Why is Library of Alexandria Banned in EDH?

Commander Deck Help forum

Posted on March 6, 2019, 9:36 p.m. by Stardragon

Why is Library of Alexandria Banned in EDH? I looked at the card. tap for colorless mana. Plus tap to draw a card but only if you 7 cards in hand. I mean unless im missing something here it doesn't seems to broken only a okay card at best, certainty not good enough for a ban. IK that it's iconic and considered by some to be the the "10th power" card but that's overkill to the extreme. You can only draw the card if you are able to keep seven cards in your hand which without blue or black is hard, and if you have blue or black you access to much better draw cards and you lose the mana which seems like a waste. The only reason I see on the ban list is because its on the reserved list (which why is it on the list first place just because it old? Counterspell was from alpha which is older than Arabian Nights (though only by like 2 months true) and they were they same rarity but its not on the list, and it was considered too powerful as well.). And it's not like like it is a 1TW, 2TW or even a 3TW card, nor it it really a combocentric card. So again why is it banned?

Flooremoji says... #2

Why it is banned in EDH, I don't know. But I do think you underestimate it. Maybe watch some games where it shows up?

March 6, 2019 9:44 p.m.

Deadpoo111 says... #3

The ability to tap a land to draw a card is ridiculously powerful especially when you can play it for no mana cost.

March 6, 2019 9:47 p.m.

IAmTheWraith says... #4

It's banned because it's free card advantage that can be in every deck. If Library of Alexandria wan't banned, it would be in every deck, much like Sol Ring . While the mana acceleration of Sol Ring can be a lot, statistically players that play Sol Ring on turn 1 lose that game. Library is different. Library encourages interactive play, while not punishing you for doing nothing by letting you draw. Also, it can be comboed:

Blossom Dryad + Mind Over Matter + Library of Alexandria + cards in hand=infinite draw.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

March 6, 2019 10:05 p.m.

Stardragon says... #5

IAmTheWraith Okay it can be the comboed fine, but there are faster and better infinite draw combos without having the whole needing exactly seven cards in hand tacked on and none of those are banned. As for the mana acceleration what acceleration? It enters untapped and taps for one colorless. So does Archaeological Dig , Cascading Cataracts , Eldrazi Temple , Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai , and basic Wastes and with the exception of Archaeological Dig they have more utility tack to them. And I don't think it would be in every deck if it was unbanned that what everyone says about any banned card. I don't see Protean Hulk in every green deck even though he was unbanned and everyone said he would be. And a free card advantage in every deck really thats just wrong. I have at least 6 decks alone that wouldn't get the free draw unless it was in my opening hand and unless you stack or cheat it not possible to get in every opening hand. Plus not every deck will have it, and even your combo needed blue and green to make it work. What about a mono white deck or a abzan or jund deck they can't make that combo work. And as stated above unless you have blue or to a lesser extant black, drawing is limited (though every color has a some draw true) so keeping 7 cards in hand would unrealistic. And even though they have a price they are plenty of better draw cards, Pull from Tomorrow , Lifecrafter's Bestiary , Horn of Plenty , Horn of Greed , Ponder and Opt just to name a few.

March 6, 2019 10:45 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #6

IAmTheWraith: i dont think you even need the Blossom Dryad for that combo. plus, there are already other infinite draw combos. and i'm really going to need to see a reliable source for your claim of "players that play Sol Ring turn 1 lose that game"

March 6, 2019 10:46 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #7

To answer your other question--the reserve list has nothing to do with power level. The reserve list was created to preserve the rarity of certain cards for collectors. The original reserve list was:

  1. Alpha and Beta cards that had not yet been in Fourth Edition or Ice Age.

  2. Uncommons and rares from Arabian Nights and Antiquities that had not been reprinted with a white border.

  3. All rares from Legends and The Dark that had not been reprinted with a white border.

There have been some changes since then, but that gives you a general idea of the considerations behind the list.

Also, just to put it in perspective, Library of Alexandria is also banned in Legacy and Restricted in Vintage. It's a pretty solid card.

March 6, 2019 10:47 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #8

Stardragon: the "mana acceleration" was obviously in reference to Sol Ring . also, your "better" draw spells aren't really better. the ones you named either have a high mana cost, or can only be used once.

March 6, 2019 10:50 p.m.

