In early July, MTG Arena will be holding an event called Mirror, Mirror, where players can play with decks that include rebalanced (essentially nerfed) versions of cards currently banned in Historic. The format is currently digital-only, which gives us an impression that Wizards of the Coast are exploring a potential way to patch the format without having to outright ban cards.
This came to light when Andre Liverod, developer of the third party tracker application MTGA Assistant, datamined the cards belonging to the set code “ANC” and seeked help from the reddit community on what they could be used for. With a bit of detective work, they were able to deduce what these cards were doing in the game files, and even how they are planned to be changed in the upcoming event!
Historic Banned Card List
For your reference, here are the cards currently banned from the Historic format with a link to their announcements if you want to find out why they were deemed banworthy at the time.
|Card Name||Suspension Date||Ban Date|
|Nexus of Fate||July 13, 2020|
|Oko, Thief of Crowns||December 10, 2019||March 9, 2020|
|Once Upon a Time||December 10, 2019||March 9, 2020|
|Veil of Summer||December 10, 2019||March 9, 2020|
|Fires of Invention||June 1, 2020||July 13, 2020|
|Agent of Treachery||June 1, 2020||July 13, 2020|
|Winota, Joiner of Forces||June 8, 2020||July 13, 2020|
|Field of the Dead||August 24, 2020|
|Teferi, Time Raveler||August 3, 2020||October 12, 2020|
|Wilderness Reclamation||August 3, 2020||October 12, 2020|
|Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath||September 28, 2020||February 15, 2021|
|Omnath, Locus of Creation||October 12, 2020||February 15, 2021|
|Thassa’s Oracle||May 19, 2021|
Without further ado, let’s review the planned card changes for the Mirror, Mirror event one by one and see if they will still make an impact on Historic. A few things to note, before we start:
- The changes listed here are unlikely to be final, and may be significantly different when the event goes live in July. The final version of the cards will be shown here when the patch goes live.
- Thassa’s Oracle was recently banned from Historic, and is not listed here. We cannot confirm how it will be reflected in the event.
- Having said that, many cards were banned a while ago when Historic’s power level was lower. Now with Mystical Archive, Anthologies and the Remastered sets, some of these cards may not even need any changes before being unbanned!
Agent of Treachery
Change: The enters the battlefield ability triggers only if cast from the hand.
This card was never meant to be highly playable because of its prohibitive mana cost. Since Throne of Eldraine, increased power level of cards have allowed Agent of Treachery to be cheated out and exploited in various ways. From Winota, Joiner of Forces to Lukka combined with Yorion, Sky Nomad, the card sucked the fun out of many games by stealing other people’s permanents. With this change, the card will likely not be in many deck’s radar.
Field of the Dead
Change: The land is now legendary and Zombies enter the battlefield tapped.
This controversial card spent some time in Historic being banned, then unbanned, and now banned again due to the excess ramping cards available in Historic. Though now probably considered too slow to be played with the likes of Scapeshift, this powerful card has become ubiquitous and “free to include” in many decks. With this change, the card still looks playable in more controlling shells.
Fires of Invention
Change: Mana cost increased to 3RR.
It’s been a while since we saw this card in play, and the metagame looks very different now than when it dominated Standard along with its Cavalier buddies. Even without the single mana cost increase, it’s not certain whether this card will see play now that we have access to much more powerful cards in the format.
Nexus of Fate
Change: The card exiles itself when cast and does not shuffle itself into its owner’s library.
For some reason, Nexus of Fate unlike similar cards that grant extra turns, allow itself to be recurred over and over. It also didn’t help that it can be cast at Instant speed. The card caused a lot of grief in the early days of MTG Arena especially in best of one games where there is no time limit for matches. It didn’t take long for it to be also banned in best of three. With this change, it could potentially still see play because of its Instant speed and the ramping strategies available, but Time Wap would still likely be the card of choice for extra turns.
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Change: The first ability gives +1 loyalty and the second ability now takes -2 loyalty.
Oko has been the hallmark card of Magic: The Gathering’s greatest power creep that also coincided with MTG Arena’s official launch. For three mana, this card instantly became a multiformat all-star, and players had to include sideboard cards in their main deck just to have a chance against a turn two Oko that came with Gilded Goose. This change seems much more sensible and what it should have been in the first place, though that probably means it’s much harder to find a home now.
Omnath, Locus of Creation
Change: Scry 1 when entering the battlefield rather than drawing a card.
One of the more recent additions to the Historic banlist, this change seems more subtle than the others so far. The Landfall abilities are still pretty powerful and with the Historic mana base getting better and better, the nerf may not be enough.
Once Upon a Time
Change: Costs 1 instead of 0 when it’s the first spell each game.
With this change, this card can be compared to Abundant Harvest, which has seen decent play in Historic since its introduction in Historic.
Teferi, Time Raveler
Change: Mana cost increased to 2WU.
One of Magic’s redeeming factors is Instant speed spells that players can respond to one another and Teferi shut that down very effectively just for three mana. We can’t say that this card was beloved at the time, but it was definitely a controversial decision. The mana cost increase is reasonable, but it would still be interesting to see how it would perform in the current meta in its original mana cost.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Change: No longer allows you to put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.
Another Green and Simic card that joined the Historic (and Standard) banlist, Uro was an auto-include in most decks that could accommodate it. Without the ramping part, the card looks to be on a similar level to the much more balanced Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, if not a bit worse.
Veil of Summer
Change: Mana cost increased to 1G.
We are not sure if the Mirror, Mirror event is best of one like most other Arena events and whether if it will even have a best of three version, but Veil of Summer will surely be a solid sideboard card at best with this change.
Change: Untaps two lands instead of all.
The change looks a little bit too overdone especially with the Teferi and Nexus of Fate nerf as they were all played in the same kind of decks previously, but it’s better safe than be sorry!
Winota, Joiner of Forces
Change: Look at the top four cards of your library instead of six.
Many will agree that Winota does not likely need any changes and can probably just be unbanned as it is now. It was a victim of its time, and now that we know even cards like Muxus, Goblin Grandee is losing power against all the new flashy cards in Historic. In fact, it can’t even be used with the new version of Agent of Treachery and Angrath’s Marauders competes with Blade Historian in the same spot. Free Winota!
Are you an avid Historic player? Let us know in the comments below if you are itching to play with these rebalanced cards and whether you have any cool deck ideas for them!