Oko, Thief of Crowns
22, Aug, 23

Wizards Removes Ban List in Insane MTG Event

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There has been a lot of talk about ban lists in MTG recently. This follows a monumental change to the banning process, announced back in May. For the first time in a long time, MTG now has a fixed yearly and post-set ban schedule. Earlier this month, MTG players saw the first of new yearly bans.

For better or worse, not a lot happened in 2023’s big yearly banning. Rather than bans being dished out across the board, only a pair of cards were unbanned. While these freshly unbanned cards have since been making waves in the meta and financial markets, many MTG players were nonetheless disappointed. 

Thankfully for these disgruntled players, it seems Wizards is far from done on their unbanning spree. Especially since, in a new event, Wizards unbanned literally everything 

Prophetical Predictions

Prophetic Flamespeaker | Journey into Nyx
Prophetic Flamespeaker | Journey into Nyx

Prior to the latest ban announcement from Wizards, many MTG players tried to predict what was about to happen. We even threw our own hat in the ring, highlighting problematic cards such as The One Ring. Exceptionally powerful and absolutely everywhere, this card seemed like an obvious ban, even if the card was still being printed.

Alongside this prediction, we, and many other MTG players, highlighted the possibility of interesting un-ban options. At the time, no one was predicting Preordain and Mind’s Desire would be unbanned. Instead, all eyes were on the fun, but potentially ineffective Splinter Twin.

While Splinter Twin seemed like the most obvious unbanning choice, there were plenty more potential picks. This even led some MTG players to suggest that Wizards should essentially reset the entire banlist, for Modern, at least. To do this, everything could be unbanned in Modern for a few weeks before things were cleaned up once again.

In an ideal world, this could dramatically cut down the size of Modern’s ban list, and remove unnecessary additions. Organizing this, however, would be a complete logistical nightmare. Just imagine trying to get into Modern when nothing is banned for a few weeks, only for it to change… It would be mad to keep up with, not to mention seriously expensive!

Thankfully, while the idea of unbanning everything in paper is a bad one, on paper, there is a solution: MTG Arena. Due to the digital nature of the game, this platform can easily run events with wacky rules of mechanics. This can even be used to test out potential features for the future. It could also be used to say… unban everything and let MTG players revel in the chaos. 

Utterly Enjoyable Chaos

Angrath, Captain of Chaos | War of the Spark
Angrath, Captain of Chaos | War of the Spark

To call the latest long-running MTG Arenaevent chaotic would be putting it lightly. After all, as we’ve alluded to multiple times already, this event completely removes the ban list in the Historic format. This means that incredibly powerful spells such as Channel, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Dark Ritual are all playable. Better than just being playable, this event is “all access” so the cards are free to use!

As you might expect, an eternal-ish format without bans or nerfs is utterly wild, with one and two-turn kills aplenty. Across social media, players have been keen to show these off, demonstrating the absurdity of the event. Take Reddit user u/Antistes, for example, who showcases a turn one Tibalt’s Trickery into Dragonstorm win. 

With countless powerful decks to choose from and build, it’s safe to say MTG Arena players have been thoroughly enjoying this event. The question remains, however, what is the point of this chaotic event?

First and foremost, the answer seems to be fun, which Wizards has certainly achieved in excess. Alongside this, however, many MTG players are predicting this event dictates the future. After all, why else would Wizards unban everything?

For better or worse, without word from Wizards themselves, there isn’t an easy answer to their question. If Wizards are looking to test unbanning cards, however, then this event has already proven incredibly valuable. After just a day of playing, it’s already incredibly obvious that many cards are too strong for Historic. 

Highlighting some of the problem cards, u/metalt recently shared their early thoughts about the format on Reddit. While every assessment wasn’t unanimously agreed with, it was nonetheless obvious that cards like Channel, Oko, and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer should stay banned. 

Fun But Flawed

Urza's Fun House
Urza’s Fun House | Unfinity

Ultimately, even if the Historic No Ban List event was purely for fun, it would be foolish to think Wizards isn’t paying attention. Subsequently, there’s a very real chance that cards could be unbanned in Historic in the near future. The closest this could happen is in the ban window following Wilds of Eldraine, however, that may be too soon. 

As for what could be unbanned, right now, that’s a touch difficult to tell thanks to some of the event’s flaws. The first of these is the fact the event is only best-of-one, which encourages combo decks and aggressive strategies. If the event was best-of-three, players would better be able to play around these potentially problematic strategies.

Alongside this rather glaring flaw, the event itself is a somewhat poor testing ground for actual potential unbannings. Rather than slowly scaling up what decks people are playing, everyone is simply gunning for the most powerful strategies possible. This can make currently banned cards such as Once Upon a Time and Counterspell look tame in comparison. 

All that said, however, there’s a non-zero chance that Wizards is looking to dramatically change up the Historic format and change it into something faster. That way, it could become MTG Arena’s true Eternal format, and then Wizards could work on implementing a Modern clone. If that is the case, this event could be incredibly useful in safely divining the future.

What Does The Future Hold? 

Once and Future
Once and Future | Throne of Eldraine

Ultimately, even with the flaws of this event, it’s nonetheless a great time. Not only is it deeply enjoyable, but it’s a great way to test out features. So much so, in fact, that we’d welcome seeing this approach used for other formats and future changes. Sure, it would take the mystery out of ban updates in MTG, however, testing out changes on a mass scale before they go live is surely sensible. 

While this does seem like a good idea to us, not like we’d be biased about our own suggestion at all, the future is ultimately a mystery. Even with the talk of unbanning recently, there’s no guarantee this event means anything. The same is true of the recent Slow Start event, which changed the Play/Draw dynamic. Sure, it was an unusual event shaking up a core mechanic, but that doesn’t mean it’s about to be implemented.

At the end of the day, even if this event means nothing, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable time. Enough of one that we’d very much recommend checking it out in case you want to play some chaotic combos and decks. Thankfully, if you are inserted, the event is running until the 5th of September, so players have two weeks, from today, to enjoy it. As we mentioned earlier, you don’t even have to craft anything for this event, as all cards are free to use. 

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