Practical Research | Strixhaven: School of Mages | Art by Ekaterina Burmak
14, May, 24

MTG Designer Reveals Chances of Returning to Beloved Planes

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Article at a Glance

Due to Magic’s Multiverse setting, worlds both old and new are fair game for each new set. From an outside perspective, the decisions made regarding which planes are featured in each new set may seem arbitrary. Despite this presumption, however, there’s actually a deeply layered logic to it. Mark Rosewater, Head Designer for MTG, has developed a system called the Rabiah Scale, which determines how likely a given plane is to return and he’s just given it a major update.

This is the first time the Scale has been updated since 2018. As a result, it has now been updated to include new planes from recent sets while also revising past ratings for older planes. Looking into these fresh ratings, we can tell which planes are likely to return in the future, and which will end up gathering dust on the shelf. These results, as is often the case, are likely not quite what you’d expect.

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What Is The Rabiah Scale In MTG?

Before we get to those, though, let’s recap the Rabiah Scale itself. For those unfamiliar, Mark Rosewater started a system called the Storm Scale on his personal blog back in 2012, to discuss how likely a mechanic is to return to the game. It was named for the notorious Storm mechanic, which is a 10 on the scale, meaning it’s very unlikely to come back. This led to several other Scales, for other aspects of the game. The Beeble Scale covers creature types, the Venser Scale covers Planeswalkers, and the Rabiah Scale covers planes.

This scale is named after Rabiah, the plane on which Arabian Nights – the first MTG expansion after Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited – was set. As with the Storm Scale, it is so named because Rabiah ranks as a 10 on it. The Rabiah Scale gives each plane in Magic a value from 1 to 10, based on a number of factors. This score, ultimately, determines how likely a plane is to be revisited in the future.

The factors at play, according to Rosewater’s post, are as follows:

  • How popular the plane in question was with players.
  • How strong the plane’s mechanical identity is. (Gameplay, unique mechanics, etc.)
  • How strong the plane’s creative identity is. (Aesthetics, lore, etc.)
  • How much room there is to add to the plane, mechanically and creatively.
  • How much story material there is to work with on the plane.

Typically, a plane will only be revisited if it has something going for it in all of the above categories. Sometimes, however, this isn’t quite the case.

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Coming Soon

The Biblioplex | Strixhaven: School of Mages | Art by Piotr Dura

Based on this information, we can translate the results of the new Rabiah Scale update into tangible predictions for the future of MTG. Some things we don’t need to predict, though. For those who follow the game closely, three plane revisits have already been confirmed for the next three years. These are Arcavios, Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, and Tarkir.

Arcavios may sound unfamiliar, but it’s the plane where Strixhaven: School of Mages took place. This was a very popular set that scored well in every category of the Rabiah Scale and thus earned a 3. It returning, then, is not surprising. It will certainly be interesting to see more of the Plane explored outside of the school itself. Tarkir is a 4 on the Rabiah Scale so that one makes sense too. Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, however, is a 7. This is a great example of the anomalies that exist in plane selection, and something to bear in mind as we continue.

In the latest Rabiah Scale update, 7 new planes have been given ratings. I’ve mentioned Arcavios already, but a few others got nice low scores too. Eldraine and Kaldheim, two relatively new and popular planes, both landed scores of 4. We returned to Eldraine just last year in Wilds of Eldraine, so another visit there is likely a ways off. Kaldheim could be back soon though, particularly given its association with the Omenpaths, the major new plot device stitching the Multiverse together.

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The Unfortunates

Rabiah-Scale-MTG-Thrilling-Encore

Other planes weren’t quite so lucky with their scores. Both Ikoria and the fresh-off-the-press Thunder Junction have been given scores of 5. This puts them right in the middle of the pack, which usually means some fairly major changes would be required to warrant a return. According to Rosewater, Ikoria’s difficulties lie mainly on the mechanical side, with Mutate and Companion being complex, tough-to-design mechanics. Thunder Junction, on the other hand, is still stuck in the ‘too soon to tell’ camp. Early signs, however, are good.

Moving further up the scale, we find New Capenna at 6. While I, and a lot of other players, enjoyed the unique look and feel of this plane, overall it hasn’t proved to be very popular. Its focus on three-color factions, which in turn enabled wild Standard mana bases, may have something to do with this. Or it could just be the modern vibes in a fantasy game. Either way, it’s not terribly likely to come back soon.

Rounding things out is Kylem. Like Arcavios, you probably won’t recognize the name. This was the setting for Battlebond, the Two-Headed Giant-focused set from 2018. It received the highest score of all in the update, with a hefty 8. This was down to Kylem being little more than a framing device, with little story or lore of its own. It’s not too surprising to see this one so high.

Ultimately, the Rabiah Scale is not a hard and fast system, as we’ve already seen in the upcoming plane returns. But it is a good guideline. For this reason, you can expect to see returns to Eldraine, Kaldheim, and Ikoria at some point in the future.

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