I was on r/mtg, and I stumbled upon this; a player admitting that he liked the banding mechanic.
Banding is considered a dark point in Magic’s history, mainly because of how horribly complicated the ability is.
Look at this:
|From the Comprehensive Rules
- 702.20. Banding
- 702.20a Banding is a static ability that modifies the rules for combat.
- 702.20b “Bands with other” is a special form of banding. If an effect causes a permanent to lose banding, the permanent loses all “bands with other” abilities as well.
- 702.20c As a player declares attackers, he or she may declare that one or more attacking creatures with banding and up to one attacking creature without banding (even if it has “bands with other”) are all in a “band.” He or she may also declare that one or more attacking [quality] creatures with “bands with other [quality]” and any number of other attacking [quality] creatures are all in a band. A player may declare as many attacking bands as he or she wants, but each creature may be a member of only one of them. (Defending players can’t declare bands but may use banding in a different way; see rule 702.20j.)
- 702.20d All creatures in an attacking band must attack the same player or planeswalker.
- 702.20e Once an attacking band has been announced, it lasts for the rest of combat, even if something later removes banding or “bands with other” from one or more of the creatures in the band.
- 702.20f An attacking creature that’s removed from combat is also removed from the band it was in.
- 702.20g Banding doesn’t cause attacking creatures to share abilities, nor does it remove any abilities. The attacking creatures in a band are separate permanents.
- 702.20h If an attacking creature becomes blocked by a creature, each other creature in the same band as the attacking creature becomes blocked by that same blocking creature.
A player attacks with a band consisting of a creature with flying and a creature with swampwalk. The defending player, who controls a Swamp, can block the flying creature if able. If he or she does, then the creature with swampwalk will also become blocked by the blocking creature(s).
- 702.20i If one member of a band would become blocked due to an effect, the entire band becomes blocked.
- 702.20j During the combat damage step, if an attacking creature is being blocked by a creature with banding, or by both a [quality] creature with “bands with other [quality]” and another [quality] creature, the defending player (rather than the active player) chooses how the attacking creature’s damage is assigned. That player can divide that creature’s combat damage as he or she chooses among any number of creatures blocking it. This is an exception to the procedure described in rule 510.1c.
- 702.20k During the combat damage step, if a blocking creature is blocking a creature with banding, or both a [quality] creature with “bands with other [quality]” and another [quality] creature, the active player (rather than the defending player) chooses how the blocking creature’s damage is assigned. That player can divide that creature’s combat damage as he or she chooses among any number of creatures it’s blocking. This is an exception to the procedure described in rule 510.1d.
- 702.20m Multiple instances of banding on the same creature are redundant. Multiple instances of bands with other of the same kind on the same creature are redundant.
That’s the comprehensive rules of Banding. No other ability (to my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong) has nearly as many rulings on it.
But the actual “reminder text” for banding is this:
“Any creatures with banding, and up to one without, can attack in a band. Bands are blocked as a group. If any creatures with banding you control are blocking or being blocked by a creature, you divide that creature’s combat damage, not its controller, among any of the creatures it’s being blocked by or is blocking.”
So, essentially, combat damage is distributed backwards; when you attack with, say, 15 1/1 creatures all in a band, you get to distribute the blocking damage. A good player would have their 14/14 deal one damage to 14 of 15 of those creatures. But a player with banding would cause that 14 damage to be taken by a single 1/1. The same thing occurs when blocking; if your opponent attacks with a 6/6 but you block with two 3/3 creatures, usually the 6/6 would kill both 3/3 creatures; but instead, one of those 3/3 creatures would take all 6 damage for his comrade, but they would still kill that 6/6.
This ability has been admittedly removed from ever seeing play again, for essentially what this one redditor said:
“I am not a closet banding fan; I’m am open!! I emailed MaRo to ask why they got rid of it? (I stopped playing while it was still around; came back in M10). He gave me an explanation: basically it was too complicated and clunky.”
For some actual background on the mechanic, Banding began in Alpha, the first set in MTG, and was last (legally) printed in Weatherlight. If you want to understand Wizards of the Coast’s stance on Banding, take a look at Old Fogey from Unhinged. There’s a reason he has “banding with others” along with his other retired abilities.