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Last week’s post can be found here.
Hey there gamers! We’re back to a Magic the Gathering focus this week. Starting out, we’ve got a brand new EDH deck built around Bilbo, Retired Burglar. Check out that post right here.
The Unban Hammer Rises
We saw a couple of unbannings in Magic this week, with Preordain back in Modern, and Mind’s Desire unlocked in Legacy. Both seem pretty innocuous, and Preordain may be completely outdated. Jim Davis sums that up well here.
Please Release Me
Wizards/Hasbro has detailed their plans going all the way into 2026. While some of the sets are still code-named, we know enough about the next wave for me to do some preliminary reactions. Let’s go!
- Wilds of Eldraine (release date: September 8): The beginning of an all-new multiyear story arc within Magic’s multiverse. The storybook setting now deals with the aftermath of the Phyrexian invasion.
Eldraine promises a few things: adventure cards, nobles, Oko, and power creep! It was a popular plane last time around, and should be again. Fairy tales are pretty close in feel to Magic’s base lore and characters that it lines up well. Type support for Knights is possible, and would be welcome.
The power-level of Eldraine cards last time around was a bit of a problem. As long as that stays under control, things should be okay. I’m excited about more adventures. They do well in my cube.
Eldraine also brings a semi-premium series of alt-art enchantment reprints, including stuff like Doubling Season. This is a mixed blessing, because some of these cards were also printed in Commander Masters, and some players shelled out big to get them. Hopefully it’s not too much of a feelbad for those people.
I will probably get a pre-release kit and leave it at that. I’ll watch the singles, though, and probably get my share of those. There should be plenty of exciting commons and uncommons.
- Doctor Who (release date: Oct 13 2023): Doctor Who will feature four Commander decks, special card treatments, Collector Boosters, and a Secret Lair.
I’m not a Doctor Who fan, but this will be very popular among those who are, I expect. Some of the cards look interesting, but mostly in how they’ll interact with Magic cards that aren’t Doctor Who cards.
I’m going to ignore this one except for any singles I want to get – nothing so far, though doing a Changeling commander with a Doctor’s Companion as well seems amusing. I think you can do that. It might be broken, too. We’ll let the cEDH crowd figure that out.
I hope the decks are okay, and don’t disappoint too much in their preconstruction. WOTC did Warhammer pretty well, but most set precons are unplayable out of box.
- Lost Caverns of Ixalan (release date: Q4 2023): This set includes a thematically appropriate collaboration with the blockbuster Jurassic World franchise.
I’m excited for Ixalan. I really enjoyed the setting last time, and the dinosaurs, pirates, green merfolk and white vampires. There was plenty of type support, though it didn’t show in draft or standard too well. Commander liked the set better than any other format.
Last time, Ixalan was a notoriously low-powered set (at least by rep), which I expect to change this time. I expect dinosaurs and pirates especially to be turbo-charged, even though we’re apparently heading underground.
Story-wise, I’m not following it, but I think Jace did some shenanigans with Vraska last time that will get around her being dead and him getting compleated. Like they were both illusions or something. I think this will be revealed and maybe resolved this time. Some Jace stuff for sure.
Finally we’ve got the Jurassic World promo stuff. While Godzilla upped the ante on monsters, and Dracula brought classic literature forward, I think the Jurassic Park stuff might flop. None of the dinosaurs in the movies are that interesting compared to the Magic versions. The scariest thing in the movies is basically Colossal Dreadmaw. The human characters are pretty lackluster also. It’ll be tough to make me care about reskins.
I will probably get the pre-release for this one, and maybe more if it’s a fun set. Singles are worth watching for sure.
- Ravnica Remastered (release date: Q1 2024): Ravnica Remastered includes cards from each Ravnica block.
I’m one of the rare people that snore loudly at the mention of Ravnica. Someone described it to me once as a world where there are ten personalities total, and I’m behind that description 100%. I find Ravnica dreadfully boring, and wonder how many people are really just into another round of inexpensive shock lands, like Steam Vents.
I’m going to pass on this set unless there’s something really cool available that I can’t imagine. Singles maybe, but it’s a reprint set, and I’ve already looked over all these cards. Maybe cheap shock lands, or other normally expensive things.
- Murders at Karlov Manor (release date: Q1 2024): In Murders at Karlov Manor, players will experience Ravnica through the eyes of its keenest detectives. A new vision of Ravnica, Murders at Karlov Manor is Magic’s take on the detective genre with clues, secrets, hidden identities, and mysteries to unravel. It’s a top-down archetypal whodunit murder mystery; fans will need to use their sleuthing skills to solve an innovative puzzle to escape.
I have no idea what to make of this set. A murder house set? On… Ravnica? Not Innistrad?
The mechanics hinted at seem like they could be interesting, but also might be clues and double-faced-cards and not much more than that. I’m cautious, but a little optimistic.
As far as developing an actual interesting murder-mystery setting and narrative, I’m prepared to be disappointed. Those are hard things for experienced mystery creators to do. Magic is not known for well-constructed narrative or (recently) fully-thought-out mechanics.
This is a huge wait and see.
- Ravnica: Clue Edition (release date: Q1 2024): A self-contained experience, Ravnica: Clue Edition is a standalone game that welcomes fans of Magic and Clue alike to unleash their inner sleuths and solve the mystery as Ravnica’s premier detectives.
Ah, a promotional tie-in. The plot thickens.
Hot take: this will be Clue with Magic names and art.
- Fallout Commander Decks (release date: Q1 2024): These decks and cards are set in the post-nuclear alternate reality world of Fallout.
Another strange crossover. Fallout is a decent series, and some aspects should translate well to Magic. It’s easy to imagine new art for cards like Toxic Deluge and lots of mutants.
