Magic Arena Pauses Pioneer Masters, Focuses On Historic & Standard

Magic Arena, the online interface for Wizards of the Coast's premier trading card game Magic: The Gathering, has seen a lot of profit in the last year. The interface has also been growing to accommodate the players who have been shut in their houses by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. When Arena began to showcase the Historic format, a format that is only used on Arena and not in physical paper Magic play, around that same time Wizards of the Coast showcased the Pioneer format for physical play. However, one skyrocketed, while the other one faded rather quickly. With this in mind, the developers for Arena have announced that they will be pausing the beginning steps of bringing Pioneer to the digital interface and instead focusing their efforts more on the existing formats on Arena.

The list of legal sets in Pioneer and its five banned cards, circa October 2019, when Pioneer began. Attributed to Magic: The Gathering.
The list of legal sets in Pioneer and its five banned cards, circa October 2019, when Pioneer began. Attributed to Magic: The Gathering.

Originally, Pioneer had only five banned cards. These cards were the five allied fetchlands, reprinted in the Khans of Tarkir expansion set. The banned list has been cultivated since then, now including cards such as Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Oko, Thief of Crowns. Beyond this, the Pioneer format started at Return to Ravnica and spanned through to the present day's sets. Today this means up through Strixhaven: School of Mages, but soon would encompass Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. However, the future of support for Pioneer is now made uncertain with the eschewing of Pioneer Masters, a Magic Arena-only expansion set, for furthered support for the more popular Historic and Standard formats (including Brawl).

What this likely means for Wizards of the Coast as a whole is that they need to focus on fostering the formats they already have. This includes the reprinting of older cards that may make their formats, or even that may break them. If Wizards of the Coast put more time into this practice, even if it were through even more supplemental set product releases, this would very likely do the game some good in all formats the reprints would affect. But what do you think about this? Would Wizards go so far as to abolish the Reserved List to these ends, thus revitalizing Legacy? Would they reprint more of the most expensive cards in Modern, potentially needing to acknowledge the format's secondary market to do so? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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