Reflection of Kiki-Jiki | Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
8, Feb, 24

MTG Arena Banlist 2024

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The MTG Arena banlist doesn’t change often, but when it does, it’s a fairly big deal. It’s an essential part of the system at this point since there are so many MTG cards to play with. While Wizards of the Coast does their own playtesting, there are still strange interactions that slip through the cracks. Sometimes, these surprise gems and combos need to be dealt with.

Thanks to recent changes, the MTG banlist operates a little differently than before. In a welcome change, the MTG bans now happen on a fixed and predetermined schedule. Each year, Wizards of the Coast will have one major ban event where anything can be changed where needed. Alongside this, after the release of every premier set, there will also be smaller ban windows for more urgent changes.

While the post-set release bans are meant to be smaller in nature, they definitely don’t have to be. This was proved by the latest bans following The Lost Caverns of Ixalan’s launch. During this window, five cards were banned, and one unbanned, making huge format changes. While these were definitely needed, it nevertheless shows Wizards isn’t holding back until the major yearly window.

As an important note before we get started, when a card gets banned in MTG Arena, players will be refunded with the appropriate wildcards. The amount of wildcards received is based on the number of copies of the banned card in your collection. The same wildcard refund does not happen when cards are rebalanced for the Alchemy or Historic formats. 

Now, with that note out of the way, here’s everything you need to know about each format’s banlist on MTG Arena!

MTG Arena Banlist Standard

The Meathook Massacre | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
The Meathook Massacre | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Thanks to the new announcement from Wizards of the Coast, three cards have been added to the Standard Banlist for MTG Arena. These bans came into effect on the 30th of May, 2023. This means that, at the time of writing, four cards are banned in Standard

Here is the current Banlist for the MTG Standard format in its entirety for MTG Arena. 

  • The Meathook Massacre
  • Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
  • Invoke Despair
  • Reckoner Bankbuster

According to Wizards of the Coast, these bans have all been implemented into Standard in order to shake up and revitalize the format. This first happened with The Meathook Massacre, which was banned on October 11th, 2022. Somewhat controversially, Wizards specifically stated they wanted to shake up the format in the announcement, which was very poorly received at the time

Four months later, MTG players have certainly changed their tune, as players have been clamoring for a shake-up. Thankfully, as of today, MTG players have been given just that, with three new bans being announced. Similarly to last time, these bans should help to rejuvenate the format with new life. 

Alongside this change hopefully being enjoyable for current Standard players, Wizards also hopes this will improve the format’s accessibility. In a statement within the announcement post, Wizards stated the bans should create a compelling “entry point to the format preceding the summer and release of Wilds of Eldraine.”

MTG Arena Banlist Historic

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer | March of the Machine

As MTG Arena’s Eternal format, which allows access to almost all the game’s cards, Historic has a lot going on. Due to this, a number of cards have created problematic combos and play patterns over the years. In order to keep the format healthy, Wizards has done arguably the right thing and banned cards. 

Alongside this nuclear option, Wizards has also utilized Alchemy’s rebalancing feature. By altering the cost, stats, and abilities of cards, Wizards has allowed them to keep being played, albeit with marginal differences. For better or worse, doing this is a deeply controversial move. 

Thankfully for players who hate rebalancing, not every card is given this treatment. Especially iconic cards such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, for instance, won’t be touched. This isn’t all good news, however, as this may mean these powerful cards need to be banned instead.

While Wizards has always maintained the Historic Banlist to keep the format fun, recently, WotC took things a step further. By pre-banning the Fetch Lands from Khans of Tarkir, the power level of Historic has been kept in check. For better or worse, this has left the format needing to carve out its own niche and sustain its meta.

Here is the banlist for the Historic format on MTG Arena. 

  • Agent of Treachery
  • Blood Moon
  • Bloodstained Mire
  • Brainstorm
  • Channel
  • Counterspell
  • Dark Ritual
  • Demonic Tutor
  • Field of the Dead
  • Flooded Strand
  • Intruder Alarm
  • Land Tax
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Memory Lapse
  • Natural Order
  • Necropotence
  • Nexus of Fate
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Polluted Delta
  • Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • Show and Tell
  • Sneak Attack
  • Spreading Seas
  • Swords to Plowshares
  • Thassa’s Oracle
  • Tibalt’s Trickery
  • Time Warp
  • Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
  • Veil of Summer
  • Windswept Heath
  • Wilderness Reclamation
  • Wooded Foothills

MTG Arena Banlist Timeless

Tibalt's Trickery | Kaldheim
Tibalt’s Trickery | Kaldheim

First things first, currently, there is no Banlist for the new Timeless format on MTG Arena. Instead, Timeless has a Restricted List, just like the Vintage format on paper. When a card is on the Restricted List for a format, only one copy can be used in the main deck and sideboard combined. 

For the launch of the format, three cards are on the Timeless banlist. These cards were determined by a series of recent events, which tested the format’s limits and possibilities. After dominating the format and creating un-fun play patterns, Wizards decided these cards needed to be limited in some way.

Here are all the cards on the Timeless Restricted List.

  • Channel
  • Demonic Tutor
  • Tibalt’s Trickery

When a card is added to the Timeless Restricted List, players will be given compensation from Wizards. As a note, however, players will receive wildcards for each copy of the card in their collection greater than one. For example, “if a player owns four copies of a card that is added to the restricted list, the player will receive three wildcards for that change.” 

MTG Arena Banlist Explorer

Lurrus of the Dream Den | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
Lurrus of the Dream Den | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

While the end goal for Explorer is being identical to Pioneer, currently, not every Pioneer-legal card is on MTG Arena. As a result of this, the Explorer format has its own metagame and banlist separate from the main format. That being said, however, the two banlists share several similarities with one another. 

