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Magic: The Gathering bans racist and ‘culturally offensive’ cards

“Racism in any form is unacceptable and has no place in our games, nor anywhere else.”

Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast has announced that it has banned seven cards with racist imagery and content from the trading card game, as well as removing “culturally offensive” cards from its online Gatherer database.

The seven cards are Invoke Prejudice, Cleanse, Stone-Throwing Devils, Pradesh Gypsies, Jihad, Imprison and Crusade, which will be banned from all tournament play and replaced in the online database of cards by text stating: "We have removed this card image from our database due to its racist depiction, text, or combination thereof. Racism in any form is unacceptable and has no place in our games, nor anywhere else."

Invoke Prejudice, a card originally released in 1994 - the year after Magic: The Gathering debuted - was highlighted for its particularly egregious racist imagery and gameplay ability. The card’s artwork features several figures dressed in pointed hoods, with one wielding an executioner’s axe. Its text allows the player to counter any summon spell played by their opponent that doesn’t match the mana colour of a creature under their control.

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Wizards also acknowledged that the last four digits of Invoke Prejudice’s original multiverse ID - the unique numerical code by which MTG cards are identified in the Gatherer database, determined by the chronological order of their release - mirrored a number with links to white supremacy, neo-Nazism and the alt-right: 1488. The card’s multiverse ID has since been revised to remove the digits.

“It should never have been published nor placed in the Gatherer. And for that we are sorry,” Wizards wrote in an announcement of the bans. “The events of the past weeks and the ongoing conversation about how we can better support people of color have caused us to examine ourselves, our actions, and our inactions. We appreciate everyone helping us to recognize when we fall short. We should have been better, we can be better, and we will be better.”

In addition to the seven cards banned and removed from the database, Wizards of the Coast announced that it would be reviewing every card ever printed for Magic: The Gathering and taking similar action to remove “problematic” content. Over 20,000 cards have been released for the collectible card game since its first Alpha set.

“This first pass isn't meant to be an exhaustive catalogue of every problematic card in Magic’s history, and we will continue to take actions on similar cards in the future,” it said.

Earlier this year, the publisher pulled a card from the then-unreleased Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set in response to its inclusion of the phrase “Death Corona”. While the Spacegodzilla, Death Corona card referenced an attack first coined in 1994 monster movie Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla, Wizards said that “the word ‘corona’ has taken on a new meaning” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The card was removed from digital versions of the game and replaced in future reprints of the set.