Etali, Primal Conqueror | March of the Machine
16, Apr, 24

MTG Players Call for Change in Popular Arena Format!

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Article at a Glance

Over the years, tons of extremely powerful MTG cards have been added to Arena. Obviously, as more and more premier sets get added to Arena, the card quality will continue to increase. However, this doesn’t take into account the incredible number of busted cards that are added outside main sets. From an array of top-tier legendary Creatures in the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet to unique Alchemy cards specifically designed for digital play, Arena’s vast card pool features some incredible powerhouses.

With this in mind, Wizards of the Coast continues to monitor and ban cards for Arena-only formats like Historic. In fact, four new cards from the Breaking News bonus sheet have been preemptively banned in the format based on power level and efficiency. The goal is likely to help maintain a clear separation between Historic and the almighty Timeless format. Timeless was largely created as a means for players to utilize all the broken cards they want in one place (Vintage-light, if you will).

Unfortunately, many players have felt like the bans for Brawl have not been kept up with. Many cards that are not legal in Historic are, in fact, legal in Historic Brawl. As such, the decks in the format are extremely strong with somewhat toxic play patterns. The introduction of the Breaking News bonus sheet is sure to add more fuel to the fire. It’s unclear if any further changes will be made in the near future, but as we will see, many players are quite unhappy with Historic Brawl’s current state.

Broken Cards Galore

Mana Drain

As mentioned, there are tons of extremely powerful cards legal in Historic Brawl that have completely warped the format. First things first, the increase in elite bonus sheets has significantly raised the power level of the format. For instance, players almost immediately realized just how insane of an addition Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer was thanks to the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet.

Ragavan in particular is a prime example of the power increase in Historic Brawl over the last couple years. As a one-drop, Ragavan demands an answer very early in the game. If unanswered, the ramp and card advantage Ragavan provides threatens to take over the game. As a legendary Creature, Ragavan makes a great general to lead your squad. This means that, unlike in games of Constructed, you will be able to play Ragavan on curve every game.

Ragavan isn’t the only card responsible but helps encapsulate part of the issue the format has faced. Players have generally needed to make their curves low enough to compete. This isn’t to say top-end cards don’t play a role, as Etali, Primal Conqueror is another strong general option in the format. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of taking meaningful game actions on most turns of the game. After all, Etali gets a lot of its strength from being able to ramp it out and cast it ahead of schedule.

Over time, more and more absurd cards like Mana Drain and Reanimate that are clearly stronger than most cards on Arena have been getting implemented on Arena. Even the introduction of Fetchlands to MTG Arena has had huge consequences. The multi-color decks that have access to a greater card selection by default now have access to plenty of consistent color fixing. This begs the question: what are some potential solutions that could help make the format more enjoyable for a wider audience?

Read More: Overlooked MTG Gems Find New Homes in Top-Tier Archetypes!

A Major Difference in Bans

Windswept Heath

One potential solution that isn’t too hard to accomplish is simply to focus more attention on the banlist. When looking at the banlists for both Historic Brawl and Historic, it’s quite noticeable just how many key differences there are.

While some extreme offenders like Oko, Thief of Crowns are banned in both formats, cards like Ragavan and the Fetchlands from Khans of Tarkir remain legal in Historic Brawl. Additionally, multiple Timeless staples like Dark Ritual and Necropotence remain viable options in Historic Brawl.

The reality is, Standard Brawl was largely created to help Commander players fill the void on MTG Arena, but Historic Brawl largely overtook Standard Brawl in popularity. At this point, players have pointed out that much of the casual nature of Historic Brawl has evaporated, and while the matchmaking system does make it more likely that you will queue into decks of similar power level, this is far from perfect. Games often feel repetitive as you queue into players utilizing similar Commanders or groups of cards, and there’s a clear lack of transparency about the matchmaking system in general.

As such, maintaining a larger banlist would help make the format feel a bit more casual. For those looking to play longer games and make use of unique cards that they might not get to use elsewhere, this seems like a solid change. The issue, of course, is that there are players that enjoy making use of the best cards available. Interestingly, there may be a way for players to have the best of both worlds.

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Historic Brawl Meets Timeless…

byu/surgingchaos from discussion

One suggestion to help fix Historic Brawl’s issues that seems to be garnering a lot of attention is to break Brawl up into multiple formats. With Timeless’ recent introduction to MTG Arena, it feels like adding Timeless Brawl would be a slam dunk. This would give players the opportunity to let their ideas run wild and play with a high density of the best cards on MTG Arena.

Meanwhile, this would also provide the chance for a multitude of extra bans to occur in Historic Brawl without alienating a section of the player base that wants to play with the best cards Arena has to offer. Given the general lack of popularity associated with Standard Brawl coupled with the sudden success of the Timeless format, this seems like a great idea.

At some point in the future, it does seem likely that multiplayer Commander games will make their way onto Arena. This may also help solve some of the problems that Historic Brawl is facing. Still, that’s a ways away, and players are looking for change in the interim. For now, it’ll be interesting to see if any more cards like Mana Drain ultimately get added to the Historic Brawl banlist. Only time will tell if any meaningful changes get made in the coming months, but with many players looking for a complete format overhaul, hopefully we see some improvements sooner rather than later.

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