The Gathering Ban Up The Beanstalk?

Highlights

  • Up the Beanstalk was banned in Modern due to its consistent draw engine, which allowed players to cast larger spells at a discount and draw cards.
  • The card synergized well with other spells and creatures that had a mana value of five or greater, making it a powerful addition to various decks.
  • While no longer legal in Modern, Up the Beanstalk can still be played in Standard until September 2026 and is legal in other formats such as Pioneer, Legacy, and Commander.


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Bans are nothing new to Magic: The Gathering, across all formats and tons of sets, Wizards of the Coast has taken steps to ensure the health of the game by cutting out certain cards from a format. Generally, bans in Magic are intended to remove a single problematic creature or spell, one that either forces out other decks or cards that are so good that it restricts deck construction.

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The Banned and Restricted Announcement from Magic that hit Up the Beanstalk removed it for some good reasons so let’s take a look at the card and why Magic chose to ban it from Modern constructed formats.


What Is Up The Beanstalk?

That Which We Call A Bean By Any Other Name Would Draw More Cards

Up the Beanstalk

From 2023’s Wilds of Eldraine set, Up the Beanstalk is a somewhat unassuming enchantment that has managed to prove itself incredibly resilient in the Modern format. It is neither immediately impactful nor does it force your opponent out of the game. Instead, Up the Beanstalk provides an incredible amount of consistency for players through its ability to turn cards you play into cantrips.

Up the Beanstalk is a two-mana green enchantment that lets you draw a card when it comes into play, or whenever you cast a spell with a mana value of five or greater. And that’s it, it replaces itself when it comes into play and then lets you draw a card when you cast a larger spell.

Why Is Up The Beanstalk Good?

Everything Is A Cantrip If You Try Hard Enough

Image of the Leyline Binding card in Magic: The Gathering, with art by Christi Balanescu

Up the Beanstalk made a big splash when it was first revealed during the Wilds of Eldraine spoiler season, with players trying to figure out where the Bean card would fit best. Commander players love it for its ability to reward larger spells, Standard players were on board given its ability to keep your hand full later in the game, and Eternal formats like it since it provides a consistent draw engine turn after turn.

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Part of what makes Up the Beanstalk so good is that it made other good cards better, particularly those that could take a large casting cost and reduce it through various means. So if you have a card like Leyline Binding, which normally costs six mana but costs one less generic for each basic land type you have, you can cast this six mana spell for just one white mana if you have every basic land type in play.

Since Magic has printed a few nonbasic lands with multiple land types, and fetch lands to get whatever type you need, it is very easy to get all five basic land types as early as turn two. The key thing is, even though you’re casting Leyline Binding for just one white mana, the actual mana value of Leyline Binding is still six, which triggers Up the Beanstalk and draws you a card.

So now you have cast a six-mana spell for one mana, drawn a card, and exiled the most problematic permanent your opponent controls, quite possibly giving you the next answer to whatever problem your opponent throws out next.

Why Was Up The Beanstalk Banned?

Can’t Stop The Beans

Fury

The unfortunate reality of Up the Beanstalk is that it is just too consistent to stick around for long. Since players are casting large spells at a huge discount, sometimes for free even, players are rarely depleting their resources by casting large spells.

Some of the biggest offenders of Up the Beanstalk were the Elemental Invocation creatures like Grief, Fury, and Solitude. These creatures all have a mana value of five, which triggers Up the Beanstalk’s ability, and have an alternate casting cost that lets you cast it for free if you exile a card from your hand. Casting it for free through evoking doesn’t change the fact that it is a five-mana spell, meaning you still draw a card from Up the Beanstalk.

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One of those three Elementals, Fury, was also banned in this wave, but removing one card wasn’t enough to save Up the Beanstalk. Another part of what makes Up the Beanstalk so good is that it is a two-mana enchantment and no opponent wants to commit a spell to remove the little enchantment that doesn’t have an immediate effect on the board and has already replaced itself in your hand.

Up the Beanstalk had been finding its way into various decks since its release, even replacing cards in long-established decks, like the zero-mana suspend cards Crashshing Footfalls and Living End. A card like this will only get better over time, with more and more cards eventually being printed that also have discounted mana values or alternate casting costs, making Up the Beanstalk a potential problem for the future of Magic.

Can I Still Play Up The Beanstalk?

Beans For Free

Living End by Greg Staples

There are plenty of opportunities to play Up the Beanstalk, just not in Modern, unfortunately. Up the Beanstalk is still a relatively new card, so it’ll stick around in Standard until September 2026. This gives you plenty of time to draw all the cards you want in the format off of any big spell you cast. It also gives Magic tons of sets to print cards with alternate casting costs or spells that have a way to lower its mana cost so you can keep getting all sorts of value from your spells.

Notably, Up the Beanstalk is still legal in Pioneer and Legacy, as well as the digital formats Alchemy, Explorer, and Historic, and will be legal in the upcoming Timeless format. Not to mention, Up the Beanstalk is a wild card to play in any green-based Commander deck, a format notorious for taking big spells that cast tons of mana, and ramping into them as quickly as possible.

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