A Magic: The Gathering Arena announcement on July 20 revealed the first cards in its upcoming Historic Anthology and Explorer Anthology packs. The bundles promise four copies of 20 “powerful, iconic, and popular cards” when they release on July 28, but only six have been revealed so far.
‘Historic Anthology Six’ will introduce Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin, Tarmogoyf, and Avacyn, Angel of Hope to the Historic format, while ‘Explorer Anthology One’ brings Favoured Hoplite, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Supreme Verdict to Explorer (good news, blue/white Control players). The full list for both bundles will be released on Wednesday, July 27. Once they launch, the anthology packs will be available until October 5, costing 4,000 gems or 25,000 gold.
MTG Arena has been altering existing cards for balance reasons in recent history, but it says it won’t be making changes to any of these iconic cards. “We will not be rebalancing iconic cards that have a significant history behind them”, says Wizards of the Coast in its MTG Arena announcement. “If these cards cause issues, we will look to address them indirectly through live balancing or ban them if necessary.”
A Modern staple, Tarmogoyf is a green creature whose power is equal to the number of card types in all graveyards, and its toughness is equal to that number, plus one. Its power in Modern comes from combining it with fetch lands and other graveyard-filling cards, but many of these aren’t present in the current Historic format on MTG Arena.
Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin was introduced in the recent Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set. It’s able to create Shrines whenever it or a non-token Shrine enters the battlefield, and it can return enchantment cards from your graveyard to the battlefield. Outside of MTG Arena, it’s a popular Commander choice for its Shrine-related abilities.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope is a white 8/8 creature with flying, vigilance, indestructible, and the power to make other permanents under your control indestructible. The first choice for Avacyn here seems likely to be a Historic Angels deck.
Supreme Verdict is a board-wiping sorcery that needs no introduction for Control players. Its four-mana cost is more than made up for by the fact it can’t be countered.
Lower in cost but perhaps also slightly lower in hype value is Favoured Hoplite, a one-mana creature with Heroic. Heroic does mean Favoured Hoplite gets +1/+1 and protection from damage every time you cast a spell targeting it, though, and Explorer’s Heroic deck options are now one step closer to its Pioneer counterpart.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet adds a bit more power to black decks with its lifelink, zombie token generation abilities, and self-buffing sacrifices. A card that’s found in plenty of other formats, Kalitas may open up new deck-building opportunities when it debuts in Explorer.