Wizards of the Coast has banned Nexus of Fate and suspended Burning-Tree Emissary in Magic: the Gathering’s Historic format. They have also moved Winota, Joiner of Forces, Agent of Treachery, and Fires of Invention from suspended in Historic to permanently banned.

Also banned: Arcum’s Astrolabe in Modern, as well as Expedition Map and Mystic Sanctuary in Pauper. And Oath of Nissa was unbanned in Pioneer.

After suspending Winota, Agent, and Fires in two separate announcements last month, Wizards saw that the top two decks in Historic “comprised roughly 15% of best-of-three play, showing a healthy, diverse spread of decks.” However, since then, the top two decks have risen to “roughly 35% [of the metagame], and the rate of concentration is increasing.” Those decks, Bant Nexus and Gruul Aggro, “are each now played more than three times as much as their closest competition” in Best-of-Three Historic.

Nexus of Fate

“Over the last month, decks using Nexus of Fate have risen dramatically in terms of metagame share, and it is now Historic’s most-played deck,” Wizards said.

Nexus of Fate is a card we have been watching closely for a long time in Historic,” they continued. “While it is very powerful, we had hoped that Traditional [Best-of-Three] Historic would be a place where it could remain a balanced option for its fans. While this held true for a long time, with the deck showing strong but within-bounds play and win rates, it has now risen to a level where it is starving out other options and warping the format around itself.”

Additionally, Wizards believes that “its power will only grow as the Historic cardpool expands” and that it is unlikely that “the meta will soon reach a place where sufficient answers exist to make this deck a balanced, fun option for players.” This makes Nexus of Fate such an outlier in their mind that Wizards is skipping the Historic suspension system and outright banning the card.

Historic is the third format in which Nexus of Fate has been banned—it was originally banned in Best-of-One Standard on MTG Arena early last year due to the miserable play patterns it enabled, and then was banned in Pioneer for the same reason. All this trouble from a Buy-a-Box promo from Dominaria, which only be available as a Buy-a-Box promo and not be included in the actual set—just the second such card to be an exclusive Buy-a-Box promo.

Why Not Ban Wilderness Reclamation?

Though Nexus of Fate is indeed a powerful card, its dominant presence in the Historic metagame is entirely dependent on its pairing with Wilderness Reclamation, a mana-doubling (or tripling, or quadrupling, or…) card that is currently dominating Standard.

However, Wizards said that they “are not seeing Wilderness Reclamation appear in problematic decks in Historic” outside of the Nexus of Fate archetype. “This deck also runs multiple ways to accelerate to early casts of Nexus of Fate, and those options will only expand with the format,” they continued.  Combined with the fact that “Wilderness Reclamation acts primarily to give players access to a wider array of lines of play, while Nexus of Fate acts to prevent the opponent from playing at all,” Wizards believes that “Nexus of Fate is the better card to act on.”

Historic Bant Nexus

Creatures (4)
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Planeswalkers (3)
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Spells (19)
Blink of an Eye
Growth Spiral
Thassa’s Intervention
Nexus of Fate

Enchantments (6)
Search for Azcanta
Wilderness Reclamation
Lands (28)
Blast Zone
Breeding Pool
Castle Vantress
Fabled Passage
Hinterland Harbor
Lonely Sandbar
Temple of Mystery
Tranquil Thicket

Sideboard (15)
Aether Gust
Root Snare
Mystical Dispute
Nightpack Ambusher
Shark Typhoon


Burning-Tree Emissary

Gruul Aggro has been battling Bant Nexus for the most-played deck in Historic over the last month and has one of the highest win rates in both the Best-of-Three and Best-of-One queues.

Burning-Tree Emissary isn’t the most powerful card in Gruul Aggro but, since it generates two mana when it enters the battlefield, it sets up some of the deck’s most broken starts by allowing the deck to play multiple creatures on Turn 2. “While the explosive starts Burning-Tree Emissary enables are a factor in the deck’s rise,” Wizards said, “its removal should leave the deck with ample power to remain competitive, just at a more balanced level with other aggressive options.”

Unlike with Nexus of Fate, Wizard does “see a strong possibility that the Historic meta could shift in a way that allows Burning-Tree Emissary to find a balanced, fun home,” so they are merely suspending the card rather than permanently banning it. “However, as the meta stands today, the power it brings to Gruul Aggro is overall reducing the number of balanced, interesting, and varied deck options in format.”

Burning-Tree Emissary was originally printed in Gatecrash in 2013 and hasn’t been Standard-legal since the introduction of MTG Arena. However, it was added to the game (and Historic) as part of the first Historic Anthology, a product that Wizards has used to add cards directly the MTG Arena’s Historic format without having to include those cards in a Standard set. Burning-Tree Emissary is the first card from one of the Anthologies to subsequently be suspended or banned in Historic.

Historic Gruul Aggro

Creatures (27)
Llanowar Elves
Burning-Tree Emissary
Gallia of the Endless Dance
Growth-Chamber Guardian
Bonecrusher Giant
Gruul Spellbreaker
Klothys, God of Destiny
Questing Beast
God-Eternal Rhonas

Planeswalkers (5)
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Spells (4)
Domri’s Ambush

Artifacts (2)
Lands (22)
Castle Embereth
Rootbound Crag
Stomping Ground

Sideboard (15)
Castle Garenbrig
Destiny Spinner
Lava Coil
Flame Sweep
Klothys, God of Destiny
Carnage Tyrant
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

Looking Forward to the New Historic

Historic, Magic’s newest format, was announced in November 2019 as an eternal format for MTG Arena—just a month after Wizards revealed Magic’s other newest format, Pioneer. Since then, Pioneer has been used as a Players Tour format while Historic has been sporadically supported and only just got a full-time ranked queue in May.

However, with Magic Esports’ shift online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Historic will finally have its time to shine in August. The second Arena Open, which will be held on August 1-2, will be the first major Historic tournament and will be followed by the Mythic Invitational on August 28-30, which will also use the Historic format.

Historic has undergone dramatic changes over the last few months with plenty of suspensions and bans. How will the metagame shake out as we head into the format’s first two major events?

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