16, Apr, 21

Strixhaven: School of Mages Just Introduced One of The Best Mechanics For Limited Formats, and Here's Why It's Exciting

Article at a Glance

Strixhaven: School of Mages, the latest Magic: The Gathering set featuring the five colleges of Strixhaven University in the plane of Arcavios, just launched on Magic: The Gathering Arena, and now players are having fun testing out the brand new cards that represent Quandrix (blue/green), Prismari (red/blue), Lorehold (white/red), Silverquill (black/white), and Witherbloom (green/black).

There’s one particular mechanic in the set that players have been enjoying, especially in Limited formats, and it’s the most innovative one Wizards of the Coast designed in recent years: Lesson/Learn. Even Magic Hall of Famer Seth Manfield praised its design and called it “the best mechanic we have had for Limited Magic in a very long time (or ever)”.

For those unfamiliar, here’s how Learn/Lesson mechanic works:

Wizards of the Coast

If a spell or ability instructs you to learn, you have three choices:

  1. You can discard a card then draw a card.
  2. You can reveal a Lesson card from outside the game.
  3. Do nothing.

Why Learn/Lesson is super exciting in Limited Format

Since cards that make you “Learn” allow you to retrieve Lesson spells from the sideboard during the game, the mechanic adds more depth to deck-building and gameplay as players are given more options to include/use cards outside of their main deck. In a Limited format (Sealed or Booster Draft), where you build a 40-card minimum deck, you get to include more playable cards in your deck, and have the chance to use them without making the deck feel clunky. As Manfield points out, “You no longer need 23-24 playables, it’s more like 27”.

Last night, when I played my first Sealed Strixhaven: School of Mages on MTG Arena, I got some cards that can Learn, and a few Lesson cards in my Sealed pool, including the Mythic Rare bomb, Mascot Exhibition.

Wizards of the Coast

When building my Sealed deck, I had to decide if I wanted to put my Lesson cards in the main deck or sideboard. Putting them on my sideboard allows accessibility to those spells when you need them since it doesn’t require you to draw them from your library, but of course, you need to play a card that will let you Learn to get a Lesson from your sideboard, and you still need to pay that spell’s mana cost to cast it. There’s also advantage in keeping them in your main deck: you don’t need to Learn to get them; as long as you draw the card, you can cast it like any other spell.

During my first Sealed run, I decided to put Mascot Exhibition on my sideboard, and I won most of my games because I have enough Learn cards that allowed me to retrieve it, but I also had other less powerful spells that helped me get what I needed. Environmental Sciences allowed me to find a basic land when I needed another land to play my bigger spells.

Wizards of the Coast

I also had Introduction to Annihilation, which is a versatile removal card despite its drawback of letting my opponent draw.

Wizards of the Coast

Both of these Lesson cards are common, but they are both playable in Limited formats, and another cool thing about these Lessons is that cards that let you “Learn” them are also playable because they also do something else, not just retrieve any Lesson you have in the sideboard. I had cards like Hunt for Specimens, which

Wizards of the Coast

I also had Rise of Extus, which costs 6 mana, but it’s playable in Limited because you get to exile a creature, and up to one target instant or sorcery card from a graveyard, while having the Learn ability. That’s a lot of value for a common!

rise of extus
Wizards of the Coast

And these deck-building decisions adds a unique dimension to Strixhaven Limited that we haven’t experienced in previous formats before. Sure, Wizards of the Coast have printed “Wish” cards that allow you to get cards from the sideboard, but making this kind of mechanic work in a fun and thematically perfect way while keeping the game balanced is exciting.

You can watch my first Sealed Strixhaven: School of Mages stream below, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page to watch my future MTG Arena streams.


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Strixhaven: School of Mages is now available on MTG Arena and Magic Online. The set is scheduled to release for tabletop on April 23, 2021.  Check out the important dates here

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