Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin | March of the Machine: The Aftermath
29, Dec, 23

The Worst MTG Sets of 2023

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In case you’ve forgotten what day it is thanks to a turkey-induced stupor, 2023 is almost behind us now. With the holidays just passed, there are only a few days remaining left in the year. While 2024 has an awful lot to look forward to, before we get to that, it’s high time we take a look back.

Throughout 2023, Wizards of the Coast has released a quite frankly staggering number of MTG sets. Even ignoring all the Secret Lair Superdrops, Anthology Sets, and Alchemy releases, there have been 11 major sets. Out of these, unfortunately, some have been good, and some have been rather… not good.

Today, as the title entirely gives away, we’ll be looking at the duds from the year that has almost passed. Whether it be due to price, gameplay, or completely missing the mark, these sets have each left their mark on MTG for one reason or another. The question remains, however, which one of the sets was the worst?

If you’re wondering this very question, you’re in luck, as we’ve got the answer. So, without any further ado, join us as we go through all the worst MTG sets that 2023 had to offer!

Honorable Mention | Explorer Anthology 3

Shrapnel Blast | Modern Masters

While we excluded them a mere moment ago, we couldn’t not talk about Explorer Anthology 3. Released in mid-July, expectations for this set were sky-high, as players have been clamoring for Pioneer’s implementation on Arena. Unfortunately, MTG Arena players hoping for a fantastic selection of 25 cards were left rather disappointed.

As usual, the majority of uncommon cards from Explorer Anthology 3 were duds. These cards were typified by Accorder’s Shield which sees practically no play. Enraging the community, this MTG card quickly became one of the most controversial of 2023. After all, it seemed Wizards was deliberately delaying the introduction of Pioneer of Arena. 

Thankfully, while there were plenty of cards which don’t see any Pioneer play, Explorer Anthology 3 wasn’t all bad news. The cycle of Titans, for instance, were a nice treat, and a few select cards were sorely needed. Thanks to Cyclonic Rift, Abbot of Keral Keep, and Thespian’s Stage, Explorer Anthology did add a lot of good.

Ultimately, as much as it did contain a handful of good cards, Explorer Anthology 3 was far from perfect. Considering the set is literally curated by Wizards, it’s hard not to take at least a little offense at this. Still, since it’s not really a full MTG set, it remains here as an honorable, or rather dishonorable, mention.

5 | Commander Masters

Commander Masters Draft Booster Artwork
Commander Masters Draft Booster Artwork

Clocking in at number five on this list, Commander Masters is the best of the worst from 2023. In theory, this set should have been an absolute slam dunk, even at a premium price point. However, reality is often disappointing. Rather than being the Commander set that players have longed for, Commander Masters didn’t do much at all.

In the main set, the price of a Commander Masters Booster Box was the main issue. Selling for $300 at release, Drafting this set was certainly not cheap. As usual, this means that after an initial event or two, demand dropped off hard. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the value found inside Commander Masters’ packs didn’t justify the high prices.

Due to a lack of value, and subsequently interest, Commander Masters failed somewhat at its purpose. Rather than being a fantastic reprint set to drive the prices down, a lot of true Commander staples barely budged in price. Admittedly, a few, more niche, Commanders did get considerably cheaper, but the staples players fawned over are still as expensive as ever.

Thankfully, while Commander Masters did have a lot of problems, there was a saving grace as well. Rather than simply being a reprint set, Wizards also released Commander decks, each containing brand new cards. While these were also riddled with their own pricing problems, the new cards were nonetheless fantastic. As a result, Commander Masters has managed to just edge out the competition in this list.

4 | Dominaria Remastered

Last Chance
Last Chance | Dominaria Remastered

For Dominaria Remastered, Wizards of the Coast was banking on the success of nostalgia. Tapping into 27 sets, Wizards aimed to create the perfect Dominaria set, showcasing the plane at its best. While Wizards did manage to achieve this goal somewhat, unfortunately, it was far from the most popular set.

