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This week we will look into mono-red commander deck with Zada, Hedron Grinder as the commander. But first, let's delve into the first PoroFest weekend of 2020, which took place last weekend at Poromagia.

All the events including Commander Sunday had a very nice amount of participants and commander games lasted until evening on Sunday. The next weekend will be action-packed as Commander Weekend on Friday and Saturday takes over the tables of Poromagia. There will be a raffle for Theros Beyond Death Premium Promo Packs on each hour (starting from 15:00 PM on Friday and 12:00 PM on Saturday), a kilo-box-buffet and some tournament action as well. If you are into Commander, pack your decks and hit the Opastinsilta 8!

This week Poroskooppi will look into the commander ban-list and see why some cards are banned. In this article, we will also check if there are some cards that could be unbanned in the format. Wizards of The Coast also announced a ban & restricted announcement taking place on the 9th of March. We will see which cards will get hit by the ban hammer this time. There will obviously be another spicy decklist for the Deck Check portion. Poroskooppi is gathering ideas for forthcoming articles, so if you visit our shop head upstairs to leave your idea on a paper for our Poroskooppi and you will also take part in a raffle for a gift card! The raffle will be held at the end of March and all the tickets left will take part in the raffle. 

On Commander ban-list, there are many different kinds of cards. The whole MTG ban-list for all formats can be found here. The main idea behind banning cards in the commander is to create a nice gaming experience for all the players. The cards banned are usually either way too powerful or they create uncomfortable gaming experiences for the players. There are also cards on the list that are very expensive whilst being also powerful. The high price and low supply is also a factor when considering the banworthy of a card. 

We will begin by roughly sorting the banned cards into five different categories. This isn't an absolute way to see the cards and many cards could fulfill the requirements for one or two more categories but this way we can easily point out at least one reason for each banned card to be banned. 

The original cycle of Moxen and Black Lotus are one of the most powerful cards ever printed but also among the most expensive MTG cards.

1. Cards that are too powerful

Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Library of Alexandria
Recurring Nightmare
Time Vault
Time Walk
Tolarian Academy


Mox Pearl
Mox Sapphire
Mox Jet
Mox Ruby
Mox Emerald


Cards that solely have too high power levels can be found in this category. This includes the original, zero mana cost mox-cards as well as the one and only, Black Lotus. As with these cards, the price and supply are also factors for these cards to be banned. Other cards to fulfill this level of overpowering are Tolarian Academy, which can produce ridiculous amounts of mana in the very early turns of the game. Even though the Gaea's Cradle is legal in commander, Tolarian Academy can power up super powerful high mana cost blue spells on the very early turns of the game and there are also more zero mana cost artifacts in the format than there are zero mana creatures. The cards that take advantage of life points as a resource, such as Griselbrand and Channel fall into this category since the starting life total of 40 offers a huge resource. The old, very powerful spells such as Ancestral Recall and Time Walk are also banned because of the over the top power level. 

Ancestral Recall and Time Walk have such a low mana cost with a very powerful effect that they are allowed only in Vintage.

2. Cards that create uncomfortable gaming experiences

Coalition Victory
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Limited Resources
Panoptic Mirror
Paradox Engine
Prophet of Kruphix
Sundering Titan
Sway of the Stars
Sylvan Primordial
Trade Secrets


This category contains most of the commander ban-list cards. Basically all the cards that restart the game or restrict the game very strongly fall into this category of cards. Large board wipes or spells, that basically restart the game such as Worldfire and Sway of the Stars. Despite the close to similar effect, some spells like Decree of Annihilation or Obliterate are still legal but they do not affect the players' life total. Also, cards that lead to very long turns, multiple extra turns or otherwise lengthen the game or make it impossible for other players to play fulfill the requirements to be in this group of cards. In addition to these, creatures with abusable "enter's the battlefield" abilities are included.

3. Dexterity cards

Chaos Orb
Falling Star


This one is pretty clear as there are only two cards in this category. Both of them create weird situations and require players to play their cards split very wide and as you might imagine that is not something you want to do in a multiplayer game. So these cards remain banned and I guess no one has anything against it!

4. Creatures that are too powerful as commanders

Braids, Cabal Minion
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary


These three Legendary Creatures might be ok in the 99 but have too powerful abilities to be played as commanders. 

