Archive Trap | Breaking News
15, Apr, 24

MTG Players Push Back Against Problematic Bonus Sheet

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Article at a Glance

To put it lightly, Outlaws of Thunder Junction has an awful lot going on. Between the main set, Breaking News, and The Big Score, there are three sets worth of content squeezed into one! Unsurprisingly, this has made the recent Prerelease weekend an incredibly exciting time for players around the world.

Unfortunately, while there is an awful lot to love about Outlaws of Thunder Junction, the set still has some problems. With middling preconstructed decks and problematic MTG Arena inclusions things are hardly perfect. Adding to these problems, it now seems that many of the set’s fantastic reprints aren’t as good as hoped.

Botched Breaking News

Breaking News Cards

Like many bonus sheets, there’s a lot to love about Breaking News thanks to the myriad reprints on offer. Providing potentially insane financial value while mixing up limited, it’s hard not to love a bonus sheet. That is the case, so long as the cards look good and are easily playable, at least.

As we well know, whether or not art is good is a heavily opinionated and subjective topic. While some players may not gel with the newspaper-esque Breaking News cards, other players will love them. The same is true of all card styles, foiling techniques, and booster fun treatments, as each one has its fans.

Unfortunately, while there are plenty of fans who enjoy the new aesthetic, the Breaking News cards are undeniably unusual. Unlike past Booster Fun treatments, Breaking News cards move around previously set-in-stone elements, such as a card’s name. Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy about this change, even if the card name box has only shifted a smidgen.

While it may not be the most radical change, unlike Tales of Middle-earth’s poster cards, Breaking News is still different. As Tumblr user Mdkc points out, this can make the cards much more difficult to parse. Worryingly, this isn’t the only detail about Breaking News cards that makes them harder to read than usual.

After being prompted by Mark Rosewater, multiple other MTG players and Blogatog readers raised a damning complaint. Thanks to the unique aesthetic, reading the mana cost and color identity of Breaking News cards is surprisingly difficult. Annoyingly, this can make identifying what has been played a lot more difficult, especially from across the table.

How Many Times Do We Have to Teach You This Lesson

Innistrad: Double Feature Cards

In theory, having the mana cost of a Breaking News card be somewhat obscured may seem like a very small problem. The same is true of the relocated card name since all that information is still available. To see that information, all you have to do is ask nicely, pick up your opponent’s card, and read it thoroughly. 

While unusually placed and washed-out colors are a solvable problem, this design is nonetheless a problem. Sadly, this is a problem that we’ve seen before, long enough ago that Wizards should have learned their lesson. Back in 2022, Wizards released Innistrad: Double Feature, which caused many of the same complaints we’re seeing now.

Styled after classic monster movies from the 1950s, this unique set was almost entirely black and white. With only a lick of color down the sites of the cards to denote color, these cards received a huge amount of criticism from MTG fans. Much like Breaking News cards, they were simply too difficult to tell apart at a glance.

Considering Innistrad: Double Feature was released over two years ago, it’s surprising Wizards has repeated this snafu. While Breaking News cards are admittedly more colorful, many players nonetheless still have issues with them. Considering they slow down play and potentially lead to misplays, it’s no wonder this is the case.

Hopefully, should Wizards receive enough complaints this time around, future bonus sheets should be saved from having overly washed-out colors. Sadly, it’s unclear exactly what the future will hold for Bonus Sheets. Beyond the vague potential of a land-based bonus sheet some time in the future, much is unclear right now. We’re just going to have to wait and see what the rest of 2024, and 2025, bring.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The One Ring

Ultimately the issue with these cards isn’t entirely about the fact that they exist altogether. As Secret Lair drops prove time and time again, there’s plenty of demand for unique-looking, almost illegible, MTG cards. The main issue, instead, is that Breaking News cards are so common, with one appearing in every Play Booster.

Thanks to this frequency, it’s more than likely you’ll see one, if not more, Breaking News during any Limited event. When this happens, it’s highly likely you’ll have to spend some extra time parsing these reprints. Even if you know the 65 cards that have been reprinted, identifying them across a table at a glance is no easy feat.

Should the Breaking News frame have been a chase variant to play into the set’s theme, the frame may have been beloved. As it stands now, opinion appears to be decidedly mixed. Well, that’s the early impressions, at least. Right now, Outlaws of Thunder Junction has only been out for a handful of days, so sentiment may change over time.

Alongside the ever-changing nature of opinions, it’s unclear how much Blogatog comments represent the wider player base. With millions of MTG players around the world, there’s a reasonable chance Breaking News cards are actually beloved, not hated. From the data we have to hand, however, it certainly seems like this new card style could be improved.

Read More: New Outlaws of Thunder Junction Card Creates Two-Card Standard Death Combo!

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