5 older Magic: The Gathering sets that should come to MTG Arena
With MTG Arena now available on PC, Android and - finally - on iOS, more people than ever are going to be playing it as their first port of call for everything Magic: The Gathering.
Arena is an odd one because while it’s the prettiest way to play MTG over the internet, it lacks a lot of features that Magic: The Gathering Online has and, ultimately, doesn’t have all of the formats and cards that people who’ve been playing for a while would want. These two issues are fairly intrinsically linked, given that to support the other formats we really need older cards.
While we have seen a few classic cards coming across to MTG Arena thanks to the Historic Anthologies, they don’t do a huge amount to make us believe this is the right way to get to a point where we could play Modern, Commander or even Pioneer. Instead, we’re expecting the path to the Eternal formats to be paved with MTG Arena sets such as Amonkhet Remastered, which brought in a bunch of cards from both Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation. It’s not a perfect system though, because there were still an awful lot of cards that didn’t make the cut - including ones we’ve seen since thanks to the Historic Anthology releases.
MTG sets that should come to Arena
- Khans of Tarkir block: Dragons everywhere.
- Innistrad block: Make it spooky.
- Return to Ravnica block: We’ve been here before, and we’ll come back again.
- Zendikar block: The hills have eyes.
- Mirrodin block: The toaster laughed.
While this isn’t the perfect way to do it - at least until we get actual full sets - we can’t help but dream about the older Magic: The Gathering sets we’d like to see come to MTG Arena. Needless to say, we’d ideally love to see every set come to MTG Arena; if we’re ever going to see Commander, Legacy and Vintage that needs to happen, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.
Instead of just sitting there and praying that we get everything in some magical and also free lump, we’ve chosen five blocks - a collection of sets - that we’d love to see in MTG Arena. Not all of these are going to drive us towards the older formats, but they all have some very entertaining cards and mechanics, and getting them into the MTG Arena ecosystem would be a huge boon for everyone.
1. Khans of Tarkir block
The Khans of Tarkir block, which is made up of Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir, was released in 2014 and 2015. It tells the tale of Nicol Bolas fighting Ugin, and good old dragon fanatic Sarkhan Vol doing some timey-wimey stuff and altering the fabric of reality by doing so. Thankfully, this led to more dragons and, honestly, who doesn’t want that?
Aside from the cool lore, this whole block is filled to the brim with incredible cards for any format. Just take the command cycle, for example, adding in something like Kolaghan’s Command would completely reshape Historic thanks to its versatility and pure power. That’s not to mention the fact that adding in a bunch of new legendary dragons is sure to allow for loads of cool new Brawl decks too, especially with how much fun they are.
It helps that this would be an incredible block to draft with, as well. There are so many incredible synergies and loads of great colour fixing thanks to the fetch lands, which would absolutely be a huge boon to decks in MTG Arena.
2. Innistrad block
Make it spooky
Both Innistrad blocks are great, but while we can’t resist the allure of the Eldrazi making this already terrifying plane eldritch in nature in the Shadows over Innistrad block, the original Innistrad block has an incredible collection of cards and some great tribes to choose from.
Released way back in 2011 and 2012, Innistrad, Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored were our first forays into a plane that can only be described as a horror show. It’s home to zombies, angels, demons, werewolves and vampires. Each of these is now a fully established tribe within MTG, and each has its own fans. With so many powerful groups, bringing them into MTG Arena would be a huge hit, because we all know that nobody can resist a good tribal pull.
The story of the block is great too, with Avacyn facing off against Griselbrand and failing, causing things to go very much awry. With Avacyn, the plane’s protector, temporarily gone, all manner of evils start surfacing and wreaking havoc all over the place. It’s only thanks to a huge surge of holy magic that Avacyn returns and attempts to fight off the various evils that have planted their roots in the plane.
3. Return to Ravnica block
We’ve been here before, and we’ll come back again
Ravnica is a big deal in the multiverse of Magic: The Gathering, and while most of the sets set there have been fun, the Return to Ravnica block is a highlight for a lot of people. Featuring Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash and Dragon’s Maze, released back in 2012 and 2013, this block has a plethora of cards you’ll already know and love if you’ve been playing MTG for nearly any length of time.
While other blocks often have specific evils to face, this block focused more on the obstacles laid down by politics. Thanks to the Guildpact breaking, it’s become a complete free-for-all between the ten guilds, each of which represents one colour pairing. Jace had to try and fix things by investigating what was under Ravnica, and the arc culminated with Niv-Mizzet basically getting every guild to send one champion into the maze to try and become the dominant power of the plane.
This is another great block to draft, but it’s also got some absolute powerhouse cards for various formats with the likes of Voice of Resurgence, Mind Grind, Supreme Verdict and Abrupt Decay in amongst the wealth of cards here that would give a little more oomph to the current offerings of MTG Arena.
4. Zendikar block
The hills have eyes
Zendikar is the plane of the land literally striking back. It’s filled with deathtraps - whether that’s the brutal wildlife, plantlife or even the very ground you’re standing on. Despite that, it was always somewhat serene for those who had found their place there. Unfortunately, it turned out that the entire plane had been acting as a prison for the eldritch Eldrazi, and they ended up getting released upon the multiverse.
Zendikar came out across 2005 and 2006 and was made up of Zendikar, Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi. Aside from the stunning full-art lands that the sets contained, we also got a lot of incredibly fun cards to play around with. This plane even gifted us with Landfall, a mechanic that has long since endured and brought a variety of fun decks in various formats.
5. Mirrodin block
The toaster laughed
Released across 2003 and 2004, Mirrodin block was made up of Mirrodin, Darksteel and Fifth Dawn, and it’s an absolute beast of a set for anyone who loves a good artifact. It’s also the birthplace of Affinity, a mechanic which makes everything cheaper if you control more artifacts, which makes it incredibly important when you’re looking back on Modern’s history, as well as an intensely enjoyable block to draft.
The story of Mirrodin follows a world built by Karn. All of the inhabitants of this world are a mix of organic and metallic. As the set goes on, we discover more about this peculiar place, including how mana works there, why Green is mysteriously absent as a color of mana and what has to change to reinstate it. The Magic: The Gathering story can be a little hard to follow at times - we recommend reading up on it if you feel like losing a few days to learning things that might help in a quiz one day - and adding in these classic blocks would help make MTG Arena a better home for the game we all know and love.