3, Jun, 24

Wizards of the Coast Pre-Bans 18 Modern Horizons 3 Cards

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Since the announcement that Modern Horizons 3 would be available on MTG Arena, there have been questions about its implantation. Given the format-warping power of many of these cards, their legality in Historic was a constant concern. Should too much be banned, this set may leave players disappointed, but not banning enough could result in a forced rotation.

Due to Modern Horizon 3’s power level, Wizards of the Coast is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to pre-bans. Unfortunately, this situation wasn’t even made easier by the release of Timeless as the formats are problematically similar. Thankfully, despite this difficult position, Wizards of the Coast has made their mind up.

In the latest Arena Announcements post, Wizards of the Coast confirmed that 18 Modern Horizon 3 cards are being hit by pre-bans.

No Flares In Historic

Modern Horizons 3 Flare Cycle

From the moment they were first revealed, the entire cycle of Flare cards looked like easy targets for pre-bans. Being the cycle of free spells from Modern Horizons 3, these cards offered immense value for potentially minimal cost. So long as you have a non-token creature of the correct color to sacrifice, these cards are always an option and threat.

Much like the free spells from Modern Horizons 2, which we’ll get to later, Modern Horizons 3’s Flares have format-warping potential. This is especially true for Flare of Denial which is arguably the best of the bunch. Offering a counterspell that’s a threat even when you’re tapped out, this spell is an absolute nightmare.

Outside of Flare of Denial, each Flare simply offers great value for basically no cost. Outside of the somewhat meh Flare of Cultivation each of these can be played at instant speed and offers incredible utility. Whether you want protection, a copy effect, or sacrifice-based removal, these Flares have you covered.

As you would expect, in the latest Arena Announcements article, Wizards explained why they’ve made this obvious pre-ban decision. Ultimately, Wizards simply believe that “cards that can be cast for free with alternative payments” are too fast for Historic. Given the format-warping power of the Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons 2, that seems to be a fair assessment.

While the cycle of five Flare cards from Modern Horizons 3 won’t be Historic-legal, you can still play them in Timeless.

Evoke Elementals Are Pre-Banned

MH2 Evoke Elementals

As we alluded to earlier, the Flares aren’t the only cycle of free spells getting hit by pre-bans on MTG Arena. Making their debut as Special Guests, the cycle of Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons 2 is getting pre-banned too! Given how these cards have impacted formats since their release, this isn’t a surprise at all.

Out of all the Evoke elementals, Fury is arguably the most dangerous. Capable of dishing out four damage optionally split between multiple targets, Fury would be decent removal when played on curve. Getting to cast this card for basically free, however, turns it into an absolute monster.

As with the Flare cycle, the Evoke Elementals each provide incredible utility for an exceptionally low cost. Whether you’re playing these cards on turn one or later in the game, it always feels like a steal. As if that wasn’t good enough, the Evoke Elementals have another trick up their sleeve making them even more powerful.

Since they’re creatures, the Evoke Elementals can be reanimated once they hit the graveyard. Currently, effects like [tooltipsNot Dead After All are being used to great effect alongside Grief in Modern. When played in tandem, not only do you get a free Thoughtsize but you also get a turn one 3/2 threat!

Ultimately, the Evoke Elementals were banned for the same reason that the Flare cycle was banned. Since these cards can be cast for free, they’re way too fast for Historic in its current state. Potentially, this could change in the future, but hopefully, this won’t happen for a long time.

The Last Eight Bans

MH3 Pre Banned Cards

Outside of the two cycles of free cards getting unsurprisingly pre-banned, seven other cards are being kept out of Historic. While they’re hardly a cycle, two of these cards follow the same theme of messing with lands. Due to concerns about slowing games too much, the Stax-y Winter Moon and Harbinger of the Seas are both being pre-banned.

Alongside these singled-out cards, Wizards of the Coast also confirmed the five enemy Fetch Lands are pre-banned in Historic. Saying these cards are pre-banned, however, might be a bit of a misnomer, as they’re actually already banned. This happened following the release of Khans of Tarkir on MTG Arena in late 2023.

Despite technically not changing anything, it’s nonetheless nice to get confirmation about these cards’ legality. Since they’re being reprinted, it was possible these lands could be made Historic legal due to the shifting power level. Since this isn’t happening, hopefully, Historic should retain much of its current feel and diverge from Timeless even more. 

Last but not least, Wizards also confirmed one Modern Horizons 3 is being pre-banned in Brawl. This card is Disruptor Flute, which seems like a very fair call. Since this card can completely shut down a Commander, playing against it would be truly horrible. This ultimately means Disruptor Flute should be banned for the sake of fun, much like Drannith Magistrate was.

Are These Bans Enough?

Ugin's Labyrinth

Ultimately, the Modern Horizons 3 cards getting hit with pre-bans in Historic feel very safe. For better or worse, it seems that only the worst of the worst cards are getting banned. Considering many MTG Arena players want to enjoy these cards, this restraint from Wizards isn’t entirely surprising. That being said, it might not be a good thing.

Given the power level seen throughout Modern Horizons 3, Historic may still succumb to a forced rotation. Ideally, this rotation will simply introduce new decks, rather than pushing out old ones, but that remains to be seen. Ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.

Thankfully, should Wizards of the Coast not have banned enough, they can fix this problem fairly quickly. As announced back in May, the next bans are scheduled to take place on June 24th. This should hopefully give time for the dust to settle and any new ban-worthy cards to emerge in Historic.

Every Pre-Banned Modern Horizons 3 Card

When Modern Horizons 3 launches on MTG Arena, the following 16 cards will be pre-banned in Historic.

  • Harbinger of the Seas
  • Winter Moon
  • Endurance
  • Fury
  • Grief
  • Subtlety
  • Solitude
  • Flare of Fortitude
  • Flare of Denial
  • Flare of Malice
  • Flare of Duplication
  • Flare of Cultivation
  • Bloodstained Mire
  • Flooded Strand
  • Polluted Delta
  • Windswept Heath
  • Wooded Foothills

Alongside the Historic-focused pre-bans, one Modern Horizons 3 card is being pre-banned in Brawl.

  • Disruptor Flute

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