Thoughts on the Wizards panel at SDCC
So Wizards of the Coast put on their Comic-Con panel, chock full of information about Return to Ravnica and its block-mates. The bullet-points are:
-Return to Ravnica and its successor, Gatecrash, will both be large sets. “Sinker” will be a small set.
-RTR and GTC will contain 5 guilds each; “Sinker” will contain all 10
-Each guild will be getting a brand-new mechanic that is designed to synergize reasonably well with their original RAV-block mechanic.
-Wizards plans to release Commander products on a yearly basis, starting next year and with a small supplement this fall called Commander Arsenal. This will replace the Premium Deck Series.
-The RTR Prerelease will feature a prerelease card for each guild; players will choose a guild when they enter and receive some custom materials and packs according to their decision (The guilds are Azorius [U/W], Rakdos [R/B], Golgari [G/B], Izzet [U/R], and Selesnya [G/W])
I think this is a bold move by Wizards, and possibly their most interesting prerelease gimmick since they started really amping up the features of the release and prerelease events. By letting players choose one of the five guilds, Wizards is making a pretty firm claim that not only will none of the guilds be unplayably terrible, but also that none of them will be so obviously better than the others that there won’t be a real decision involved when you’re sitting down to crack packs.
Something to be nervous about, though, is that with ten new mechanics and two more large sets, this Standard format is going to be noticeably more complex, probably than any Standard environment since Wizards made the decision to scale back the size of Standard. As benevolent MtG overlord MarkyMark Rosewater has said in the past, increasing complexity is a danger to the game, providing a barrier to entry for new players and a source of fatigue for old players. Time will tell how this plays out, although I would posit that current R&D are several leagues ahead of where they were when the first Ravnica set came out, hot on the heels of honorary-worst-Modern-legal-block Kamigawa.
Yearly Commander product is another thing that’s bound to bring excitement to a significant portion of the player base. As an avid EDH player, this was great news for me, and hopefully everyone’s favorite pseudo-kitchen-table format will only continue to grow in popularity. Can we expect 4-color Generals at some point in the coming year or two? One can only pray. Wizards also confirmed that they’re trying to slip multiple cards designed for EDH/Multiplayer play into each set, a trend which has been steadily progressing over the past several blocks (See: Praetors, the increased frequency of “Each opponent” on cards, and the continued existence of Big Goofy Shit in each set).
Bad news from the Wizards camp is a reiteration of their commitment to the Reserved List, and their admittance that cost of entry to the Legacy format is basically a cause that they have abandoned in favor of setting up Modern as the “accessible” Eternal format. While this was not unexpected, it was disappointing news, although the chorus of boo’s from the audience helped soften the blow somewhat. Solidarity, players who didn’t have a chance to crack dual lands!
May your mana never burn.
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