Posted by: thederangedbear | August 11, 2008

Le Banned List

There’s a thread on VSRealms about changing up the ban list. For reference, the current banned list is:

Antarctic Research Base
Detective Chimp – Bobo T. Chimpanzee
Frankie Raye ♦ Nova – Optimistic Youth
Dr. Light – Master of Holograms
Fiddler – Isaac Bowin
Go Down Fighting
Gone But Not Forgotten
Justice League of Arkham – Team-Up
Talia – LexCorp CEO
Valeria Von Doom – Heir to Latveria
Nenora – Skrull Usurper

Here are just some of my thoughts on why they banned list status quo should be maintained:


Right now there’s Golden Age (GA), Silver Age (SA), Modern Age (MA), then you have GA, SA, and MA versions of Random Punks, Bring Your Own Set, and Bring Your Own Team. That is twelve formats right there, excluding things like Alter Ego formts tht have yet to bee included or formalized – such as the Reverse VS format.

There’s a potential memory issue if you seperate the banned list. For example, after MEV is released Frankie Raye would be fair in Silver Age Random Punks due to the rotation of Crisis – the removal of the The Phantom Stranger, Wandering Hero, but would not be in Golden Age despite the fact that both formats feel the same.

Imagine having such a varied banned list for the twelve plus formats I listed above.

But let’s say you have a Yapjoco-esque memory. What then?

Well, then you need to figure out when certain effects – when used legitimately – are too efficient and when our fair. Conjecture only goes so far.

For example, is using Dr Light ‘fairly’ too good, just like using Overlod ‘fairly’ is too good? How powerful is he when used to reanimate Green Lanterns and Emerald Enemies – Bring Your Own Set – as opposed to bringing back Unaffiliteds and Emerald Enemies – BYOT?

Most of us can speculate, but remember that power level is relative. Just because Frankie Raye without TPS, Ivy, and Slaughter Swamp is less powerful, doesn’t neccessarily mean that it still isn’t too good – especially in a format where everyone’s power level takes a hit.

That’s a whole lot of work. Let’s be realistic here: If we can’t expect UDE to update their webpage, what are the chances that they’re going to pretest all the permutations of their formats. UDE’s RnD is already streched playing other games, and I sincerely doubt they can find the time to do all that testing, especially for a game that doesn’t pay the bills.

Even if they could, I’d rather them just worry about making the sets in the future as good as possible as opposed to rummaging through the past.


This one’s an exceptional case because Valeria’s the postergurl for changing up the banned list.

On fundamentals, my gripe with unbanning Valeria is that there’s nothing you can do with her that you can’t do already.

If you want to control Doom without Doom, you can play eight copies of Doomstadt.

If you want card manipulation with Common Enemy, you already have the old school Valeria, not to mention Luke Cage or the NBB.

If you want a free character to KO to Doom’s effect, you have Ultron, Technarx, and Moloids.

Valeria does not produce a unique effect in the way ARB did prior New Baxter Building. What it does, is essentially replicate the effect of three cards – Moloid, Doomdstadt, random filterer – simultaneously in a method that is free and most importantly, easily searchable.

Consequently, you are not playing Valeria for her abilities specifically, you are playing her for the fact that she’s absurdly efficient.

It’s not as if either of the three cards I mentioned are unefficient, require to much work, or don’t see play either. On the contrary, in these fair decks, Valeria is often sub-optimal. For example, Doomstadts stat boost and Luke Cage’s healthy frame and larger card drawing are better if you are playing honest and care about character combat and avoiding taking a face full of breakthrough.

Devil’s advocate: If legit decks won’t play her except in fringe cases, why not unban her?

The issue is opportunity cost: If you unban Valeria for this corner case, you open the precedent of diversifying the banned list. It would be legitimate as I’m pretty sure Detective Chimp isn’t broken in BYOT, but it does open the hassles mentioned earlier. The fact that she’s been broken in the past is a big indicator that she has the potential to be a bad enabler in the future and would like be banned again anyways. It’s simply too much work for too little gain.

The other half is if you ban A Day Unlike Any Other. Unlike Valeria – whose original intention IMO is somewhere between being a new Doomstadt variant to just a card that was created ‘just because’ – A Day Unlike Any Other has a very clear intent – to be a team-up that can’t be replaced. This is especially relavent with the gradual addition of replacement effects that hit team-ups.

The bigger thing though, is that ADUAO is the only team-up in the game that protects itself, whereas Valeria is not the only free character, nor is it the only cheaty way to control Doom.

(It is however the only cheaty way to control Doom that can be exhausted to Rigged Elections, teams people up for Cosmic Radiation with no additional investment)

In addition, ADUAO has a more or less constraiing factor when it comes to cheezing with it – the three life penalty. Valeria does not come with such safeguards.


Local metagames are somewhat self-correcting in that if you play a cheeseball deck enough times people will get angry, qq, and you will less be inclined to play it, or people start packing hate just for you.

Since VS is now more or less ‘casual game’, it’s okay to loosen up the banned list right?

First off, what’s the point of a banned list? Banned lists exist because some cards are too good that they overshadow others and make them relatively unplayable. This creates stagnation and boring games because people have to either play the good cards or play the hate for it.

If the ‘self correcting local metagame’ is the paradigm you are operating from, there is no reason to ever have any sort of banned list. Just kick the guy’s ass if they play it. The other thing is intent; how can you tell if the guy’s using a card ‘incorrectly’ when it’s clearly working so well in the deck it’s placed in. All cards are printed with a legitimate function in mind; this isn’t Yu-Gi-Oh where cards are printed to be sold and then be instabanned.

This is a big deal when it comes to big tournaments like Mega Weekends and Worlds which are effectively advertising the game. You really don’t want to show off a boring unfun game at conventions at GenCon. Thus banned lists are needed to show that the game’s entertaining and everyone’s having the time of their life playing the game.

Another thing: Most people’s definitions of what is too good and cheesy and is extremely arbitrary, and often more or less boils down to ‘Cheesy is what beats me. ” An off-curve love might ‘know’ Flame Trap deserves a ban in the same way I ‘know’ that Blade, Independent Contract is overpowered – I know this for a fact though : ) .

I can go on and on for this, but I really don’t think people should be ostracized for playing or behaving intelligently. Instating a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ banned list is the the worst of both worlds in my opinion, in that it’s not an actual fix and doesn’t neccessarily make people happier.





  1. To an extent, I agree with your logic.

    However, it does seem prudent to make the argument that “UDE knows best” when it comes to the ban list. One of the main reasons D-Light was banned was not his current ability to be “broken” or not, but it limited what was coming ahead for 2-drops. Without knowing what lies ahead for future sets, it is fairly presumptuous of us as players to attempt to dictate what should/should not be banned.

    I have always believed this is our game to play, not ours to design, as there is a vast difference between those worlds.

  2. I agree on every point for official play. There’s no reason to unban any of the cards on the list.

    At our venue, we use the stipulation that you can play any card on the ban list except Overload, as long as you’re not using it for the broken combo that got it banned. Valeria makes a nice smoother for my Mono-Doom deck, and Fiddler helps SecSix run better. These cards are perfectly balanced (and even, as you said, slightly underpowered) if used for their intended purpose, so we’ve never had a problem with our relaxes list.

    The only card we outright ban is Overload– even its intended purpose is broken. A free off-init stun for the cost of a single card, on a GENERIC, is way too good an effect for what you’re paying. It’s just a bad card.

  3. Curse you, TDB, I was totally going to blog about that in the next couple of days and you went made a whole bunch of better points than I was going to.

    Good post man.

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