Regardless of where you play Magic: The Gathering, players undoubtedly have a lot of options. With over a dozen formats and variants on every platform, variety is undeniably king in MTG. As if all the formats weren’t enough to keep things interesting, special releases and the occasional event spice things up for MTG players even more.
Typically, as much as they can be fun, events in MTG are often little more than just that: fun. Providing an interesting break from the competitive grind, events usually don’t command much attention or scrutiny. That being said, however, one recent event on MTG Arena is well worth paying attention to.
Not only was the recent Historic No Banlist event beloved by the community, but it also hinted at new horizons. Potentially being the template for a brand new format, MTG Arena players couldn’t get enough of this unique and experimental event. Lucky for these enthusiastic players, after only a short wait, the No Banlist event is coming back with a vengeance.
Guess Who’s Back… Back Again
Within the wide world of MTG, at the moment, there’s a lot going on. Spoiler season is underway for the Doctor Who Commander decks, Wilds of Eldraine has barely just released, and there are plenty of events to try and keep track of. As if all that wasn’t enough already, Wilds of Eldraine: Alchemy is being revealed this weekend, and released not too long after!
Thanks to all this going on, understandably, it’s rather hard to keep up and stay informed with all the latest developments. As a result, it’s not uncommon for an otherwise interesting announcement to fall through the cracks. This really should have happened to the return of No Banlist Historic. After all, news of this event’s return was buried at the end of a weekly announcement post.
Despite being practically hidden by Wizards of the Coast, MTG Arena players were quick to latch onto this event’s return. Enthusiastically lauding the frantic fun of the event across social media, it’s clear many MTG players couldn’t wait for its return. Given how much of a success the event was the first time around, this really shouldn’t be a surprise at all.
While the Historic No Banlist event was definitely successful in its first outing, unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly perfect. This is largely thanks to cards like Channel which offer nearly unmatched combo potential. Alongside Tibalt’s Trickery and Dark Ritual being legal, it’s a wonder the event was as fun as it was.
Thankfully, while the first outing of the Historic No Banlist event was enjoyable, Wizards saw the problems alongside everyone else. Subsequently, for the event’s return, Wizards is doing things a little differently. Rather than having no banlist at all, Wizards is instead running “Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans.”
Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans
As the name suggests, the upcoming No Banlist event does actually have a banlist, albeit a small one. This was confirmed by MTG Arena’s Game Director, Jay Parker, on Reddit. Catching a mistake within the original announcements post, Parker informed players about this change before leaving them to speculate wildly.
“You can speculate amongst yourself about what is & isn’t included there. But most of you will be right about that one card.”u/WotC_Jay
Considering Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans isn’t available until early November, it’s not a surprise Parker didn’t reveal all. That being said, however, their clue obviously points the finger at a certain problematic card which likely had a frankly obtuse win rate. Given we’ve mentioned it before, there are sadly no points for guessing this problematic card is Channel.
Without this card in the event, Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans should be more competitive, rather than just a combo fest. Hopefully, this should not only make the event more fun but actually make it feel like a genuine playable MTG format. Ultimately this appears to be the point of these experimental events, as Wizards is testing the waters for exactly that.
Currently, on MTG Arena, 27 cards make up the Historic Banlist. Considering the immense card pool, this shouldn’t be a problem, however, these cards aren’t really playable elsewhere. Thanks to this, Wizards has been looking to develop a new home for MTG Arena’s currently banned cards. Alongside this, it’s also believed that Khans of Tarkir’s Fetchlands will likely need a home if banned in Historic.
Technically, considering Wizards has already done it with the No Banlist event, this is an easily solvable issue. The problem, however, is making this hypothetical new format actually fun, while also keeping it unique. In theory, having Restricted cards, similar to Vintage, would solve this issue, however, apparently that technology isn’t in Arena yet.
Into the Unknown
Due to the lack of Restricted card functionality, Wizards’ best bet is to find the right partial banlist balance. Unfortunately for players and Wizards alike, however, this isn’t an easy feat. After all, outside of banning Channel, there are a lot of cards on the edge of acceptability.
While MTG players could make cases for and against each card on the Historic banlist, ultimately, it’s too early to tell what will happen. Not only is Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans not slated to start until November 2nd, but the event is also incomplete. Currently, the would-be format lacks Fetch Lands, since they’re not on MTG Arena until later this year.
Without these powerful cards being on Arena, the future of the experimental No Banlist events is unclear. Should Fetch Lands fit into Historic, for instance, the hypothetical new format might not be needed at all. If it is, however, Wizards will surely have to consider the impact of these powerful cards on the potential Arena Vintage banlist.
As a result of this uncertainty, ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. If you ask our crystal ball, I believe that this upcoming event won’t be the last. It seems highly likely we’ll get at least one more event once Fetch Lands launch. After that, MTG Arena might finally get a new format, potentially in early 2024. Whether or not any of that will actually happen, however, remains to be seen.
For a final note, the Historic All-Access, Basically No Bans event runs from the 2nd of November to the 14th. As the name implies, the event is all-access, so you don’t need to spend your Wildcards.