More so than any other MTG set in 2023, Dominaria Remastered completely fell off the map. Quickly swallowed up by leaks, Secret Lairs, and Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Dominaria Remastered had very little lasting impact. This already rather major problem was further compounded by the set’s lack of value, which didn’t excite many players. 

Thankfully, unlike Commander Masters, Dominaria Remastered didn’t have an obscenely high price point getting in the way. That being said, however, the lack of compelling reprints and lower reprint equity still kept players away. The set didn’t even have a collection of Commander decks to keep things interesting. Instead, it was Draft or nothing, resulting in a steep drop in popularity and appeal.

3 | Khans of Tarkir

Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker | Khans of Tarkir
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker | Khans of Tarkir

Speaking of Draft or nothing, Khans of Tarkir ended 2023 as the final set to launch on MTG Arena. While it hasn’t been out for long, for the most part, this set has been a complete dud. Drafted far less than similar sets and lamented for a lack of power, MTG Arena players aren’t too enthused. 

To explain this, first and foremost, a lot of Arena players seemingly just don’t care about Khans of Tarkir. Upon its initial 2014 release, the set was heralded as a great time, but much of that nostalgia has seemingly worn off. Now, MTG Arena players aren’t shy about criticizing the set’s poor and clunky Draft environment.

As a saving grace, Khans of Tarkir arrived on MTG Arena alongside the brand new Timeless format. Seemingly created due to player demand and the iconic Fetch Lands, this new format has been incredibly well received. Loved by players for its faster pace and higher skill ceiling, Timeless has become the latest darling of MTG Arena.

2 | Shadows over Innistrad Remastered

Emrakul, the Promised End
Emrakul, the Promised End | Eldritch Moon

As another MTG Arena-only set from 2023, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered is already starting on the back foot. After all, no matter how successful it was, not every MTG player is able to enjoy its gameplay and reprints. That being said, however, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered didn’t have too much to offer on the reprint front.

Technically, the set did contain a number of much-needed Pioneer staples that now see play in Explorer. While this is obviously a good thing, unfortunately, it’s not like the entire set was entirely needed. If we’re to be really critical, Shadows over Innistrad Remastered’s best additions could have all fit in an Explorer Anthology.

While Shadows over Innistrad Remastered did have a focus on Pioneer-playable reprints, the set was obviously Draftable too. While this format wasn’t too popular within the community, it was at least interesting. Rotating with a new bonus sheet of cards each week, Wizards added an extra level of spice to this otherwise nostalgic format. Alongside keeping things interesting, this rotating bonus sheet also meant more reprints, which we can always get behind!

1 | March of the Machine: The Aftermath

March of the Machine The Aftermath Box Art
March of the Machine The Aftermath Box Art

For better or worse, there is no question that March of the Machine: The Aftermath, was the worst MTG set of 2023. This all kicked off from the moment the set was first spoiled, or rather leaked, to the public. Prematurely revealed almost in its entirety, this set’s spoiler season was marked by controversy as Wizards pushed back against leaks. By sending the Pinkertons to a player’s house, Wizards really didn’t set March of the Machine: The Aftermath, up for success.

Once the set actually released, unfortunately for Wizards, things went from bad to worse. Thanks to the unique Epilogue Boosters, opening March of the Machine: The Aftermath packs was severely disappointing. This was largely due to the set only being made up of 50 cards. Due to this limited card pool, it was incredibly coming to get a mountain of reprints while hunting for a specific card.

As if that wasn’t enough already, March of the Machine: The Aftermath also suffered from story and pricing problems. Thanks to this, the set was pretty much a failure on every single front. The idea of a follow-up micro set might have had promise, but Wizards didn’t capitalize on it. As a result of this, MTG may never see another micro set ever again.

Read More: The Most Confusing Cards in MTG

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