Banned and Restricted update 2015

People are really passionate about these things :)

I think that we have better data this time than any of the years before. We've had a couple of 40+ player tournaments along with a bunch of smaller ones in Sweden. We've also had a lot of tournaments outside of Scandinavia, some of them with different B&R-lists than the one recommended here, and we've gotten good info from players in other communities.

There are a couple of things important to consider regarding B&R updates. One is that everyone won't agree with everything. It's a nostalgic format, and as such players are passionate about being able to play their favorite decks to the greatest extent. There are players arguing for restrictions of cards like Moat, City in a Bottle, Lightning Bolt, Mishra's Factory, Transmute Artifact and Underworld Dreams, which of course would lead to a lot of disappointment in others. This can also been seen when discussing unrestrictions. A card like Fork might be fine in Erhrnam Burn'em or a BR trick deck, but it gets silly in a goodstuff deck and simply broken in a Fork Recursion deck. If you play burn, it can sometimes be hard to see the "splash damage" done by unrestricting it.

Another important thing is that this list is a recommendation. Local variations of the rules or legal cards are not uncommon, and not discouraged.

The meta during the last year have been healthy, and I would not say that it is dominated by a single, or even a few, strategies. Since the last update, the tournaments in Sweden with 8+ players have been won by UGR Tempo, Monoblue artifacts, WW, Atog Smash, Next level WW, The Deck, Lestree Zoo, Project M, Nether Void, UWB Skies, WW and The Deck, in that order. Monoblack, CandleFlare, Stasis, Erhnamgeddon, and a bunch of other strategies are also seen at the top tables.

Maybe we didn't have to make a change to the list this year. We still did though. These are a few of the cards that sparks debates, and how the arguments have gone.
Snap keep, though a couple of things about this hand don't seem to be "in the spirit of the format" ;)
Black Vise: Black Vise has a couple of issues. One is the "Oops, I win" effect of the card. If you start with a Vise on the play, it easily deals 6-7 damage even if your opponent curves out reasonably well. A start of e.g. land, mox, double Vise is silly, and would make cards like Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune even more insane. As many players have noted, there are very few cards that simply win you the game in 93/94 without having to commit a fair share of strategy, and if we can avoid non-interactive games, most players think we should. Another issue with Black Vise is the splash damage an unrestriction would do to other decks. I would most certainly play the full set in my green deck, and probably a couple more in my Tax Edge, and rebuild the decks around them. This would in part lead to more linear strategies among decks, but in particular, it would lead to even more artifact removal in decks to combat the Vises. More players having Shatters and Crumbles maindeck would in turn hurt many of the more fringe strategies, like monored Atog, Martyrs of Korlis decks or Parfait. In the end, it seems like it would narrow down the amount of viable decks rather than expand it. We have also seen that unrestricted Black Vise is not necessary for decks like Nether Void or Stasis to be viable. Lastly, a lot of players really dislike playing against the Vise, and that counts for something as well. Black Vise stays restricted.

Four versions of Aq Strip Mine.
Strip Mine: A few players like to argue that Strip Mine in 93/94 is pretty much the same as Wasteland in eternal formats. That is a big stretch though. You play around Wastland using fetches or basics. You don't play around Strip Mine, except maybe by using moxen. We really don't want people to be unable to cast their spells due to lack of jewellery. We've also seen Strip Mine is not necessary to build a functional Nether Void prison deck (as witnessed by Oldschool's win at the Mindstage convention). A solid alternative to Strip Mine, which has been seen a lot in the Nordic meta in the last year, is the inclusion of cards like Sinkhole, Stone Rain and Ice Storm as value spells. E.g. Munchausen's Lestree Zoo (which he played to a 7-0 record at Sehlskapsspelen in December) used the full playset of Ice Storms. There are alternatives to Strip Mine in both prison and aggro decks, the deckbuilding process just becomes a little more involved. Strip Mine stays restricted.

Mana Vault:
Not much to say here. Unrestricting the vault last year seems to have opened a number of new viable, but not dominant, archetypes. Decks like Atog, Monoblue Artifacts, and Nether Void have entered the stage in the wake of Mana Vaults unrestriction. Mana Vault stays unrestricted.

