MTG Arena Historic Format Detailed, Players Aren’t Too Happy


by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | Sep, 2nd 2019

Wizards of the Coast hosted the State of the Beta this past week, revealing new details for the Magic: The Gathering Arena game. The digital version of the popular card game is still in open beta format and this post was meant to offer new details about what’s ahead in the future.

Part of those new details include opening the floodgates on everything there is to know about the upcoming MTG Arena Historic format. Historic had been revealed in the past but we had few details about how it would work and everything until now. And some players aren’t too happy about the details revealed in today’s blog post.

What MTG Arena Historic Is All About

For those who don’t know, the MTG Arena Historic format is a new match format that will be coming to the open beta digital PC card game for free and as an exclusive mode for it. It will be launching sometime in November later this year as an alternative to those who want to use older cards.

After all, the release of the upcoming expansion Throne of Eldraine will shake up the core Standard match format entirely, removing four different expansion sets released in 2017 and 2018 from the normal rotation entirely. This will mean that some of your favorite cards might be unavailable for Standard play.

This is an issue that has plagued the card game for decades as players would soon find that they couldn’t use their older favorite cards in any official capacity anymore. Thankfully, the new MTG Arena Historic format is a solution to that as it will offer the growing catalogue of older sets.

In addition, the new details Wizards of the Coast announced today are a direct answer to the concerns and requests from fans since the initial announcement. Historic is a non-rotating format that will contain older cards but some features that players expect weren’t going to be in it.

When Wizards of the Coast originally announced MTG Arena Historic, it was only going to be for best of one play queues and there weren’t any plans whatsoever to have additional events, older sets in the collection, and ranked competitive play for those who want it.

However, the new details revealed today are welcome as most of those unfortunate features are changing now. The company listened and considered the player feedback surrounding these details and is responding accordingly with updates for the mode.

Historic Match Format Will Receive “New” Cards

There are some core criteria that are at the heart of what makes the new Historic match format what it is. The first of these three criteria is that the mode should feel distinct from the other Constructed formats, specifically, different from that of the Standard mode.

In addition, it has taken back what it said before about competitive play and the Historic format should have some competitive aspect to it. The example that is given is ranked play. Last but not least, the final criteria point that was detailed is that there needs to be some balance for the long-term health of the overall game.

Beginning with the first criteria point, Wizards of the Coast revealed its plans for how it is going to shake up Historic so that it doesn’t end up being just the older version of Standard play. How this is going to happen is by leveraging the storied history of the card series and utilizing it in an interesting way.

As we know now, MTG Arena Historic will be launching in November and starting that month, “new” cards are going to be added to the game from across the game’s several decades of lore and history. These returning cards will be available for play in Historic’s format and events.

Those new cards will be new because they aren’t featured in the game currently. Presumably, these new cards will be older cards from the past sets across the 20 plus years of history in the franchise. There are no specific restrictions on set, types, or rarities for these cards so you could literally see anything from the past join the game.

These new cards will be added to the game’s Historic mode regularly with the first set of cards coming out in November at the launch of the mode. There are going to be around 15-20 cards initially offered from across the history of the series with more to come after that.

The goal is at this time to add more of these older cards to the game around every quarter or so after the initial launch in November. These new cards will mostly release independently from the Standard sets’ release timing so you can expect new cards often enough.

Speaking of sets, Wizards of the Coast acknowledged that many players would like to see entire sets of older cards from the series join the game for use in Historic but the time required to do so is more than the company can commit to at this time.

There is a hint that full older sets could come in the future for the game but for now, the company is focusing on adding meaningful cards from the series that will be a valuable asset to the players. As we approach the release of Historic, WotC will also be looking to players for feedback on what cards to add to the game so be sure to speak up if you have some long gone favorites.

Historic Ranked Play Is Coming After Launch

From there, we come to the second point of the competitive aspect of the new Historic mode. Not only are players going to be able to use the mode to enjoy some old cards that can’t be used any longer in Standard but players will have a ranked queue on the way as well.

It won’t launch immediately with the match format but the ranked play mode is set to release sometime in December. It will allow for best of three play and will actually contribute to your already existing Constructed rank just like Standard does.

However, worry not as you will only be matched with players who are also using a Historic deck as that would likely break the meta game otherwise. Initially, there are plans to only offer the ranked mode for Historic for a limited time of around four weeks or so.

This format will continue for the foreseeable future as Wizards of the Coast figures out what’s best for the mode. Ranked play will likely be only available for the last four weeks or so of each card set in Standard. This will allow it to get a feel for how ranked is doing and whether or not it needs its own separate rank from Standard.

The other way to change up the play options for Historic fans is to start implementing events for the mode, similar in a way to the current events for Standard. There are monthly events planned for the mode that will put a historic spin on various match formats like Singleton and Pauper.

The first of these monthly events will begin in November and there are potentially new match formats on the way for the events. At this time, an entry fee is planned for the first event so players will need to likely pay up to check it out. But it will be a way for participants to receive the new cards added to the game.

Players Aren’t Happy About the Changes to Wildcards

MTG Arena Mythic Wildcard Transparent

The third and final point of the criteria is by far the trickiest to navigate, according to Wizards of the Coast. The health of the overall game is challenging to make sure that new players are able to enjoy Standard and Draft while veteran players are more encouraged to try out Historic.

To deal with this challenging issue, the company has decided to change how wildcards will work for the historic cards. Starting after an update in November, players will need to redeem two wildcards instead of one in order to craft one of the historic cards.

If the card happens to be in a current Standard set, players will only need to redeem one wildcard for the standard version of the card like it has been but the historic version will require the player to redeem two wildcards. To give players a heads up, that’s why the update won’t happen until November.

This gives players a chance to take advantage of the still one wildcard requirement at this time and craft historic cards for cheaper. It is here with the wildcard changes that players are becoming unhappy. Players have been flocking to the official Twitter account to voice complaints about these changes.

Many players in the community aren’t happy about the fact that they are charging double the normal wildcards just because it is in the Historic format. Some in the community have noted that this potentially puts up a tough barrier of entry for newer players who want to enjoy the new format.

In addition to that, historical sets are going to be limited to the 45-pack bundle in the store on September 26, due to that being the most popular pack bundle for players who are looking to expand their collection. That change will coincide with the release of the upcoming fall expansion.

It was also revealed in the State of the Beta that the release date for the fall expansion Throne of Eldraine is set for September 26 in MTG Arena. It will release just over a week before it comes out in the tabletop physical card form. With it comes some major changes to the rotation.

There are a total of four card sets that will be leaving the Standard rotation and those four sets come from fall of 2017 and most of the expansions of last year. Those sets will then become old sets that will be available for play in the upcoming MTG Arena Historic match format.

The new match format is set to release in November with ranked play and more to come later on.

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