Steel of the Godhead | Shadowmoor
11, Apr, 24

Classic MTG Planes May Get Reinvented With Divisive Themes

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Article at a Glance

After surviving the Phyrexian invasion of everything everywhere all at once, MTG has been touring the Multiverse recently. Showing off how planes have been rebuilding while providing a breath of fresh air, players have seen a lot of newness recently. Well, MTG players have seen a lot of new themes recently, at least.

In the year since the Phyrexian Arc ended, MTG has returned to three pre-existing planes; Eldraine, Ravnica, and Ixalan. Last seen in 2018 and 2019 these planes are hardly the oldest in MTG, yet they were still made to feel fresh. Not only did the whole Phyrexian invasion happen, but new mechanics helped redefine the identity of these planes.

While Wilds of Eldraine was a more typical return, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and Murders at Karlov Manor went in a different direction. Mixing things up with Underground and Detective-focused mechanics, these sets were given a completely new feel. Unfortunately, this somewhat unusual remix didn’t always work, but that won’t stop Wizards from doing it again.

Repeating the Repeats

On the Job | Murders at Karlov Manor
On the Job | Murders at Karlov Manor

After MTG’s whirlwind tour of recent history, the next few premier sets are admittedly all new. With Bloomburrow, Duskmourn, and Death Race on the horizon, players will be literally going all over. Given each of these sets promises an incredibly unique theme, it’s safe to say a lot of players are excited.

Beyond these new sets, in 2025, MTG returns to a trio of fan-favorite planes. At long last, Magic is returning to Tarkir, Lorwyn, and Arcavios next year. Initially, players were beyond excited about this Gen Con 2023 reveal, however, that excitement has just been tempered somewhat.

Speaking on Blogatog recently, Mark Rosewater stated the obvious that Wizards is “experimenting with new mechanical themes on old worlds.” This followed a question from Wehavenotbeenchosen, asking about how much players want existing planes to be fleshed out. As much as new planes can be fun, there are nonetheless intriguing possibilities in showing unseen areas of existing planes.

As Mark Rosewater themselves went on to note, Wizards is very capable of getting this right. By exploring the plane’s previously unexplored underground, this concept “Worked well with The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.” Unfortunately, while there’s clearly a lot of potential, Wizards doesn’t always get this right as it “Worked less well in Murders at Karlov Manor.”

Considering a lot of MTG players felt this murder-mystery set was a poor fit for Ravnica, this admission is unsurprising. Since Ravnica has such a strong and flavorful core, ignoring that to cover another topic undeniably felt strange. Despite this recent misstep, Wizards isn’t scrapping these return visits.

Instead, to conclude their answer, Mark Rosewater simply stated “We’ll do more.” From this, it seems like we’ll be getting a lot of new concepts in 2025’s return visits.

Reimagining the Return

Wren's Run Packmaster | Lorwyn
Wren’s Run Packmaster | Lorwyn

Given the differences between the two sets, it’s not hard to say what divided Ixalan’s and Ravnica’s recent return. As u/GladiatorDragon notes, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan played into themes of adventure and exploration, aptly charting new lands. Meanwhile, Murders at Karlov Manor ignored Ravnica’s guilds to make everyone a detective, which squandered the setting’s iconic potential.

While this could have just been an overstep from Wizards, players suspect it’s simply theming being too strong recently. Highlighting this on Reddit, u/Alon945 commented, “Cowboy world, detective world on Ravnica, mob world with Capenna. All feeling really really on the nose.” With Bloomburrow and Duskmourn on the horizon, this feeling may only get worse as time goes on.

Right now, it’s unclear exactly what kind of theme, if any, Tarkir, Lorwyn, and Arcavios will feature. Despite this lack of information, Rosewater’s recent statement is still beginning to cause concern. As u/HonorBasquiat notes, given the recent trend, there’s a very real chance Lorwyn could feel very different when players return.

Given the set’s original theme, players may expect Day/Night cards to return in full force. Since this mechanic is fairly high on the Storm Scale, however, it’s unclear if this will happen. When you factor in the fact that the Great Aurora is no more, it’s effectively guaranteed that Lorwyn will be different in a major way.

Despite this potential for change, we don’t know what the future will look like just yet. While we’re bound to see some new mechanics, there’s no guarantee they’ll reinvent the plane. After all, Wilds of Eldraine was still distinctly an Eldraine set, even if it pushed the plane in new directions. Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when 2025 rolls around.

Too Many Hats Spoil the Broth?

Kellan, the Kid

At the end of the day, while MTG is a beloved game, it’s also an incredibly successful one. Thanks to the immense casual player base, Magic has been making money hand over fist in recent years. For better or worse, this means annoying a few devoted fans isn’t going to harm the game in the long run.

While we don’t have the data to hand, it’s entirely possible that the hatpocalypse has been vastly overstated. Sure, many enfranchised MTG players have had enough, but the silent majority of casual fans may be loving it. If this is indeed the case, Wizards may continue to push flavor-first top-down sets going forward.

For better or worse, we don’t know what the future of MTG is going to hold just yet. Ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what gets announced as time goes on. Hopefully, we won’t be left in the dark about future details for too long, but sadly we don’t expect another Gen Con mega announcement any time soon…

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