiderman

    I'm proud of R&D recently. Lin Sivvi wasn't broken, it's just too many good cards were rebels, so they took away the top one. They let it out because it wasn't broken. In fact, with the exception of the donate/ illuions deck, I haven't seen a broken card since Recurring nightmare. One card in three sets? that's pretty damn good. They're doing a good job, true, the could do better, but would YOU have thought of the ways to break cards that have been found? Would YOU have seen illusions of grandeur, or Trix? I wouldn't have.
  11. Apollo Bird Boy


    Exactly. That's what I meant when I said I often disagreed with what cards were banned. If a card does slip through the cracks, they have to nail the problem at the source: that card. Don't dance around banning little, balanced (more or less) cards like Ritual and Mana Vault. Ban Necro. The same holds true any time a broken card is out.

    And I don't favor restriction before banning. If they restrict the card, one of two things will happen:

    1) The card will remain broken because of Tutors or whatnot. The problem isn't solved.

    2) The card becomes useless because of the restriction. In this case it's like you wasted your money anyway. In this case, it might as well be banned because you can't use it.

    Can anyone name a card that was unbalanced, but suddenly became balanced and playable once it was restricted?

  12. Seeker of Truth New Member


    Well, some would say that the Moxes went from ridiculously broken to only broken when they were restricted... ;)

    You're right, though. As long as Tutors are legal in Type II, there's no point in restricting a card, as it can still be found. Introducing restriction back into Type II would only mean a proliferation of Vampiric Tutors and the like, and the problem would remain.
  13. TomB Administrative Assistant

    OK, Apollo, here it is:

    Demonic Tutor
    Wheel of Fortune
    Sol Ring
    Black Vise
    Time Walk
    Candelabra of Tawnos
    Mishra's Workshop
    Underworld Dreams
    Ivory Tower
    Zuran Orb

    I don't think any of these cards has been considered "Broken" in Type 1 play for years now (and the last 6 have been unrestricted fairly recently). And they've had full access to all the tutors since Mirage.

    Can you honestly tell me no one would play with Time Spiral in their deck if it was Restricted? Would it truly be useless if you could only play with 1?

    Or are you saying the Academy deck would be reborn somehow, if those 2 cards were only Restricted? Do you really see someone tutoring first for 1, then the other? How many turns do you think it might take to make that happen?

    And just how well would it work?

    If the problem is the search cards, then restrict them too. Then, I'd say, if someone could manage to pull off their combo, more power to 'em!

    I wouldn't worry too much about it though.

    The way I see it, most of the time they'd end up Stomped flat, 'Geddoned or Tided into submission, or simply disrupted by a common Counterspell or Disenchant varient, long before they managed to "Go Off".

    You guys are right about one thing. They DO tend to ban the wrong card more often than not. The net effect seems to be a neutering of the real problem card, which is good, but, like with Dark Ritual, they end up wrecking other, non-broken decks too. That's another reason why they shouldn't "might as well ban it".

    I don't understand your point when you say that R&D can't possibly be as good as the playing community at breaking cards. Developing and testing cards is what they do for a living! And I'd imagine they also have an idea about what's going to be released in the future too! How can they not see things that a player like Zvi can catch EVEN BEFORE A SET IS RELEASED!

    I've never understood that... :confused:

    Do they need more playtesters?

    Do they need better playtesters?

    What exactly WILL it take to stop the madness?

    I've an idea. Why doesn't WotC offer the World Champion player every year a job? Make that job's sole responsibility to play with, and break, every possible future card release. Do that for a few years, and maybe, just maybe, they'll get a real handle on the problem.

    What do you think?
  14. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Regarding the issue of whether restriction will do any good: I heartily disagree with Apollo and perhaps Seeker and agree with TomB. Restricting still makes the card playable and tones down the brokenness of the deck, not necessarily the card itself in all cases. In other words, the deck is still viable and can win, it just takes longer so it's not an "auto-win". I don't think the Tutors keep the deck broken either; a turn (at least) is still lost in retrieving the card and it still cuts down the chances of getting it (4 Tutors and 1 card vs. 4 Tutors and 4 cards).

    On the issue of banning the wrong card: I will disagree with ALL of you guys just because:

    Bringing it back to the topic above, if there were a restriction list I think the whole mentality of WOTC would change since they could just restrict the problem card. Instead, since they just have a banned list, the have to go further and look at the make-up of the deck and in the case of Dark Ritual, since there are replacements (less efficient ones), I could see why they chose to ban it instead of the problem cards that nevertheless don't really have a replacement (well, Necro does I guess in Bargain but not so much as Donate and Delusions). They still want the deck type viable.

