Those who want to compete in Magic: The Gathering tournaments that use the official rules will have to understand that the game is cyclical, in that cards will eventually be barred from use in certain formats. This has led to the creation of several formats which can only cards from certain sets, with the most popular tournaments only using the most recent cards.
The reason these formats exist is in order to encourage people to buy the new sets, which is necessary for keeping the game alive. These rules also encourage creativity when building a deck for competitive play, as it stops people from relying on specific cards from the older sets.
There have been instances when cards from Magic: The Gathering were banned from play due to the fact that their effects were too powerful or that they could be used in combinations with other cards in ways that the designers of the game never expected.
This list isn't about the many Magic: The Gathering cards that have been banned over the years, as there are plenty of other cards that deserved a place on the ban list, yet they managed to avoid the scrutiny of Wizards of the Coast and were allowed to wreak havoc on the competitive scene.
We are here today to look at the Magic: The Gathering cards that should have banned, from the monster that drew its power from different cards, to the vampiric duo that could trap the opponent in an endless cycle of bloodshed.
Here are the 15 Magic: The Gathering Cards So Powerful They Should Have Been Banned!
Tarmogoyf is an example of a Magic: The Gathering card that became so useful that it was commonly seen in every kind of deck imaginable.
The fact that Magic cards are usually restricted by being linked to one of the five colors didn't slow Tarmogoyf's rise to prominence, as players were willing to look for ways to pay that one necessary point of green mana in order to get this beast onto the field.
The reason why Tarmogoyf is so powerful is due to how almost every card that you or your opponent plays will work towards making it stronger. Tarmogoy's effect states that its power is equal to the number of card types in all of the graveyards and its toughness is the same score, which is then increased by one.
Tarmogoyf became such a threat due to how cheap it was to play and how quickly its stats improved.
A Tarmogoyf can become a major threat in only a few turns, simply by playing a variety of different cards. Tarmogoyf's presence on the field may also make your opponent think twice about playing certain cards, so as not to make it more powerful.
It doesn't take much creativity to find a place for Tarmogoyf in many decks, which is why many players grew to resent its prominence in the competitive scene.
14 Prosperity + Cadaverous Bloom + Drain Life
There have been many Magic: The Gathering players who have come up with combinations of cards that allow for powerful spells that can overwhelm the opponent in a single action. These tactics will inevitably lead to one (or all) of the cards in the combo being banned.
The pieces of the "Pros Bloom" combo managed to avoid being placed on the ban list, which may have something to do with how tricky it could be to get all of the necessary parts into place. Once the player had all of the cards they needed, they could win the match in a single move.
There are several variants to pulling off a Pros Bloom, but the most common involves combining Prosperity and Cadaverous Bloom to keep generating mana off of each other's effect.
All you needed to do then was wait until you have gathered enough black mana to cast a supercharged version of Drain Life, which you could use to rob all of your opponent's life points and win the match.
One of the best cards to use when running a Pros Bloom deck was Squandered Resources, as it allowed you to sacrifice lands in order to earn additional mana. Squandered Resources was eventually banned, due to how overpowered it was in its own right.
13 Enchanted Evening + Sphere Of Safety
One of the most annoying effects that you can use in any competitive card game is one where you force the other player to have to pay a cost in order to make their moves.
This is why Babus is so despised in the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, as he acts as the perfect defensive wall, due to players not wanting to pay any additional costs in order to prevent their Forwards from being frozen after dealing an attack.
There is one particularly annoying combo in Magic: The Gathering that creates a similar defensive barrier, but this one is a lot harder to overcome.
Sphere of Safety is an enchantment that prevents the opponent from attacking you or any planeswalkers on your side of the field unless the opponent can pay an amount of mana that is equal to the number of enchantments on the field.
The reason why Sphere of Safety became so feared is due to another enchantment, called Enchanted Evening, which transforms all permanents into enchantments.
