It’s the number one hobby within a hobby. I like to talk about the games within the game of Magic, but the extra bits that the hobby offers up are ones that are universal to all hobbies.
Talking about fight club. Take any hobby you can think of, it doesn’t have to be mainstream. There’s a chat group or forum of people talking about it. There are people who will write 1300 words a week because they can’t get enough of talking about their hobby. When we aren’t playing this game we are chatting about it. The formats, the ban list, the latest article. The coverage from last week, the up and coming PTQ, and even the card we are going to trade for. But my one single favourite bit of chatter is having a reckon. A bit of a guess at what might be going on in the next set. Precise bets on what single card might get a reprint or what cycle they might bring back or broad sweeps of mechanics that will appear.
For each of the Theros sets I confidently predicted we would get Viscera Seer but as the full spoilers came out I had to hold my hands up and say I was wrong. Being wrong of course doesn’t matter in this game, you just get to guess again.
One thing that I and a few others picked up on were the graveyard cards. A few self mill spells, a few graveyard exile cards. Hmmmm… could there be a graveyard theme in the upcoming Huey?
Well, when M15 approached and Jace, The living Guildpact was spoiled, I think we all knew that some sort of graveyard shenanigans were on their way. Low and behold Huey, now known as Kahns of Tarkir, featured Delve. A graveyard focused mechanic. Delve made a bit more sense of those cards that didn’t quite have a home in Ravnica/Theros standard.
We are game players, so we are used to spotting patterns. We can look at things that have happened before, and their known outcomes, and we can speculate about future events. Those enablers that WotC put in sets that seem underpowered or over-costed but then after a release of a new block we’re all scrambling around trying to pick up what used to be £1 rares.
Nightveil Specter is an interesting case study. It was the Gatecrash buy a box promo, which means these guys will be everywhere. In folders and shops all over the place. A fine card in most stats, if somewhat awkward to cast. There was a lot to do in that three drop slot in Innistrad/Ravnica standard so it was largely ignored. When Innistrad went out and Theros came in, bringing with it the devotion mechanic, suddenly a three drop with three coloured mana symbols was a 4 of in the Blue and Black devotion decks. Luckily there was a decent supply of these. Thanks to that promo a few month earlier.
I think it’s fair to say that the most recent buy a box promo Rattleclaw Mystic is going to see play and is not a sleeper, but what of Born of the Gods promo, Fated Conflagration? Is that going to suddenly jump from a 50p card to a fiver after Fate Reforged comes out? Who knows? I will say this, if you are playing red deck wins its a handy sideboard card to kill those [Pesky Rhinos].
There are no dragons in Tarkir, no real ones anyhow. Sarkhan can become a dragon but that is it. A whole set that talks constantly about dragons but has no dragons in it. It’s safe to say that in one of the next two sets we are going to get Dragons. I’m going to predict we get them in every colour too, and perhaps in no colours. Whilst I’m making predictions about colours I’m going to guess at Fate Reforged having a very large number of colourless cards and that Dragons of Tarkir will either have shards or mono-colour cards.
What? Yep think about it. We have been told that Kahns is a wedge set not block. WotC will not explain the colours in the wedge being centred on the enemy colours. I reckon this is because they are planning on shifting things after we travel back in time.
Fate Reforged will take us back to a time before coloured Magic has come to Tarkir, when dragons ruled the steppes and the tribes were much different from today. Flavour-wise we might get to see how their legends and customs were started. Once Fate Reforges has fixed all that, we arrive back in the present and the clans are now different.
Colours are the same, they don’t shift, but the aspects change. Mardu are no longer the clan of speed, they’re the clan of sneaky stabbing you in the back. Jeskai aren’t about cunning (if indeed that is what those colours are doing in Standard right now?) now Jeskai are about policing the plains of Tarkir. We get to see a lot of the characters and cards from this set in the last set but they will be colour shifted. Zurgo might turn up but in a different clan that more represents his outlook. And, speaking of characters, it’s possible that we see Narset find her spark and become a Planeswalker.
Going further into the future we have the last ever core set. Is this going to be M16? Wizards have been very careful not to refer to it as that. It is only ever called “the last core set”. This gives us so much room to wildly speculate what they might do.
A fourth set in the Kahn block? This one makes a bit of sense because it leads into the new block structure. Both Kahns and Fate Reforged will rotate out at the same time but Dragons of Tarkir and ‘the last core set’ will still be in Standard until Lock comes in autumn 2016. It’s possible that to make the transition a little bit cleaner Kahns will be two two set blocks.
Magic Origins? A few folks spotted that WotC had trademarked the ‘Magic: Origins’ name a while ago. This could mean lots of things. It might be the name of the last core set? A throwback to the beginning of Magic. Movie goers and comic book fans are very familiar with the reboot. Maybe Magic is about to go down that avenue.
Supplementary product and missing reprints? Generally this one is very obvious. When Modern Masters was released a lot of folks were asking where was Thoughtseize? Well the answer was it’s in your opponents opening hand in Standard for the next 2 years.
From the Vaults this year was all about Sweepers. All the classics were there, Armageddon, Wrath of God, Upheaval and… oh, hold up, there was no Damnation. So this leads us to believe that this black sweeper will turn up somewhere else but several Wizards employees have gone out of their way to tell us we now live in a five mana board wipe world.
Now, here’s where I get to go off on one. Dwarves! Dwarves are going to make a comeback. They got the boot because they used a lot of the same space as goblins. WotC decided there could be only one and those goblins won. But damn it I want dwarves.
There’s room enough for humans and soldiers in White, or bears and wolves in Green. Why can’t we have those little bearded guys running around digging tunnels and hitting people with their axes? Well maybe we can. Mark Rosewater, Magic’s lead designer, let slip in a recent podcast that they had not had Dwarves for a long time but that might change as they had figured out how to do them. What could the possible solution be? Change what they do to take them out of goblin’s territory? Stick ‘em in a different colour? I can’t really see Blue dwarves but who knows?
So come on, lets have your best guess for upcoming sets? Reprints, story… What can you see on the horizon?