State of the Format

July 2020

By: Jake Nash

There’s been a number of huge updates for our beloved format since the last state of the format. Key items:

  • Core 2021, Jumpstart, Historic Anthology 3 released into the metagame
  • The creation of the Gladiator Council and the banning of Field of the Dead
  • Growth of the Gladiator Discord to over 4,000 players
  • Creation of the Gladiator Arena League

It’s obvious the release of 3 sets will be big for our format, but in addition to some insanely powerful new cards, we have received a great gift in the form of reprints being added into the Arena card pool. In the space if 3 months we’ve gone from 2,857 to 3,418 cards, that’s 558 new tools, nearly a 20% increase in the available brewing space. This is great for us! From providing the additional redundancy needed in a 100-card singleton format, to bringing in deck archetypes from other formats (hello there, Craterhoof Behemoth), to creating awesome new archetypes (hello there, Shrine tribal), it’s an exciting time for brewers. The metagame is still wide open, and who knows what might be coming with our return to the plane of Zendikar at the end of the summer.

The creation of a governing committee for the format has been in the works since the inception of the format, and we should have an announcement of the council members as soon as today. This is not a shadowy cabal designed to control the format, but is a collection of active community members who will consolidate input from players and serve as the focal point for any future card banning’s, organized play issues, etc.

Since the inception of the format, Field of the Dead has been a card that has been discussed for receiving a ban. Unlike Oko, Thief of crowns, which was so insanely pushed it warranted an immediate ban, Field of the Dead was given time to be tested in the metagame. While the specifics and use cases for why the card has been banned have been discussed at length in the discord, and publicly on Benjamin Wheeler’s stream, the TLDR is that it is too powerful relative to its cost for inclusion (or lack thereof), and that it doesn’t really lead to fun or interesting gameplay.

The Discord, at the time of this writing, has 4,140 members. That’s amazing growth for the format since the server’s creation back on 23APR2020. Games are available 24/7, and the international community is the best there is. It is important to take a moment and celebrate the fact that we, the Gladiator players, have done such an amazing job creating this format, and fostering such a welcoming, inclusive environment when so much of the internet has devolved into a churning miasma of filth and hate. Bans and incidents of bad behavior are extremely rare, so congratulate yourselves for being phenomenal examples of what an online community can and should be.

Behind the scenes some very hard work went into developing a Bot to facilitate Gladiator league play, and it has gone live! Shoutouts to all involved, this is an awesome way to track player skill, as well as deck viability, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves moving into the future. A shoutout to the Tournament Organizers and Mod’s who worked so hard to put this all together.

This has mostly been an update to everything happening outside of the metagame, I’ll save that for a separate article. With Jumpstart going live on Arena expect a big metagame update over the next few weeks. Thanks to the players for being awesome, let’s jam some games!