5. Cards, that might be worth to unban?

Gifts Ungiven
Primeval Titan


As a Magic player, I consider these cards might be worthy to unban - at least try how they work out. It might be that they are too powerful and if that is the case, it is good to keep them banned.

As you can see from the categories, most of the cards in the ban-list are cards that only create not so nice play patterns and make the game uncomfortable. The category 2 cards are very reliant on the power level of the decks the players are playing. Some of them are way too clunky for cEDH (for power levels, check the previous article from here but in casual EDH, they are very much ok to be banned. For example, Worldfire and Sway of the Stars are way too mana intensive for competitive play and if they were ever unbanned, they would probably see no play in the cEDH.The Upheaval could see play in cEDH and I would actually like to see some crazy High Tide variants of it in the more competitive tables. Unfortunately, it would also create unpleasant game experiments in the not so competitive games and that in mind, it should stay banned.

In commander, there is no separate ban-list for creatures that are allowed in the deck but not as commanders. For this reason, Rofellos, Leovold, and Braids are banned. Even though they are really powerful cards, I don't really think they were too powerful in the 99. As commanders, they definitely can be built so that they create too powerful or too hard to deal with game situations. 

The most interesting cards are the ones that I would consider worth trying in commander. These cards are strong, but they might not affect the game in a negative way or even offer anything that the game didn't already have.

Let's begin with Gifts Ungiven. The card is arguably very strong but Intuition is already legal in the format. In more competitive tables the card could easily be unbanned. In a casual environment, the card would also see play but I doubt it would not be that much more powerful than other cards. The biggest reason not to unban Gifts is probably the reason that searching for four cards can take a very long time and create the obviously not so enjoyable gaming experiences thus being a good reason to stay banned.

The other card in the list is Primeval Titan. Prime Time has every now and then dominated Modern and is probably one of the most powerful green creatures there is. The etb ability guarantees any two lands for the player casting it but is that and the lands from attack trigger too powerful in EDH? It might support the green ramp decks pretty much but otherwise, the stats of 6/6 Trample creature are not unbearably strong. It also could push some land decks not so common in EDH. In the competitive scene, it might not make the cut to decks but it is possible it could be too much for the casual environment, especially if combined with the multi-format banned Field of The Dead. 

One card that would be very interesting in EDH is Tinker but as long as Blightsteel Colossus and Bolas's Citadel are legal in the format, the card probably has to stay unbanned. Unfortunately, as the card could power interesting game lines. 

On turn 1 or 2, Sol Ring and Mana Crypt will provide a huge advantage for their controller. They are usually discussed when bans for Commander are considered. At the moment it seems that they are going to stay in the format.

A popular topic in Commander bans and unbans is the fast mana. 0 to 1 mana cost mana artifacts are very powerful in the early game but also capable of creating one-sided games. The multiplayer element of the game should even up things compared to 1 vs. 1 gaming. But straight forward banning one mana rock would lead to a question for other cheap mana producing artifacts and the snowball effect might be too much for the people willing to play fast mana and cards that cannot be played in other formats, if we count out the vintage. The best solution for this is probably matching your decks with the group you are gaming with.  

Zada, Hedron Grinder will transform all the cheap card drawing, targeting spells into massive card advantage.

In Deck Check, we have a mono-red commander deck built around Zada, Hedron Grinder. The main plan for this deck is to go wide with creatures, play the commander and then use lots of 1-2 mana cantrip cards that target Zada. Zada's ability copies the spells and you will gain a massive card advantage drawing amount of cards equal to the number of creatures you control. The main wincon is to just attack with a lot of creatures or secondary you can copy Twinflame with Dualcaster Mage and then target the original Dualcaster Mage with the copy, thus making a chain of infinite 2/2 creatures that can attack the same turn. 

Copying Twinflame with Dualcaster Mage will allow the player to repeat this action an almost infinite number of times thus creating a huge army of 2/2 creatures that can attack the same turn.

The deck is owned by Onni Koivula and it is also very pimped with lots of neat foils in it. In the very style of mono-red, the deck also includes the greedy mana base hosing enchantment Blood Moon. Other cards are mainly fast mana in the form of instant ritual spells and artifacts. There are also tons of goblins to deal damage to your opponents. Supportive cards are also included in the form of Planeswalkers, such as Karn, the Great Creator which will shut down the opponent's mana artifacts. Underworld Breach, the current champion of "most broken cards printed lately" category has also found its way to this deck. 

