Recently announced for MTG Arena, there will be two more Anthologies arriving on July 18. One of these Anthologies is designed for Historic, one for Explorer. While the contents of these Anthologies have not been entirely spoiled yet, three cards from each have been previewed. Each Anthology is set to feature 25 cards total. For anyone who enjoys playing Historic or Explorer on Arena, get ready for some new cards to come your way!
The Anthology Series
The purpose of these Anthologies is to bring cards that were not previously on Arena into their designed formats. For Historic Anthologies, they are legal specifically in Historic. However, Explorer Anthologies are legal both in Explorer and Historic. Whenever these cards become released on Arena, they become available for purchase in the Arena store for a limited time. After a while, they then require Wildcards to be used to craft them.
Each Anthology is designed with their specific formats in mind. For Explorer specifically, which heavily mirrors the Pioneer format in many ways, these Anthologies often involve putting more cards that are Pioneer mainstays onto Arena. For example, the second Explorer Anthology featured cards like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Brave the Elements, which appear in top tier archetypes in Pioneer. With this in mind, let’s take a look at each set of cards previewed in these Anthologies.
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Historic Anthology 7
The three cards previewed in Historic Anthology 7 all have one thing in common: they are all Commander staples. As such, each of these cards seem like reasonable inclusions given the existence of Historic Brawl. Historic Brawl functions similar to Commander except with cards exclusively on Arena. With that in mind, it’s likely that each of these cards finds a decent home in Historic Brawl at minimum.
First off, we have Worn Powerstone. While this card isn’t super flashy or as powerful as cards like Sol Ring, it gets the job done as a solid mana rock. The card is a solid piece of ramp that can go in any deck. Non-green decks that want to cast big spells are likely to utilize this card.
Next, we have Acidic Slime. This is a solid piece of interaction against permanent types that might typically be more difficult to deal with. Being able to target opposing utility Lands as well as problematic Artifacts and Enchantments is nice and given that this effect is an enters-the-battlefield trigger, works well with various “Blink” effects that cause Acidic Slime to enter the battlefield multiple times.
Finally, the last card previewed is Tooth and Nail. While this card is mana hungry, the card can often win the game on its own if your deck is built around it well. With Craterhoof Behemoth on Arena, winning the game is often trivial as long as you play lots of Creatures and can cast Tooth and Nail. While none of these cards are very efficient for the effects they produce and therefore don’t seem like slam dunks in traditional Historic, they still seem like decent ways to help add consistency in a Singleton format like Historic Brawl.
Explorer Anthology 3
The cards previewed for the third Explorer Anthology are definitely on the weaker side, at least on Arena. The first card is Deathrite Shaman. Deathrite Shaman is an extremely powerful card that’s even banned in Modern and Legacy. When paired with Fetchlands, it’s very easy for this card to function like a typical mana-dork with major upside. The problem is that Fetchlands are not on Arena, and without a reliable way to consistently have lands to exile with Deathrite Shaman, the card gets significantly worse.
The second card is Eidolon of Blossoms. Eidolon of Blossoms is a cool card for decks heavily focused around Enchantments. Whenever an Enchantment enters the battlefield, you get to draw a card. This includes Eidolon of Blossoms itself, making it a solid value engine. Still, at four mana, the card is relatively inefficient and needs a specific home.
Lastly, we have Cyclonic Rift. Cyclonic Rift is best known for being a powerful effect in multiplayer Commander games where you can bounce all nonland permanents your opponents control for seven mana. While the bounce spell is versatile, it’s not as powerful in one-versus-one formats on Arena. Seven mana is a lot, and bouncing a single nonland permanent for two mana is not particularly impressive.
Truly Designed for Explorer?
As mentioned, Explorer Anthologies are designed with Explorer in mind. Given that Explorer and Pioneer are relatively similar formats, it’s reasonable to assume that lots of players were hopeful for more Pioneer staples to make it onto Arena. Cards like Oath of Nissa, Treasure Cruise, and Chained to the Rocks are legal in Pioneer but simply not on Arena, which changes the landscape of the Explorer format a fair amount.
Unfortunately, many players believe that these cards previewed will have little effect on the format and won’t see much play at all. Given their lack of play in Pioneer up to this point, this is a reasonable assumption. It looks like all of these Anthology cards are as much designed for Historic Brawl as any other format, which is a disappointment to anyone hoping for an Explorer shakeup.
The good news is that each Anthology has 25 cards total. While we don’t have access to the full lists yet, both of the first two Explorer Anthologies came with a good chunk of powerful cards in Pioneer that were not on Arena. This may very well be the case for the third and the best cards are being saved for later. Looks like we will have to wait to find out what other goodies await us.