Predictions For The Big Bans And Unbans Coming To Pioneer & Modern Tomorrow

Genoslugcs December 3, 2023 6 min
Predictions For The Big Bans And Unbans Coming To Pioneer & Modern Tomorrow

WOTC dropped some major news on us last week in their Banned and Restricted Conversation, covering everything related to the B&R list. Amongst the topics were the two-week ban window put in place this summer, the philosophy of how and why they make bans, and a heads up that some major bannings (and unbannings) were coming to Modern and Pioneer tomorrow. Let's dive into the news and predict what might change.

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Bans & Unbans Coming To Multiple Formats

In a recent Weekly MTG segment about the banned and restricted list, Dan Musser (competitive play-design team manager) and Andrew Brown (competitive play-design team leader) talked about all things B&R-related. Of course, the next B&R announcement (set for tomorrow) was a topic that came up. And they confirmed that Pioneer and Modern had cards being banned as well as possibly unbanned.

They didn't tell us which cards we were losing or gaining. However, they did dive pretty deep into where their heads are regarding the game. So we can make educated guesses about what might happen tomorrow. First, let's look at what they had to say about the formats in question.


Dan Musser described Pioneer as unique since it has no cards directly printed into (like Modern) and also doesn't rotate. He then said that Wizards had a nice rhythm with Pioneer bans when the format started but that since the COVID pandemic (and the lack of tabletop play that came with it), the format hadn't been maintained as much as they'd like.

When asked directly if changes were coming to the format tomorrow, he said,

"Yeah, so we've been monitoring a bunch of the new happenings with LCI, but we've been looking at it for quite some time, even before that. And you know, listening to the community... We want it to be fun. So, we're watching the last few regional championship events over the couple weekends since LCI has released.

And a lot's going on; A lot has changed. We were concerned the format was just, like, stuck a little bit. Wilds of Eldraine came out and had Sleight of Hand and we saw the Phoenix decks start coming back and rise from the ashes, if you will. So, that was pretty sweet. There was some movement going on there.

And clearly, with Lost Caverns, the discover decks are all over the place. Amalia has a cool little walker combo deck. So, a lot is happening. But again, we want this to be a fun, replayable format. Losing on turn three all the time when your opponent just casts one card?  Not that fun.

If you can never go over the top of your opponent or they always have the perfect sideboard card, for a lot of the mono-green decks, that's not that fun. So, yes, there's going to be changes to the format..."

The message is pretty straightforward, even if we don't know exactly which cards will be hit - They haven't done as much to maintain Pioneer as they'd like, they hope to change that in the future, and they do think there are problematic "unfun" things, that need to be dealt with. What that means, exactly, we don't know yet. However, I have a few guesses I'll get to in just a second.

Before I do, they also said that the B&R list was a "two-way street," and cards could also be unbanned. As the card pool gets larger and the format becomes more powerful, some cards banned years ago could be considered safe to add to the current Pioneer landscape. So, I'll make a few predictions for that as well.

Pioneer Ban Predictions

A few things come to mind when I hear them mention combo decks that win when your opponent casts a single card, the recent regional championship events, and LCI. First and foremost is Geological Appraiserimage. The card essentially combos with itself thanks to copies made by Glasspool Mimicimage, which you're almost guaranteed to discover into.


Will this be banned? I'm not sure. It's very new in the format. I could see them giving this one some time to shake out. However, considering they've locked themselves into a narrow window to do bans, I could also see them getting rid of this while they can if they foresee it being a problem in the future.


I could also see Karn getting the hammer. You can combine with Karn in several ways, with the mono-green version being the best. It's a hell of a combo (you can see it explained here) and isn't the definition of "fun to play against" for many people. There are a few other options, but if you ask me, one of these (Karn or Appraiser) will be the pick.

Pioneer Unban Predictions

Pioneer has a pretty small ban list. As of now, it's around 25 cards. And most of them are cards that need to stay banned. So, the "unban" candidates are pretty slim. If I had to pick one card, I would say Veil of Summerimage is the safest. Is it powerful? For sure! But it's an answer to problems, and I think that makes it safer than something like Smuggler's Copterimage that can fuel countless decks.



Modern is a beast all its own, and they talked a fair amount about it, saying in no uncertain terms that cards will be banned. To quote from the source video, they said this about the format:

"We've sorta been tracking Modern since the Pro Tour in Barcelona, Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings, through the whole regional champion/qualifier cycle. And at the time we last spoke to you guys about Modern, we were saying, 'Hey, we're going to keep an eye on these Lord of the Rings, um, the bowmasters, the One Ring, black/red evoke deck; at the time Tron was doing well... Rhinos and all that stuff...

Since then, we've seen not much has changed since that event. So, we gave it a little bit of time to see 'The black/red evoke deck won the Pro Tour and the format evolved," but really, more people just started playing the black/red evoke deck.

Cards like Fury subsidize on both ends with Not Dead After All and those card variants, Undying Evil, and then on the other end with cards like Up the Beanstalk, where no matter how you kinda cast it, you're getting immense value. And it's keeping a lot of one-mana creatures at bay, that with Bowmasters, as well.

So, it's pretty clear that something should be done. We want, again, as many decks as possible. We want as many cards to be an option for you as possible, and if we have all these cards that are saying "nope" to one toughness creatures... You can expect a lot of changes to Modern come Monday."

Modern Ban Predictions

These words scream that a Furyimage ban is coming; the market agrees. Shortly after this video, people started selling their copies of the card like wildfire, and many stores took it off their buy lists. And it's not hard to see why it would get banned. Paying mana for your spells is the scale that balances MTG - Potent effects cost more mana. And skimping on costs usually leads to problems.

That said, Furyimage and Griefimage can be cast by exiling a card from your hand instead of paying mana. The downside is that you don't get to keep the creature, and you're down a card. Still, given their ETB triggers' power, this is far from a bad deal, even on the straight and narrow.

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Then, as mentioned, with Not Dead After Allimage and Undying Maliceimage, they get really out of hand because you essentially get to keep the creature and get the ETB trigger twice for one mana. For example, you can evoke Grief on turn one and take your opponent's best card. Then cast Not Dead After All, get it back into play, strip another card from them, and have a 4/3 creature that sticks around. You can read about all the dirt you can do with Up the Beanstalkimage here - Understanding Modern Up The Beanstalk Decks - What Makes Them So Good

I think Fury will be banned. Grief (or Up the Beanstalk) is a logical second choice, with Grief being likelier. I'm 50/50 on Orcish Bowmastersimage. I would be surprised, but they did mention it by name when talking about one-toughness creatures no longer having a place in the format. So, we shall see.

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Speaking of LOTR cards, though, there is no way they ban The One Ringimage based on how they talked about it, essentially saying, "Hey, this could go in even more decks." And I'm sure they want to keep LOTR sales up with the holidays right around the corner.

Modern Unban Predictions

We recently got Preordainimage unbanned, and they voiced that, so far, they are happy with that result. That said, they said they would keep the gates open for unbanning cards in Modern, but it didn't sound like they had anything for tomorrow. If they do unban something, it'll be a surprise. They were, however, clear that Splinter Twin wasn't to be unbanned! Sorry, Splinter Twin lovers; you're outnumbered by people who find it "unfun."


There you have it, my friends, my two cents on tomorrow's B&R announcement. Of course, these are just guesses based on what I heard in the discussion video. Now, I want to hear from you. What do you think of my picks? And what do you think will be banned or unbanned, and why?


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