Ixalan, Arena and Beyond

So we’ve had a bit of a slow news week in the world of Magic the Gathering. Not much to talk about really. Oh no, wait, I was wrong – everything happened last week!

It was a bit of a Magic overload, with news and previews dropping on social media every couple of seconds, but if you have been living under a rock since last Monday, fear not. Today we will be running through the key news from last week. So let’s get started, there is a lot to go through.

Ixalan

First and foremost, Ixalan previews have been coming thick and fast. It’s easy to forget with everything else that has happened over the last seven days, but Ixalan is coming out in a few weeks. What’s more, the set is looking super sweet, with pirates and dinosaurs galore. Firstly we got to have a look at the Pirate Queen herself, Vraska, Relic Seeker. This planeswalker isn’t playing around, being one of the most pushed walkers in a while. Being a six drop you would expect her to have some great abilities and she doesn’t disappoint. With six starting loyalty, a plus two that gives you board presence, a minus 3 that can remove most threats while ramping you and an ultimate that would make Sorin Markov blush, I expect her to see some serious standard play. Next on of my watch list is ‘Hateosaurs-Rex’, I mean Rampaging Ferocidon. This Red hate bear/dino is sure to see constructed player. Not only is it a 3/3 for three with evasion but it can wreck lifegain and go wide strategies, both of which are the bane of aggro decks. In standard I would expect it to fine a home in Ramunap Red and dinosaur tribal, and could even see some Modern play in the right shell. Finally, I will talk about some sweet reprints at the common and uncommon level. Not only are we seeing the return of Duress, Lightning Strike and Spell Pierce to standard, but the return of Opt. This one mana cantrip hasn’t been reprinted in Standard since Invasion, and its inclusion in this set will see it gain Modern legality. Wizards have made it no secret that they don’t want the modern format to be ruled by cantrips, banning cards such as Ponder and Preordain. But this reprint could be the first sign that Wizards are okay with testing the waters of the format. Time will tell of course. There are loads more goodies to unpack, so if you haven’t had a look at the current previews so far head to the mothership and give them a look.

Magic the Gathering: Arena

Next Wizards decided to share a preview of their first product from Magic Digital Next, in the form of a pre-alpha build of Magic the Gathering: Arena. Many of us were very curious what this new digital product would look like. Would it have a Hearthstone style feel? Would it replace MTGO? Would it play like the Magic we all know and love? In short Yes, No and Yes. The game was visually stunning, with lots of animations that pulled you into the action. Whether you are casting a giant dinosaur or having your Planeswalker taunt your opponent, you were treated to great animations and sound effects that brought the game to life like never before. The game will focus on Standard, with the card pool consisting of Ixalan onwards. Furthermore it was confirmed that drafting is supported. They also assured us that MTGO isn’t going anywhere, and will continue to be supported with the most recent releases, however it’s implied they hope for Arena to be the place for Standard and Draft. Finally, it plays exactly like the real world version of the game, rather than a Hearthstone inspired ‘Magic Lite’ that some people had anticipated. You can either allow the game to handle things like tapping your lands like in Magic Duels, or take full control if you want to hold priority and play step by step. Overall I was fairly impressed by the game, even in this early version. There’s some information showing Wizards are aiming for more connection with paper Magic, such as game rewards for attending Prereleases. While it has a way to go before it is released, Wizards has already set up a sign up page for a closed beta, which yours truly has already put his name down for. You can sign up here and there is a priority queue for those who link an MTGO or Magic Duels account to your Wizard’s account, or those who attend an Ixalan Prerelease. If I am lucky enough to be able to get into the beta, I might have to get on twitch to show you how the game holds up. Figures crossed.

Iconic Masters

And of course, because we didn’t already have enough to talk about, Wizards decided to Prerelease their latest Masters set at the inaugural HasCon. That means that despite the set not coming out until November, we already know every card but it will contain. While it is a bit weird to have such an event halfway through a preview season, but it’s hard not to get excited about all the value we are getting exposed to. We are getting reprints for the New Phyrexian Praetors, the Kamigawa Dragons, as well as such beauties like Mana Drain and Ancestral Vision, not to mention a ton of down shifts in the uncommons and commons. While the set looks sweet and I am looking forward to drafting it come November, I do have one small issue with the set. It is lacking some major iconic cards! Now I know that Wizards makes sets with the primary purpose of Drafting, and as such they have to balance power with a health Limited meta. But the fact that iconic cards like Lightning Bolt, Shivan Dragon and Counterspell where left out of a set called ‘Iconic Masters’ is a real shame. I’m grateful cards like Serra Angel made the cut, but the set feels more like Eternal Masters part 2 than a unique premium set. It’s not a bad thing of course, and I believe the set will be a success, but I feel it missed out on the truly iconic feel it was going for.

And that will just about do it for today. As you can see there was a ton of info to digest and I couldn’t cover every little detail in this article, so I have provided links so you can check out all the details for yourself. If you have enjoyed this article then please like and share on social media, it really does help us grow the site. But before I go, one last thing for you to check out – the borderless, full art, John Avon basis lands from the upcoming Unstable set due for release in December.

Enjoy.

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