    On the playtester issue: I wonder about that too, if they have the same pool or they get new ones or what. If it is static, perhaps that needs to change. But in general I think they're doing a pretty good job, as evidenced how cards were originally designed and how they evolved in the occasional "Behind the Scenes" with Rosewater.
  15. Apollo Bird Boy

    Damn. I had a big, long response written up to this. Now it's gone. Sigh


    Some of your list is still broken, and the reason that many people don't like type 1.

    In the "Restriction didn't stop them" category:

    Demonic Tutor
    Time Walk
    The mana artifacts (including Sol Ring)

    In the "Restriction neutered them" category:

    Wheel of Fortune
    Black Vise

    The top list are all cards that are considered necessary to compete in type 1. The others are never played in a deck that will win games in a tournament. They may make an impact on the pocket book, but not really on the metagame.

    Those two categories cover everything except the last six, which were recently unrestricted. They were never broken in the first place, and they're another example of cards that were hit and never should've.

    As for Time Spiral, you're right in one regard: the Tutors aren't enough to revive the deck. So we both agree that you couldn't make a deck around it. Well, there's no deck it would go well in either right now. So I am truly saying it wouldn't be played if it was restricted.

    Many people prefer type 1.5 instead of type 1 because you don't need all of the restricted cards to play. I think that this is a sign that certain restricted cards are still unbalanced. Of course, I believe in only restricting cards in type 1, because your cards should still be of some use to you in some format. But I don't believe in doing it in other formats because it doesn't work. Ciao.

  16. TomB Administrative Assistant


    That's a fairly far-reaching statement. Balance, since restriction, never even appearing in a winning tournament deck? Berserk, Regrowth, Wheel of Fortune, or Fork either?

    It's been a long, long time since I played in a Type 1 tourney (more on that in a minute) but from what I remember, at least 1 of the above mentioned cards appeared in every single Type 1 deck I've ever seen! Especially the winning ones!

    I'll grant you that Black Vice was never heard from again after it's Restriction, but the rest are still integral parts of Type 1.

    Or, at least, they would be, if anyone still held Type 1 tournaments. I don't know how things are in your neck of the woods, but around here the only time you get to pull your T1 deck out is in a casual game with an old-timer like myself. And the main reason for that, IMHO, is that WotC hasn't supported Type 1 for a long, long time. It's not so much the P9, though that IS part of it. It's the fact that there hasn't been a Type 1 Pro Tour/PTQ event, like, ever, from what I remember.

    Correct me if I'm wrong about that. Us old-timers have bad memories. ;)

    I think we can agree to disagree as far as the "Restriction didn't stop them" category is concerned. I don't think they're Broken cards, you do, and that's okay. I can respect your opinion there. I do wonder, though, what everyone else thinks about it.

  17. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Apollo: Got bitten by the "reply window doesn't save text" bug? ;)

    I have to agree with TomB in that data supporting your conclusion about the Restriction list and cards making it in tournaments would be highly useful. Aside from Black Vise (which might be able to be unrestricted since it was really harmful in the Control deck age during Ice Age) I think all of the other cards are extremely useful to have in a deck, even if only one. And I question even your "Restriction didn't stop them" list because I think there's always a growing list of answers as sets come out. Discard and Counterspells are the most obvious (I know that's only two colors but if it's Type 1 I think it more likely you'll be playing a "Rainbow" type deck than monocolor).

    Anyway, I think the point is that with different formats, certain cards will be more overpowered than others and I think a Restriction list in all formats will be better than the absolute BAN or NOT BAN.
  18. Apollo Bird Boy

    Well, nobody ever does play type 1, so I'm going by two things. The first is from the Duelist Invitational. And with the fifteen competitors there, no one used those cards (I believe). The other thing is some type 1 tournaments that a nearby store holds. I've attended quite a few and never seen those cards. It could be that they are used some places, but I haven't seen them.

    But, since all of those cards are restricted anyway, I'll take a look at what would happen if the extended banned list was just restricted.

    Amulet of Quoz-N/A
    Dream Halls-I don't think this would be used unless somebody found a way to get it out consistently enough to make TurboZvi viable again. If they did, then it would still be broken.
    Earthcraft-Somebody could use Tutors to make another broken infinite deck, but I don't think so. I think it'd be another useless card.
    Lotus Petal-I don't think anyone would use it. I actually don't think this needs to be banned anyway.
    Memory Jar-The combo wouldn't work, so it would be another neutered card.
    Mind Over Matter-Another combo card that wouldn't work, it wouldn't be played.
    Time Spiral-With High Tide dead, I don't think anyone would play this.
    Timmerian Fiends-What is this? Another ante card?
    Tolarian Academy-People would use Crop Rotation and various tutors to get it into play. I think it would still be broken.
    Windfall-Might see play in some deck, but it would still be a huge swing any time it was played.
    Yawgmoth's Bargain-With Rector and Tutor nonsense, it would still be broken.
    Yawgmoth's Will-I actually think this one would work if restricted. It could go in Necro decks.
    Zuran Orb-I don't think this needs to be banned or restricted. It would stop Pandeburst pretty well, and maybe slow down the environment some.

