Recently announced for MTG Arena, two more Anthologies will be appearing on July 18. Historic Anthology Seven features cards legal only in Historic formats, whereas Explorer Anthology Three showcases cards legal in Explorer as well as Historic. Three cards were previewed about a week ago for each Anthology, and the reviews were not all positive. While the Historic cards that were previewed seem decent for Arena players, especially those who enjoy Historic Brawl, the Explorer cards that were previewed received mostly critical reviews.
Explorer is deisgned to roughly shadow the Pioneer format, and there are a multitude of cards missing from Arena that are Pioneer staples. Cards like Hidden Strings and Treasure Cruise being missing from Arena makes it difficult for Explorer to mimic Pioneer as closely. Today, we have had a plethora of additional cards for Historic and Explorer previewed, and unfortunately, this trend has seemingly continued thus far. The Historic spoilers seem very strong both for traditional Historic and Historic Brawl, so let’s begin on a positive note.
Iconic Creatures Enter Arena
One of the biggest additions to Arena in a while is a super iconic Creature that still dominates Modern to this day. For anyone who enjoys big ramp strategies, get ready, because Primeval Titan has entered the fray.
Primeval Titan is extremely powerful, allowing you to search for two Lands whenever it enters the battlefield or attacks. No, there’s no restriction on the Lands you can get. In fact, the card is banned in EDH because of its ability to get extremely powerful non-basic Land combinations, such as
Thespian’s Stage and Dark Depths that can make a 20-power Indestructible Flying Monster in short order.
In Modern, Primeval Titan is most commonly paired with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, either alongside Scapeshift or Amulet of Vigor. With Valakut not on Arena, it may take more creativity to abuse this card to its full potential. Regardless, the card is extremely powerful and should be a welcome addition to Arena.
Another great addition to Historic is Bloodbraid Elf, another iconic Modern card. Bloodbraid Elf was very strong in Modern Jund, resulting in the card being banned in Modern for a few years. The card was then later unbanned as more and more powerful cards entered the Modern format. Blodbraid Elf is a great value engine. As a reasonable threat on its own, it also Cascades, providing an easy two-for-one and the potential to hit other powerful cards. Primeval Titan and Bloodbraid aren’t the only Creatures featured in Historic Anthology Seven, however.
Alongside these iconic Creatures, Historic also will get access to Sunbaked Canyon and Echoing Decay. Sunbaked Canyon is a nice addition for many red or white aggressive decks. While these types of Lands can be painful, the ability to cash them in for a fresh card later in the game is a big deal, especially for decks with burn spells that can be top-decked.
Finally, we have a nice piece of removal in the form of Echoing Decay. Decay is not necessarily the most efficient removal spell, but it works super well on Creature tokens with the same name. The card often sees play in Pauper as a strong way to clean up tokens from Battle Screech or Kuldotha Rebirth. The card isn’t super powerful, but it fills its role nicely.
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Explorer Cards with Potential
While Explorer Anthology Three still has not featured any of the biggest Pioneer staples missing on Arena, there are some decent niche options that have been previewed. First, we have Xenagos, God of Revels. Xenagos on its own is a little too inefficient for Pioneer or Explorer. However, the card works extremely well with Indomitable Creativity and Worldspine Wurm. By casting Creativity with two targets, you can search for Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, and attack for 30 damage on a body with Trample and Haste. With Xenagos being previewed, it’s a reasonable assumption that Worldspine Wurm will be previewed soon as well.
Second, we have Chord of Calling. Chord of Calling, despite being in Explorer Anthology, is a notable inclusion for Historic. Given the popularity of various Samwise Gamgee combo decks, Chord may be a natural fit for Historic. As for Explorer, the card does see play in Elves. While Elves is a niche archetype, Chord is important for the deck, so it’s nice to see it being added to Arena.
Third, we have Voice of Resurgence, a decent two-drop option that unfortunately lacks a solid home right now in Pioneer. The card was a strong option for Winota, Joiner of Forces decks before Winota’s banning and has popped up in various Selesnya deck focused around Collected Company. Still, the card struggles to find a home in current Pioneer, especially given its color combination. While these are reasonable additions, none of them are heavy hitters in Pioneer, and this thread continues for the last group of cards previewed.
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Explorer Additions with Minimal Upside
As mentioned, Explorer is designed to shadow Pioneer relatively closely. With initial previews showcasing cards such as Cyclonic Rift and Deathrite Shaman that see little to no Pioneer play, it’s reasonable that some people would be disappointed. Unfortunately, some of the most important cards missing, like important Delve spells, Oath of Nissa, and Hidden Strings still have not been previewed.
For the last few cards announced, we have two cards that are part of a cycle of lands from Battle for Zendikar block: Cinder Glade and Canopy Vista. Most of the lands in this cycle see almost no play, especially since Fastlands such as Copperline Gorge were printed into Pioneer, thanks to Phyrexia: All will Be One. Assuming the cycle is put on Arena in full, the one decent addition should be Praire Stream, which sees some play in UW Control alongside Lay Down Arms, thanks to the Lands having the necessary basic Land types.
Finally, we have Abbot of Keral Keep. While the card is reasonably strong, it fights with a lot of competition as a red two-drop Creature. Cards like Eidolon of the Great Revel or Kari Zev, Skyship Raider often beat out the Prowess Creature for slots, making it hard to find a home. While Historic and Historic Brawl seem to be adding a lot of cool and useful additions, Explorer previews are struggling a bit thus far. There’s still plenty more spoilers to keep an eye out for, so perhaps the best are being saved for last!