Mirror Universe: Mirror Universe is insanely powerful, but in most decks it has highly diminishing returns. It is usually bad to draw more than one Mirror in a game, and can't blow up in early game like e.g. Mindtwist or Balance. I'd probably play two in Project M, but most of the control decks in the format would stay on 0-1 copies of the card. On the other hand, it looks like it can make some crazy combo decks a little more viable. The Mirror combos very well with cards like Greed, Sylvan Library, Channel, and Book of Rass. And it is a very cool 2-card win with Lich. We'll see what will happen, and combo could use a boost in the format. Mirror Universe is unrestricted.
Unlimited mana ;)
Power Artifact: Power Artifact is a scary card. The interaction with Basalt Monolith was deemed so good that the Monolith received power level errata in 1994 to make the infinite mana combo impossible. As a blue card, it easily fits into a control-combo deck with Transmute Artifacts (to find both the Monolith and wincons like Rocket Launcher), alongside both power and counters to protect the pieces. On the other hand, it's a three-card Rube Goldberg machine combo, where the enchantment has very little effect on its own. It has not showed any great results as a one-off card in the Scandinavian 93/94 tournaments yet, though the combo is obviously much harder to assembly when you only have a single copy of the only non-transmutable part of the win. The Eternal Central B&R has the card unrestricted, and Danny Friedman played a goodstuff Power Artifact deck (without Transmutes) to the top4 of the Eternal Weekend Old School tournament in Philadelphia, so it's clear that the card has potential. Again though, it looks like a fun deck and it would be interesting to give a solid combo some more room in the format. Hopefully nothing will break, and if it does I guess we can always restrict it again in a year. Power Artifact is unrestricted.

"Oh, lovely! Especially the part about the grime of daily living."
Summer Magic: To recap the discussion on legal expansions, the sets originally included in 93/94 are the those that were distributed in 1993 or 1994 and were not easily available as sealed product in 1995. They are the under-printed sets that were already considered old school by a majority of players in 1995 (which is the main reason why we don't include Fallen Empires or Revised here). Another big reason is the aesthetic charm of the older and more rarely seen cards. Even though Revised was printed before Legends, most players from the nineties would agree that Legends feels more old school than the third edition of Gathering. In that same vein, Summer Magic is a set which was printed after Revised, but obviously wasn't easily available as sealed product in 1995. It was never easily available, and a great majority of players have never even seen a Summer card. After my post about the set a couple of weeks ago, a lot of players have commented that they want the Summer to be legal for play in 93/94. I seriously doubt that legalizing Summer would have an impact on the meta or deck building decisions as there exists so few copies of the cards. The set also pass the "pimp test" with flying colors. I guess that legalizing Summer Magic in 93/94 will lead to some random irritation from some players outside of Scandinavia who want to play with Revised, and think that legalizing this set is just silly. Well, it's a casual community, and I can assure that almost all of you wont notice the difference. Summer cards are few and far between, and players willing to actually put them in a deck are even rarer. For the small minority of players that both have access to the cards and really want to use them however, you are welcome :) Cards from the Summer Magic set are legal in 93/94.

The changes will take effect June 1st. Hope you like the updates, and happy brewing!


  1. Magnus, I m passionate :) and I think you're wrong on Black Vise. Lightning Bolt (ignoring that its colored) is a much better card. Not only can it hit creatures but it also always does 3, whereas Black Vise often does nothing. Against WW and many other decks Black Vise doesn't even do 2 damage in average. And this ratio does not improve with four of them.

    The reasons why Black Vise is a good card for this format is that it is only good (and possibly broken) if the deck is built around it. In particular, it asks for prison/land destruction/Nether Void strategies which in my opinion are way underrepresented in this format.

    Please test it out as a four of in your green deck and I am sure you will hate it more often then you love it. The fact that it is not played as a one of in every aggro deck should be reason enough, look at WW again it rather plays freakin 4 Tundra Wolves over Black Vise and the wolves are just plain terrible yet better cards than Vise.

    Black Vise is not uninteractive, you can very much adapt your strategy to reduce the damage (which you can't do in the case of bolt) nor does it support linear strategies.

    I also highly doubt that Fork Recursion would be a broken deck, actually I would love to see it. I really like cards that are not good enough to play as a singleton but which improve significantly when being able to play four (e.g. Gush) as you have to build the deck around it. If playing four forks would enable a new strategy, I would find that pretty awesome.

    Good to see Power Artifact, Mirror and Vault unrestricted!

  2. There are combos with black vise in comparisson to lightning bolt, wich can be really good
    I belive that black vise is a card with a lot of potential, and if we chose to unrestrict black vice it might change the current meta.
    Power artifact is definetly a card to count with as unrestricted.
    Mirror universe dont affect the format verry much i belive.
    It will be interesting to see what power artifact combos can do :)
    For the record. IF we can unrestrict power artifact, i'd say we could unrestrict black vise aswell. Strip mine on the other hand is a more difficult card to deal with. But i understand why it has been taken in the debate. Thx MG for a great post.
    Ps. i hope the black disenchant will come in handy for the next tournament :) I'd love to see some nice comments on the blank field.
    Best regards // GajoL

  3. Congratulations about this update:

    - it seems to let the door opened for much more combo decks thanks to the unrestriction of manavaults/power artifact

    - hope you'll keep stripmine/black vise restricted as those cards, if unrestricted, will see the raise of prison/nethervoid/manadenial decks way too powerful. Many decks that a waste majority of players don't like to play against: 93/94 is a format you want to have fun with, want to see pretty cards played (hence let people get the mana to cast them), so need some mana-restriction cards restricted themselves. Good job!

