M20 has now hit the shelves, and many Magic players are figuring out the best way to upgrade their decks for the next three months of Standard. However, there is also that niggling feeling in the back of everyone’s mind as to what comes next. After all, rotation is less than three months away and we will be entering a whole new world when it arrives. Not only will we be saying goodbye to Ixalan block, Dominaria, and M19, but we will also be saying goodbye to the Gatewatch story arc.
Starting back with the release of Battle for Zendikar, we have been following the tales of Gidion, Jace, Liliana, Chandra, and Nissa as they battled the many threats of the multiverse as the Magic the Gathering equivalent of the Justice League. We have followed them through many highs and just as many lows, seen them battle eldritch horrors and draconic masterminds, and even said goodbye to one of them as he gave his life to help defeat Nicol Bolas.
Whether you liked the story of the Gatewatch or not, it is fair to say that it has had a lasting impact on the lore of the game. But now that the main adventures of the Gatewatch have come to an end, we are left wondering where we go now. Today, I thought it might be fun to have a look at what could be on the horizon for the game in the next year or so. Some of these will be educated guesses based on some of the hints we received in M20, while others will be more of a wish list of ideas I believe could be fun planes to visit in the near future. So, let’s not waste any more time and look into what the future may hold (possibly).
Return to Theros
This one is a bit of a no brainer, but its fair to say that we will be heading back to Theros for a set or two in the next year. Not only is it the birthplace of Gideon (and I for one want to see that statue from his signature spell book erected), but it appears that Wizards of the Coast are laying the groundwork for it with M20. For a start, there are some cards that have a real Theros vibe, like Starfield Mystic, Feral Invocation, Unchained Berserker, and Gods Willing.
On the surface this might not seem like that much of a connection, after all, these are cards in a core set in which a lot of planes are represented. But when you start to look at some of the other cards in the set, you can begin to make more connections. For example, one of the key mechanics from our first trip to Theros was Devotion. Devotion counted the number of coloured mana symbols on the battlefield, rewarding players for the Devotion to particular colours, and based on the number of coloured mana symbols in the costs of cards like Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, Sephara, Skyy’s Blade, Vilis, Broker of Blood, and the Cavalier cycle, it looks like it could be due for a return.
Not to mention that Theros had many dangling plot threads, such as the death of Elspeth and her imprisonment in the underworld, or the identity of the original god of revels. Put both of these together with the fact that Theros was one of the most popular Magic planes visited in the last ten years, and you have a recipe for a successful ‘return to’ set.
The ‘New’ Big Bad
With Bolas trapped, the Eldrazi titans imprisoned or destroyed, and all the ‘bad’ planeswalkers on the run, many players are wondering who will be the next villain of the story. Well, it would be naive to think that everything in the multiverse was hunky-dory with the original big bad still very much on the loose. Before elder dragons, before giant spaghetti monsters and all the rest, there were the Phyrexians.
For the longest time the Phyrexian menace was the biggest threat to all life in the multiverse. Once thought defeated by Urza and his allies, they re-emerged on the plane of Mirrodin, plunging it into a battle for survival – a battle the natives of the plane are losing. However, now that Nicol Bolas has been taken care of, it might be time for some of our favourite heroes to try and face this old menace anew.
Karn has been very active in helping key members of the Gatewatch in recent sets, but the memory of his own artificially created plane and its downfall must be playing heavily on his mind. Perhaps some of his new allies could be brought in to help battle the minions of New Phyrexia. Imagine Jace and Ajani back to back facing down hordes of horrors with Koth (who I believe is still alive), or Liliana using her necromancy to save the natives in an attempt to live up to the example Gideon set. It’s only a matter of time before we get to go back to battle the Phyrexians. Perhaps that time is closer than we think.
Wild Wild West
Ok, this one is a bit of a long shot. But we have been really surprised by some of the planes we have been visiting these last few years, so let’s wildly speculate. The idea of a western-based set might seem crazy on the face of it, but I feel there is some real potential for such a crazy idea. After all, we have been told that the next set will be a whole new plane, so why not one full of cowboys and the like.
Magic sets often take inspiration from real world history and societies, with the above mentioned Theros being a great example. Amonkhet allowed us to explore the tombs of an Egypt inspired plane, and Kaladesh looked at a stylised steampunk world. Each time, Wizards has found new ways to impress us with amazing art and card design. While a set based in the old west might seem light in the fantasy lore and mythology department, that is far from the truth.
Creatures like the Wendigo, Sasquatch, and Jersey Devil all could lead to some interesting card designs. Imagine an enchantment aura that exiles a creature when it deals combat damage, replacing it with a 3/3 beast that could be used to represent the cannibalistic curse of the Wendigo. Perhaps we could get a new Liliana in a gothic inspired western dame ensemble. The possibilities are endless.
The only thing making this possibility less of a reality is the fact that Wizards are unlikely to ship a set with guns, but even then, there is a work around. Simply replace firearms with spells and sorceries. Picture two mages stood either end of a dusty street, a tumbleweed blowing lazily across the road between them. When the clock tower chimes they begin throwing spells, blasting holes in a nearby saloon which has become a makeshift refuge for hapless locals. You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound cool.
I know it’s a long shot, but I believe there is some potential here. I guess we will have to wait and see. But I’d love to hear what you all think. What will the next year hold for Magic and what are your hopes for the game? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. While you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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