Stardragon says... #9

cdkime thank you for answering the reserve list its been bothering me. Second Ik that in a banned a card in legacy and restricted in vintage but they are 1v1 focused and have only 60 cards that can have doubles or quadruples of a single wheres commander is at its core muti-player focused with 100 cards and only minus basic lands on of each card only thats a big difference. IK there are exceptions to every rule. But im asking why it banned in EDH not legacy. Primeval Titan is banned in EDH but legal in every other format and I get why. It may not be the best example true but my point is i get why its banned and restricted in those formats.

March 6, 2019 11:07 p.m.

Stardragon says... #10

PlatinumOne Since when is 3 mana a high casting cost particularly in EDH? The only example that was more than 3 was Horn of Plenty . And so what if the other instants and sorceries can only be used once they have no drawback or conditions tacked on like Library has. Now i have no deck that needs the card but im just wondering the reason why they keep banned in EDH. And reasons so far are really weak. Like it'll break the format

March 6, 2019 11:17 p.m.

Deadpoo111 says... #11

Maybe this will help


March 6, 2019 11:28 p.m.

Stardragon says... #12

it wont break the format, that it draw effect is to powerful. It has a huge condition for the draw. It'll skyrocket in price. Okay that one is mostly likely to be true. If they unban this card they'll have to unban others. No they don't they don't it they are card banned for good solid reasons, they don't even have to unban this one (thou again i don't personally agree because it dosen't seem that powerful). I loved this one from a friend on Facebook. It banned in commander because in was banned in legacy and it banned for so long it will never be unbanned because the length it was banned. I snorted hard on that one. Length of time it being banned is only a small factor in it. and as shown many times through out the years by many people, just because it good (or broken) in standard, modern, vintage or legacy doesn't mean it will be for commander a great example was Jace, the Mind Sculptor .

March 6, 2019 11:29 p.m.

There is a fair amount of subjectivity when it comes to EDH bannings. However, Library of Alexandria is absolutely busted in a format where you always draw on the first turn. The person going first gets a massive advantage. Not only do they have the play advantage and the mana advantage (obviously ramp changes this), but with Library they now have card advantage over the rest of the table. Furthermore, it's pretty easy to set up a scenario where you can abuse this card.

PlatinumOne, my guess is IAmTheWraith is referring to the recent statistical analysis conducted by The CommandZone where they found a negative correlation between win rate and a T1 Sol Ring . Now there are some serious questions about the validity of their analysis, but they did find some interesting results regardless.

March 6, 2019 11:32 p.m.

Vman says... #14

Ive seen it in vintage and my god is it hard to lose with one out. It doesnt seem strong at face value but watch a few games where it sticks. Its actually quite nuts

March 6, 2019 11:37 p.m.

Stardragon says... #15

Hi_diddly_ho_neighbor You can only get that if it in your opening hand and as i sated above it's impossible 100% of the unless an external factor comes into play i.e fixing your deck or other forms of cheating. Even 40% is a stretch thou possible. and again i feel as though even is saying you get a free draw and ignoring the condition that on the card which is heavy condition as you either tap for the card draw which than means you you lose it for mana. and if you use on your first turn unless it threshold or grave matters decks and you draw, you'll have to discard at the end of your turn at that can hurt.

March 6, 2019 11:41 p.m.

Stardragon says... #16

Vman again that is vintage. Commander is completely different format

March 6, 2019 11:43 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #17

As a general rule, cards that are Restricted in Vintage are banned in every other format. If something is too powerful for Magic’s most broken format, it’s probably too powerful for a more casual format like Commander. The exception is tax cards like Thorn of Amethyst , which are disproportionately powerful in a format where the first player can drop Moxen, locking the second player out of the game for good.

Hi_diddly_ho_neighbor’s point, which you discounted on the grounds of “but that’s only if it is in your opening hand” is valid.

The banlist exists in part because of degenerate opening possibilities. If a card puts you too far ahead too early, that’s not healthy for the meta. It turns victories into “who got lucky with their opening hand” not “who deserved to win.”

The rules committee does not want to produce games that are made or broken by whether you have a specific card in your opening hand. That the event might not always happen is irrelevant - it would happen enough to be problematic.

March 7, 2019 12:24 a.m.

PlatinumOne says... #18

Stardragon: when Hi_diddly_ho_neighbor stated a "format where you always draw on the first turn", i don't think he was talking about the draw coming from Library of Alexandria . i think he was referring to the fact that in a game with 3+ people, the person who goes first gets a normal draw for their first turn.

March 7, 2019 12:40 a.m.

