Throughout the Trading Card Game and wider collectibles industry, misprints can often be something that’s worth getting excited about. As a defect that’s far rarer than even the most elusive foil, misprints can mean big money for savvy collectors. However, that is only if misprints are as rare as you would hope for them to be. Unfortunately, across recent Magic: the Gathering sets, it has appeared that production errors are becoming a more common issue. While misprints are not a new issue, Dominaria United recently presented all manner of problems. This has finally caused Wizards of the Coast to acknowledge the errors while blaming a familiar foe.
A Litany of Issues
Across recent Magic: the Gathering sets, misprints, while still disappointing, have become far less notable due to their prevalence. However, the recent launch of Dominaria United managed to buck that trend thanks to the litany of issues it faced. While some production hiccups are expected, it’s not only manufacturers who were causing issues this time around. Alongside the somewhat expected incorrectly cut cards, Dominaria United is just straight up missing a card from its print run.
While missing a card is obviously not good at all, thankfully, for Wizards of the Coast, things aren’t as bad as they could be. Rather than print sheets missing a limited bomb or format warping card, it’s only Karn, Living Legacy’s Emblem that doesn’t exist. As one of MTG’s worst Planeswalkers of all time, this issue isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Karn, Living Legacy is seeing such minuscule play, after all, that no one really cares to notice this glaring error. Nevertheless, a card simply missing from print is a huge error that must be rectified quickly.
Unfortunately for Wizards of the Coast, fixing this issue isn’t as simple as just printing the card. After being asked about the mysterious case of Karn’s missing emblem, Magic’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, revealed on Blogatog that while the fix is easy, Wizards “don’t know where an appropriate place to print it would be.” Due to the focus on Powerstones, The Brothers’ War provides an obvious opportunity. However, that set is still months away. Ideally, Wizards of the Coast needs to implement a fix much sooner than that to fix the errors. However, that’s not an easy thing to do.
Why Is This Happening?
During their statement on Blogatog, Mark Rosewater also unsurprisingly confirmed that this mistake was a genuine mistake, not just a baffling business decision. “I believe it was an accident and not purposefully done,” Rosewater confirmed before reassuring fans of the possible fix. While this honest mistake means Wizards is likely to implement a fix sooner rather than later, it does conjure a curious question; why has this happened?
While unlikely, it’s possible that Karn, Living Legacy simply went through too many radical design changes. In a recent Making Magic post, Mark Rosewater revealed that Karn, Living Legacy was consistently subjected to overhauls and changes throughout the design process. While Karn was only given an emblem in their fifth and final iteration, these radical changes may have been too much for Wizards to keep up with. As a result, Karn’s Emblem may have ultimately just slipped through the cracks when it came time to print. While this is an impressive mistake, it’s ultimately merely a symptom of the more significant problem.
A Familiar Foe
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but over the past year and a half, the world has been a bit… pandemic-y. This troublesome global pandemic has ultimately been to blame for many of the delays affecting countless industries, including MTG releases. The Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks and Unfinity were both hit by major delays, for instance, due to the pandemic. Dubbed “ongoing supply chain complications” by Wizards themselves, these complications may also be to blame for the increased number of misprints players are encountering.
It’s not just production facilities that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, however. Alongside production issues, more accidental design issues have also appeared to be slipping through the cracks in recent sets. As Tumblr user, Wildcardgamez pointed out, “Sheoldred and Jin-Gitaxias were missing the Phyrexian watermark, Karn’s missing his token, some borderless lands have the wrong nameplate, Ajani’s Phyrexian text version [is] using the wrong number font,” and artists have even been miscredited.
After being confronted with these extensive issues, Mark Rosewater admitted that Wizards of the Coast isn’t immune to errors. “We’re starting to see the effects of the pandemic,” Rosewater acknowledged. “Everyone having to all of a sudden work at home caused lots and lots of new challenges.” With the switch to working from home causing delays and issues for countless industries, this is a rather obvious explanation. Despite making a lot of sense, not all MTG fans are happy with this reasoning.
More Sets More Problems
Rather than pinning all the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic, many players insist that Wizards are instead wholly at fault. Throughout the past few years, players have seen Wizards of the Coast release more and more Magic: the Gathering products. At the same time, many players have reported more production and design issues appearing in sets. While correlation doesn’t mean causation, many players don’t believe this is just a coincidence. Instead, widespread complaints exist that Wizards of the Coast are releasing too many products.
With ten major products being released in 2022 alone, many MTG players struggle to keep up. Subsequently, some players suggest that WotC is suffering from the same problem. With a shorter period between the release of each major set, it stands to reason that there’s less time spent on each product. This, in turn, could potentially lead to more misprinted, overpowered, and downright broken cards making their way into sets. Wizards of the Coast, of course, are unlikely to admit they’ve overburdened themselves with their release plans. This does nothing to prevent the rampant criticisms and conspiracy theories, however. As Blogatog user anyguy states, “blaming the pandemic becomes WotCs go-to excuse because admitting they have to produce too much product and have to rush it is no option.”
Ultimately, we can only hope that Wizards of the Coast were being truthful in their pandemic-blaming assessment. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is drawing to a close, things may slowly be returning to normal. Hopefully, this means we can expect minimized design issues and fewer delays going forward. For that, however, we will just have to wait and see what the future holds.