The following changes outlined below are being made to Eternal Central’s recommended Banned and Restricted Lists for the Middle School format. All changes are going in to effect immediately as of this announcement (Monday, May 1, 2023), for all Eternal Central events moving forward.
Lion’s Eye Diamond is now unbanned in Middle School
In terms of categories that cards tend to fall in to when landing on a Magic format’s Banned or Restricted List, a recurring theme is fast or abusable mana. Cards that provide outsized returns in terms of mana investment to what they provide have often landed on a Banned or Restricted List if they proved format warping.
Lion’s Eye Diamond is a card that provides outsized mana return (3 mana of any color) for the investment (0 mana, and sacrificing your hand when tapping and sacrificing to activate). It proved too powerful for Vintage when especially combined with Burning Wish and/or Yawgmoth’s Will. It was a natural inclusion and mana engine when combined with the Storm mechanic. Along these same lines, it has been a powerful and useful card in Legacy since Legacy’s official creation in 2003, mostly finding a home in various Storm combo decks, along with decks like Dredge.
Middle School is a similarly positioned “deep pool” card format, home to many powerful cards from Magic’s history that aren’t even legal as 4-ofs in either Vintage or Legacy. So why would we ever think about unbanning Lion’s Eye Diamond in Middle School?
While the card pool is undoubtedly deep, it is also underexplored. In our very limited testing Lion’s Eye Diamond has shown potential, but is not necessarily any more powerful as a strategy lynchpin than existing heavy hitters like Necropotence, Land Tax, Standstill, Entomb, Survival of the Fittest, and so on.
Management of any format’s Banned and Restricted List is a duel between allowing more and more chances to play with our favorite cards, versus maintaining a healthy and holistic balance of the format, and preventing any card or strategy from becoming format warping. Most of the realistic shells for Lion’s Eye Diamond that we have seen (Storm Tendrils, Eggs Tendrils, Doomsday, Iggy Pop/Ill-Gotten Gains, Burning Wish-based decks like Tinker Devourer, or Turtle Splash) will get another tool to potentially incorporate, and this will potentially make them more powerful or viable, without pushing combo decks to be too dominant or format warping (as some other potential unrestrictions may have been).
As with the unrestriction of Tinker in Middle School three years ago, we will await any evidence that this unrestriction of Lion’s Eye Diamond would push these or other decks past the most powerful cards and strategies already existing in Middle School. Lion’s Eye Diamond can now be more fully tested and put through its paces by the full Middle School community at large, rather than just hubs of local playtest groups. And just like any other card(s), we will continue to monitor this format and changes closely, and if Lion’s Eye Diamond proves to be problematic to the holistic health of the format, doing more harm than good, it will quickly be addressed again in the future.
Go forth, and brew.