Stardragon says... #19

your right PlatinumOne i misread his argument

March 7, 2019 12:52 a.m.

Vman says... #20

Yes commander is a different format. Im just pointing out that library can look alot weaker than it is. And theres only one place where you can see how its used and see how strong it actually is. Its text looks just meh.

March 7, 2019 12:59 a.m.

Azdranax says... #21

I'd say there are two primary reasons why it is banned, neither of which are all that compelling individually, but when combined, make some sense. First, there is the uniqueness of the card - as a utility land it is the only one of its kind to allow a free conditional card draw without a drawback - card draw being a powerful effect, but obviously not game-breaking. Second, there is the scarcity of the card as a reserved-list card from a very limited set, so considering its eligibility for any commander build due to the colorless nature, the lack of availability in any significant quantity makes it a very challenging optimization choice for most players, even without considering the monetary cost (which would rise dramatically if unbanned), which tends to turn off most non-cEDH players. As a result, you end up with an incredibly expensive and rare card with only modest optimization value to any given deck that can't break the effect via combo(s). I'd compare it to the ABU moxen in commander, which are also banned - their deck value is pretty clear, but they aren't going to be game-breaking by themselves. Nevertheless, considering both scarcity and value (value being both monetary and optimization) there is little need to unban them in the format, at least in my estimation.

March 7, 2019 1:51 a.m.

Aztraeuz says... #22

Azdranax gave you the best answer.

I would say it's the same argument as the Mox, and why they are banned. Price isn't supposed to factor into the ban list, but it appears that it does. Simply put, they are limited, expensive cards that would go in 99% of decks.

March 7, 2019 2:55 a.m.

Boza says... #23

Library is one of the most powerful cards ever printed. For commander, it is even more broken, given that any deck can play it. I personally think it is more powerful than any of the moxes, but the problem with it is that it incentivizes not to play on your turn and draw-go style of play, since you want to activate it on your opponents turns to not discard.

It is a monarch token that cannot be taken, it is Phyrexian Arena for cheaper and no lifeloss, etc.

If you think cards like Primeval Titan are too powerful for the format, you cannot consider LOA as an OK card. I encourage you to talk to your playgroup and proxy it to test how degenerate it can be.

March 7, 2019 3:58 a.m.

IAmTheWraith says... #24

PlatinumOne you're right, I don't need Blossom Dryad to combo, it was like 9 PM when I wrote that and I was half asleep lol.

Sol Ring lowers win rate

March 7, 2019 9:36 a.m.

Pervavita says... #25

Part of it could also be availability of the powerful effect. With it being on the Reserved list and one of the oldest and thus rarest cards makes it hard to get your hands on. at roughly $1500 USD I can't imagine how hard it would be to get your hands on for EDH if it was legal.

As to the Reserved list, that is another issue unto it's self and is something the rules committee has no control over but need to keep in mind on what is banned.

March 7, 2019 10:14 a.m.

Thanks for clarifying my point PlatinumOne and cdkime. I was pretty tired when I wrote that and my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders haha.

But yes, I meant LoA provides an unfair advantage in a multiplayer format where the person who goes first also draws a card.

I do think though that the banlist could be revisited now that commander has evolved so much. There are a few head scratchers on that list.

March 7, 2019 10:33 a.m.

Rzepkanut says... #27

I used to own and use a Library of Alexandria back in the 90's and it was completely busted in a casual setting. I hope they abolish the reserve list and print it in modern horizons and unban it everywhere, but thats just not going to occur. It could be like Sol Ring- actually too powerful for the format on turn 1 but the variance and other players even it out in a multiplayer game. It would probability be fine, I agree. They just have no reason to unban such an expensive card since it wouldn't effect like 99% of edh players except to make them feel bad that they can't get one.

March 7, 2019 12:01 p.m.

bushido_man96 says... #28

Two of the most powerful things you can do in Magic is card draw and mana ramp. Although not "ramp," this card gives you the option to play a first turn card draw ability, in any deck, and tacked onto a land that doesn't enter the battlefield tapped. Boros players everywhere are just clamoring for something even close to this. If you land this turn one, you probably can net at least three or four more cards on average than you would in a game played without it, and I'm just spitballing that. And if you ever can't draw a card with it, then its tapping for mana. Its never not useful. And its a land. When I was young in Magic, I didn't always see the value of effects on lands. Tacking an effect onto a land is so strong, because its not a spell that is cast. Think about how useful cards like Wasteland , Strip Mine , Tectonic Edge , High Market and their ilk are; even consider ones that are limited by a color identity, like Bojuka Bog , and these are just a few. How many lands can you think of that allow you to draw cards? I can't think of any, and there's a reason for that.

