Molten Duplication
8, Apr, 24

MTG Aftermath Sets Could Return With a Weird Twist

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Article at a Glance

To put it lightly, Aftermath sets have had a very troubled time in MTG so far. Debuting in 2023, March of the Machine: The Aftermath was the first of its kind, and so bad that it killed the concept. Between the immense prices and terrible pack opening experience, this set did nothing right, so it’s no surprise action was taken.

In a major change of pace, Wizards didn’t wait the usual two years to change Aftermath sets. Instead, Beyond Boosters and Outlaws of Thunder Junction were transformed in just one year. Clearing learning from their mistakes quickly, wizards didn’t want a repeat of the worst MTG set of all time.

While Beyond Boosters still somewhat resemble a suped-up Aftermath set, Outlaws of Thunder Junction went in a different direction. Rather than expanding and improving a micro-set, Wizards cut it down even more. Integrating the planned Aftermath set into The List’s usual spot, Wizards reinvented The Big Score.

Just like the accompanying Outlaws of Thunder Junction set, The Big Score has not been released quite yet. That being said, the set already appears to be primed for success. So much so, that some players are wondering if this unusual release could ever happen again. Miraculously, it appears the answer to this burning question might be a yes!

The Aftermath of Aftermath’s Aftermath

Vaultborn Tyrant
Vaultborn Tyrant | The Big Score

As we all know, March of the Machine: The Aftermath, was outright hated for just about everything. The packs, the cards, the story, and its very concept were all dismissed and despised by fans. So much so, that Wizards quickly put an end to all future Aftermath sets.

Just a year after the first experiment went wrong, Wizards scrapped Outlaws of Thunder Junction’s Aftermath set; The Big Score. Fusing it with The List instead, Wizards was clearly keen to fix the mistake they’d made. While the changes made have seemingly been successful, curiously, we may not have seen the last of Aftermath sets.

Prior to March of the Machine: The Aftermath flopping, it seemed likely that Wizards planned a fair few Aftermath sets. Judging by the beginnings of a trend it’s possible that each April premier MTG set had an Aftermath release planned. Given that each of these sets was the end of an Arc (Omenpath, Dragonstorm, and REDACTED) this seemed like a distinct possibility.

For better or worse, right now, there’s no telling if this theory is accurate or not. Since Wizards is unlikely to confirm anything, we’ll just have to wait until 2025 to find out for sure. That being said, it seems there’s a real chance that Aftermath sets could return just as The Big Score has.

Speaking on Blogatog, MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, recently revealed that, while unlikely, The Big Score style sets could return. Stating, “If people really like it, who knows?” the door seems to have been left open for future options. That being said, Rosewater also stated that “this was more of a solution to a problem than the start of something new,” so nothing is guaranteed.

Saving the Unsaveable

Open the Way | March of the Machine: The Aftermath
Open the Way | March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Considering how hard March of the Machine: The Aftermath failed, you may be wondering why Wizards would ever consider rehashing it. Thankfully, the answer to this question is rather simple, Aftermath sets have immense positive potential. If Wizards can get them right, Aftermath sets deliver story, staples, flavor, and fun, all in one concise package.

As a non-draftable Standard-legal set, Aftermath releases already have huge meta-defining potential. Potentially providing new staples and support to dying archetypes, these sets are practically needed to maintain a healthy meta. Beyond this incredibly useful potential, Aftermath sets also provide space for missed characters, which are otherwise only found in Alchemy sets.

Beyond offering new cards, Aftermath releases also provide a home to additional story chapters. Given recent complaints against MTG’s story, these would be very welcome, to say the least. Whether they’re providing additional consequences or setting up the next story arc, more story is rarely ever a bad thing.

Proving this point, while it hasn’t been released yet, The Big Score already appears to be a major success. The set’s recent story chapters alone have received immense applause from MTG fans, thanks to incredible work from Alison Lührs. By setting up Jace and Vraska’s future plans, MTG players now can’t wait to see what’s next.

Alongside the superb storytelling, the 30 new cards in The Big Score are mostly all exciting. While there are a few problematic duds, there are a lot of commander tools, combo enablers, and strong constructed cards too. Much like the first Aftermath set, not all of these are amazing, but some should see decent play, at least.

We’ll Meet Again… Don’t Know When

Loot, the Key to Everything Image

Ultimately, as much as The Big Score is doing a lot right, there are some issues with it. For starters, this micro-set is replacing The List, so there’s no chance for much-needed high-value reprints. Additionally, each The Big Score card is at mythic rarity, which causes huge problems for MTG Arena players.

Despite these problems, The Big Score nonetheless seems deserving of another outing. Unfortunately, there’s no telling if, or when, this may happen. Given Rosewater’s statement, it seems there’s a very real chance this will never happen again but we’re holding out hope. Given the set’s significance, it would be a shame if the set codenamed “Ziplining” didn’t get some Aftermat-esque pizazz.

For now, it seems Wizards is hardly all in on Aftermath sets, despite their potential. This is evidenced by Murders at Karlov Manor, which could have easily featured an Aftermath set of its own. For better or worse, according to Mark Rosewater, this possibility “was discussed, but never executed on,” so it’s clear Wizards is holding back somewhat. As a result, we could be waiting some time for this experiment to appear once again.

Read More: Gorgeous MTG Secret Lair Offers Dismal Value and Questionable Card Choices

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