22, Jul, 21

What's the Point of Suspending Cards In Historic on MTG Arena?

Article at a Glance

In Magic: the Gathering, cards getting banned has become something commonplace in recent history. Bannings have been used to correct problematic situations in various formats like Modern, Standard or even Historic on Magic Arena. But one thing that’s unique to Historic is the suspension system. We just had a card suspended in Historic in Brainstorm, but what’s the purpose of suspending a card versus just outright banning it?

The History

For those of you who are newer to playing Magic Arena, or who haven’t dived into the Historic format, Wizards of the Coast put a post out almost 2 years ago at this point when they first decided to suspend cards in Historic. The post was made when the Historic Ranked ladder was in its infancy, only being about 1 month old and Historic Anthology 1 had just been released.

At that time, the cards that were suspended were Once Upon a Time, Field of the Dead, Veil of Summer, and Oko, Thief of Crowns. These cards were suspended because they were looking at the health of the brand new, developing format, and these 4 cards were constraining the diversity, power, and fun of the new format.

What Does Suspension Mean?

Wizards explains in that suspension was the mechanism to be able to make flexible adjustments to the Historic format as it was developing and cards were being added to it on a regular basis. Suspension acts like a ban where the card is not legal in the format while it’s suspended, but Wizards would monitor the meta afterwards for a few months and then come to a determination of whether or not the card could be reintroduced back into the format. If they determined that the card could, then they would reenable the card in the format to be played, and if not then the card would be banned.

Most of the cards that have been suspended have ultimately ended up being banned. There’s a couple that have escaped the suspension list so it is definitely possible. The only 2 cards to have escaped suspension are Field of the Dead and Burning-Tree Emissary. Field of the Dead ended up being banned 3 months after being unsuspended, and BTE remains legal in Historic.

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Is It Time for Suspension to Go Away?

The spirit of the suspension system when it was integrated I think made sense. The format was very new, developing, and generally unexplored. Historic really needed to be a success as this was the method that was chosen to tackle cards that rotated out of Standard on Arena and giving those cards value. At that time, the card pool in Historic was relatively small.

At this point in time, almost 2 years later, the Historic format has had probably close to 2500 – 3000 cards added to the format. The format is still a “new” format, but enough time has passed that suspending cards really doesn’t make sense any more. Enough of the format’s meta has developed that using suspension as a crutch does not make sense. While I like the idea of temporarily taking cards out of the format that pose potential issues and seeing if at a later date they can be reintroduced, this can just be done with Banning. It’s functionally the same. The only difference here between banning and suspension on Arena, is Wild Card compensation that Wizards gives to players when a card is banned. From what I can see, that’s the only reason that the suspension system is still in place.

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What are your thoughts on this? Do you like the suspension system, or would you rather just have cards banned if they’re deemed to be problems by Wizrads? Let us know in the comments!

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