March 7, 2019 1:07 p.m.

Ill do a quick plug about my thoughts on the EDH ban list.

The list is created by a couple people and their personal play group(s) affect their decisions about the ban list.

EDH is a casual format that is meant to be fun and played with friends. If your play group okays it then you guys just make your own banlist. Play MTG for fun, it is a game in the end. If youre not having fun playing a game then something is wrong which is why Im against a "confirmed but unconfirmed" ban list in EDH

March 7, 2019 9:45 p.m.

bushido_man96 says... #30

I get why the banned list is around, but it could probably be a smaller list. There are some cards that slip through the cracks and become totally busted, and so I see why its good to have a banned list that most of us can probably count on being adhered to when we show up at card shops to play.

I really think the "banned as commander" list should be looked at again, instead of an overall banned list. I understand that it can be a bit confusing, but its not like we're doing metaphysics here; its simply differentiating between two lists. I mean, why can't Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary be in the 99? Because its too confusing to say he can't be a commander? Seriously, there are much more complicated things that can take place in a game on the stack than understanding this simple concept.

March 7, 2019 10:40 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #31

Stardragon i never said 3 was a high cost. don't put words in my mouth. and do you really not see the benefit of repeatable draw vs single use? needing 7 cards in hand isnt really a drawback if you build your deck around it.

March 8, 2019 3:12 p.m.

reaper527 says... #32

realistically, it probably should be unbanned. it's a powerful card, but in commander/edh it wouldn't be game breaking powerful.

in vintage/legacy, you are playing a 60 card deck, which is a HUGE difference from a 99 card deck. the odds of drawing a library in opening hand are pretty slim.

you can combo into an unlimited card draw with it, but there are lots of different infinite combos in commander. combos are hard to pull off due to the singleton nature of commander and deck size. this minimizes the odds of getting cards for the combo, and the combo is dead if someone removes any one piece. additionally, combo'ing with it in a meaningful way locks you into certain colors, so at that point it isn't "drop into any deck" any more.

the library just isn't universally useful like a mox/lotus is, it's use is very conditional. it's an amazing card, but people are definitely overstating how game changing it would be in commander.

at the end of the day, regardless of what the banlist maintainers do, not too many people will be impacted since the vast majority of edh players will never see a real library of alexandria.

March 8, 2019 7:14 p.m.

IAmTheWraith says... #33

reaper527 It is universally useful. It's constant draw in every deck in edh.

To say that not too many people would be affected is really naive. You can say the same thing about the rarity of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale , but I myself have seen and held one in my hand, and have played with it many times.

The fact is, no matter how situational, if you are building an edh deck that doesn't have Library of Alexandria in it, then you are building the deck wrong. Its use might be conditional, but its an extremely powerful card even in 100-card singleton. The ability to draw an extra card every turn would make some already hard decks to beat even harder, and frankly, I understand the reason why it's banned.

Ultimately, the decision would be up to the oversight committee on bans/unbans. But I feel like if something as practical at face value as Primeval Titan is banned, something as powerful as Library of Alexandria will be too.

March 8, 2019 10:26 p.m.

Several of the (earliest)cards on the edh ban list are banned simply because of their rarity in magic according to WoTC. Read an article a while back that said allowing us old timers to play the best of our pre Dark cards is unfair to newer players.

October 20, 2019 3:42 p.m.

IAmTheWraith says... #35

WotC-nonBeliever1 I dont believe thats the case here. Library is banned for its power level, not because of its rarity. If they banned cards based on rarity, then again why wouldnt cards like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale be banned also? Just because a card is rare doesnt mean its impossible to get.

October 22, 2019 4:20 p.m.

teh_wad says... #36

I know I'm late to the party here, but nobody really seemed to get the whole reason down. Yes, one main reason is it leads to stale deck building, as literally every deck can run it.

However, another main reason is how multiplayer formats work. Even going first, you're drawing an 8th card. Meaning when you drop Library, you go down to 7, and it is already online. That's 9 cards in hand on turn 2.

If that's not enough, then comes Sol Ring, signet, another card, and a land. Still at exactly 7 cards.

It's a strong card.

April 12, 2020 12:06 a.m.

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