Throughout 2023, there has been a lot of hubbub about creature types in MTG. This is partly thanks to the new Doctor Who Commander decks which introduced the first two-word creature type to MTG. While confusing, however, this issue seemingly pales in comparison to the MTG player’s latest plight: the word typal.
Back in June of 2023, Wizards of the Coast announced they were changing some of the language they used internally. Rather than calling creature-type or mechanic-focused decks Tribal, now, they’re known as Typal. According to Wizards, this change was made “as numerous consultants have stressed that it carries negative connotations.”
Ultimately, while Tribal had been used throughout MTG’s lifespan, many players were happy, or at least unbothered, by the change. Others, however, have constantly rallied against it as if the physical manifestation of Typal was going to break into their house and sully their collection. While such ludicrous concerns are thankfully unfounded, there was nevertheless the question of ‘where does this end?’ MTG is hardly a perfectly pure and innocent game, after all.
Initially, this concern appeared to be one of pure fear and speculation, however, in September, it started to come true. Following conversations about witches, it seemed that multiple MTG creature types could be removed in the near future. Now, however, this is being miraculously dismissed as a “False Rumor” by MTG’s Lead Designer.
Creature Types B’ Gone
Rolling the clocks back to late September, this whole debacle kicked off thanks to a question by Fallapede on Tumblr. Taking to Blogatog, Fallapede asked Mark Rosewater, MTG’s Lead Designer, why on earth MTG had no Witches. Considering cards like Bog Witch exist, this may seem like an odd question, however, they’re not wrong.
Despite the existence of Bog Witch, Barrow Witches, and Plague Witch, Witches don’t exist. Well, they don’t exist as a creature type, at least. Instead of having this common identifier, these characters are often Warlocks, Wizards, and Shamans. Considering they’re still called Witches, however, you might understandably be wondering, what gives?
Answering this exact query, Rosewater stated that Wizards chose to avoid this creature type since “Witch is a real-world religious identifier.” While this is a simple enough explanation, for better or worse, it kicked off quite the chain of events.
Furthering the conversation, A-goat-chariot-rider asked Rosewater about other potential religious terminology such as Shaman and Druid. Carrying similar significance, surely these creature types should have also been avoided in MTG, no? According to Rosewater, Wizards is “currently examining that exact topic,” so it seems these creature types could be done for.
Unfortunately, after a brief, and somewhat confusing, explanation from Rosewater, this line of questioning was dropped. This ultimately left the future of the Shaman and Druid creature types unclear in MTG going forward. On its own, this isn’t a major problem, however, it seems MTG players didn’t quite stop there.
In the weeks since Fallapede’s initial question, MTG players have been talking and gossiping. Taking this away from Blogatog, the statements from Rosewater were warped and distorted by fears and speculation. So much so, in fact, that upon returning to Rosewater, the question was entirely different.
Worry Not, Witches Aren’t Going Anywhere
Late last week, Tumblr user Raindr0psymphony took to Blogatog to raise their concerns about Witches supposedly being removed from MTG. Being quite the jump from where we left off, Rosewater was quick to put down this assumption. Stating “We’re not removing Witches from the game,” Rosewater dismissed the claim as a “False rumor.”
Thanks to this emphatic statement, players who do enjoy seeing Witches in MTG needn’t be disappointed. As Raindr0psymphony highlighted, however, there is another issue with the inclusion of these characters in MTG. While the representation may be nice, it’s almost entirely negative, showing the religion in a very bad light.
While undeniably a fantasy trope, if WotC cares about religious identifiers, this negative perception is definitely a bad look. Thankfully, Raindr0psymphony did have a solution, as Wizards can just show positive depictions as well. This idea seemed to resonate with Rosewater, as they stated they’ll “pass along” the idea to the relevant people.
Even with positive representations potentially appearing in the future, it seems WotC won’t be creating a new creature type. In fact, the fate of the Shaman and Druid types may still hang in the balance. Not having been addressed since September, it’s entirely possible Wizards is still thinking about phasing these types out.
Whether or not that will happen, however, remains to be seen, as there’s no telling the results of Wizards’ discussions. Alongside this, it’s currently unclear what the replacement for either creature type would be at the moment. Technically, using Wizard would work, however, it’d definitely dilute the type’s style somewhat.
Not Our Choice
At the end of the day, should WotC phase out Shamans and Druids, we have to wonder if this even matters. Sure, MTG would lose some variety and mechanical complexity, but this could always be introduced elsewhere. Ultimately, however, this wondering of ours is misplaced, as it’s not for us to choose what WotC should or shouldn’t do.
Should Wizards and their consultants decide that Shamans and Druids need to go, they’re free to remove them. WotC is a company, after all, and this is ultimately a business decision. Thanks to that, the will of the players is unlikely to get in the way since profit is king. Due to this, we’re just going to have to wait patiently to find out what the future brings.