MTG Arena Formats

Posted in Magic Digital on October 18, 2019

By Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering Arena has added many new formats and events, so there's a lot for a player to choose from. Here, you can learn about the formats and events you'll find in MTG Arena, their rules, and how they're played.

Events on MTG Arena change regularly, so watch the MTG Arena schedule of events for what's happening now and what's coming soon!

Banned and Suspended Cards

You may find a banned, restricted, or suspended card list in some formats.

Banned cards are forbidden to use in a specific format on Magic: The Gathering Arena. Different formats can have their own lists of banned cards. When playing in these formats, you won't be able to use banned cards in your deck or sideboard.

Restricted cards may only appear as a single copy, counting both your main deck and your sideboard.

Suspended cards work similarly to banned cards in that they are not legal to use in a specific format while suspended; however, a suspension isn't a final verdict, but an indication that we think the card may be causing issues, and we'd like to see how play functions without its influence. A suspended card may be returned to the playable pool at a later time (likely because we believe the new environment provides the appropriate answers or countermeasures), or it may be moved to the banned list.

MTG Arena Formats and Events

There are two primary format categories in MTG Arena, Constructed and Limited.

Constructed formats require a deck that is built prior to joining a match. The deck must follow the rules of that match's format. For example, Standard is a popular Constructed format in which legal cards come from recently released MTG Arena sets.

Limited formats make deck building a part of the match. Players build their decks from a pool of cards unknown to them ahead of time, usually from newly opened store packs, such as in Sealed matches.

There is a subcategory of Constructed called Preconstructed, as well. In this format, decks are not built by players, but instead players select from a set of prebuilt decks provided in MTG Arena.

All-Access Events

All Access can apply to a variety of formats and changes access to cards for deck building. In All-Access events, you can build decks using any cards legal in the format and available in MTG Arena—even if they're not in your collection! Cards not in your collection are only available during the event and are not added to your collection.

Examples of past All-Access events include All-Access Standard and All-Access Historic.

These events are a great way to try out your deck ideas!

Constructed Formats

Artisan

Artisan is a Constructed format in which all cards used in a deck must be either common or uncommon rarity. If a version of a particular card is only available as a rare or mythic rare on MTG Arena, it is not considered legal for this format.

Artisan events may use either Standard or Historic format legality for cards.

Artisan banned cards:

Brawl

Build a deck around a specific legendary creature or planeswalker from the Standard card pool and battle against other players in one-on-one matches.

View the Brawl banned list.

Historic

A non-rotating Constructed format that draws on the rich history of Magic cards and deck archetypes. Build decks using cards in your collection from all sets currently available on MTG Arena (excluding banned cards), plus curated cards from across the history of Magic.

MTG Arena Historic-legal sets:

  • Ixalan
  • Rivals of Ixalan
  • Dominaria
  • Core Set 2019
  • Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica Allegiance
  • War of the Spark
  • Core Set 2020
  • Throne of Eldraine
  • Theros Beyond Death
  • Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
  • Core Set 2021
  • Jumpstart
  • Zendikar Rising
  • Kaldheim
  • Strixhaven: School of Mages
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

Curated MTG Arena card releases for Historic:

 

Historic banned cards:
Historic Suspended cards:

Historic Brawl

A variation of Brawl, in Historic Brawl, you build a deck using any cards on MTG Arena, not just Standard-legal cards.

Historic Brawl banned cards:

Historic Metagame Challenge

Use your Historic deck and play Best-of-Three matches, but one loss and you're out! If you manage to earn seven wins, you'll receive both bragging rights and some serious rewards.

Historic Shakeup

A 60-card Historic event using an alternative banned card list.

Momir

You receive a 60-card deck of all basic lands and an emblem you can click once each turn that allows you to pay {X} and discard a card to create a token copy of a random creature card with converted mana cost X.

Pauper

This format uses 60-card decks built from your collection, but only common rarity cards may be used to build decks—no uncommon, rare, or mythic rare cards are allowed!

View the Pauper banned list.

Set Constructed

This is a Constructed format with a twist. Build a 60-card Constructed deck using only cards from specified Magic sets.

Singleton

This format uses 60-card decks built from your collection, but with a catch: you can use no more than one copy of a card (excluding basic lands).

Standard

Standard is a rotating format, meaning the sets that are legal in the format change over time as new sets are released. Standard uses 60-card decks built from your collection. Evolving gameplay and fresh strategies make it one of the most fun and popular ways to play Magic.

View the current Standard banned list and Standard-legal sets.

Standard Metagame Challenge

Play Best-of-Three matches with your 60-card Standard deck, but one loss and you're out!

Standard Shakeup

A Standard event using an alternative banned card list.

Standard Cascade

Each player begins the game with a Maelstrom Nexus emblem with the text, "When you cast your first spell each turn, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order."

Standard Cascade banned cards:

Limited Formats

Draft

In the Draft format, each player builds 40-card decks from three unopened packs that are passed around among the eight players in the drafting pod. You keep the cards you draft (you don't keep the drafted cards in Cube Draft, however).

Drafting follows this process: Players start with each opening one of their packs and selecting a single card. They then pass the remaining cards to the player on their left. This continues until all cards in those opened packs have been claimed.

Next, each player opens a second pack, picking a single card. But this time they pass the pack to their right. After those cards are all drafted, the process is repeated once more with the third pack, this time passing to the left again.

Once all the packs have been drafted, players build decks from the cards they selected. Minimum deck size is 40 cards, with as many basic land cards as you prefer.

Other Events in Draft Format
  • Traditional Draft: Draft cards with other players to build a 40-card deck to battle others in Best-of-Three matches. Match results affect season rankings.
  • Premier Draft: Draft cards with other players to build a 40-card deck to battle others in Best-of-One matches. Match results affect season rankings.
  • Quick Draft: Draft cards with bots to build a 40-card deck to play against others until reaching either seven wins or three losses, whichever comes first.
  • Cube Draft: Draft cards in the usual way, but this time, the card pool is the best of all the cards available in MTG Arena. Play until reaching seven wins or three losses, whichever comes first. Cards drafted are not added to your collection.
  • Omniscience Draft: Draft as usual, but here you can skip adding basic lands. Each player begins the game with three cards in hand (instead of the usual seven), plus an Omniscience emblem that lets you cast spells from your hand without paying mana costs and may be tapped once per turn to add one mana of each color.
  • Turbo Draft: Draft cards with bots to build a 40-card deck. In this variation, spells all cost five less generic mana to cast! Turbo Draft does not affect rankings for seasons.

Sealed

This is a great format if you look forward to the excitement of checking out new cards and playing without being required to bring your own prebuilt deck. In the Sealed format, you build a new deck from six unopened booster packs at the start of the event. Deck size minimum is 40 cards, and you can add as many basic lands as you want, even if they weren't in the store pack you opened.

The Sealed format is a fun way to grow the size of your card collection while playing the game.

Other MTG Arena Events

Jumpstart

2020's Jumpstart and Jumpstart: Historic Horizons mash together themes from throughout the history of Magic and let you breeze through deck-building to get right to playing. You are presented with three themed card packet options from which you pick your first packet. Next, you are given a choice of three different packets from which to pick your second packet. Your two selected packets are then combined to create a 40-card deck.

Midweek Magic

Midweek Magic is a weekly MTG Arena event that runs from Tuesday through Thursday. The format of the event changes each week. There is no entry fee to participate, and you get two individual card rewards (ICRs). You may also get additional rewards by contacting your favorite local game store for a code, either online or (where safe) in person.

Read more about MTG Arena's Midweek Magic events.

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