Flare of Duplication
28, May, 24

Wizards Confirms up to 20 MTG Cards Will Be Banned Soon

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Now that spoiler season is almost entirely out of the way, Modern Horizons 3 is looking scarier than ever before. Looming on the horizon like a monstrous Eldrazi titan, this set is primed to shake up multiple MTG formats unless some cards are banned. Given the power of the cards that we’ve seen, it’s practically guaranteed that Modern and Timeless will be forcibly rotated.

While MTG players have feared Modern and Timeless’ encroaching rotation, questions have lingered around Historic. Since the set’s announcements, Wizards has remained suspiciously quiet about how much of Modern Horizons 3 will be Historic legal. At long last, we’re finally getting some clarity on this topic, however, it may not be good news.

Fewer Than 20 Pre-Banned Cards

Flare of Denial

In the latest MTG Arena announcement post, Wizards confirmed Historic is getting much more of Modern Horizons 3 than expected. According to Wizards, “Most Modern Horizons 3 cards will be legal in Historic and fewer than 20 will be pre-banned.” Currently, there’s no telling exactly which cards will be pre-banned, or how many, but we can make some educated guesses.

Given they can be played for basically nothing, it seems sensible that the cycle of Flare cards will be pre-banned. Out of this cycle, Flare of Denial is easily the most problematic, as a free counterspell is insane. Similarly, Flare of Fortitude offering free protection may be a bit much for Historic.

As if one free spell cycle being pre-banned wasn’t enough, it’s likely another could be pre-banned too. Arriving as Special Guests, that are now confirmed to be on MTG Arena, the Evoke Elementals may be too strong for Historic. This certainly seems to be the case for Fury, since it’s currently banned in Modern.

Outside of these potentially problematic free spells, several new-to-Modern reprints may be a touch too powerful. Given they’re Legacy playable, Kappa Cannoneer could run rampant in Historic. The same is true of Sylvan Safekeeper and Flusterstorm.

Ultimately, given the power level of Modern Horizons 3, there are a great deal of MTG cards that could be pre-banned. Since Wizards is only picking out “fewer than 20,” however, it seems they’re being surprisingly picky. At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait and see what Wizards announces in the future.

Currently, Wizards has not yet given an exact date when the pre-bans will be announced. Wizards has only stated, “We’ll let players know what ones before the set releases.”

The Good, The Bad, And The Overpowered

Kappa Cannoneer

Even before we know about which MTG cards specifically are being banned, there is some cause for concern. As fun as it may be, Historic is in a rather weird spot on MTG Arena at the moment. In theory, Modern Horizons 3 is the chance to change this, however, fewer than 20 cards being banned may not be enough.

Following the release of Timeless back in December 2023, Historic has had some fierce competition on MTG Arena. With Timeless offering more powerful cards, no bans, and Fetch Lands, there appears to be one clearly better format. Despite this, Historic has been clinging on, with Aetherhub’s data suggesting a similar number of matches are being played.

Without new data from Wizards officially, it’s unclear exactly how Historic and Timeless are faring against one another. Even without this, it’s clear that these formats are fighting with one another for survival. As much as their metagames may be slightly different, there’s enough crossover that neither feels that distinct.

Ideally, Modern Horizons 3 was going to be the turning point in this divide. Should enough cards be pre-banned in Historic, then the formats would diverge and finally become their own thing. While we don’t know what the future holds, it feels unlikely that fewer than 20 bans will cause this much-needed shift.

While creating a divide may be good for the long-term health of both formats, there is a problem with pre-banning too much. Since Historic players are getting the short end of the stick, pre-banning too much may drive players away. Even if the Historic metagame is better balanced as a result, this is hardly good for format health.

What Will Get Banned?

Grist, Voracious Larva

Ultimately, there’s no easy solution to the problem that Wizards of the Coast faces here. If too much is banned, MTG players may migrate to Timeless to play all their fun new cards. Alternatively, if not enough is cut, Historic may continue to struggle with its identity.

Right now, we can only hope that whatever Wizards bans will be enough to get the best of both worlds. Whether or not this will be the case, however, remains to be seen. Not only do we have to wait for the pre-ban announcement, but also for Modern Horizons 3 to release.

Only after both of these events have happened will we be able to see the state of Historic and Timeless. Thankfully, even if they’re not perfect, future MTG sets should be able to further their divide for the better. With multiple Universes Beyond sets in the works, alongside inevitable Bonus Sheets, it may not be long before we see more bans and pre-bans.

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