Recently, things have been looking good for MTG Arena players. Wilds of Eldraine has been released, Rotation and Renewal just happened, and there are big plans for the future. Between a tournament playable pioneer, Modern Horizons 3, and even Commander in the future, MTG Arena players certainly have a lot to look forward to.
Unfortunately, while the smorgasbord of reveals at Gen Con was terribly exciting, these sets and releases aren’t here yet. We may be waiting until 2025 for some of them, in fact. While this obviously isn’t good news for impatient players, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In a new statement, Wizards has revealed a dramatic, somewhat excepted, change of plans.
Crushing the dreams of hopeful players, Modern is dead of MTG Arena, and Wizards pulled the trigger.
Modern Is Dead (On MTG Arena)
Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast started their celebrations for Magic: the Gathering Arena’s fifth anniversary. To do this, Jay Parker, Arena’s Game Director, took players on a deep dive into the current state of Constructed. Highlighting countless juicy details about formats, their aspirations, and current standing, this deep dive was incredibly informative. As you can tell from the intro, it also contained a bombshell reveal.
Toward the end of the State of Formats article, Parker mused about the future of MTG Arena as a whole. This led them to talk about the hopes for Modern on the platform. Recently, this has seemed more and more like a possibility thanks to Modern Horizons 3 and Khans of Tarkir. Introducing plenty of new Modern staples and Fetch Lands, these releases would undoubtedly make Historic feel a lot more Modern-y.
Latching onto this prospective feeling, a lot of MTG players began calling for Modern to make its way to Arena. Sure, this might take a lot of time, but surely it was doable with enough remastered sets and anthologies, right? Technically, the answer to that question is yes, however, it would take an incredibly long time. So long, in fact, that Wizards isn’t latching onto the idea themselves.
Delivering a crushing blow to players’ hopes, Parker stated “Modern on MTG Arena, […] isn’t something we currently have in our plans. There’s simply too large of a content gap there for us to close anytime soon.”
Considering the hope players have had recently, this is obviously very disappointing to hear. That being said, however, it’s not entirely surprising either. After all, Modern has access to almost 18,000 cards, while MTG Arena only contains around 9,000. Even knowing all these cards aren’t tournament-playable, that’s still an utterly immense difference.
Change Is Coming… Maybe
While Wizards may not have a focus on Modern for the time being, the is the possibility that changes. After all, “anytime soon” does technically leave the door open for the format in the far future. Depending on how much Modern Horizons 3 changes the meta, that future could be somewhat sooner than expected.
Admittedly, the above is a somewhat desperate hope for Modern, rather than any forgone conclusion. Nevertheless, there’s definitely the possibility that Wizards’ attitudes could change as time goes on. Until we hear more about that, however, it’s probably for the best not to get your hopes up too much.
Thankfully, while Modern on MTG Arena may be dead, Historic is still getting Modern Horizons 3 next year. In theory, this should dramatically shake up the meta, to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, however, that’s not necessarily a good thing. After all, if the meta is warped too much, players may have to craft new decks and spend valuable wildcards.
Since Historic is meant to be a “nonrotating digital format with a curated set of cards to ensure balance,” a forced rotation is inherently rather problematic. For better or worse, however, Wizards seems to be well aware of that. So much so, in fact, it seems Wizards may try to combat it!
When speaking on Modern Horizons 3, Parker acknowledged how the set will impact Historic with “many powerful new cards.” This, however, isn’t necessarily what Wizards want, as they “like the fundamental power space that Historic is occupying.” Thanks to this, Parker states Wizards will “continue to manage the cards that enter the format, as you saw with the pre-banned Enchanting Tale cards.”
From this statement, it certainly seems that Modern Horizons 3 will feature numerous pre-bans to ensure the format’s health.
Another New Format
Considering the problems with forced rotation, it may indeed be for the better that MH3 cards are pre-banned. That being said, however, there is definitely a growing number of cards that are banned in Historic. With many of these being pre-banned, MTG Arena players have never had a chance to properly enjoy these cards. Thankfully, however, that may be changing soon.
Speaking at the end of the recent article Parker explicitly noted how “We are also starting to accumulate several cards that are too powerful or disruptive for Historic.” Stating this is something Wizards is “thinking about” it may not be possible that MTG Arena soon gets a true Vintage-esque Eternal format. Who knows, it’s entirely possible that the previous no-ban list event was the first trial of what this format might be like.
Ultimately, while it seems Wizards does have a lot of plans in the works, they’re still a long way away. Modern Horizons 3, for instance, doesn’t release until Q2 in 2024. Similarly, Pioneer isn’t expected to launch on Arena until late 2024, or even 2025. Beyond this, Commander still only exists in the far-off future, vaguely planned for 2025 or 2026.
From these dates, Arena’s next major developments are clearly a long time coming. Thankfully, however, there should still be plenty to enjoy in the meantime. Wilds of Eldraine, for instance, just launched to hopefully reinvigorate each format’s metagame. Additionally, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan isn’t too far out either! With all these sets, hopefully, time will fly by.