Ancient MTG is an idea conceived by some dutch guys around the time 8th Edition came out, when the new card borders were introduced. Some players wanted to grasp the feel of the early years of Magic, only playing with the older cards and old look. It took a while to work out and name the format. Because other formats had names like Vintage and Legacy and what we were trying to do was an eternal format that only used the cards of Magic's early history, we dubbed the format "Ancient".
The most important thing in Ancient is to the get the feeling of playing a classic game of Magic like in the early years, while at the same time having fun and not excluding too many people from play. Because we wanted the old feel of magic we used some of the old rules, like mana burn and the old banned and restricted list, only modifying when we felt it was really necessary. It's also worth noting that although we play by the rules, Ancient is a casual format meant to have fun, so it's usually very casual play.
The main difference between normal MTG play is that some of the old rules that have since been replaced are still in place in Ancient:
- Mana burn rule: This means you lose 1 life for every mana not spent at the end of a phase.
- Zero or negative life rule: You are allowed to be on negative life for a brief time. A player will only lose if life is 0 or negative at the end of a phase.
- The Legend rule: only one Legend of a certain name may be in play at any time. When a Legend comes into play while another card with the same name is already in play, both cards are destroyed.
- The Paris Mulligan rule is in place. Even though this was invented a little later than Mirage came out, we feel it’s close enough the keep the original feel of play while at the same time making the game more enjoyable and less random.
Variants with a deck minimum of 100 cards use Partial Paris. We do not use the Vancouver variant (with extra scry).
Building an Ancient deck follows these rules:
All cards have to have the old card lay-out and the original artwork from the sets of the time. This means you can play a 4th edition Serra Angel, but can not play a 7th edition Serra Angel since the artwork is no longer original.
Cards like Foreign Revised, Chronicles or Renaissance cards are permitted because they have the old card layout and feature artwork from the original sets.
Proxies, collector's edition cards, foils, cards featuring newer artwork than Ice age block art or any card with the new card layout are not permitted. I've heard several people about the CE/ICE cards and they think it is a wrong decision. Keep in mind however, that in the time of Alliances, CE/ICE cards were also not allowed, not even in casual play by most people. So to keep in line with the old feel, you can not play them in Ancient. Also, the mirage experiment has ended, so the mirage cards are also no longer allowed.
Tournaments in Ancient are either one of the following formats:
- Constructed: minimum 60 card deck, 15 card sideboard
- HCH (Hundred Card Highlander): exactly 100 card deck, no sideboard (and no general, as that concept did not exist yet :) the HCH format has existed in the Netherlands since 1995 though, so it's included in Ancient)
- Single Set: Minimum 60 card deck, 15 card sideboard where all cards are from 1 single set for all participants in the tournament (like our hilarious Homelands tournament where everyone had to play a Homelands deck)
Cards printed in the following sets are allowed:
The promo cards from that period: Disenchant, fireball, counterspell, incinerate, Nalathni Dragon, Arena, Sewers of Estark, Windseeker Centaur, Giant Badger and Mana Crypt.
Banned & Restricted
The banned & restricted list is an only slightly modified list from the one used in tournament play of the 1995 era. We want gameplay to be as close to the era as possible, while not making one deck too dominant. Even though some cards could be removed from the list, they were either restricted or banned at the time, so we leave them on to keep the list as authentic as possible.
After playing quite some tournaments in the period 2009-2011, we decided to add two cards to the restricted list. After these changes, no deck has been dominant over any of the others so no new changes have been deemed necessary.
The banned & restricted list for Ancient constructed since 2011:
2011/09/01 - Necropotence is restricted
2011/09/01 - Strip Mine is restricted
1994/01/25 - Ancestral Recall is restricted
1995/04/19 - Balance is restricted
1994/01/25 - Berserk is restricted
1994/01/25 - Black Lotus is restricted
1994/01/25 - Braingeyser is restricted
1994/05/02 - Candelabra of Tawnos is restricted
1994/03/23 - Copy Artifact is restricted
1994/03/23 - Demonic Tutor is restricted
1996/10/01 - Fastbond is restricted
1994/05/02 - Feldon's Cane is restricted
1995/04/19 - Fork is restricted
1994/05/02 - Ivory Tower is restricted
1994/05/02 - Library of Alexandria is restricted
1994/10/10 - Maze of Ith is restricted
1994/08/01 - Mirror Universe is restricted
1994/06/13 - Mishra's Workshop is restricted
1994/01/25 - Mox Emerald is restricted
1994/01/25 - Mox Jet is restricted
1994/01/25 - Mox Pearl is restricted
1994/01/25 - Mox Ruby is restricted
1994/01/25 - Mox Sapphire is restricted
1994/08/01 - Recall is restricted
1994/03/23 - Regrowth is restricted
1994/01/25 - Sol Ring is restricted
1994/01/25 - Timetwister is restricted
1994/01/25 - Time Walk is restricted
1994/08/01 - Underworld Dreams is restricted
1994/03/23 - Wheel of Fortune is restricted
1995/11/01 - Zuran Orb is restricted
1995/11/01 - Channel is restricted
1996/02/01 - Mind Twist is restricted
1995/11/01 - Falling Star is banned
1995/11/01 - Chaos Orb is banned
1994/08/01 - Divine Intervention is banned
1994/01/25 - Shahrazad is banned
1995/06/01 - Amulet of Quoz is banned *
1994/05/02 - Bronze Tablet is banned *
1994/01/25 - Contract from Below is banned *
1994/01/25 - Darkpact is banned *
1994/01/25 - Demonic Attorney is banned *
1994/01/25 - Jeweled Bird is banned *
1994/06/01 - Rebirth is banned *
1994/08/01 - Tempest Efreet is banned *
1995/08/01 - Timmerian Fiends is banned *
* Banned for being an Ante card