Oath of Nissa | Oath of the Gatewatch
3, Jul, 23

MTG Players Don’t Have High Hopes For Upcoming Reprint Set

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Now that The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is behind us, MTG players are once again looking toward the future. For many players, sights are set on the next premier set, Wilds of Edlraine, however, there’s plenty more to come before then. Announced back in February, Commander Masters is the next major, reprint-filled, MTG set. Or rather, it would be, at least, if Wizards didn’t make a surprise Explorer Anthology announcement last week.

Ahead of this week’s Weekly MTG stream, last Friday, Wizards revealed a pair of new Anthologies for MTG Arena. Jumping ahead of the release of Commander Masters, these new products have been highly requested for months by MTG players. Providing much-needed and compelling reprints for Explorer and Historic, these Anthologies stand to do a lot of good. Unfortunately, however, many MTG players aren’t expecting the world from these surprise upcoming releases. 

An Arduous Anthology

Painful Quandary | The Brothers' War
Painful Quandary | The Brothers’ War

Launching on the 18th of July, Explorer Anthology 3 and Historic Anthology 7 certainly have an incredibly expedited release schedule. Planned to be spoiled across three days, both these new sets will each include 25 cards to expand the formats. In keeping with past traditions, it’s highly likely these anthologies will include a fair few awesome, iconic, and much-needed cards.

For Historic Anthology 7, the new additions should thoroughly delight fans of the format, as well as Historic Brawl aficionados. This is thanks to the format having its own identity at this point. Diverging from Modern, Pre-Modern, Legacy, and Vintage, Historic is its own thing, which means there’s little pressure on Anthologies. So long as the cards are fun to brew with or build around, the Anthology should be a success. 

Unfortunately for Wizards of the Coast, Explorer Anthology 3 doesn’t have such an easy path so success. This is thanks to it having a more dedicated purpose of making Explorer more similar to the paper Pioneer format. Thanks to this well-defined scope, it’s possible for Explorer Anthology releases to just be plain bad for MTG players. After all, if they don’t contain needed Pioneer playable cards, what was the point of this release? 

Technically, at the moment, MTG players should have nothing to worry about. After all, since previews don’t begin until July 8th, there’s no telling what cards may be included. While this is true, unfortunately, past precedent and underwhelming initial spoilers don’t have players excited. In fact, many MTG players across social media are fearing Wizards will draw out Anthology releases for far too long.

“Yep, gotta keep milking anthologies instead of just getting the main cards needed in the format… Given the cards they chose to headline their spoiler, I’m assuming nothing big is coming in this anthology. Certainly nothing on the level of the delve spells or BTL”

u/Teldolar

History Repeats Itself

Loran, Disciple of History
Loran, Disciple of History | The Brothers’ War

In theory, since there are 22 cards yet to be spoiled, there’s plenty of space for Pioneer playable cards. Unfortunately, however, should past precedent continue, only a small handful of cards will see any play. This was certainly the case for Explorer Anthology 2, which only included seven MTG cards that are played today. 

Considering the low number of genuine playables isn’t a new trend for Anthology releases, it’s no wonder players are skeptical. Despite this, however, some MTG players haven’t lost all hope. Embarking on an optimistic effort to help Wizards out, several players have recently been detailing the cards Explorer needs. 

Collating all the player suggestions into a list, u/8huddy recently spotlighted the key cards holding back potential Pioneer decks. In total, this list contained 30 cards, although five of those were fringe, albeit popular, unnecessary additions. When only considering the main list of 25, all of these cards could theoretically be included within one Anthology. 

In an ideal world, this could push Explorer significantly closer to Pioneer in an instant. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem this will happen, not least because three underwhelming cards have already been spoiled. More concerning than the disappointing spoilers, however, is the fact that 8huddy’s list is nothing new. 

Since the first Explorer Anthology was announced, MTG players have been requesting many cards from this list. Hidden Strings, for instance, has been a long-requested addition thanks to its presence in Lotus Field Combo decks. Similarly, Delve cards such as Temporal Trespass have been requested since Anthology sets were first announced. 

While there is some hope that these cards could finally be added to MTG Arena, Wizards is clearly happy to take their time. As a result, it feels that players’ concerns are somewhat warranted.

What We Want

Ultimately, while Explorer Anthology 3 may not have MTG players universally excited, it should still include some good cards. For better or worse, however, all of these have definitely already been decided, as the set launches in just two weeks. As a result of this, nothing to say or do really matters at this point, as we can’t change what will be spoiled. 