    - the authorization of summer cards: unfortunately it embodies a little bit the "elitist" aspect of the format (elitism many players assume, and so do I) but I see it as a bad signal thrown to every newcomer who would have felt interested. So few players get summer playable cards, how many of those collectors are interested in 93/94 and among them how many would play their summer cards? No need for an announcement I guess...
    The other point is that almost nobody knew these cards at that time as non-revised cards but any old player knew what was oldschool cards (arabian, legends, ABU...) so why consider them as oldschool?

    Keep on going with your blog, it's always a pleasure for me to read the articles and see the new pics

    Kind regards


  4. Great post, and I am really glad to see Power Artifact unrestricted. I have tested it in many different configurations, and have found that 1 is too few, but 3-4 is often too much. Power Artifact is obviously amazing with Basalt Monolith, but works very well with cards like Jayemdae Tome and Disrupting Scepter.

    Unfortunately, if Power Artifact is restricted, playing the only copy on a Jayemdae Tome means that it's controller must find a way to return it to his/her hand so that it can be replayed on Basalt Monolith for an infinite-mana win (Braingeyser, Fireball, Rocket Launcher). So, I see unrestriction of Power Artifact as a great development for Old School, as it likely won't make a major impact, but it definitely opens the format up to some interesting combo/control decks.

    After playing in a metagame with unrestricted Strip Mine for the last year, I completely agree with your decision to keep it restricted. I don't think that having four Strip Mine in the format is too broken (as some have stated), and I do like that it takes care of Library of Alexandria (which, in my opinion, is one of the most degenerate cards in the format, and almost always swings games out of reach for the player without it in play). Four Strip Mine does make tempo and aggro decks significantly better as well, especially when variants of "The Deck" are so dominant.

    That being said, it simply isn't enjoyable to play against. Old School MTG is largely about having fun, and four Strip Mine is not fun at all. It also forces fringe decks that rely big mana spells out of the metagame. Strip Mine is just too efficient. I have recovered many times after a Mind Twist for my whole hand on the first or second turn, or an Amnesia. I often never recover from a consecutive turn 1 and turn 2 opposing Strip Mines. I'd rather just concede the game and then play a real (interactive) game of Magic.

    I wouldn't unrestrict Library of Alexandria or Mind Twist, because aside from just how broken these spells are and how they would likely ruin the format, they aren't enjoyable cards to play against because they create game states that are often impossible to recover from. I feel the same way about consecutive turn 1 and turn 2 Strip Mine. But that is just my experience, if you test it in the future, you may have different findings.

    Great post as always!

    All the best,

  5. Thanks for the feedback :)
    @Heiner: I think that a big factor for the lack of Nether Void decks is that very few people owns Nether Voids. If the pricetag of a Void would be more like that of Underworld Dreams I'm sure we'd see more of them. I've actually only seen one in the tournaments I've attended in the last six months, but that one won the tournament on the other hand. Underworld Dreams had the role of the Black Vise in that deck.

    Total mana denial is pretty hard due to the lack of e.g. Pillage and Gorilla Shaman in the format. Most of the expensive decks can get around the denial by using moxen or fellwar stones. The most effective mana denial decks so far looks to be decks that disrupt the resources with 4-6 LD-cards backed up by quick threats rather than total denial. This can be seen in e.g. Munchausen's winning Lestree Zoo and Myfz's monoblack he took to the 2nd place at BSK (4 Sinkhole/Ice Storm + Strip Mine + Chaos Orb). Though we have seen some success with Armageddon Strategies as well, e.g. Kalle's Bantamgeddon at n00bcon Warmup and Elof's Durdlegeddon at Vasa Mysturnering (both lists can be seen in the DTB).

    ...Though of course I see the potential of Black Vise in a Mana Vortex deck. Wouldn't mind testing the list you had in Eudemonia ;)

    @GaJol: Thanks, interesting to hear your thoughs! The Black Disenchant will definitly be seen a lot in the future. Probably play it in my sideboard even if I don't play white in the deck just to show off ;)

    @Philippe: Thanks :) The actual impact on the deckbuilding process was deemend almost insignificant by allowing Summer, but a handful players really wanted to play with theirs, so I guess we just felt it was a fun gesture to let them use them. This has been the most polarizing change in this years announcement btw, but it seems like more players like it than dislike it. Almost none will notice the difference when playing in a tournament though, and it won't make building decks less invovled.

    @Danny: Thanks! The articles at Eternal Central and your American B&R lists have definitly been an inspiration this year. Completely agree with the last two sections of your post btw :)

  6. Hi! Whats the deal with the White bordered Strip Mine? some altered card or just a 4:ed? Great page btw! love the articles of specific cards and their history! /Preacher

    1. It's a real Aq, I used it in my old WW deck. I couldn't afford to get the deck blackbordered, so I decided to wb the entire deck instead. Went over my land taxes, Thunder Spirits and the other cards with acetone. Looked sweet and consistent :)


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