Today, Wizards of the Coast revealed Magic: the Gathering’s newest format: Pioneer.

Pioneer is a new non-rotating format that will include all Magic expansion sets beginning from Return to Ravnica, which was release in the Fall of 2011, and will include new expansions as they are released. The format is intended to be a place for “players who started more recently and still want to play with their favorite cards after rotation.”

The sets that will be included in Magic’s newest format, Pioneer.

The sets that are legal in Pioneer begin with Return to Ravnica in order to create a large enough format to allow for “cross-block synergies to give the format its own unique characteristics.”

Pioneer will begin with five cards on the banned list: Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills. These fetchlands will be banned because the shocklands (printed in both Ravnica blocks) are also included in Pioneer and “mana bases with fetch lands and shock lands are very strong and make playing three or four colors too easy.”

Strong multicolor manabases can cause decks to become homogenous and create a format that is “defined by how many of the strongest cards players can squeeze into one deck.” By putting constraints on the manabases in Pioneer, Wizards hopes to “add diversity to the format and make decks play differently from one another.”

Though Pioneer will start with a small banned list, Wizards says that they’ll “be watching it closely at its inception and banning cards on off-cycle dates” and use data from Magic Online to identify problematic cards to ban early on.

The format will be playable on Magic Online and tabletop but will not be coming to MTG Arena. It will be available on Magic Online starting October 23 with events coming soon after. Pioneer will make it’s high level debut at the Players Tour in Feburary 2020 as the constructed format for those events and will also be the constructed format for the associated Players Tour Final in April 2020. It will become an option for Players Tour Qualifiers starting March 21.

What About Modern? Historic?

Pioneer is Magic’s sixth non-rotating format and comes four months after the another new non-rotating format, Historic, was revealed in June.

So what makes Pioneer different? Well, the sets legal in Historic begin with Ixalan (Fall 2017) and the sets legal in Modern begin with 8th Edition (Summer 2003). Pioneer starts with Return To Ravnica (Fall 2011), which puts it somewhere in between Historic and Modern.

According to Wizards, Modern’s card pool is so large—it contains sixteen years worth of cards—that it no longer serves the intended role of the “format where you can use your Standard cards after rotation.” Pioneer is intended to bridge the gap between Standard and a non-rotating format for tabletop and Magic Online players. Since it won’t be available on MTG Arena, Historic will serve to bridge that gap for Arena players.

“Modern isn’t going anywhere,” Wizards said. “We love Modern, and players do as well. Pioneer isn’t a replacement in any sense. It is, instead, a recognition of a diverse, growing, and stratified player base.”

“We view Pioneer as additive,” they continued, and not as a replacement of any existing format.

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