30, Jun, 24

MTG Foundations Is Already an Incredibly Controversial Set

After being announced the other day, MTG Foundations is quickly becoming Magic's latest controversy...
Article at a Glance

Yesterday at MagicCon: Amsterdam, a preview panel revealed a boatload of new information about various upcoming sets. A multitude of spoilers were revealed, both from Bloomburrow and Duskmourn. On top of that, a new MTG core set variant was revealed. Known as MTG Foundations, this long-lasting set is designed in part to help new players have a smooth learning process.

Set to release on November 15, 2024, MTG Foundations has sparked a great deal of discussion among the player base. In some ways, there’s a lot to like for players who have been clamoring for the return of core sets for quite some time. On the other hand, introducing cards to Standard that won’t rotate for five years definitely has some associated risks.

Ultimately, the announcement of MTG Foundations has led to a ton of mixed opinions in the MTG community. With this in mind, we’re going to focus on what this set brings to the table and what areas of concern players are most worried about. MTG Foundations is clearly controversial, so to kick things off, let’s take a look at some of the aspects of the set that players find generally positive.

Positive Aspects of a Core Set

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At this point, there isn’t a ton of information available on exactly what MTG Foundations will look like as a whole. That said, the general description of the product gives off very similar vibes to early core sets in MTG’s history. Core sets are a phenomenon that has been discontinued and recontinued multiple times and hasn’t existed for many years now.

Many players are quite excited about the return for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, some players think core sets are fundamental in helping players learn the basics of the game. Other players believe that having a beginner-friendly way to get new players involved in a format other than Limited is a great idea. MTG Foundations sounds like it takes the methodology of printing more basic cards that are easy to understand and expands upon it in a meaningful way.

In fact, alongside Play Boosters and Collector Boosters, MTG Foundations cards will be available in two new products. These are specifically designed for new players to learn the game and grow their collection. Known as Beginner Boxes and Starter Kits, these have the potential to act as a solid entry point for people who are new to Magic. This further improves upon Jumpstart products which were designed to hold a similar purpose. Many players have thus voiced their excitement for Beginner Boxes and Starter Kits, mentioning how Magic has desperately needed ways to help new players become more immersed for years.

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Positive Aspects of Not Following Rotation

Overall, it seems like most players are quite happy with the resemblance that MTG Foundations has to core sets of MTG’s past. Where most of the controversy lies is with the decision to make MTG Foundations stray from the typical Standard rotation schedule. MTG Foundations cards will be legal in Standard through at least 2029, and this timeframe can be expanded at Wizards of the Coast’s discretion.

While having a subset of cards be Standard legal and not match rotation does have its downsides, there are some benefits too. When it comes to helping new players make their way into Standard, having introductory cards legal for 5+ years can make the transition easier. Players can focus on learning simple mechanics early on before branching out to more complex sets and keywords as time goes on. While doing this, there’s no fear of losing out on the MTG Foundations cards that got them to this point in the first place.

The reality is, core sets didn’t always follow the typical rotation schedule. Prior to M10, core sets did not match rotation and were traditionally simpler from a thematic and mechanical standpoint. Unfortunately, part of the reason core sets didn’t last was that they didn’t sell at the same rate as normal premier sets. MTG Foundations gives off core set vibes but doesn’t directly compete with new premier sets, which can help a lot in the long run.

Another benefit to having a group of simple yet effective cards last in Standard for additional years is that there’s no pressure to print them in premier sets. General Standard staples like Spell Pierce and Duress can now be implemented into the format without needing to repeatedly take up premier set slots. This opens the door for more set-specific designs to take their place, which is nice for Limited play.

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A Glaring Weakness

Unfortunately, the obvious problem that can arise by keeping cards legal in Standard for many years is that games become too repetitive. This isn’t necessarily an issue depending on the cards that are featured in MTG Foundations. That being said, even though only five cards have been previewed thus far, multiple of them have players concerned.

Right off the bat, we need to talk about the elephant in the room: Llanowar Elves. It has been roughly five years since a one-drop mana dork has been Standard legal. Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves have warped most Standard formats they have been a part of. Now, Llanowar Elves is back and may end up being a Standard all-star for a very long time. As such, it makes sense why many players would be worried about the card’s inclusion.

Add on the fact that there have been so many potent three-drops printed in recent years, and Llanowar Elves becomes an even scarier card to see. Perhaps we will see more cheap, potent removal spells added to try to keep Llanowar Elves in check, but I’m skeptical.

Even Day of Judgment was a bit problematic in its Standard environment years ago, and this card will also be making a triumphant return. MTG Foundations has the potential to be an awesome addition to our arsenal, but part of that depends on the card list as a whole. MTG Foundations could also end up increasing the power level of Standard a fair bit, but it’s a bit early to speculate on this with the information we have. It looks like major change is on the horizon, but for now, we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.

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