As Magic: the Gathering nears its 30th anniversary, it should come as no surprise that the game has a lot of cards. To date, Wizards has released almost 26,000 cards across paper, Magic Online, and MTG Arena. Across these myriad cards, Wizards has developed over 200 unique mechanics and abilities to keep every set feeling fresh. While this relentless innovation keeps the game moving forward, some fan-favorite mechanics are left in the dust. Thankfully, as the Storm Scale prophesies, a beloved MTG mechanic or two can reappear on occasion. In the upcoming premier set, March of the Machine, we’re seeing just that, as after eleven long years, Planechase is back!
Planechase’s Prophesized Return
While it was thoroughly enjoyed by several fans, Planechase was far from being MTG’s most popular supplemental product. First introduced in 2009, the set and format of the same name allowed players to feel like one of Magic’s iconic Planeswalkers. Jumping from plane to plane with a roll of a die, each Plane card featured symmetrical and often game-changing abilities. The Eon Fog, for instance, is a plane card of Equilor that forced players to skip their untap steps. Despite being an interesting modifier to the many formats of MTG, the mechanic wasn’t widely adopted. Subsequently, after a second set in 2012, and a 2016 anthology set, the format faded from the limelight.
Despite fading somewhat into the annals of history, recently, players have been starting to prophesize the return of Planechase. Due to the set’s story, March of the Machine seemed the perfect place for the MTG mechanic to reappear. Once Atraxa, Grand Unifier teased the existence of Battle cards, Planechase’s return seemed like a foregone conclusion. While not every player was convinced Battle cards were Planechase 2.0, the format appeared to be returning regardless. Thanks to information on the WPN store, all signs were pointing towards Planechase returning within the set’s Commander decks. Unsurprisingly, given the signs, that’s exactly what happened.
During the recent First Look Livestream, Wizards confirmed that, yes, Planechase is returning in March of the Machine. Explaining that it’s the perfect time for the mechanic’s return, Wizards revealed each of the set’s Commander decks would feature ten different Planechase cards. These ten cards will be a mix of five new, four reprinted cards, and one Phenomenon card. So far, Wizards has spoiled one of the 25 new Planechase cards within the set; Towashi.
Pleasantly Pleased Players
With Wizards of the Coast not having created new Planechase cards in eleven years, it’s safe to say that players were excited about its return. During the First Look Livestream, for instance, the audience at MagicCon: Philadelphia erupted into cheers once Blake Rasmussen pointed out that the beloved MTG mechanic was returning. Similarly, across social media, many MTG players lauded the return of this mechanic at long last. Reddit user u/SphereofDreams, for instance, proclaimed their love for the format, stating, “Planechase edh is the best. I’m soooo excited for this!!!!!!”
Throughout all the excitement across social media, it was clear to see just how beloved the Planechase format is. “I might actually cry… My friends and I have been playing Planechase commander for years, and it is always the best part of our get-togethers,” u/maamo commented on Reddit. “New Planechase cards are literally a dream come true. This is incredible. I’ve always been a huge MTG fan, but my excitement for this new set has reached a whole new level. Absolutely hyped!”
Alongside players hyping up the set even more, several players, such as u/donstamos, hoped this was just the beginning. “I really, really, hope this is a thing that keeps going in the commander decks. It’s an easy way to introduce new planes to Planechase, and tbh gives me a reason to buy Commander pre-cons I’d otherwise skip.” Unfortunately for these Planechase-loving players, however, it appears the mechanic’s return in March of the Machine may be a one-off.
“We felt like, hey this is a celebration of the multiverse, what better time to bring back a popular format people have been asking to see new content for.”Dave Humpherys | WotC Magic Development Manager
The Future of Planechase
Due to Hympherys’ wording, it’s difficult to properly predict the future of the Planechase mechanic in MTG. We might be reading too much into it, but since March of the Machine is being lauded as “the perfect time for Planechase,” this makes us think it’s merely an opportunistic one-off. This doesn’t mean, however, that the mechanic is destined to lay dormant for another eleven years. After all, should this Commander experiment prove successful, it’s entirely possible Wizards will bring back the mechanic in the future. Should enough players voice their support, Planechase could even get another supplemental set all of its own!
Thankfully, while the future of Planechase may be unclear, March of the Machine has plenty more to be excited about. The mysterious Battle cards, for instance, are still subject to extensive debate. All the more so now that it has been revealed Battle cards are all double-sided cards. At the moment, there’s still no telling precisely what Battle cards exactly are. That being said, however, it’s expected they’re a reinterpretation of the scrapped Skirmish mechanic from War of the Spark. Whether or not this is the case, however, we’ll just have to wait and see. Thankfully, that wait won’t be too much longer anymore, as March of the Machine spoiler season starts on the 29th of March.