This means that the opponent likely won't be able to pay the cost necessary in order to deal direct damage to you, as they may not be able to gather enough mana in a single turn in order to pay Sphere of Safety's effect.
12 Erhnam Djinn + Armageddon
There are some creatures in Magic: The Gathering that are far more powerful than their mana cost would suggest, but they offer the other player an advantage as a means of balancing the card's effect.
In the case of Erhnam Djinn, the positive effect that it gives the opponent's creatures the forestwalk ability, which makes them unblockable if you have a forest in play.
The fact that Erhnam Djinn is a green monster means that there is a good chance you will be playing several forests in your deck if you plan on using one, which means that the poor green genie will be making your opponent's life easier.
One of the most popular combos involving Erhnam Djinn required the use of the Armageddon spell, which destroyed all lands on the field.
This meant the player could pull out a powerful monster and have its drawback eliminated. This also meant that you would likely have a strong presence on the battlefield, while your opponent is forced to scramble for solutions and is trying to rebuild their supply of lands and mana.
This tactic might sound overly simple, but there was a time when the Erhnam Djinn and Armageddon combination was feared on the competitive scene, as it formed the backbone of Olle Rade's deck, which he used to rank in the top eight players in the 1996 Magic: The Gathering World Championships.
11 True-Name Nemesis
There are some Magic: The Gathering formats that allow for matches that involve more than two players. This adds a new level of suspense to the game, as alliances and vendettas can change with the flow of the battle.
True-Name Nemesis seems to be a card that was created with multiplayer matches in mind, yet it is still legal in some of the formats that allow cards from older sets (like Legacy and Vintage), despite its power.
When you summon True-Name Nemesis to the field, you choose a player. From that moment on, True-Name Nemesis is immune to everything that the opponent can throw at it.
True-Name Nemesis also cannot be blocked by any monsters used by the opponent, which turns the match into a race against time, in order to prevent True-Name Nemesis from chipping the opponent away.
True-Name Nemesis does have a weakness in the form of effects that don't target it, such as spells that clear the field.
This approach forced some players to think outside of the box and come up with specific counters to deal with True-Name Nemesis, which usually meant either finding a way to prevent it from coming to the field or using spells that didn't specify a target.
10 Sneak Attack
The creators of Magic: The Gathering have designed a lot of incredibly powerful monsters that are balanced by the high mana cost that is required to summon them.
There are also powerful creatures that can be summoned through prerequisites that are difficult to accomplish on the battlefield, with cards like Deep Depths allowing you to summon a 20/20 creature onto the field by paying mana in order to remove ice counters, which requires thirty points of mana that have to be paid over ten turns.
Sneak Attack is an incredibly powerful red card, as it lets the player to summon any creature from their hand into play and allows it to ignore summoning sickness, which means that it can attack the turn that it is summoned. The creature then returns to the player's hand at the end of the turn.
Sneak Attack went on to form the crux of several powerful decks, as it could be combined with some ridiculously powerful monsters that were normally limited by a high mana cost.
This meant that Sneak Attack could bring out cards like Worldspire Worm (which normally costs eleven points of mana to summon) which have amazing stats that can be used to carve off a chunk of the opponent's life points in a single action.
9 Natural Order
Sneak Attack might have been overpowered, but it was at least limited by the fact that the summoned creature only stayed on the field for a single turn. Natural Order managed to be far more powerful and it only had the additional cost of a single sacrifice.
In order to use Natural Order, the player needs to sacrifice a green creature that is on the field. You can then search your library for another green creature and play it onto the battlefield without any additional cost.
Natural Order allows you to take a Llanowar Elves card (a green creature that costs a single point of mana) and trade it for a Terastodon, which is an eight drop green creature with 9/9 stats that has the special ability to destroy three of the opponent's noncreature permanents and create a 3/3 elephant token for each one destroyed.
This is a move that can be pulled off at an early point during a match (due to the fact that there are several green creatures that can produce mana, with Llanowar Elves being one of them) and can give you an advantage that is almost impossible for your opponent to come back from.
