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23, May, 23

MTG Lead Designer Reveals New Novelty Shortlist Sets

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Typically, much about the future of Magic: the Gathering is shrouded in a thick soupy layer of mystery. Beyond being teased with dates and the occasional First Look, MTG sets must wait for their preordained turn to be revealed. As boring as this waiting may be, it is nevertheless vital. As, without it, the year’s jam-packed release schedule would be almost unmanageable.

Considering the amount it gets complained about, most MTG players are well aware of this fact. Despite this, however, many MTG players still can’t resist the allure of the future. Clamoring for leaks, spoilers, and any potential detail, it’s clear the future’s limitless potential is rather enticing. Thankfully, while Wizards tend to stick to their release schedule, there is some staff who occasionally reveal tantalizing teasing tidbits.

The worse, or rather best, offender for this, is MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater. Through their blog, Blogatog, Rosewater has revealed countless morsels of information while giving glimpses into MTG’s future. Recently, Rosewater has been doing just that, by revealing some of the potential locations on the set shortlist.

A Long Shortlist

Cut Short | March of the Machine
Cut Short | March of the Machine

Since the earliest days of MTG’s existence, players have been requesting what they to see in the future. Subsequently, in the twelve years since Rosewater started Blogatog, there have been countless eager requests from players. So much so, in fact, that now Rosewater refers to their potential plane shortlist as a “short” list, on their blog.

Despite this shortlist having grown in size quite considerably over the years, it does get cut down over time. The current state of the Blogatog FAQ is proof of that. By Rosewater’s own admission, “The FAQ is old,” with many sections being woefully out of date. One of these sections is the current shortlist of planes that are “often requested and Wizards is aware of.”

Within this list, there are numerous planes that players requested and have since been printed. An “Egyptian World,” for instance, was realized in Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation. Similarly, the highly-requested “Fairy Tale World” also became a reality in Throne of Eldraine. It can also be argued that Ixalan is the “Maso-American World,” that players were once requesting.

Unfortunately, some of the fan-requested planes have been made, there are plenty more still stuck on the shortlist. A “Wild West-Inspired Plane,” for instance, has been repeatedly requested, yet still, no such world exists. Not on the current release calendar, at least. Additionally, themes such as a “Sky World… Steampunk World … [and] Underwater World” are all yet to be made.

At the end of the day, there are now so many planes on this shortlist, that coming up with new ones is rather difficult. So much so, in fact, that players are now asking if ideas are already on the list, rather than trying to add them.

The List Gets Longer

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales | War of the Spark
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales | War of the Spark

Technically, since most ideas are seemingly already on the list, the potential plane shortlist isn’t actually getting any longer. That being said, however, thanks to the questions on Blogatog, more and more of the list is steadily being revealed. The most recent MTG players to aid in this discovery are Tumblr users Melusthesorcerer and Letswassermatt02love.

In a pair of posts, these users revealed both a “dreamlike/surreal ‘Alice in Wonderland’ like plane” and an “Australian inspired plane” are on the existing shortlist. As always, this doesn’t mean that these ideas are next in line to be put into production. Instead, the shortlist simply identifies planes and concepts that Wizards are aware there is a desire for. Subsequently, it could be literal years before any one of these ideas is put into production.

Saying that, however, it is nevertheless fun to think about what the future may hold. So, let’s have a mini deep dive into these potential sets and what they could bring to MTG.

Dream Plane

Unnamed Ashiok Art | The Wilds of Eldraine
Unnamed Ashiok Art | The Wilds of Eldraine

Luckily for Tumblr user Melusthesorcerer, it appears we may already be getting a taste of a dream-like plane this year. This is due to the release of Wilds of Eldraine. While this set is, first and foremost, a return to Eldraine following the Phyrexian invasion, it does have some dreamy elements. And we’re not just talking about Will Kenrith here.

As seen on Wicked Slumber, from March of the Machine, it seems there are some sleepy shenanigans going down on Eldraine. Subsequently, it’s likely Wilds of Eldraine will continue these themes. The (potentially former) Planeswalker Ashiok is the prime culprit for this Slumber. Appearing in Wilds of Eldraine as Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator, it seems near guaranteed there’ll be some nightmares.

Since Wilds of Eldraine isn’t out yet, it’s obviously pretty hard to tell how deep the dream themes will go in the set. If these elements are successful, however, it may only be a matter of time before the concept is expanded on in a full set.

As for the Alice in Wonderland theming of the plane, that would be entirely possible. After all, Alice in Wonderland has been in the public domain since 1907. This means Wizards would be free to create as many Universes Beyond cards with the brand as their hearts desire. Alternatively, Wizards could simply create alternate versions of cards, as we saw with Count Dracula, aka Sorin the Mirthless.

Australian Plane

Sunbathing Rootwalla | Dominaria United
Sunbathing Rootwalla | Dominaria United

Sadly, unlike the potential Dream Plane, which we should be getting a taste of soon, an Australian Plane is a lot more nebulous. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it allows the plane near limitless potential. For instance, Wizards could create a Universes Beyond card for Ayers Rock as an alternate version of a mana rock. How fun would that be! Maybe at least a little!

Similarly, an Australian-inspired plane could be the perfect place to fulfill Lhurgyof-blog’s request for more Geckos. Following on from this, this potential plane would be an ideal home for Lizard tribal. Either that or it could be a thrilling depiction of the Great Emu War of 1932.

Ultimately, as fun as it could be, this idea feels somewhat less likely to be made into reality. While this may be disappointing to some, there may still be some hope. It is possible, for instance, that themes from this plane could be used elsewhere. As Aiamkor points out on Tumblr, this already seems to be the case for Ikoria. After all, it is “a place where all the fauna wants you dead.” Should we return to Ikoria, it’s possible Wizards could play into the set’s semi-Australian themes even more.

Plenty More Potential Planes

Contact Other Plane | Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
Contact Other Plane | Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

While we have highlighted two interesting choices today, there are countless more planes that MTG could visit. This includes locations both new and old, as the recent Multiversal Phyrexian invasion has given old planes new life. Thanks to this, if Wizards really wanted to, they could spend the next decade, at least, revisiting old planes.

For better or worse, it seems Wizards of the Coast won’t be doing this rather prolonged history lesson. Instead, Mark Rosewater has already confirmed players will visit a new plane in 2024. Alongside this, thanks to recent polls, it appears Wizards may revisit the fan-favorite MTG sets rather than every one ever printed.

At the end of the day, as much as Rosewater likes to talk about the future, there’s no telling what’s in store quite yet. For that, we’ll have to wait for Wizards of the Coast’s big yearly announcement. Technically, 2023’s announcement hasn’t been confirmed just yet. That being said, however, WotC have announced their attendance at Gen Con. During this convention, Wizards will reportedly have a 30th Anniversary Presentation that looks several years into the future. Subsequently, it may not be long before we know more.

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