Omniscience | Magic 2013 | Art by Jason Chan
3, Jul, 24

5 Things We Want To See In MTG Foundations

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Even next to the radically modern trappings of Duskmourn, MTG Foundations was still the big surprise of MagicCon Amsterdam. Some players had suspected another Jumpstart product would be released this year, but none were expecting what is essentially a new core set. Especially not one that will be legal in Standard for five years.

There’s a lot of risk associated with such a long-term release, but also a lot of potential. If WotC can get this right, then Magic will be a better, more welcoming game for years to come. With this in mind, it’s imperative that Wizards of the Coast gets this set right. Here’s our personal wishlist for MTG Foundations: five features we think would make it the best set it can be.

1 | A Fantastic Limited Environment

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This one seems fairly obvious on the surface. A good Limited environment is something on our wishlist for any given MTG set, not just Foundations. This set’s intent as a new player experience, however, and its planned long tenure in Standard, make this more important than usual.

Given the set’s focus, it’s highly likely many new players will be cracking MTG Foundations packs at their first-ever Prerelease events. They’ll be learning the ropes of Limited with these cards in their hands. It’s incredibly important, then, that the games they play while doing so are fun and engaging. No less than the best of what Magic has to offer.

As if this wasn’t enough, the fact that the set will be legal for five years (or possibly more) likely increases the window in which it will be played as a Limited format. If done well, players will look back on the long reign of MTG Foundations fondly. If not, it will be remembered as a blight that put a damper on Limited for years on end.

There are many roads to achieving this goal. A strong balance of power level and rarity in the set is probably the biggest one. Hot on its heels, however, is a varied selection of Limited archetypes, that can work well in both Draft and Sealed. If WotC can nail these elements, then MTG Foundations will be the perfect gateway to Limited for new players.

2 | Iconic Reprints For Each Color

Iconic Reprints

Core sets are an opportunity to welcome newcomers into the cultural fabric of MTG. Part of that is just teaching them the game and the rules, but another is showcasing the elements for which each color is best known. What better way to do so than to reprint some of the most iconic cards in each color into the set?

I’m talking about the absolute GOATs among GOATs. The Lightning Bolts, Counterspells, Doom Blades, Savannah Lions, and Rampant Growths of the world. Cards that define core pillars of Magic’s identity, while simultaneously having storied competitive histories themselves. Cards like this are great for two reasons. They’re very powerful, and therefore help new players build decent decks for a reasonable price. And they’re highly educational, immediately showing new players what each color is best at doing.

Based on the few early spoilers we’ve soon, it’s likely this item on our MTG Foundations wishlist will be getting ticked off. Both Day of Judgment and Llanowar Elves are confirmed as reprints in the set. The former is a classic white board wipe, and the latter is probably the most recognizable green mana dork of all time. Both are great cards, and both represent a key part of their respective color’s identity. Hopefully, the rest of the reprints in MTG Foundations follow suit.

3 | Retro Frame Cards

Retro Frame Cards

On the subject of Magic’s cultural fabric, another thing we’d love to see in Foundations is the return of Retro Frame cards. This is a treatment we’ve been seeing an awful lot of lately, in multiple products. Every Remastered set, including this year’s Ravnica Remastered, has included it. On top of this, it’s also been a part of Modern Horizons 3, and even March of the Machine: The Aftermath.

The Retro Frame is so commonplace now that it wouldn’t seem odd at all to make use of it in Foundations. In fact, it would make a ton of sense to do so. First of all, the increased number of Retro Frame cards has led to many players collecting them and aiming to build decks with only them. Adding more in a set like this helps those players out. Even for those who don’t enjoy the frame, additional printings typically bring the price of a card down.

Secondly, as with reprinting iconic cards, using the Retro Frame in a new player-focused product helps teach a bit of MTG history. Seeing what cards used to look like next to what they look like now conveys a sense of progression. Doubly so if the cards printed in the frame are actually classics like Lightning Bolt.

Of course, with MTG Foundations being a brand-new product, there’s a chance WotC doesn’t want to be seen as wallowing in the past by including Retro Frame cards. Personally, however, I hope they do. The sense of history they provide is unmatched, and they remind people that Magic is a game that has stood strong for over 30 years.

4 | Great Sideboard Options

This one is an absolute must. MTG Foundations is unique in that it will be sticking around in Standard for five years. For that reason, every card printed within it carries much more weight than usual, for better or worse. One way WotC can use these long-life slots for good is to fill them with powerful sideboard tech cards. Staple pieces like Rest in Peace, Pithing Needle, and Reclamation Sage.

While not discussed nearly as much as it should be, proper sideboard construction is one of the fundamental skills of competitive Magic. You need to include cards that shore up your bad matchups or counter the counter cards your opponents could also board in. It’s high-level stuff, and tough for new players to learn. For that reason, including plenty of great sideboard cards in Foundations could give them a serious head-start.

Additionally, it could serve as a safety valve for Standard as a whole. Since the set is around for so long, sideboard cards printed in Foundations will be reliable tools for a long, long time. Simply including Rest in Peace here would prevent graveyard decks from becoming a problem for the next five years, for example. This certainly isn’t the flashiest entry on our MTG Foundations wishlist, but it may well be the most important.

5 | A Reasonable Power Level

MTG-Foundations-Wishlist-Crackle-With-Power

Finally, something that may sound strange coming from a Magic player. A reasonable power level? That’s something you very rarely hear requests for, in an age where new eternal staples come out of every single Standard set. We believe this is incredibly important, however. For Foundations more than any other set in years.

As we’ve mentioned a few times already, MTG Foundations will have a longer shelf life than most Magic sets. Every card printed here will get at least five years to soak in the Standard sun. This has a magnifying effect: any design mistakes made here will reverberate through Standard for years, without a rotation to address them until 2029.

Because of this, the most important element on our MTG Foundations wishlist is a reasonable power level. Cards that are good, but not too good. Players haven’t enjoyed playing against staples like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse for three years, never mind five. Any big power outliers like that in Foundations will almost certainly require a ban, which in turn will shake new player confidence, especially if the banned card was one of their most treasured early pulls.

To be honest, this is unlikely to be a serious issue. Core sets in Magic have traditionally had the opposite problem: too few powerful cards to be worth opening for established players. Ideally, a balance between playable and broken could be struck here. If things have to fall on one side, however, let them fall on the side of “too weak.” We don’t want to see what five years of “too strong” looks like.

Read More: MTG Foundations Is Already an Incredibly Controversial Set

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