Yesterday, I got to sit down and play Magic: The Gathering. When I say it like that it sounds like a pretty ordinary day but it was something very special. I got to chat with the guys from Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro about the past, present and future of the world’s largest TCG (and one of the world’s most in-depth strategy games), and get my hands on the upcoming Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers.
I made my thoughts quite clear about Wizard‘s upcoming installment of their digital game, and you can check them out here but I also got to talk about other aspects of the game; physical cards, merchandising, and some of the business side of things. I learned a lot of information so I hope you don’t mind as I rattle off some things about one of the world’s favourite games!
Since Mirrodin Beseiged, Wizards have released at least one new “Event Deck” per set (for a current total of 23 Event decks). These decks are meant to introduce players to a whole new level of the game that the Intro Packs can never hope to accomplish – competitive play. Event decks have combined the latest standard-legal cards to create strategies and decklists that are incredibly powerful, sure they will never have you winning Pro Tours but they are a definite foot in the door and are quite easy to adjust and make competitive.
Well, now they have taken the Event Deck one step further and released the first ever Modern Event Deck. Modern is a competitive format that uses cards from 8th edition onwards. The fact that cards stay legal for as long as the format exists (with the exception of cards that are outright banned for power concerns) Modern is a much stronger format. It also means that it is a much more expensive format. Enter the Modern Event Deck, which takes a pre-existing deck archetype and tweaks it so that players can experience Modern with a relatively low barrier to entry.
The deck focuses on the Black/White Token archetype that has grown extremely popular amongst the competitive scene. Many long-time players of the game have bashed the deck for “not being worth the money” or “not being powerful enough,” but they aren’t the intended target for the deck. This product is meant for new players and is a way to open the door. It isn’t designed to be a tier-1 deck and it isn’t designed to win you the World Cup. What it does is provide a way into the game and something that with relatively little altering, you could take to your local Friday Night Magic and do reasonably well.
The Modern Event Deck is available NOW through your LGS for the RRP of $110. It may seem like a lot of money, especially considering the standard event decks go for about $40 but it is actually a pretty fair price considering you get a few really choice cards in the box. If you still aren’t sure then here is what you get for you $110:
- 60x Card Black/White Tokens Deck
- 15x Card Sideboard
- 1x Spindown Life Counter
- 80x Custom Card Sleeves
- 1x Carry Box
Not too bad, especially with some of the cards in the box being worth upwards of $15 or $20 on the secondary market. You can grab the Modern Event Deck now, but if you can’t find any at your local store then don’t worry because it is not a limited product and Wizards have promised that more will be printed if supply doesn’t meet demand.
The Theros block just came to an end and all eyes are on the future. While this year will still see the release of the M15 Core Set and Khans of Takir later in the year, what you really should be excited for is the upcoming supplemental product – Conspiracy. Conspiracy is a set that is designed for multiplayer drafting. It will be sold in booster packs/booster boxes and is designed for playgroups of 6 or more to sit around, draft and then split off into groups of 3-4 for multiplayer battles.
Multiplayer is a staple of casual Magic and I for one love the fact that Wizards are listening to the player-base and implementing some of their ideas into the products they develop. The same can be said for the Commander product that has been released in recent years.
Conspiracy is a 210 card set that features a bunch of new cards with brand new abilities, a tonne of classic reprints and even cards that change the way you draft. The Construct subtype of artifact creatures in the set all have a pretty cool ability that will affect the way the draft is run. Everything from adding an additional booster pack to the draft, or buffing up a creature’s strength depending on how many cards have been drafted. They look like they will make for some awesome combo plays.
In addition to artifacts that affect the way you draft, there is also a brand new card-type being introduced for the set – Conspiracies. Conspiracies allow you to alter the way you play by either changing the number of cards you can have in your deck, or giving certain creatures advantages that they might not normally have.
While at first glance a lot of these cards seem like they will be useless once they have been drafted once, they do encourage players to create their own Draft Cube (a set of cards that a playgroup make themselves for drafting whenever they want). Including the new artifacts and conspiracies into a custom cube will really let you shake things up at home. I personally am creating a cube with cards from Conspiracy, Unglued and Unhinged for maximum craziness.
The set also features a lot of high-value cards that players of just about any format will look forward to. Cards like Stifle, Exploration, Brainstorm and Phage the Untouchable are all making triumphant returns, with some being available in foil or in the modern border for the first time.
Conspiracy will hit store shelves this Friday and is NOT a limited print run. Wizards have promised that they will be printing additional packs of the set should the demand require it, and looking at a lot of message boards and Facebook pages online, it seems like the demand might indeed require it.
Wizards of the Coast have recently expanded on their Magic brand by introducing a line of merchandise! Players all over the world can now get their hands on shirts, belt buckles and phone cases featuring their favourite Planeswalkers. Sadly, us Aussies are a little out of luck with regards to the shirts, but if you are dedicated to the game and really want to show it then you can grab the gear at expos like PAX Aus (where special Penny Arcade inspired shirts are also available).
Shirts are great, but what really interested me are the Pop Vinyl Figures. More specifically this one:
Nissa Revane was a Planeswalker from the plane of Zendikar a few years back but we haven’t seen too much of her since. The rest of the line-up features the primary 5 Planeswalkers that have become synonymous with the game; Jace, Chandra, Ajani, Liliana and Garruk. So why Nissa? There has been much speculation online as to whether or not this means that Nissa will be getting a reprint or a new card in the upcoming M15 Core Set. So, I asked Hasbro about this very question and got the most non-commital answer I could have ever imagined.
So I guess it is time to fan the flames of speculation a little bit; We have a Planeswalker that hasn’t been seen in over 4 years being added to the line-up of the game’s most iconic characters. We have the current green Planeswalker Garruk acting decidedly not-so-green, and we have the plane of Zendikar appearing as the final stage of the Magic 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers game. At this point I would be very surprised if the Elvish Planeswalker WASN’T in M15.
So there we have it. That is a LOT of writing about Magic: The Gathering. I do just have one final thought to leave you all on though; As of last year, Magic the Gathering has a player base of over 20 MILLION players. It is also Hasbro’s biggest game product – outselling even Monopoly! MONOPOLY! So while you all sit there wondering how that is possible, I will remind you to always check back to Capsule Computers for all the Magic: The Gathering news as it becomes available.