Once Explorer has all the same cards as Pioneer, the two formats’ banlists will likely be identical. It’s possible, in fact, that Wizards will do away with Explorer entirely. Instead, the format may just be known as Pioneer across paper, Magic Online, and MTG Arena. 

Here is the entire banlist for the Explorer format on MTG Arena. 

  • Expressive Iteration
  • Field of the Dead
  • Geological Appraiser
  • Karn, the Great Creator
  • Kethis, the Hidden Hand
  • Leyline of Abundance
  • Lurrus of the Dream-Den
  • Nexus of Fate
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Teferi, Time Raveler
  • Tibalt’s Trickery
  • Underworld Breach
  • Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
  • Veil of Summer
  • Wilderness Reclamation
  • Winota, Joiner of Forces

Most recently, the banlist for Explorer was shaken up on Arena due to long overdue Pioneer changes. To curb the format’s most dominant decks, Geological Appraiser and Karn, the Great Creator were both finally banned. This latest ban has freed up a lot of space within the Explorer and Pioneer meta.

MTG Arena Banlist Brawl

Gideon's Intervention | Amonkhet
Gideon’s Intervention | Amonkhet

As MTG Arena’s alternative to Commander, for now, Brawl has a vast card pool for players to utilize. Similarly to Commander, this means there are a number of powerful, nearly problematic, cards at players’ disposal. Thankfully, due to the format’s singleton deck construction, the powerful cards aren’t quite as troublesome as usual. Subsequently, the Brawl banlist is rather short. 

Here is the entire banlist for the Brawl format on MTG Arena. 

  • Runed Halo
  • Gideon’s Intervention
  • Meddling Mage
  • Pithing Needle

Thankfully, MTG Arena players needn’t be worried by the diminutive size of this banlist. This is thanks to Wizards of the Coast utilizing a matchmaking system that pairs suitable decks against one another. Using this system, MTG Arena players should be free to enjoy their janky decks against similarly powered opponents. Alternatively, if you’re using some of MTG Arena’s best commanders, you may find yourself in the highly competitive “hell queue”.

As a note, Brawl used to be called Historic Brawl, however, that was changed in December 2023. Briefly explaining this change, Wizards revealed it was done to “better reflect this unique format.” Hopefully since this was the variant of Brawl everyone was playing, this change should go over smoothly.

MTG Arena Banlist Standard Brawl

Pithing Needle | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Pithing Needle | Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

Despite it being a lot of fun, the Standard Brawl format is sadly not a popular one. That being said, however, it still occasionally receives love from Wizards of the Coast. Granted, occasionally is the important word there, as there is only one card banned in Standard Brawl at the moment.

When a card is banned in Standard Brawl, it cannot be used in either your deck or used as your deck’s Commander, where applicable. 

Here is the entire banlist for the Standard Brawl format on MTG Arena. 

  • Pithing Needle

As an important note, the regular Standard banlist does not apply to Standard Brawl. Subsequently, any card in a Standard-legal set that is not listed here is legal.

As another important note, Standard Brawl used to just be called Brawl. This change was made in December 2023 to reflect the format’s legality.

MTG Arena Banlist Alchemy

Reflection of Kiki-Jiki | Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
Reflection of Kiki-Jiki | Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Here is the entire banlist for the Alchemy format on MTG Arena.

  • No cards are currently banned in Alchemy

Despite being the format dedicated to rebalancing cards, Alchemy has had cards banned in the format. While this is very odd, and rather frustrating (so long as you ignore Alchemy’s connection to Historic), this is surprisingly common. It first happened when Wizards banned Grinning Ignus in Alchemy due to it creating a problematic combo.

At the time, Wizards stated they made this decision because they couldn’t find a satisfying change to the card. Not one that would keep Grinning Ignus still being Grinning Ignus at least. Subsequently, rather than distorting it into something new, Wizards elected to just ban it outright. Bizarrely, this wasn’t the explanation given for the recent banning of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. 

Rather than even trying to fix Fable of the Mirror-Breaker with a rebalancing, Wizards simply banned it. Explaining this decision, Wizards stated they “want to avoid disrupting the Historic metagame with a rebalance that would only be in effect for a few months.” While this rebalance could have been reverted post-rotation, it seems Historic takes precedence over Alchemy’s own rebalancing. It’s almost like the two formats need to be separated or something

Following the recent rotation of the Alchemy format, Fable of the Mirror Breaker is no longer legal. Subsequently, it is no longer on the Alchemy banlist.

Considering Alchemy is meant to be a format about rebalancing, hopefully, we won’t see any more cards being banned in the future.

Read More: Alchemy: Ixalan Set Review

The Next MTG Bans

Sword of Once and Future | March of the Machine
Sword of Once and Future | March of the Machine

In a welcome change of pace, recently, Wizards of the Coast has been a lot more forthcoming about when bans are happening. This has come as part of the wider change to the banning philosophy, which set a more structured calendar. Thanks to this, MTG Arena players often have fixed dates for bans to look forward to and or dread.

Currently, according to Wizards of the Coast, the next MTG Arena ban window is set to take place “around March 11th.”

Unfortunately, while MTG Arena players may have this date to keep in mind, there’s no telling what will be banned. Currently, it seems this ban window may not need to be utilized, as all formats are in fairly healthy places. Should Wizards want to, formats could definitely be shaken up, but immediate action is not necessary.

While bans may not currently be needed on MTG Arena, there’s a good chance that will change. In case you’re not familiar with the 2024 release calendar, March 11th follows the release of Murders at Karlov Manor. So far, initial spoilers for this set haven’t knocked it out of the park, however, there’s nonetheless a chance there could be a card that requires banning. Whether or not this will be needed, however, remains to be seen.

Read More: The Best MTG Sets of 2023

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