Griselbrand
9, Mar, 23

Upcoming MTG Arena Set Revolutionises Draft Formats

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Ever since the inception of MTG back in 1993, Limited Draft events have been at the core of the game. Leading much of the game’s development, there’s no understating the importance of Draft events within Magic: the Gathering. Despite their provenance, however, Limited Draft events have seen a surprisingly large number of changes over the years. Between Blocks, the Two-Block Paradigm, and the Three-and-One Model, Limited Draft has practically been multiple different formats. Within that long lifespan, several sets have also played host to experimental features and mechanics which shake up the formula. For instance, limited legal bonus sheets and cards and cards, for instance, provide a unique twist to make some sets a touch more special. On digital platforms such as MTG Arena, the experimental possibilities are practically limitless, allowing Wizards to push their revolutionary ideas even further. 

A Rotating Remaster

Within the upcoming MTG Arena exclusive set, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered, Wizards is pioneering a brand new Draft revolution. Rather than just releasing the set in its entirety for players to enjoy, some of it is, instead, being released piece by piece. This, in turn, is creating a Draft environment that rotates and changes every single week. Thankfully, as interesting as this concept may sound, Wizards isn’t turning it up to 11 just yet. Keeping things tempered and tame, for now, only a handful of Shadows over Innistrad Remastered cards will be rotating each week. 

Out of the set’s 382 cards, only the 80 supplemental Historic-legal cards from the original Innistrad block will be rotating. So far, that’s pretty much all we know, as Wizards of the Coast has been keeping their cards close to their chests. In fact, it was only earlier this week that Wizards revealed this pivotal Draft detail during a Weekly MTG stream. Within this broadcast, host Blake Rasmussen revealed Shadows over Innistrad Remaster’s unique bonus sheet will work. 

“So the bonus sheet will contain cards that were from original Innistrad, by and large, and those cards are going to be added into the Draft format on a weekly basis, rotating. So every week, there will essentially be a new bonus sheet that will contain cards that will be injected into the Draft experience which will keep it flavorful and fresh and new. So your week four Draft experience is going to be different from your week three draft experience with the injection of these cards.”

Blake Rasmussen | Wizards of the Coast

While Rasmussen is keen to promise an experience that feels “fresh and new,” we’re not sure how much of an impact these cards will have. Considering Shadows over Innistrad Remastered launches on the 21st of March, the set will only be around for four weeks. After this short while, March of the Machine will take over, becoming the Draft format de-jour. Due to this short time in the spotlight, it seems all but guaranteed Shadows over Innistrad Remastered will only rotate four times. Subsequently, each bonus sheet is likely to only include 20 cards from the original Innistrad block. Due to this relatively diminutive size, it’s entirely possible some Drafts will be entirely unaffected by these additional cards.

The Pioneer Promise

Emrakul, the Promised End
Emrakul, the Promised End | Eldritch Moon

Unfortunately, for MTG players who are interested in scoping out this rotating Draft environment, details are currently few and far between. At the time of writing, Wizards has only revealed a handful of cards that’ll be mixed into the Draft experience. Amongst these few cards are highly requested powerful and fan favorite cards such as [tooltips]Snapcaster Mage[/tooltips]. Alongside cards like [tooltips]Griselbrand[/tooltips], [tooltips]Lingering Souls[/tooltips], and [tooltips]Havengul Lich[/tooltips], these cards are sure to have an impact. So long as you’re lucky enough to find them in your packs, that is. 

Outside of the incredibly powerful, potentially bannable, Snapcaster Mage, it’s unclear how much the bonus sheet’s cards will affect Historic. With only eight cards released so far, ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out. The same can be said for much of the main set, as Wizards is still being surprisingly coy with spoilers. What we do know, however, is once Shadows over Innistrad Remastered launches, Explorer will be a major step closer to Pioneer. While this is obvious, during the recent Livestream Rasmussen revealed just how close Explorer is getting to Pioneer. 

“With the release of Shadows over Innistrad Remastered, 95% of the card from Pro Tour ONE, which was a Pioneer Pro Tour, are on Arena. Which is great! So, of all the decklists, submitted for the Pro Tour ONE 95% of those will be on Arena as of this set. Now, of course, we know that one card missing or a handful of cards can make it so that a deck either doesn’t work or does work or that there’s a significant difference, so the team is working on that.”

Blake Rasmussen | Wizards of the Coast

While this statement from Rasmussen obviously sounds like good news for hopeful Explorer players and Pioneer fans, it was coupled with some bad news. According to Rasmussen, Shadows over Innistrad was the last block “which the team already had existing work toward.” While this made a remaster of the set an obvious choice, it likely almost means that future sets will take longer to materialize since the development team is starting from scratch. Thankfully, Explorer Anthologies can help bridge the gap until then. Unfortunately, however, there’s no telling when the next one will be released.

No Cause for Concern

And They Shall Know No Fear
And They Shall Know No Fear | Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks

Thankfully for traditionalist MTG players who are worried at the sounds of this Draft innovation, there’s no cause for concern. At the moment, there’s nothing from Wizards to suggest this rotating bonus sheet will become commonplace. On MTG Arena, the feature could be used again to spice up future remastered sets, however, even that hasn’t been confirmed. On paper, however, just managing these rotating Draft packs week by week would be a complete logistical nightmare. Subsequently, for better or worse, we expect this feature will never come to paper. 

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