Horror new artifact MTG card banned before release

Wizards of the Coast teased it might happen, but now it's dropped its ax, banned magic cards Cranial Ram was already in Pauper status before release.

This Modern Horizons 3 card is a piece of equipment whose owner becomes stronger with each artifact you possess. Even before the preview, designer Gavin Verhey joked that it might need to be banned because it has the same qualities as other previously problematic common cards that have appeared on Pauper MTG's banned list.

Verhey, spokesperson for the Poor Format Group (PFP), explained in a June 6, 2024 article why Cranial Ram must be removed from shelves before Modern Horizons 3 is released on June 14.

MTG stuck skull ram

The main reason is that this card is very similar to Skull Plating and Glitter, two banned cards that also buff creatures based on artifacts on the field. When playing artifact lands and treasures, it's easy to lose control.

“These cards are powerful. But most importantly, their game mode is not very enjoyable,” Verhey wrote. He explains that when you're facing them early on, you're likely to lose quickly if you can't remove your opponent's evasive creatures, and in the later stages of the game when your enemy suddenly applies huge damage to something unblockable. While buffing, you can still lose the game for no apparent reason.

Gavin points out that the Skull Ram also has drawbacks – such as casting cost restrictions and less efficient equipment costs. But there are benefits, especially the Magic keyword “living germ,” which provides a direct body to manipulate the ram. Overall, Verhey said, “The power levels of this card are very similar to plating.”

MTG card skull plating

In the article, the designers are at pains to emphasize that pre-blocked cards are not the new norm for Pauper or any other MTG format. He expressed disgust at the idea, stating that “cards usually have to prove they are too powerful” and that this was a “very rare and special exception”.

In some ways, Magic's release schedule seems to have sealed Skullram's fate. Paupergeddon, Europe's major pauper tournament, will be held in Pisa, Italy on June 21, just six days before the release of Modern Horizons 3.

Verhey noted that it would be comical to release this card, have it completely skew a tournament, and then ban it the next week, invalidating all winning decklists.

For more Magic content, check out our guide to the best Magic Arena decks or our cEDH tier list.

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