Changes to Magic The Gathering Announced – 3 Large Sets, Less Gatewatch, Improved R&D

Magic The Gathering Head Designer Mark Rosewater has announced some sweeping changes to how Magic: The Gathering will work in latter 2017 and beyond. Some of the highlights include:

– Moving from a Large Set, Small set twice a year format to 3 Large sets with a revamped “Core set” inserted in the mid year.

Change #1—The Fall, Winter, and Spring Sets Will All Be Large Sets That Are Drafted Alone

There will no longer be small sets (in main releases; supplementary sets, such as Conspiracy, may still be smaller). All main Standard-legal expansions will be large, and all of them will be drafted alone. From a design standpoint, each will have its own mechanical identity, although there’s potential for a small amount of overlap.

The reason for that is because from a creative standpoint, we plan to stay on worlds for as many sets as makes sense for the story. Some worlds will be a single set while others might be two or three sets. If we stay on a world for more than one set, something about how the world is structured will let us have a delineation between the sets. Sometimes, but not all the times, we will have mechanical carryover between sets that share a world. For instance, under this new model, if we chose to stay on Kaladesh for two sets, we might have chosen to use energy in both sets (most likely playing around in different design spaces), but the rest of the mechanics would have been unique to their set. Note that sets that share a world won’t necessarily overlap in any mechanics.

This also means that we are essentially removing the concept of blocks. Sets will share worlds on occasion, but the preset structure of a locked number of expansions being played together is no more.

-Core sets are back, if in a revamped sort of way

Change #2—The Summer Set Will Be a Revamped Core Set

The core sets are back—kind of. As I explained when we got rid of the core set, they’ve always had an identity problem. Are they for newer players or enfranchised players? We’ve decided to err on the side of new players. Note this doesn’t mean there won’t be some goodies for the enfranchised player (there will be new and reprinted cards aimed for Constructed play), just that whenever we got to a fork in the road, we picked the path of making this product the best introductory booster release possible.

This has a bunch of ramifications. For starters, we’re going to look at every card through the lens of “is this something that will cause problems for a newer player?” In the past, we would include things that confused new players at the cost of adding value for a different type of player. We’re working hard to meet other needs while not sacrificing the vision of being an entry-level product. This means, for example, that we will have a Draft environment that can be mastered more quickly than normal (meaning it should be fun for enfranchised players but not for as many drafts as usual). The core set will also have a stronger integration with the sample decks, Planeswalker Decks, and Deck Builder’s Toolkit, allowing for an easier transition between the products.

The set will be roughly half new cards and half reprints, and all the cards will be Standard-legal. The new cards will push toward resonance (aka things a new player would already recognize by having a familiarity with fantasy from pop culture). The set will have some story relevance, but more in a “filling in information of the past about relevant characters” way than telling a piece of the “present-day” story.

Probably the biggest change about the new core set is a philosophy in how we think about it. In the past, we stuck the core set on equal footing with the other three major sets, but with its return we’re going to treat it differently. It has a different purpose, different priorities, and it’s going to be designed with a different approach. As such, we’re not going to treat it as if it’s just like the main three expansions.

– Less focus on the Gatewatch

Change #3—A Different Approach to the Gatewatch

Starting with Hour of Devastation, we’re making three fixes:

We’re significantly pulling back on how often the Gatewatch will appear as planeswalker cards. It will still happen when the story calls for it, but far less often. For example, for all of 2017 and 2018, only a handful of planeswalker cards will be Gatewatch members, and that’s including in Planeswalker Decks, where they’ll appear slightly more often.
Our new plan is to continue to design flavorful story cards but only push them for Constructed when, through playtesting, we believe that they lead to a better Constructed environment.
The Gatewatch are still going to be our protagonists, but every member will no longer show up in every block. We may even have some blocks where none of the Gatewatch appear, although even those blocks will still be relevant to the larger story.

More on the changes over at the original article

My Thoughts
1. 3 new large sets? My wallet is already hurting. But i like the idea of visiting more worlds in the MTG universe, and more diverse mechanics and characters please
2. Less Gatewatch? It’s like watching the avenger for the past X years over and over. Let’s get some new stories in…
3. Less chase cards means the set’s actual cards will be worth much more given the price of each box, assuming ofc ourse we get cards that are valuable and powerful
4. Better testing and R&d is always good for the product so good to see Wizards investing resources into that area.

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