7, Sep, 23

What Is Historic In MTG?

Jump into MTG Arena's most exculsive and diverse format.
Article at a Glance

Having only been created in 2019, Historic in MTG is one of the newest formats in existence. For better or worse, it’s also one of the strangest.

While a lot of other formats have specific sets that they begin with and then add in new bits as they go, Historic is far less well-defined than that, and it’s also only really a format on MTG Arena.

So, what is Historic in Magic: The Gathering, and what do you need to know about it?

What Is Historic in MTG?


Historic is a special format designed for MTG Arena. It encapsulates basically every card on the service aside from those that are banned (which we’ll list below). Alchemy changes do affect Historic on MTG Arena, so cards that see digital changes do get affected in Historic.

In a way, Historic is a bit like Modern, but specifically for MTG Arena. While Modern has specific starting sets and only gets added to via newly released sets, Historic is different.

Historic was introduced in November 2019 as a way to allow players to continue using cards that had rotated out of Standard. Technically speaking, Historic includes sets from Ixalan onwards, but in reality, this includes Historic Anthologies and other supplemental products which means that you will occasionally get cards from before Ixalan in the format. It’s wholly unique in MTG, and it’s a lot of fun.

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What Sets Are Legal in Historic?

Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage
Jace, Ingenious Mind-Mage | Ixalan

The following paper releases were captured in Arena and are hence legal in Historic. Further supplemental sets are listed below.

  • Ixalan
  • Rivals of Ixalan
  • Dominaria
  • Core Set 2019
  • Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica Allegiance
  • War of the Spark
  • Core Set 2020
  • Throne of Eldraine
  • Theros Beyond Death
  • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
  • Core Set 2021
  • Jumpstart
  • Zendikar Rising
  • Kaldheim
  • Strixhaven: School of Mages
  • Mystical Archive
  • Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
  • Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
  • Innistrad: Crimson Vow
  • Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
  • Streets of New Capenna
  • Dominaria United
  • The Brothers’ War
  • Retro Artifacts
  • Phyrexia: All Will Be One
  • March of the Machine
  • Multiverse Legends
  • March of the Machine: The Aftermath
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
  • Wilds of Eldraine
  • Enchanting Tales

Alongside these main sets, MTG Arena has had multiple exclusive releases. These include Remastered and Alchemy sets. These sets are also legal in Historic.

  • Amonkhet Remastered
  • Kaladesh Remastered
  • Jumpstart: Historic Horizons
  • Alchemy: Innistrad
  • Alchemy: New Capenna
  • Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate
  • Explorer Anthology
  • Alchemy: Dominaria
  • Alchemy: The Brothers’ War
  • Alchemy: Phyrexia
  • Shadows over Innistrad Remastered
  • Shadows of the Past

In addition to these sets, Historic Anthologies are added to the game to support the Historic format. Wizards of the Coast added “new” old cards to MTG Arena “from across Magic’s history” for use in the format. 15-20 new cards were added in November for the beginning of the new format ( for example, Historic Anthology 1), with the goal of adding more cards every quarter of the year.

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What cards are banned or suspended in Historic?


The banned list for Historic is as follows, and it’s fairly large given the rather small pool of cards it pulls from. This was bolstered substantially with the introduction of Mystical Archives in Strixhaven, which were banned ahead of their release. This is the list as it stands:

As of June 9, 2021, the following cards are banned in Historic.

  • Agent of Treachery
  • Blood Moon
  • Brainstorm
  • Channel
  • Counterspell
  • Dark Ritual
  • Demonic Tutor
  • Field of the Dead
  • Intruder Alarm
  • Land Tax
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Memory Lapse
  • Natural Order
  • Necropotence
  • Nexus of Fate
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • Sneak Attack
  • Spreading Seas
  • Swords to Plowshares
  • Thassa’s Oracle
  • Tibalt’s Trickery
  • Time Warp
  • Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
  • Veil of Summer
  • Wilderness Reclamation

Historic is a little different from other MTG formats as it also has access to a suspension system. Wizards of the Coast introduced suspensions to control the balance that works well with MTG‘s history of using bans and restrictions while allowing more flexibility to adjust as Historic adapts. A suspension works like a ban, in that the card will not be legal to use in the format while it is suspended. There may be a case where the card may come off suspension to become legal or become banned instead.

At the time being, there are no Suspended cards in Historic.

It still feels like a bit of a shame to not have access to Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares, because it means they’re in MTG Arena with no real use, which seems a bit pointless. Nevertheless, that’s everything you need to know about what Historic is.

Historic is Also a Card Type

While the term Historic is mostly used to refer to the MTG Arena format that includes almost every card on the client, Historic is also, technically a card type.

Released in Dominaria, cards that care about a Historic card type refer to Legendary cards, artifacts and sagas.

To make things even more confusing, there is also Historic Brawl. While similar to Historic, this format has its own rules and Banlist. Currently, this Historic Brawl format is the closest thing that MTG Arena has to Commander, and that’s saying a lot. If you want to read up on the format, you can do so here.

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