A Week of Change
Grand Prix Vegas has come and gone, and this past week was a been huge for Magic, as Wizards has been announcing big changes to the game, its design and global organized play in general. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for Magic:
- No More Small Sets: The Fall, Winter and Spring sets will all be large sets and they’re all going to be drafted as standalone formats. This is supposed to allow Wizards to jump from world to world easier, creating large sets in one place and then ducking out to another plane. It’s also worth noting that this almost completely destroys the concept of “Blocks” as some sets may now share worlds, but don’t necessarily have to. This ability for each set to stand on its own is likely great for drafters, as big sets that are drafted by themselves allow for complicated formats that reward quick card evaluation and understanding of unique mechanics.
- Core Sets are Back: The Summer set will now be a new take on the traditional core set. These sets will still have the reprints that Twitter was clamouring for, and will be geared toward newer players. Wizards said they’re looking to treat these sets differently, focusing on the “identity issues” that previous iterations have had. Story-wise, they’ll be looking to highlight key moments from the past, but not developing the story like previous core sets did.
- Less Gatewatch Planeswalkers: These storybook characters will still exist and be present in key story moments and on cards, but the high number of Gatewatch Planeswalker cards will be reduced in future sets.
- Play Design Team: Wizards has added a new team to their research and development department focused on taking tournament play into account while designing cards. With the number of Standard bannings this year, Wizards is taking steps to make sure the weaknesses of new formats are highlighted prior to release, so things like the Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian combo can be avoided. Notable streamer and Gold Pro Paul Cheon, alongside Platinum Pro Michael Majors, will be joining this team.
- Aetherworks Marvel is Banned: Good riddance.
- First Look at Ixalan: We know there’ll be pirates and dinosaurs, and Vraska is hanging out there too. Ixalan will release September 29 and the second set in its block (this is the last set before the new system will kick in) “Rivals of Ixalan” will release January 19, 2018.
- Return to Dominaria: This will be the next large set after Ixalan releasing April 27, 2018. The following set will be the first of the new core sets, released on July 20, 2018.
- Unstable: Wizards is releasing the third in the line of “un” sets with silver borders. Unstable will follow Unglued and Unhinged as non-tournament-legal, fun draft sets that go outside the box of general magic design. Unstable will be released on December 8, 2017.
- 25th Anniversary Masters Set: On March 6, 2018, Wizards is dropping a special 249 card Masters set which will contain cards from all across Magic’s history. Their release said the draft experience for the set will be similar to other Masters sets.