While singles should provide a few gems, overall, I’m indifferent. Commander decks recently have been so expensive, and I have no connection with the Fallout franchise personally. Not an FPS person.
- Outlaws of Thunder Junction (release date: Q2 2024): In 2024, Magic: The Gathering will bring players to a new world with Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Featuring some of Magic’s most notorious villains, Outlaws of Thunder Junction is an action-packed, frontier fantasy that reimagines the western genre.
This is a total head-scratcher. The Western genre is cool and all, but thrives on being mostly empty of life and full of death. Which could be cool to a point, except much of the death is visited by something Magic has danced around for decades: guns. I guess I could say the same about Fallout.
It was incredible that Magic did Warhammer without doing projectile weaponry in any significant way. There were a few adaptations, like the Tyranid pinger, Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph but not even the bolter-forward space marines had guns outside of their art panels.
I don’t know how they’ll do the wild west in that way. Maybe it’ll be pioneers and picnics, but the description says notorious villains. So Nicol Bolas in a ten-gallon hat. I’m optimistic because I love love love a desert setting, but this seems like it’ll be strange and forced. One subtle but cool thing that the set could bring is additional Desert support.
This is another wait and see.
- Modern Horizons 3 (release date: 2024): Modern Horizons returns in 2024 with Modern Horizons 3, including fan-favorite characters—including some double face cards—and Planeswalkers.
Well this will be the set of the year, hand’s down, no question. The Modern Horizons sets have been game changers in power level, and this one should be no different.
These sets are pure gas, all the way down to the commons. Many are Commander and cube playable, and there should be plenty of must-haves. This is a rare set where both sealed packs and singles should be in high demand and worth getting. With sealed packs there’s just so much good stuff, and the high end stuff can sold or traded into the high demand.
It’s likely I’ll split a box of this with Andrew, or maybe a couple. Something to save for.
- Assassin’s Creed (release date: Q3 2024): The July 2024 Universes Beyond offering will be the first to have Beyond Boosters. These new boosters are non-draftable packs that take you on a journey unique to its universe. There will be new cards and reprints featuring favorite characters and moments from all of the Assassin’s Creed video games. The cards will be legal in Modern.
I’m not into Assassin’s Creed at all. Game, movie, all that. No inclination to journey into the universe. ‘Non-draftable’ is weird because anything is draftable. Five card packs, maybe?
As a reprint/new card set legal in Modern, this could either be a bunch of nothing, or a handful of OP staples amid crap. Could be a small set and everything decent will be expensive.
I don’t want to have to care about this one, but I’ll take a look at staples.
- Bloomburrow (release date: Q3 2024): A cute and cozy new world in Magic that doesn’t include humans at all, and instead includes a bold adventuring party of anthropomorphic animal friends—like squirrels, frogs, rats, and rabbits—that will need to band together on an important quest.
Banding returns! Finally!
Well probably not. But I do like the idea of a no-humans plane. I do wish it wasn’t a ‘cute and cozy’ world, where fuzziness matters, or something. I also wish it wasn’t an adventuring party, as that either means a rehash of a recent half-baked mechanic (Party!), or another kick at the can with a new mechanic.
Something a concept like this will struggle with is that it needs there to be more numbers possible between 0/1 and 1/1. Several orders of small. Woodland animal friends should all be in the 1/1 range, but it isn’t really a range. We’ll get weird large 5/5 rabbits, and 3/4 badgers, and some 6/7 bear or elk or something, no doubt. But walking on hind legs and wearing a tunic. Don’t elk always walk on hind legs?
This should be singles for me. I don’t think I’d get sealed product, as I’m just not into ‘cute’ in this context. Give me a basket of actual weiner dog puppies or a hummingbird.
- Duskmourn: House of Horror (release date: Q4 2024): Releasing late in 2024, Magic: The Gathering explores a more modern theme with Duskmourn: House of Horror, which takes place in a haunted mansion and draws inspiration from 1980s-era horror movies, games, and media.
Wait, didn’t we start the year with a murder mansion? And now we’re back… in a big house? Again? I don’t get this at all. Magic is a multiverse-spanning game of gigantic monsters and epic battles or whatever. It doesn’t seem to fit in a big house. Even a really big house.
It would really be weird if rooms were lands. Land – Room. Too weird.
1980s horror games? Like on the Atari? Um… or the NES? Movies? Like Evil Dead, or Critters? Or C.H.U.D?
I’m actually kind of interested in the humans in such a set. Are they blundering, script-following doughnuts who always wander into the dark house despite the warnings and blood and bodies and zombies? That might be some fun design space to explore. Sacrifice for value takes on a whole new dimension.
It’s way too early, and this is especially weird, but it’s a set that bears watching. It will likely have a promotional tie-in with some horror franchise or other. Maybe the video game series Five Nights at Freddy’s, which I think partially takes place in the 80s.
The directions Magic is headed in are odd. Many are modern, as opposed to medieval fantasy, and some are futuristic. We have a variety of city settings, including two large, high-tension, probably-not-really-similar houses.
I find it really tough to connect with a lot of these directions. I like some of the franchises and tropes and settings, but I’d rather they weren’t Magic. I’d rather Magic found ways to stay fresh as a swords and sorcery game, and didn’t just slap on a few new skins every quarter.
It feels like we’ve lost something. Maybe it’s a measure of innocence. That the game we love could stay clear of shameless corporate shilling, cross-promotions, and attempts to reach the [blank] audience. At one time, Magic’s cache was the quality of game experience combined with a rich, imagination-stimulating world that for years, was just Dominaria.
I feel the same way about Magic that I do about the entertainment industry. We’ve lost the care, attention to detail, and internal development that corporate doesn’t feel is cost-effective.
Thanks for reading!