Treasonous Ogre and Dockside Extortionist provide mana advantage.

Zada is a very interesting commander. Transforming your cantrips to easy "draw 3" spells is super powerful. If you are up to building a mono-red commander deck, Zada could be a good option. This deck has been built to fit the needs for cEDH and no doubt it will do well in those circumstances. I believe that the deck can also be built for a more budget version as well, as the shell with red cantrip cards isn't super expensive. 

Deck: Onni Koivula
Budget: 3/5

 Commander (1) Land (27)
1Zada, Hedron Grinder1Mishra's Factory
 Artifact (14)1Myriad Landscape
1Conqueror's Flail1Geier Reach Sanitarium
1Aetherflux Reservoir1Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1Cloudstone Curio1Inkmoth Nexus
1Springleaf Drum15Mountain
1Mana Crypt1Mutavault
1Sol Ring1Kher Keep
1Lotus Petal1Forgotten Cave
1Skullclamp1Ancient Tomb
1Chrome Mox1Fabled Passage
1Ruby Medallion1Dwarven Mine
1Lotus Bloom1Castle Embereth
1Mana Vault Instant (11)
1Mox Opal1Abrade
1Arcane Signet1Chaos Warp
 Planeswalker (3)1Battle Hymn
1Koth of the Hammer1Pyretic Ritual
1Karn, the Great Creator1Crimson Wisps
1Chandra, Acolyte of Flame1Stun
 Enchantment (3)1Seething Song
1Blood Moon1Brightstone Ritual
1Mana Echoes1Accelerate
1Underworld Breach1Expedite
 Creature (23)1Desperate Ritual
1Simian Spirit Guide Sorcery (17)
1Magus of the Moon1Kari Zev's Expertise
1Dualcaster Mage1Cathartic Reunion
1Mogg War Marshal1Renegade Tactics
1Goblin Dark-Dwellers1Spark of Creativity
1Goblin Warchief1Gamble
1Treasonous Ogre1Hordeling Outburst
1Young Pyromancer1Twinflame
1Imperial Recruiter1Empty the Warrens
1Krenko, Mob Boss1Vandalblast
1Priest of Urabrask1Krenko's Command
1Plague Myr1Past in Flames
1Iron Myr1Dragon Fodder
1Skirk Prospector1Heat Shimmer
1Goblin Matron1Rite of Flame
1Crimson Kobolds1Inner Fire
1Crookshank Kobolds1Fiery Gambit
1Kobolds of Kher Keep1Finale of Promise
1Siege-Gang Commander  
1Legion Warboss  
1Runaway Steam-Kin  
1Dreadhorde Arcanist  
1Dockside Extortionist  
1Purphoros, God of the Forge  



Poro Tour Season #2 is underway and this time the format has switched from Modern to Pioneer. Seppo took down the first Wednesday Modern with his take of the Druid Company combo deck, claiming the first poro point of the fresh season. You can find the full Poro Tour 2020 Poro Point Standings, including the Poro Tour Trio team competition from here

Weekly MTG events for season #2 (2.3. - 8.5.2020): 

  • Wednesday @ 17:00 - Modern
  • Thursday @ 17:00 - Modern
  • Friday @ 17:00 - FNM Pioneer 
  • Friday @ 17:30 - FNM Booster Draft

This weekend we are celebrating a Commander-weekend at Poromagia. During Friday 6th and Saturday 7th of March cards from every Un-set are playable in Commander decks! We are also having a raffle (as mentioned at the start of this article) for a Theros Premium Promo Pack every hour. The raffles start at 15:00 on Friday and 12:00 on Saturday. You can also try out the brand new Unsanctioned product, which was released just one week ago. We are also hosting a mini-tournament for Unsanctioned. Let's have a lot of fun and a great Magic weekend together!

Super hyped Mystery Boosters are also on their way since the release looms just a bit over one week away (Friday 13th of March). We are also hosting Mystery Booster drafts on both Friday 13th and Saturday 14th. See you then!

Pekka "Löhis" Löhönen