That being said, however, we can’t resist a chance to predict the future, even if it doesn’t affect anything. Subsequently, here’s a quick rundown of five actually playable MTG cards we’d hope to see in Explorer Anthology 3.

Bring to Light

Bring to Light | Double Masters 2022
Bring to Light | Double Masters 2022

Typically played within five color Pioneer decks, Bring to Light can be an absolutely stellar combo piece. Within these decks, Bring to Light is typically able to tutor any Instant, Sorcery, or Creature below 5 CMC. This makes it perfect for finding devastating cards such as Omnath, Locus of Creation, Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, or Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines

Unlike some of the other cards on this short list, Bring to Light isn’t absolutely vital to all five-color lists. What it is, however, is a lot of fun, that presents some interesting deckbuilding ideas. Subsequently, it seems like an ideal choice for one of the niche playable cards within an Explorer Anthology.

Oath of Nissa

Oath of Nissa | Oath of the Gatewatch
Oath of Nissa | Oath of the Gatewatch

To move onto a card that actually sees a lot of play, Oath of Nissa is used heavily within mono-green devotion decks. Within this deck, the main use of Oath of Nissa is to search the top three cards of your library. Allowing you to put a Creature, Land, or Planeswalker into your hand, this early Enchantment makes decks a lot more consistent.

Alongside this potent first ability, Oath of Nissa also allows for some very enjoyable shenanigans. Enabling the casting of off-color Planeswalkers, such as Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, this card facilitates some serious game-ending threats. 

Thanks to these abilities’ strengths, Oath of Nissa currently sees play within over 1250 decks according to MTGdecks.net. Since the card is so strong and consistent, however, it may not be the best choice for an MTG Arena Explorer reprint. After all, mono-green decks are already very strong in the format, and this extra piece could make them imbalanced.

Treasure Cruise

Treasure Cruise | Khans of Tarkir
Treasure Cruise | Khans of Tarkir

Since the first Anthologies have been announced, MTG players have long requested the addition of Delve cards. In this latest list, we’re going to be doing it again, as they are seriously useful in Pioneer. That being said, however, recently the format has fallen out of favor with Delve cards somewhat. 

Played primarily within Izzet Pheonix decks, Delve cards such as Treasure Cruise and Temporal Trespass have steadily been getting more popular recently. As if that wasn’t enough reason to include them, these cards are also iconic thanks to their immense power which has them banned in multiple formats. Unfortunately for fans of these cards, however, it seems very unlikely they’ll arrive anytime soon.

At the end of the day, implementing Treasure Cruise would require a lot of work. Necessitating the development of a new Arena mechanic, Treasure Cruise likely isn’t worth the trouble for an Anthology set. Subsequently, we may only see this mechanic when, or rather if, Khans of Tarkir gets an MTG Arena Remastered set.

Reckless Bushwhacker

Reckless Buskwhacker | Oath of the Gatewatch
Reckless Bushwhacker | Oath of the Gatewatch

As a key piece within the new breakout Boros Convoke Pioneer deck, MTG players haven’t been asking for Reckless Bushwhacker for long. Due to this, it does admittedly feel unlikely it’ll be included within Explorer Anthology 3. That being said, it would nevertheless be great to see this card as it’s incredibly useful within the breakout deck. 

Synergizing with the go-wide strategy of the Boros Convoke deck, Reckless Bushwhacker can be an incredibly efficient threat. Capable of putting your opponent on the back foot, and keeping them there, Reckless Bushwhacker is a staple within the deck’s list. For better or worse, Reckless Bushwhacker doesn’t see substantial play elsewhere in Pioneer, which should hopefully keep it contained. Thanks to this, it should be an ideal choice for Explorer Anthology 3, provided Wizards was able to work fast.

Kytheon, Hero of Akros

Kytheon, Hero of Akros | Magic Origins
Kytheon, Hero of Akros | Magic Origins

Last but not least we have another long-requested addition for Explorer and Historic Anthologies. Played primarily within mono-white Humans decks, Kytheon, Hero of Akros is one of the few missing pieces this deck needs to shine. Providing a potentially early and efficient Planeswalker Kytheon, Hero of Akros gives mono-white decks some much-needed protection. 

Typically played alongside Brave the Elements, Kytheon, Hero of Akros is useful, but not entirely format-warping. As a result, they should make a great addition to the Explorer format. Considering how long MTG players have been asking for them, it would definitely be better late than never.

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