5, Jul, 21

Was MTG Arena's Mirror, Mirror Event A Success?

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Article at a Glance

Over the weekend, Magic Arena launched their “Mirror, Mirror” event. This event was meant to be a reimagining of some of the cards that are on the Historic banned list, with alterations to the cards to be, in theory, more balanced than their banned counterparts. We got an early look at the cards ahead of the launch date, so players had some time to prepare some decks, and generally, there was some exciting around the event. Now that the event has effectively come and gone, was the event a success?

No Best of 3

Once the event launched, one of the first criticisms of the event was that there’s no Best of 3 queue, but instead only Best of 1. Considering that one of the cards on the “rebalanced list” was really meant to be a sideboard card, the omission of Best of 3 games felt like a clear misstep.

The Rebalanced Cards

When we talk about rebalancing a decent sized selection of cards with the power level of the ones that we’ll be looking at, there’s bound to be some cards that fall short of balanced, and the curated list of rebalanced cards is no exception. We’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of these cards.

The Good

The cards that are in this list are ones that felt like the balance changes made the card much more fair, and such that if the card was reintroduced back into Historic in this way, they wouldn’t need to be rebanned.

Wizards of the Coast
Field of the Dead‘s changes make the card feel fair. Making it a legendary land, slows the insanity down quite a bit, and having the tokens enter tapped keeps the power at bay. Ultimately, this card still slots into Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and ramp decks, but it definitely feels less egregious. As someone who loves this card, I’m ok with these changes.

Wizards of the Coast
Fires of Invention only got a mana cost increase for it’s changes, and generally speaking this card isn’t over powered by any means. I think honestly, the card could come back at 4 mana and be just fine. The state of Historic has changed so much that this card feels very… normal to play with. It’s home pre-ban was Jeskai Control, and the Jeskai Control decks now a days has so much more instant speed spells that it wants to play that if this came back, we’d have a very different looking deck. That being said, it felt nice to play with this one again.

Wizards of the Coast

This one was odd. Oko, Thief of Crowns actually feels fine now. It was busted before, but it now feels strong but fair. Making the first ability only +1, and the Elk ability a -2 brings Oko on line with the design of other planeswalkers. Were this to come back in this fashion, Oko would most likely slot into some style of Bant Control deck, along side our next card.

Wizards of the Coast
Teferi, Time Raveler is the next card. The changes made here are increasing the mana cost by 1, and the starting loyalty by 1. This once powerful planeswalker is still really good. Sure it comes down 1 turn later, which can allow time for your opponent to set up a way to deal with it, but the effect is still incredibly strong. The static ability still remains, which was the most power aspect to the card, but the difference between 3 and 4 mana is huge, and the card feels much more on par with the rest of the format.

Wizards of the Coast
Uro, Titan of Nature‘s Wrath’s changes were that it no longer lets you put a land from your hand onto the battlefield as part of it’s enter the battlefield ability. The card is still quite strong, but the removal of the ramp ability brings it into the realm of fair. Ramping off this card pre-ban was what allowed decks to propel much further ahead in the game with very little drawback.

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The Bad

The cards in this category are cards that were not adjusted enough, or were nerfed to the ground that they’re no longer playable.

Wizards of the Coast

We’re going to start off with Omnath, Locus of Creation here. The changes to this card was that you only scry 1 instead of draw 1 when it enters the battlefield. Everything else is the same. This card was not nerfed enough. The power behind this card was not the “draw a card” ability, but the landfall abilities. I played quite a few matches with this card, and very consistently, I was casting multiple Genesis Ultimatums in one turn, where one match, I cast all 4 in one turn. I think that really the issue here is that there is very little that can be done to rebalance this card and maintain the spirit of the original design.

Wizards of the Coast
Agent of Treachery is next up, and it’s changes were that it needed to be cast from your hand in order steal a permanent. This change I feel killed the card. This card used to be in a few different decks, namely in Winota, Joiner of Forces decks, and this card was the card was the only card from that deck that should have been banned. Don’t get me wrong, the effect of this iteration of the card is still strong, but having to dedicate 7 mana to it is a really tough sell.

Wizards of the Coast
Wilderness Reclamation‘s change was that instead of untapping all lands you control, you only untap up to 2 lands. This was a very hefty nerf. The power of this card pre-ban was that it enabled some infinite combos with Nexus of Fate, or one shot kills with Expansion // Explosion. The reason that it was banned was that it created some really unfun play patterns and I think that this card should stay banned.

The… Eh

Wizards of the Coast
Veil of Summer was a card that we really can’t evaluate how good it is because we don’t have best of 3 in this event. This card is really a sideboard tech card against control decks, and it isn’t really something you want to put in your main deck in a best of 1 setting. Ultimately the changes on this card are fine with just a 1 mana increase. I don’t know that it changes enough of the card, and I think that honestly the state of Historic is such that this card could probably come off the banned list.

Wizards of the Coast

The changes to Wionta, Joiner of Forces was that you only get to look at the top 4 cards instead of top 6 for her triggered ability. This card really shouldn’t have been banned in the first place. Winota really died for the sins of Agent of Treachery. That being said, even with the nerf to this card, it still is very strong and got some new tools. I think that this version of the card is definitely more balanced than the old and could be brought into the format.

Wizards of the Coast
Nexus of Fate got changed to not shuffle back into the library when it was put into the graveyard, but rather get exiled instead. The order of importance of abilities on the old Nexus was Shuffle, Instant Speed, and then Extra Turn. With the shuffle ability gone, this becomes a rather bland extra turn spell. In Historic, the only extra turn spell that really saw any play as of late is Time Warp which got a very quick ban. I don’t think that Nexus of Fate really has a home any longer in the format without the old Wilderness Reclamation.

The Verdict

So was the “Mirror, Mirror” event a success? I think that it was a well intentioned event, but I feel that the power of Omnath really overshadows a lot of the cards that were changed and the lack of Best of 3 doesn’t give us any potential at counter play. It overall was really fun to play with some of these cards again, but I don’t know if there was enough testing or changes done to really make this successful. What are your thoughts? Did you get to play in the event? What decks did you play and what was your favorite card to play with again from the rebalanced card list? Let us know in the comments!

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