As the first-ever Universes Beyond Draft set, Wizards went all out for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Unsurprisingly, this means the set was marketed to the high heavens, with celebrities even helping to promote the set. Alongside this, MTG fans were delighted by countless incredible cards that drove demand to unprecedented levels! From these elements combined, it certainly seemed the future of Universes Beyond sets was resting on Tales of Middle-earth’s success!
To ensure the set was as successful as possible, Tales of Middle-earth had a lot more than just new Commander and Modern staples to enjoy. The collectibility of the set, for instance, was also driven to a new extreme to delight that subset of players. Offering a smorgasbord of different art treatments, Tales of Middle-earth yet again pushed the boundaries of what players would tolerate.
For better or worse, many MTG players didn’t just tolerate the enhanced collectibility. Instead, it seems most MTG players thoroughly enjoyed this enhanced aspect of the set. So much so, in fact, that following the new Tales of Middle-earth survey, this could become the new normal in the future of MTG.
A Questionaire Quandry
Typically sent to players after every MTG set release, usually the player surveys aren’t much to write home about. While an important tool for Wizards to collect information, for players, there are rarely any hidden details. Instead, these surveys are all about having your opinion heard and potentially guiding the future of MTG. Unfortunately, this means players don’t get any free packs for compensation.
While MTG player surveys are often typically uneventful, Tales of Middle-earth has managed to cause quite a stir. This is thanks to questions about the collectability of the set. Specifically, these questions revolved around collecting the highly prized one-of-one The One Ring.
Considering there’s only one copy of this card in existence, collecting it is obviously not an easy feat. Subsequently, across social media, several players and content creators were baffled by this unusual question. On Twitter, for instance, MTG personality Saffron Olive simply remarked how this question was “ambitious,” to poke fun at the situation.
Despite the odd wording of this question, there’s no doubt that there’s been a huge amount of buzz around The One Ring. MTG players and streamers alike have been cracking Collector Boosters en masse in the hopes of finding it, after all. Unfortunately for all these hopeful players, recently, the search for The One Ring concluded in spectacular fashion. This rather major detail, however, doesn’t mean that the card’s story is over just yet.
Thanks to The One Ring having been found by a lucky Toronto player, the question posed in this survey is a lot more complex. After all, finding, owning, and collecting The One Ring are all very different things. In theory, the first two can be achieved by buying the winning pack. The latter, however, costs literally millions of dollars.
The Collectible Cocophany
As much as it might be a possibility, we doubt this tickable box is definitely to survey the number of multimillionaires playing MTG. Instead, this question, as with the one before it, is likely meant to judge the average player’s interest in this card treatment. Through this, Wizards can find out if it’s something they should repeat over and over again.
Judging by the recent response to a question on Blogatog, a lot of MTG players don’t want more one-of-one serialized cards. While these complaints from enfranchised players will likely be considered, MTG does have a massive casual audience. Subsequently, should thousands of players support one-of-one treatments in the new survey, it’ll take precedence over disgruntled Tumblr comments.
Due to this, it’s entirely possible that, following this survey, Wizards may further increase the prevalence of serialized cards. This may lead to another one-of-one serialized MTG card, as well as more serialized sol-rings in the future. For some MTG collectors, this could be a major problem, as the novelty of serialized cards may wear out fast. Unfortunately, however, this may just be the tip of the problematic iceberg.
In the survey, Wizards doesn’t just ask about collecting The One Ring. Instead, they canvased opinions on all ten of Tales of Middle-earth’s art treatments. Should each of these see substantial support, there’s a non-zero chance all these art treatments could return. Alternatively, it may also mean ten art and foil treatments become the new normal for a premier MTG set.
Should this hypothetical happen, it would likely be great news for collectors and art fanatics. For everyone else, however, it would be an awful lot to keep up with. Especially if it sets a precedent of sets being released twice!
Sticking to the Script
After moving on from the collectible questions, a lot of the rest of the survey is fairly standard. Asking players about familiarity with the franchise and how it was represented, there was very little out of the ordinary. Saying that, however, there was another major question that could shape the future of Universes Beyond MTG releases.
As you can see above, this question revolved around a hugely controversial aspect of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth: race. When cards depicting Aragorn were first spoiled, many fans online pushed back with huge amounts of hate and vitriol. Thanks to vague descriptions in the book and Peter Jackson’s films, Wizards’ interpretation certainly wasn’t what was expected.
Responding to this criticism, Wizards of the Coast would later clarify how Tales of Middle-earth is their own interpretation. Existing alongside the books and movie franchises, this interpretation didn’t detract from anything, only add to it. After realizing this, thankfully, much of the vitriol dissipated online, however, Wizards evidently still remains cautious.
Depending on the answers to his question, future Universes Beyond releases may be more faithful to previously established interpretations. In theory, this could be a good thing, as it better reflects any crossover franchise. As we can see from The Walking Dead crossover cards, however, sometimes faithful representations can stick out immensely. If this happens, some players may push back against these crossover products, potentially harming their appeal.
The Future Isn’t Here Yet
At the end of the day, while these MTG player surveys can help guide Wizards toward future plans, we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. Even if we did, there’s a long time before any new plans from Wizards would be put into action. Currently, MTG sets have a roughly two-year development lead time. Due to this, we’ve got a long time to wait to see the results of this survey in action.
Thankfully, in the meantime, there’s still a lot more MTG to enjoy and we don’t have to wait long for that. Commander Masters, for instance, kicks off its spoiler season early next week, Following this, Wilds of Eldraine should have plenty of new, powerful, and collectible cards for players to enjoy. As usual, players can expect even more surveys for these sets, which will hopefully help perfect the future of MTG.