Will, Scion of Peace | Wilds of Eldraine
16, Aug, 23

New Desparked MTG Planeswalkers Are Not Off to a Good Start

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Since first being introduced in Lorwyn, way back in 2007, Planeswalkers have been a staple within MTG sets. Offering grounded characters players can follow as well as plenty of awesome mechanics, it’s safe to say Planeswalkers were beloved. Recently, however, this iconic card type has been through a dramatic change: Desparking.

Thanks to the Phyrexian Arc, specifically March of the Machine: The Aftermath, countless MTG Planeswalkers have lost their spark. Subsequently, these cards are no longer the plane-hopping heroes that players once loved. Instead, the majority of these characters are boring ol’ legendary creatures. 

At first, this flavorful change seemed to be for Magic’s benefit. After all, Commander players could not enjoy the iconic characters, without resorting to alternative formats like Oathbreaker. Now that a few months have passed, however, it seems not everyone is so happy about the change. 

Not So Special Anymore

Will, Scion of Peace | Rowan, Scion of War | Wilds of Eldraine

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast officially kicked off Wilds of Eldraine’s spoiler season with a spectacular Debut Stream. Revealing art, mechanics, and spoilers aplenty, MTG players were given plenty to enjoy right off the bat! Considering they’re the main characters of the set, this Debut Stream also revealed the new cards for Will and Rowan Kenrith. 

As you can see above, this brother and sister pair aren’t their usual plane-walking selves. Instead, both characters have been desparked, for some unknown reason, freeing them up to go on their own adventures. While this is certainly quite the dramatic twist, it is one that we’ve known about for some time.

Back in July, at MagicCon: Barcelona, Wizards revealed the Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator. While this card was well worth talking about for its abilities, surprisingly, it was somewhat overshadowed by a connected announcement. Namely, future MTG sets will likely only have one Planeswalker card. 

Thanks to this announcement, seeing Will and Rowan being desparked is hardly a surprise at this point. Despite this, however, now that we’re actually seeing the cards, the change is divisive, to say the least. Sure, these characters can now be your Commander and their abilities are interesting, but are they still interesting themselves?

The Crowd Goes Mild

The Crowd Goes Wild
The Crowd Goes Wild | Battlebond

Unsurprisingly, MTG players are divided on whether or not the desparked Planeswalkers are actually a good thing. Stirring up this discussion, Tumblr user Scorn1851 recently shared their disappointment with MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater. Taking to Blogatog, Scorn1851 lamented how “Seeing [Will and Rowan] turned into just another legendary character. It just felt really bad.”

Continuing on, Scorn1815 acknowledged “it’s too late to stop the change” but nevertheless wanted to share their opinion. After fielding this feedback, Rosewater reached back out to their community to see how other players felt. Receiving numerous responses, the majority of players were against the change, however, the margins were rather close (13 to 18).

Explaining their decisions, many MTG players on the for side supported the mechanics, increased playability, and general detest for Planeswalkers. While the latter point is rather subjective, the increased playability is a huge upside. After all, both Rowan and Will feature interesting abilities that are compelling enough to build a Commander deck around. 

While mechanically Will and Rowan being Legendary Creatures might be for the better, lore-wise, things aren’t so great. This was highlighted by many MTG players on Blogatog, who wished the sibling dynamic could be explored further. Previously, Will and Rowan shared one spark, forcing them “into a magical get-along shirt,” as cold-caller-gisa puts it. Now, however, the siblings are just two characters, nothing more.

Alongside this dramatic downgrade, many players noted how Planeswalkers were special. When you saw one, you knew to pay attention as they meant big things for the story. Legendary Creatures, on the other hand, are dime a dozen nowadays, which means very few are special. Sure, they can have interesting and fun mechanics, but it’s extremely hard to care about their lore. Especially since the characters often barely have any.

The Aftermath of the Aftermath

Calix, Guided by Fate | March of the Machine: The Aftermath

Ultimately, and somewhat unsurprisingly, the mass desparking of Planeswalkers in MTG is a divisive issue. As time goes on, we’re sure to see it crop up time and time again. Will and Rowan are far from the last desparked characters we’ll see, after all. Alongside this, it’s hard to say that there’s a right answer to what Wizards should be doing.

On the one hand, as many players pointed out, it’s fun to play with the desparked Planeswalkers since they have interesting mechanics. This is certainly the case for Calix, Guided by Fate who’s seeing a lot of play in Standard. Under this lens, the change is for the better, however, does Calix actually have to be Calix?

As much as flavor can be a fun element to build a Commander or Brawl deck around, it’s rarely considered for competitive decks. Subsequently, if Calix, Guided by Fate was a completely different character, they would likely still be played. This could spare them from being desparked, allowing them to continue having a major role. 

While this may seem like the perfect solution, MTG sets do contain a lot of characters. Thanks to this, desparking is the only solution if we’re sticking to the one Planeswalker per set guide. Without it, important characters may simply not get cards, which has caused great frustration in the past. 

At the end of the day, whether you like the mass desparking of MTG Planeswalkers or not, we’re stuck with it. Wizards have made their decision and it doesn’t seem they’ll be changing their minds soon. Potentially, it’s possible many Planeswalkers will regain their spark throughout the current three-year Metronome Arc. Whether or not that actually happens, however, remains to be seen. 

Read More: New Wizards Tool Helps Fix Major MTG Collectability Problem

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