Those of us who work to keep EDH coherent and playable work by consensus, but we have a few guidelines that we use when it comes to banning cards. Someone pointed out that the three criteria against which cards have come to be judged for banning aren’t clearly published anywhere, so I’ll post and sticky this for reference. This is primarily my opinion, but reflects a reasonable description of the commonly applied thought process.

For a card to be considered for banning (or kept banned), it should be causing problems in EDH games due to one of three things:

  1. Its power level in multiplayer EDH is signficantly higher than both what’s expected for its mana cost AND it’s power level in other formats (due to different rules or game sizes). [Examples include Panoptic Mirror and Biorythm]
  2. it’s dollar cost is prohibitive for most players and the card usually detracts from the playing experience of everyone in the game [The Power 8].
  3. it belogs to a class of cards which can’t be consistantly interpreted by all players [Silver bordered cards, dexterity cards]

The first criteria is the most commonly applied and as such a little more complex than the others. The purpose is to ban cards which are made “excessively more powerful” by the format-specific rules of EDH. While some cards are naturally undercosted in every format (Lightning Bolt, Time Spiral), they aren’t made _worse_ by EDH. [Lightning bolt is unlikely to actually cause problems anyway, so it wouldn't even make it that far]

An additional principal which is commonly referenced is the ease with which a card can be answered. This is somewhat related to criteria #1, in that the size and singleton nature of the format makes answers harder to come by consistently. Keeping answers onhand, lest the game end suddenly, detracts from the interplay and variety of the format so it’s considered a strike against the power level of a card if it’s “answer this or lose now”. Creatures are something of an exception here, as creature removal is far more prevalent, common, and flexible. The fact that answers exist to be tutored up is not a mitigating factor though… the question is whether those answers are commonly applicable or must be “forced” into an anotherwise healthy metagame.

Note that “very irritating” or “ubiquitous” aren’t expressly listed there… they can act as red flags or tipping points, but alone aren’t sufficient for a card to be voted down.

At some point in the near future, I’ll try to post a list explaining why each of the cards currently banned are on that list.