11, Jul, 23

Another Unimportant MTG Cycle Highlights Preview Controversy

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Article at a Glance

With the last group of MTG Arena Anthology cards previewed, it’s safe to say that most of the Historic and Explorer cards spoiled seem focused on Brawl more than anything else. Historic previews have showcased some cool new additions to Brawl, and a few interesting choices to build around in traditional Historic. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about the Explorer Anthology. Many players were hopeful that Pioneer staples such as Oath of Nissa and Treasure Cruise would make it onto Arena, and are now left disappointed.

Above all, the addition of a card like Accorder’s Shield felt like a slap in the face to players that wanted Explorer to resemble Pioneer as closely as possible. A bunch more cards have been previewed for both Historic and Explorer, including another cycle for Explorer. As was the case with the Battle For Zendikar Land cycle that was previewed, this cycle of cards also sees very minimal Pioneer play. Fortunately, Historic spoilers specifically weren’t all bad, and feature some cool new toys.

Format Staples Added to Historic


Among the final group of Historic Anthology Seven spoilers, there are a few format staples that could prove to be important additions to MTG Arena. First up, we have Unearth. Unearth is a card utilized in various Creature-based combo decks. For example, Unearth is a standard four-of in Pauper Goblins combo. The goal of the Goblins combo deck is to utilize First Day of Class alongside Putrid Goblin and Skirk Prospector to generate infinite mana (By sacrificing Putrid Goblin to Skirk Prospector, the Putrid Goblin will Persist back into play, but will the minus-one minus-one counter will be canceled out by the plus-one plus-one counter granted by First Day of Class).

Importantly, Unearth is great at bringing back these combo pieces from the graveyard, and could theoretically play a similar role in combo decks focused around Samwise Gamgee and Cauldron Familiar[/toolltips].

Another format staple, this time for Modern, is [tooltips]Giver of Runes. Giver is great at protecting important Creatures, such as those that wear Colossus Hammer. Giver is a great addition to decks that rely heavily on specific Creatures staying alive.

Many MTG players will be incredibly excited by the introduction of Sword of Fire and Ice. This Equipment is most notably useful alongside Stoneforge Mystic, which is not on Arena. Still, the card is powerful enough that it could see some play in Historic Brawl nonetheless. Speaking of Historic Brawl, we also have Wayfarer’s Bauble. Wayfarer’s Bauble is not as flashy as the others, but is still a reasonable way for Brawl and Commander decks to ramp and fix their colors, especially multi-color decks that do not have access to green ramp.

Read More: Best MTG Arena Decks: July 2023

Final Historic Previews


The last two Historic previews are not quite as impactful as the others, but at least could add some value to the format. First up, we have Bloodghast. Bloodghast has been useful for various graveyard-centric decks, such as different Dredge builds and the Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis menace that dominated Modern until its banning. This card can do some cool things with cards like Goblin Bombardment as well, but with no Fetchlands or various Dredge cards on Arena, finding a home for Bloodghast may be difficult.

Lastly, we have Repeal. Repeal does a good job bouncing cheap permanents, especially tokens, and gives you a card back as a nice bonus. This deck tends to show up in blue decks with lots of mana, like Mono-Blue Tron in Modern. Like Bauble, the card isn’t flashy, but still performs its role well, and might pop up in some decks from time to time.

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An Unimportant Cycle

Izzet Charm

Here, we have another cycle of cards that, just like the Battle for Zendikar Lands, see fringe Pioneer play at best and being featured in the Explorer Anthology. These are a group of two-color “Charms,” that each come with a handful of modes to choose from. Izzet Charm sometimes shows up in Izzet Phoenix in Pioneer as a reasonable modal spell that can pitch Arclight Phoenix. Gruul Charm shows up occasionally in sideboards, since it’s a great card against Spirits.

Other than that, the other charms see very little play. Orzhov Charm and Simic Charm are especially underwhelming. Golgari Charm isn’t bad, but still rarely sees play. There are yet more cards in the Explorer Anthology Three previewed too, and they fall short as well.

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More Mediocre Filler

Obzedat, Ghost Council

The last four cards previewed all see basically no play whatsoever in Pioneer, and likely will stay that way in Explorer. First up, we have Judge’s Familiar Familiar used to be a reasonable piece of interaction but compared to cards like Mausoleum Wanderer that have a similar effect, Familiar absolutely falls short. Omnath, Locus of Rage, a Commander favorite, also appears in the Explorer Anthology. Omnath is a reasonable card for ramp decks in Brawl but is simply too expensive to show up in Explorer or Pioneer in any meaningful capacity.

Up next, we have Obzedat, Ghost Council. Obzedat has shown up from time to time in Modern alongside Goryo’s Vengeance because of a unique interaction where you can exile Obzedat to its own ability, and it will come back to the battlefield despite the exile clause on Goryo’s Vengeance. With nothing to abuse Obzedat in Pioneer, the card sees basically no play at all.

Shrapnel Blast is the last card previewed, and while it does deal a decent chunk of damage, the necessity to sacrifice an Artifact gives it a very narrow range of decks it can appear in. That said, it does occasionally appear in Boros Convoke, which is almost complete in Explorer.

The Explorer Anthology Three as a whole was underwhelming, and cards like Obzedat and Omnath felt as much designed for Historic Brawl as many cards featured in Historic Anthology Seven. For now, it looks like Explorer and Pioneer will still remain relatively different formats, which is unfortunate to see.

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