The fact that there are so many powerful green creatures with a high cost means that there are lots of potential combos for Natural Order that will allow you to easily annihilate your foes during the early rounds of a match.
8 Snapcaster Mage
There is a mechanic in Magic: The Gathering called flashback, which allows cards to be played from the graveyard for an additional cost.
Snapcaster Mage caused a stir when it was first released, as many players saw it as being purposely overpowered in an attempt to drive up the cost of the card for the competitive scene.
The ability of Snapcaster Mage allows it to give the flashback ability all instant and sorcery cards in the graveyard, with the only additional cost being the actual mana cost of the card.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to work out how to abuse Snapcaster Mage in battle. Snapcaster Mage might be one of the best creatures to draw during the late stages of a match, as it will give you access to most of the powerful spells in your library and give you an incredibly wide range of options to use when dealing with the opponent.
The creators of Magic: The Gathering have admitted that Snapcaster Mage was a mistake. They realized at an early point that Snapcaster Mage was going to be too powerful a force on the competitive scene, yet they have never placed it on the ban list.
7 Lightning Bolt
The cards with the simplest effects can sometimes be the most powerful. This was certainly the case in Yu-Gi-Oh! where many cards like Pot of Greed and Monster Reborn had to be banned due to how incredible their ability was for a relatively small cost.
Lightning Bolt is one of the best Magic: The Gathering cards in relation to its cost.
It only takes a single red mana to deal three points of damage to a creature or player, which makes it ideal for clearing pesky threats on the field or as a vital component in a burn deck.
One of the earliest combos that could be performed with Lightning Bolt involved the use of Fork, which allowed you to duplicate a spell for the cost of two red mana.
This combination was devastating in the early days of Magic: The Gathering, as it allowed you to deal six direct points of damage to the opponent for a small cost. This combo was a vital part of many early red decks that specialized in destroying the opponent with direct damage without using any monsters.
Wizards of the Coast have created many weaker variants of Lightning Bolt over the years, which either deal less damage or cost more for the same effect, in order to make a more balanced version of the card.
6 Duskmantle Guildmage + Mindcrank
One of the ways in which you can lose a game of Magic: The Gathering is by being forced to draw more cards than you have remaining in your library, which also includes the mandatory draw at the start of your turn.
This mechanic resulted in the creation of "Mill" decks, which use cards that force you to draw and discard cards at an accelerated rate so that you are forced to empty your library and lose the game.
There is a combination of Magic cards that allow you to start off a chain of events that will deplete the opponent's life points and empty their deck in a single action.
In order to pull off this combination, you need both Duskmantle Guildmage and Mindcrank on the field and to pay the cost for both of Duskmantle Guildmage's abilities.
This means that you will force the opponent to discard the top two cards of their deck, which means that they will lose a single point of life, which will activate Mindcrank's ability and force the opponent to discard a card... which activates Duskmantle Guildmage's ability again.
The opponent will then lose when they run out of life points or their library is gone: whichever happens first.
5 Vampire Hexmage
There are many Magic: The Gathering cards that require the use of counters. These can be made of anything (though most players use pieces of paper or small plastic tokens) and they exist to represent a finite resource on the field, such as how many rounds a Saga card has been in play or the animal minions that are created by many green cards.
There is a creature known as the Vampire Hexmage that acts as the antithesis of all counter-using cards in the game, as it removes all counters from a single permanent when it enters the field.
The Vampire Hexmage is notable for the fact that it will instantly destroy any planeswalker card, as they require loyalty counters in order to function. Vampire Hexmage also had amazing synergy with the Dark Depths card, as you could remove all of the ice counters in order to summon a 20/20 creature for free, though this combo cannot be pulled off in the formats in which Dark Depths is banned.
These are just the most obvious uses of the card, as there are plenty of other popular cards that rely on counters that are just waiting to be punished by the Vampire Hexmage.
Vampire Hexmage has the ability to destroy or summon some of the best creatures in the game, all for the measly cost of two black mana.
