The Banned List: The Beginning of the Future
Today, it is time to push our format one step forward, to create further recognition, and to expand how the format is viewed. Today, we are introducing something yet to be brought to the format. For the first, we here at PDH Home Base are introducing the "Official PDH Banned List."
I can already picture a few of you reading this now, and thinking, "who do these guys think they are?" "How are they deciding what is or isn't banned?" Well, settle down folks, let us not get carried away. There is a lot of explaining to do, but bear with me, as I give you a walkthrough of this banned list.
The first question to answer is, "Why is there a need to create a banned list, if there isn't a pressing for any particular cards to be banned?" One of our large goals at PDH Home Base is to become one of the leading voices and faces of the format, as well as make moves to push the format further towards the mainstream. How do we do this? We need to create an image of legitimacy, by showing that PDH has the elements that make up a fun format. Options for game play, different tier decks, and showing what cards are banned from the format in question.
So with the above in mind, I can see many of you still asking, "well that's great, Kyle, but what cards are on this list? How did you just 'magically' decide to ban cards?" Well, here's the thing. I did, but I didn't. If that doesn't make sense, don't panic. It just means I need to show you exactly what I'm talking about.
We need to look at supplementary sets. Which sets? That's easy. Planechase, and Conspiracy. I am also referring to other expansions for these specialty sets. So what is the big deal? Well, it comes down to the rules text, referring to elements that don't belong to PDH. For example, drafting. Such a mechanic has no relevance to the format, and would be rather useless overall.
Another card type that needs to be acknowledged, are conspiracy cards. Now, I actually love these cards, and I am always happy to see them while drafting packs, or a cube. However, you cannot use these in EDH, nor PDH.
There is one primary point that I want to make with the cards that make up the PDH Official Banned List. We didn't choose these cards. These cards are irrelevant to our format. I accept that maybe, just maybe, we could flex the rules on Fractured Powerstone. Maybe your playgroup uses a Planechase deck (something I haven't tried with PDH yet). This could be up for discussion later, but for now, we feel like this is a satisfactory start point.
The final question that some of you may have must be, "Well, I see your point, Kyle. You guys have just added cards that we wouldn't use anyway, to start the foundation of a banned list. However, is it even worth mentioning these cards at all? It just seems like a waste to even discuss them."
This is a really great point. When we were first exploring the making of a banned list, we asked ourselves the same question. We weren't sure what to think, so we made a trip over to the official EDH banned list. These cards wouldn't apply there either, so how did they treat this matter? Sure enough, their banned list does clearly show that cards of this nature are banned. We felt that despite a feeling of redundancy, there was a need to clearly state that these cards are banned from the format. Take a look at the full list below. For a cleaner list, go to our "Rules" page, and see a printable copy of our list there.
With that matter concluded for the time being, it is now time to discuss this list further. Are there any cards that are worth discussing? If so, why, and what deems it was worth banning? Such a discussion is so hard to have, as so many different factors come into play. I don't truly have an answer, but I will paint a picture as to where I feel this is going.
There are several very strong cards in the format, but there are also important questions to ask. What is a broken card, and what is a format defining card? Why does this distinction matter? Formats are enjoyable for their own special reasons. They have special characteristics that draw players in.
PDH is a creature heavy format, where absolute juggernauts like Ulamog's Crusher have substantial weight. Is this a powerful creature when it comes out? Absolutely. Does it change the focus of the immediate threat on the board? Definitely. It is unstoppable? Absolutely not.
To be fair, this is a creature that rarely stays on the battlefield for any large period of time. It's a threat, and it is removed quickly. This is just a part of the format. Anybody can play it, and we all design our decks to remove it quickly. Any player can use this, so that just makes it a part of our game. I wouldn't consider this a ban worthy piece by any means.
With that said, does that imply we have a truly balanced meta at the moment? This is going to take a lot more time to observe, and know for sure if there are any holes that need to be plugged. In the early years of this format (started by individuals, unknown to me, that I have yet to meet), a watch list was made around several commanders. It was clear that there were indeed top tier commanders, but were they still fair?
At this point in time, none of us feel that any one commander is too strong for the format. Some are stronger than others, as is similar to EDH, but doesn't necessarily imply it is warping the game, or demonstrating an unfair advantage. The commanders seem to be fine, so what else can we observe?
This is when we need to think about color. Referring back to this watch list (you can find it via Ruffigan's Pauper EDH Primer), you can see that every single one of these commanders has blue in their color identity. All of the watch list creatures are awesome in their own right, so is this just a coincidence?
Here are 9 fantastic blue cards, all legal in PDH. The cards on their own are not the issue, but the combined value creates a great deal of advantage. Here is the question; are any of these cards worth banning? At the moment, I can't tell the answer to this question, and it will take quite some time to observe these cards.
What seems to be apparent is that blue is incredibly powerful, but is the solution to balance a ban of several cards? Can we not place the solution on how we build decks with other colors? In most cases, all decks need removal, and graveyard hate. That covers most of the above. To be more precise, we simply need more time to see what is creating an unfair advantage.
Over several years, we have work to do. It will take time to have enough games, collect enough deck techs, and test enough unique strategies, in order to truly spot the weaknesses in the format. Until then, it's essential to start somewhere, and begin to further build the legitimacy of the format. Maybe, there will never be a need to add a single card to the list. However, it serves one very special purpose until then. It adds rules, it adds structure, and it polishes the format up, ready to be presented to the mainstream. Pauper EDH needs more people, and although the community is growing each day, there is still so much room for growth left. As we grow, let us continue to brew!