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April 2023 Format and Banned List Update

Posted on:April 10, 2023
GladiatorMTGA April 2023 Format & Banned List Update
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes, Bram Sels (2022)

    Exciting news, Gladiators! We’re thrilled to announce the formation of the Gladiator Council, composed of experienced players and community leaders who will work together to shape the future of the Gladiator format. Together, we aim to promote fair and enjoyable gameplay for all.

In addition to this, we’re also here to present the April 2023 Gladiator Banned List Update. Our goal is to maintain a healthy and diverse metagame, while ensuring that no single deck or strategy dominates the format. Read on for more details!

Table of Contents

Open Table of Contents

Format Update

The Gladiator Council

The Gladiator Council is an appointed group of five community leaders and organizers dedicated to the cultivation and curation of Gladiator. The responsibilities of the council cover everything from running official tournaments such as The Gladiator Games, to ensuring community members have more opportunities for communicating with format leadership, to handling the rules and banned list.


Benjamin Wheeler


Photo of Benjamin Wheeler

Pronouns: He/They
Country: Canada
City: Victoria, BC
First Gladiator Deck: Yes
Favourite Archetype: Mono-Black Midrange
Pet Card: Sphinx's Revelation
Social: Twitter@BWheelerMTG

Effie Jønland

Tournament Organizer, Tournament Broadcaster, GladiatorMTGA Admin

Photo of Effie Jønland

Pronouns: She/Her
Country: Norway
City: Trondheim
First Gladiator Deck: Izzet Control
Favourite Archetype: Storm (but I'm bad at it)
Pet Card: Big Score
Social: Twitter@LittleFXRadio

Elle Morrow

Archetype Innovator, Gladiator League Winner, Gladiator Games Winner

Photo of Elle Morrow

Pronouns: She/Her
Country: USA
City: Seattle
First Gladiator Deck: Sultai Pod
Favourite Archetype: Reanimator
Pet Card: Sphinx of Clear Skies
Social: No socials

Ellesandra Avaidon

Archetype Innovator, Tournament Assistant, Community Figurehead

Photo of Ellesandra Avaidon

Pronouns: Se/Syr
Country: USA
City: Orlando, FL
First Gladiator Deck: 4-Colour Blood
Favourite Archetype: Yes
Pet Card: Hidetsugu's Second Rite
Social: Twitter@Ellesandra_MTGA

Justin Koehler

Tournament Organizer, Tournament Broadcaster, GladiatorMTGA Admin

Photo of Justin Koehler

Pronouns: He/Him
Country: USA
City: Chicago
First Gladiator Deck: The Rock
Favourite Archetype: The Rock
Pet Card: Vraska, Golgari Queen
Social: Just find me in the Discord.

Banned List Update

Banned in Gladiator

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes, Andreas Zafiratos (2022)

The Gladiator metagame in 2023 is a hazardous landscape. From the Mystical Archives to first turn manadorks, the best way to play Magic on MTG Arena has become quite the powerful format. But not “Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes” powerful. Simply put, M&B is a full grade above any of the other midgame proactive threats available, with no true replacements in the format. The combination of speed, power, card advantage, flexibility, and ease of cost, is intoxicating enough for players to splash the pesky planeswalker. In an effort to encourage more diversity and maintain a more consistent power level across the format, the Gladiator Council has decided to ban Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes.

Unbanned in Gladiator

Nexus of Fate

Nexus of Fate
Nexus of Fate, Mike Bierek (2018)

The banning of Nexus of Fate was a product of its time. Its prolonged residency on the banned list, a reflection of the constant evolution of the format over the past two and a half years, as well as the card offering an overall agreed upon negative player experience. Gladiator is now at a point where the mana is much more respectable, the threats more threatening and the Time Walks are, in part thanks to Oracle of the Alpha, Time Walks. The council believes that the current state of the format would allow for comfortable reintroduction of Nexus of Fate into the format, without having to worry about its agonizing play patterns from 2020.

Teferi, Time Raveler

Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Time Raveler, Chris Rallis (2019)

Much like Nexus of Fate, the banning of Teferi came about during a time when Gladiator was a much slower format, with Guildgates being essential for any manabase looking to cast spells beyond a single colour. Since then, Gladiator has both slimmed down and sped up considerably, with decks reliably firing off disruptive spells and building to the board as early as turn one. This has made for an overall much more hostile environment for control decks, particularly reactive builds sporting blue as a primary colour. While current and future design trends seem to lean away from aiding blue mages in this time of need, the council believes reintroducing Teferi, Time Raveler into the format will provide a helpful speed bump.

Looking Forward

Thassa's Oracle Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Thassa's Oracle, Jesper Ejsing (2020)
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Magali Villeneuve (2023)

While the Gladiator Council will not be maintaining a formal “watchlist” of cards that may have actions taken, certain cards do generate more attention and discussion—both cards with long-standing impact on Gladiator, and new cards with powerful histories in other formats. As the introduction of the Strixhaven Mystical Archive showed, even cards with significant theoretical impact can show surprising results coming into the Gladiator format—and no argument for or against banned list changes can take place without thorough testing in actual gameplay. In particular, Thassa’s Oracle and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer are two cards that the Council will be monitoring closely to see if action needs to be taken, though no action is planned for these cards at this time.