Bonus sheets, like the new set of “Multiverse Legends” in March of the Machine, are becoming an increasingly common feature of Magic: the Gathering sets. Their growing presence has started a discussion among MTG players over whether they are a positive or negative thing for the game overall.
What Are Bonus Sheets?
Bonus Sheets have been a part of Magic since Time Spiral in 2006. Time Spiral contained several “timeshifted cards”, iconic cards from the past which appeared in each booster pack and kept the old borders used on cards released prior to 8th edition. These cards had the same rules to determine their format legality as every other card in Time Spiral, meaning that players were free to use them in their Standard and Extended (the 2006 equivalent of Modern) decks.
After the end of Time Spiral block, Bonus Sheets disappeared for more than a decade, before finally returning in the 2021 set, Strixhaven: School of Mages. Strixhaven contained a bonus sheet of powerful Instants and Sorceries from the game’s past known as the “Mystical Archive”. These Mystical Archive cards were legal to use in Drafts, and many of them provided fun build-around strategies like Approach of the Second Sun, Tendrils of Agony, and Mizzix’s Mastery. Unlike the Timeshifted cards, Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive cards were not made Standard legal, or even legal in Modern or Pioneer if they were not playable in those formats already.
The model of Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive was reused in The Brothers’ War which had a Bonus Sheet containing Retro Artifacts like Wurmcoil Engine and Platinum Angel and has recently been used again in March of the Machine which features a sheet of Legendary creatures from the game’s past known as “Multiverse Legends”.
Now that we are getting an increasing number of sets with Bonus Sheets many players are delighted, as they provide an easy way both to shake up Limited formats, and to get reprints of notable cards into the hands of players . There are some members of the MTG Community, however, who have some concerns…
Magic: the Gathering’s chief designer Mark Rosewater was approached on his blog by the user honor-basquiat with a complaint regarding bonus sheets.
honor-basquiat stated: “Please don’t overdo the bonus sheets and crank the frequency up to an 11. We already have a bonus sheet in every premier set called “The List” and numerous other products where reprints are available (i.e. Commander decks, Secret Lairs, Commander Legends, Jumpstart). Additional bonus sheets should be infrequent, very thematic and a net positive to Limited environments. Maybe once every two years or so.”
In response to this, Rosewater asked the MTG Community to come forward with their views regarding Bonus sheets and how often they should appear. Honor-basquiat made a Reddit thread, to bring this question to the Community.
There are some who agree with honor-basquiat and feel that we are getting too many bonus sheets too frequently.
thoughtsarefalse writes: “From a limited perspective it’s absolutely not what i want. It’s the insane variance of strixhaven mystical archives, and theres way too many that appear.”
GarySmith2021 is also sceptical about bonus sheets, writing: “Ehh, only if it fits. I don’t like the idea of trying to play a limited format and have a match dominated by a modern all star not from that world.”
There are many others, however, who disagree and want to see more frequent bonus sheets going forward.
Lancaster2124 writes: “From a limited gameplay perspective, I love them. Also from an availability and reprint perspective, I love them. I say keep them coming.
Seems like the natural evolution of masterpieces.”
cardboard_numbers agrees, writing: “Yeah, I’m happy with them even every other set, I just think it adds a neat dynamic to draft and provides a cool format to reprint random fun cards.”
So are bonus sheets a fantastic way of providing reprints, or do they mess up Limited formats by squeezing in too much variance? This isn’t a question with an easy answer. March of the Machine is still a brand-new set. There are certainly going to be games where players will get annoyed by their opponent pulling out a turn one Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Equally, however, there will be games where these Legendary cards open up fun new strategies. Fynn, the Fangbearer enables Deathtouch based builds, and Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful will be an interesting card for Dimir spellsligner decks.
It’s clear that this debate is still far from resolved, and is likely to continue the next time get a bonus sheet.