    So all of these except the Will would either still be overpowered or would be useless. Restriction wouldn't do any good.

  19. TomB Administrative Assistant

    I agree with many of your individual card assessments. Dream Halls, Earthcraft, MOM, and Memory Jar were gimmicky cards in the first place, which I doubt anyone even seriously considered for constructed play until they showed up in their respective combo decks. I agree that none of them would see play if they were restricted.

    I also think you're on target with Lotus Petal and Yawgmoth's Will. And I'm not sure about Zuran Orb, myself. I think restricted it would be fine, but I think you could kiss the "Sligh" archtype, and it's varients, goodbye once and for all if people could play with 4 of them.

    I have to disagree with you on a few of your assessments though. I think the Academy would be a very strong card, no mistake, but Broken? In an environment with Wasteland, Dust Bowl, and Port? Not to mention all the LD decks out there, and the Armageddon varients? I don't see it as Broken, especially with the extreme methods you described for digging it out in the first place.

    Oh, and at this point I'd like to say that if it was done, and those cards were added to the restricted list, we'd need to add another card to the list as well. Restrict Stroke of Genius, and your worries about a Broken environment should be relieved. IMHO, that card was the real source of the brokenness of the Tide deck, and is another example of the way WotC sometimes has of banning the wrong card.

    Similarly, Windfall was only Broken while MOM was around. The ability to pitch the cards in hand in response to the spell's resolution to untap, tap, untap lands for insane amounts of mana, with no real penalty is what made it broke. Perhaps MOM would need to stay banned (as you said, it wouldn't really matter) just to keep the rather improbable series of events you described from happening.

    In my opinion, Windfall might see play in Replenish decks, and is it really any better than Attunement? Considering that it could (theoretically) benefit both players equally, it isn't an enchantment, and it isn't reusable?

    I don't think so.

    It might also see play in R/U burn decks, and so would Time Spiral. Do you think that might help resurrect R/U burn as a deck archtype? I think it might. I also think the Spiral would find work in all kinds of Blue decks. It's a better individual card than Timetwister, and I played against a lot of T1 decks packing that a few years ago.

    I think since they messed with Dark Ritual, Bargain isn't as much of a bargain anymore. I think 1 added to a Necro deck wouldn't matter all that much, considering the relative speed at which Extended operates. And I don't think adding Dark Ritual to the Restricted list would change that very much either. The Rector IS another way to get it into play, but Necro does the same thing(effectively) as the Bargain, and you can pack 4 of those. Would it really matter?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the only card I haven't mentioned (besides the ante cards, of course) would be Mana Vault, but again, just like with Bargain/Necro, in an environment that allows 4 Grim Monoliths would 1 Mana Vault be unbalancing?

    Not as far as I'm concerned.:D
  20. Apollo Bird Boy

    It happened again. :(

    I forgot the Vault and Ritual in my last post (I was using an old list). I didn't feel those should have been banned anyway; they should have hit the Necro. But that's a different argument.

    Anyway, first the Orb. If you start saccing lands turn 4 to stay alive, you're going to lose. It helps, but not enough. I've played tons of games with my type 1 Sligh deck (my pet deck) against decks with 4 Orbs. It hurts to have the Orb out against you, but it usually just delays the inevitable. The decks it would help against are combo decks like Pandeburst and Trix which deal exactly twenty (or twenty-one) damage to you in one-shot effects. Sac just enough lands to stay alive and keep rolling.

    You might be right about the Ports and Dust Bowls stopping Academy, but in that case it would be useless again. Tinker is dead because of the banned Vault, so there really is no deck it would go in.

    Now that I think about it, Bargain probably wouldn't work so well without the Ritual. However, it also wouldn't work in a regular Necro without Ritual. It would still be a combo deck card. You put one copy in decks like Fecundity/Altar/Cluster or Cocoa Pebbles. You'll never use it unless you're playing blue. If you are, just sac a Rector and go get the Bargain, and you'll draw way too many cards for them to Counter. So even restricted, it's still a combo card and we don't need more of those.

    As for Windfall, it might help R/U decks, but it would help others more. With a fish deck, you could empty your hand quickly and fill it right back up. Replenish would use it, and so would Pandeburst. It would be incredible in either of those, but especially Pandeburst. Attunement causes you to lose cards, but Windfall gets you at least the same number you lose, maybe more. And since Pandeburst needs only 2 different cards in the graveyard, one Windfall discarding both would be game.


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