Kozilek, the Great Distortion | Oath of the Gatewatch
5, Dec, 22

MTG Players Aren’t Happy With New MTG Arena Set

Article at a Glance

Having only been around since 2018, MTG Arena has a lot of catching up to do. After all, Magic: the Gathering has been around on paper since 1993, with over 25,000 cards having been released since then. Unfortunately for Arena players, only a fraction of those cards, about 7,500, are available on the digital client. While this is obviously a severe detriment to the platform, thankfully, Wizards of the Coast is slowly addressing this issue. Through remastered sets and the occasional anthologies, MTG Arena players steadily get new old cards to play with. These infrequent sets are undoubtedly something to be celebrated. However, not all MTG players are happy with the latest additions. Explorer Anthology 2, for instance, is drawing the ire of many MTG Arena players thanks to its somewhat baffling contents. 

Unusual Additions

Leading into the spoiler season for Explorer Anthology 2, many players had their interests piqued by a surprise spoiler. Seemingly revealed in a Tweet by Wizards, it appeared that the land Wastes was coming to MTG Arena. This seemed to itself spoil that more Eldrazi creatures coming to MTG Arena as part of Explorer Anthology 2. Players were, at first, baffled by this odd inclusion. However, this prophecy nevertheless came true as Wizards went on to reveal Thought-Knot Seer. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only Oath of the Gatewatch Eldrazi to claim a spot in the anthology set. Providing somewhat of a “theme” according to Alchemy creator Chris Kiritz, Explorer Anthology 2 features not one, but five Eldrazi. To make it as straightforward as possible, here are the Eldrazi cards that have been spoiled so far for Explorer Anthology 2. 

  • Thought-Knot Seer
  • Eldrazi Displacer
  • World Breaker
  • Matter Reshaper
  • Kozilek, the Great Distortion

With Eldrazi Displacer being arguably the worst card, there’s no doubt that these five Eldrazi creatures are good. Subsequently, Historic and Historic Brawl players should be pleased about their arrival on MTG Arena, to say the least. After all, both Thought-Knot Seer and Matter Reshaper occasionally feature within Modern Tron lists. However, Explorer players may be left wanting by these cards, but they’re far from being Pioneer staples. Eldrazi Displacer and World Breaker do see some play, however, only in uncompetitive niche decks. Thankfully, these Eldrazi cards should be a good deal of fun for players to brew and experiment with. This, however, isn’t what many players believe the point of the Explorer Anthologies should be. 

Missing the Mark

While all of Explorer Anthology 2 hasn’t been revealed quite yet, recently, players have debated the set’s somewhat dubious contents on Reddit. Throughout the comments of a post by u/Wormhead366, many players bemoaned the Anthology set’s lack of Pioneer playable staples. As players like u/c0rocad86 were quick to point out, this seems to fly in the face of Wizards’ messaging about Explorer. Unusually, Explorer was never really meant to be its own format. Instead, Explorer was merely a step on the path toward Pioneer being available on MTG Arena. Players were obviously encouraged to have fun along the way. However, Pioneer was ultimately the end goal. For all their talk, however, Wizards has been somewhat slow in achieving this goal. 

Due to the time it’s taken so far, many players are getting understandably irate that Wizards continues to add interesting but arguably useless cards to Explorer. Highlighting this problem, u/c0rocad86 reiterated Wizards’ claim that ‘“we want this to eventually be Pioneer’” before demanding, “print the f*cking cards then! Print. The. Staples.” Ultimately, many players posited that due to their conflicting messaging, Wizards is their own worst enemy right now.  Reddit user u/TheNotoriousJTS, for instance, posited that they “would have absolutely zero complaints if they didn’t explicitly say they were working towards Pioneer because there are plenty of cool applications for almost all of these cards. But they did mention working towards Pioneer, so, seriously, what the f*ck are they doing with these?” 

A Plethora of Playables

Thankfully, while there are undoubtedly some odd additions, Explorer Anthology 2 does have some essential Pioneer staples. Remarkably, many of these staples were revealed somewhat earlier than intended, as they appeared in the Arena Cube’s card list. Trivia aside, here’s a quick list of the prized playable staples revealed so far and where they see play. 

  • Nylea’s Presence – Enigmatic Fires Decks
  • Reflector Mage – Azorius Humans Decks
  • Mutavault – Primarily White Weenie Decks
  • Satyr Wayfinder – Abzan Parhelion Decks
  • Eidolon of the Great Revel – Red Deck Wins Decks
  • Fiery Impulse – Izzet Pheonix Decks
  • Soldier of the Pantheon – White Weenie Decks
  • Rending Volley – Rakdos Midrange Decks, and Sideboards Across Many Archetypes
  • Shaman of the Pack – Elves Decks
  • Ethereal Armor – Selesnya Boggles Decks
  • World Breaker – Atarka Ramp Decks (Admittedly a fringe deck nowadays)

As key components to their relevant decks, these Explorer Anthology 2 cards will be exceptionally welcome additions to MTG Arena. These cards, however, only represent under half of the Anthology set’s cards, which is obviously less than ideal. Some cards, such as Courser of Kruphix, World Breaker, and Ethereal Armor, do see fringe play. However, there are still a lot of needless additions. We don’t know of anyone who was asking for Kozilek, the Great Distortion, for instance.

Thanks to these unnecessary cards, some MTG players are giving up hope that things will improve. Taking to Reddit, u/Epic_erka, for instance, stated, “better get used to this because this is how it’s going to be. Each anthology will have 3-6 cards that are actually played in Pioneer, while the rest is going to be useless fodder. And I couldn’t care less if some of these cards are good for Historic or Brawl. It’s called ‘Explorer Anthology’ for f*ck’s sake.”

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