Many MTG Arena players speculated that a new MTG format was coming to Arena. Historic, which previously was meant to function as a way for players to utilize any card on the client, has had its banlist become excruciatingly long. Khans of Tarkir is on its way to MTG Arena, and hosts some incredibly powerful cards. Fetch Lands combined with Delve, in particular, are known to be a format-breaking combination. Having both of these cards legal in Historic seems unlikely.
Following the repeated trials of no-ban list events on MTG Arena, players have slowly come to suspect that something was up. These events were exceedingly popular, essentially having some players treat it as an additional competitive format. Speculation brewed wildly: is there another MTG format on the horizon? Well, MTG Arena’s Vintage has officially been announced, hosting the name MTG Timeless.
What is MTG Timeless?
Announced in this official article from Wizards of the Coast, MTG Arena will be getting a new official format next week. Named MTG Timeless, this format follows through on the original mission of Historic; granting players a competitive outlet to utilize every single card in their MTG Arena arsenal. The Historic ban list has grown to be rather lengthy, allowing for a new format to be created. The upcoming inclusion of Modern Horizons 3 threatens to make the list even longer:
“We believe now is the right time to add a new format, as we have built up a healthy batch of these cards and expect more will be added from things like bonus sheets, The List in Play Boosters, and sets like Modern Horizons 3, coming in 2024. Players also proved there is demand for this format with their engagement and support during the Historic No Banned List and Historic Basically No Bans events we ran in September and November.”Wizards of the Coast
Timeless is a 60-card non-rotating format that allows players to utilize every single card on MTG Arena, including cards from the upcoming Khans of Tarkir release, and every release after that. This, of course, also includes the digital-only Alchemy cards.
MTG Timeless will officially be released on MTG Arena for competitive play on December 12, and will include a Midweek Magic event on that day, awarding players a Khans of Tarkir pack. Otherwise, players who want to become the king of the new format can look forward to a metagame challenge appearing in early February.
Timeless is considered a competitive format, so it will have a best-of-one and best-of-three ranked and unranked queue on launch.
Sadly, as has been demonstrated by the recent no ban list events, there were a few cards that proved a bit too powerful for a no ban list format. These have been addressed in MTG Arena’s first Restricted list, a list that otherwise only exists in the Vintage format.
MTG Timeless Restricted List
A Restricted List means that Timeless MTG Arena decks can only have one copy of the Restricted card in their main deck and sideboard combined. Fortunately, cards that appear on the Restricted List can give MTG Arena players wildcards. For every extra copy past the one-of Restricted card on the Restricted list in your collection, MTG Arena players will be granted a wildcard.
This wildcard reimbursement, however, will not apply to the initial three cards Restricted for MTG Timeless.
Three cards will appear on the MTG Timeless Restricted list, and they are all cards that appeared on the recent Basically No Bans event.
Two of the three cards on the Restricted List for MTG Timeless are mostly at fault due to this one. Channel created an absurd combo alongside powerful Eldrazi like Kozilek, the Great Distortion, Emrakul, the Promised End and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Channel, combined with one of these Eldrazi cards, allowed players to deploy these game-ending threats on turn two. The two-card combo otherwise allowed players room for cards like Thoughtseize that could clear the way to deploy their game-ending plan.
This proved far too powerful for the no ban list event, moving Channel to the Ban list for the Basically No Bans event. Now, Channel is on the Restricted List, meaning players can utilize the combo, but it will be much less consistent.
Demonic Tutor initially got the boot for Channel’s sins, but it does represent a larger problem that could take the MTG Timeless format down after some period of development. If Demonic Tutor made the Channel combo too consistent, who’s to say it won’t do that with another combo after Channel gets Restricted?
As a result, Demonic Tutor also got the boot in the Basically No Bans event, and will remain Restricted in MTG Timeless. Demonic Tutor still seems like a powerful option, even as a Restricted card. I would expect this card to see a lot of play in the MTG Timeless Format.
Tibalt’s Trickery wasn’t banned out of the no banlist formats because it was overpowered. Tibalt’s Trickery instead created a rather unfun play pattern, creating an unhealthy amount of early concessions from both sides of the table.
Tibalt’s Trickery decks aimed to win the game on turns one or two. you either win out of the gate and the opponent concedes, or you mulligan to oblivion or have your win attempt countered, and you concede.
To be completely transparent, this Tibalt’s Trickery deck was not consistent. Because of how the deck functions, extreme deckbuilding restrictions are in place, making the deck an extreme glass cannon strategy. Either way, it was deemed to be a rather unhealthy play pattern that ruined the experience of the initial no ban list event. To prevent players from utilizing this Tibalt’s Trickery strategy, even though it’s not truly powerful, Tibalt’s Trickery will be Restricted in MTG Timeless.
Historic Bans Announced!
The introduction of Timeless has also announced new bans for the MTG Arena Historic format. It was revealed today in the same article that revealed MTG Timeless that the Khans of Tarkir Fetch Lands will be banned in Historic upon release.
“We want the power level of Historic to continue to grow but don’t want it to happen too quickly, as we believe it’s in an enjoyable place right now. For these reasons, we have decided to pre-ban the Khans of Tarkir fetch lands from Historic but are excited to play with them in Timeless.”Wizards of the Coast
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, Fetch Lands and Delve cards can create format-altering amounts of power when utilized together. This has led to Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time being banned in not just Modern, but Legacy as well. Startlingly, both cards have even been Restricted in the Vintage format. Needless to say, this combination would also prove way too powerful for the Historic format.
Even past this point, Fetch Lands are incredibly consistent, and can completely change the quality of mana for a format, therefore changing the entire format. Even without the Delve cards, Fetch Lands may homogenize the Historic format too much, allowing players to splash for a pile of the most powerful cards available.
As such, if Wizards of the Coast, as stated, wants to keep Historic in the same place, banning Fetch Lands outright seems like the correct decision. This, alone, is a great reason to introduce a new MTG format. Fetch Lands completely change the quality of a format, and I, alongside many others, are looking forward to trying the MTG Timeless format ourselves.
While we’re on the topic, considering just how brutally powerful Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are alongside Fetch Lands, keep an eye out for new Restricted cards to appear in MTG Timeless in the future.
Players will, however, have a window to try the jaw-dropping power of this combination for themselves, and it might even be ok for the MTG Timeless format. Considering that these cards are banned in much more powerful formats, however, I doubt that this will be the case.
You can read the official announcement from Wizards of the Coast for the Timeless format here.