9, Apr, 24

Four Breaking News Cards Receive Preemptive Ban on MTG Arena!

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Article at a Glance

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is set to release on April 19, which is coming up on us awfully fast. This coming weekend, players will get to participate in prerelease events for the new set. Soon after, cards from the new set will be implemented on MTG Arena and Magic Online. There are a lot of very powerful cards coming our way, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some shakeups to various Constructed formats.

Some cards in particular, though, are undoubtedly waves above the rest. For example, some of the Breaking News cards that will be coming to MTG Arena are powerhouses or even outright banned in Eternal formats. In paper, these Breaking News reprints will simply remain tournament legal in the formats they already were in. However, when it comes to MTG Arena, the Historic and Timeless formats may change drastically with these cards being brought to the software for the first time.

In preparation, Wizards of the Coast has announced a preemptive ban of four specific Breaking News cards in Historic. This is very similar to how other bonus sheets have been handled in the past. Timeless is a much stronger format with a very small restricted list and won’t receive any updates yet, though the format will likely be monitored in the coming weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the cards that have already received the axe in Historic.

Mana Drain

Mana Drain

Mana Drain is an outrageous card that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see banned this quickly, especially because Counterspell itself is currently banned in Historic. It has been banned in Legacy for many years and for good reason. Counterspell, for a while, was considered “too strong” for Modern, and Mana Drain takes things to a whole new level. Not only do you get the same excellent piece of interaction, but you get a potentially massive ritual stapled onto it to use on your next turn.

Jeskai Control is already one of the strongest archetypes in Historic and it certainly doesn’t need this level of an upgrade. No More Lies and Reprieve should continue to suffice.

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Much like how Mana Drain was handled, Reanimate was banned as a “clear power outlier.” Reanimate is an absurdly efficient card for the effect it provides. Alongside Entomb, Reanimate is utilized in Legacy to bring back huge Creatures like Atraxa, Grand Unifier. Given that cards like Sneak Attack and Channel that let you cheat a threat into play in a similar manner are banned, this ban is not shocking at all.

Even the play pattern of Reanimating Troll of Khazad-dum after cycling it is extremely strong in Legacy and would likely cause problems in Historic. Both Mana Drain and Reanimate feel like safe bans that won’t be coming off the list any time soon.

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After Mana Drain and Reanimate, though, things start to get a bit interesting. Beyond just banning things on a power level front, a cautious approach has clearly been taken with free spells that can provide a “rapid change in tempo.” The final two cards banned both fit into that category, allowing you to pitch cards from your hand to cast them for free and get a potentially devastating effect.

Commandeer in particular, though, is a rather narrow card. Exiling two other cards from your hand is a large cost to pay. Typically, Commandeer sees play in decks that can either generate lots of card advantage or win the game while expending minimal resources (like Living End decks in Modern). Getting to steal cards like The One Ring out of mono-green Tron can singlehandedly swing a game in your favor.

However, Commandeer does very little in most matchups and typically shows up as a one-of in sideboards. It certainly wouldn’t have the impact the other cards on this list would in Historic. Still, if the plan is to mostly keep free spells out of the format to further differentiate Historic from Timeless, I’m all for it.

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Force of Vigor

Force of Vigor

Our last card, much like Commandeer, is a sideboard card that can be cast for free by pitching cards from your hand. Force of Vigor is certainly less narrow than Commandeer, but typically doesn’t have the same ability to break a game wide open.

Obviously, the card is strong against decks that rely on Artifacts and Enchantments. Where it really shines, though, is in combo decks that can use Force as a way to remove opposing hate pieces for free. For example, Force of Vigor shows up in plenty of graveyard-centric strategies, such as Living End in Modern or Dredge in Vintage, as a means to answer cards like Leyline of the Void that completely hose their main gameplan.

Once again, there’s a good chance that Force of Vigor would not warp the Historic format too much if it was legal. The philosophy of banning free spells is quite clear, and this elite sideboard card is no exception.

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Change is Coming


While the four cards listed above are receiving the banhammer early, it is worth noting that there are plenty of highly impactful cards from the Breaking News bonus sheet that are sure to make an impact in Historic. Multiple powerful Artifacts like Mindslaver enter the format as potential tutor targets for Karn, the Great Creator.

Meanwhile, Path to Exile seems like a strong interactive upgrade for control decks, especially for those utilizing Snapcaster Mage. Other cards that are simply strong on rate like Fractured Identity and Pest Infestation are impossible to ignore, too.

Furthermore, Timeless may see all hell break loose with the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Mana Drain is an absurd addition to Dimir control and Reanimate even just in Lurrus of the Dream-Den shells seems like a fantastic inclusion. The release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction is sure to have a major impact on MTG Arena, so get ready for some madness.

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