4 Show And Tell
The mana cost that appears on almost every Magic: The Gathering card is meant to be an indication of a card's strength. The fact that you can only play a single land every turn means that you have to think carefully about how you build your deck, as the most powerful cards require a lot of mana to use.
This means that you need to have some weaker creatures and spells to help you survive for that long. Or, you could just use Show and Tell to bring the best cards in the game onto the field for the paltry cost of three mana.
Show and Tell allows both players to summon an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land to the field.
The fact that the other player also gets to summon something might seem like it would balance the effect of Show and Tell, but it doesn't, as Show and Tell is a blue card, and blue decks are known for their ability to force the enemy to discard cards from their hand.
It's pretty easy to make the opponent empty the last few cards in their hand or wait until they do it naturally, and then play Show and Tell in order to bring something nasty of your own to the battlefield.
3 Cursed Scroll
There are decks in Magic: The Gathering that specialize in defeating the opponent through dealing direct damage with spells, rather than using monsters to wear the opponent down with their own attacks. These are referred to as "Burn" decks and they commonly use red cards as their main source of damage.
Cursed Scroll used to be one of the best burn cards in the game, due to the fact that it could be repeatedly used over the course of the battle. Cards like Lightning Bolt were cheaper and more powerful, but they could only be used once before being sent to the graveyard, while Cursed Scroll could be used every turn.
When Cursed Scroll is activated, you have to name a card and let the opponent choose one from your hand. If they select the card you named, then you can deal two points of damage to the opponent or one of their creatures.
This meant that players would use up their hand until they only had a single card left and start playing their Cursed Scrolls, which meant that they were dealing a reliable source of damage each turn.
Players would base their entire decks around this tactic, as they could stall behind powerful walls and use their mana to activate multiple Cursed Scrolls each turn in order to defeat their opponent.
2 The Dual Lands
It's hard to argue that the "Dual Land" cards were created for any other reason than to force players to spend more money on Magic: The Gathering than they really should have. This is due to the fact that lands that produce two different kinds of mana are inarguably better than the regular kinds of land.
Dual Lands is the term that is used to refer to all lands that can produce two different kinds of mana, although they still only produce one point of mana per turn like regular lands.
This means that Dual Lands are incredibly useful in decks that use multiple colors of cards, to the point where there would be no point in using the regular lands.
The existence of Dual Lands during the early days of Magic: The Gathering meant that some players would pay incredible amounts of money in order to buy a full complement of the Dual Lands that worked in synergy with their deck.
There was no reason not to include Dual Lands over regular lands, as they had no drawback to their amazing effect. This meant that players were limited by their wallet when it came to creating a powerful deck, which is something that has haunted the competitive scene of Magic: The Gathering for a long time.
1 Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Blood
It's entirely possible to create an infinite combo in Magic: The Gathering. The usual ruling is that any infinite combo that doesn't result in the defeat of either player will mean that the match results in a draw.
These are often accomplished with the aid of the Platinum Angel card, as it has an effect that prevents either player from winning the game while it is on the field.
One of the most infamous infinite combos can easily allow the player to win a match. This combo requires you to play the Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Blood enchantments onto the field, which requires the use of ten points of black mana.
Exquisite Blood deals damage to the opponent that is equal to any life you gained in the same turn. Sanguine Blood allows you to gain life points that are equal to any damage the opponent takes in that turn.
If you can get both Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Blood onto the field and then deal a single point of damage to the enemy, then you have won the match.
You will gain a point of life (due to Sanguine Blood's effect) which will activate Exquisite Blood's effect and deal a point of damage to the enemy, which will active Sanguine Blood's effect, and so on.
The fact that you need to assemble ten points of mana, two specific cards, and a guaranteed method of dealing damage the opponent means that this combo can be tricky to pull off, but once you do, then victory is all but assured.
Can you think of any other Magic: The Gathering cards that are so powerful they should be banned? Let us know in the comments!