On 31 March 2019, Wizards of the Coast released the trailer for their upcoming Magic: the Gathering set, War of the Spark, at PAX East. Set trailers aren’t a new thing but typically consisted of animated card art and a voiceover building the backstory. Cool if you were a Magic player, otherwise maybe a little less so.
Then, this happened.
The fact that this is a trailer for a card game, even one as big as MtG, floored me. This is the kind of work on par with Riot Games and League of Legends. From the visuals to the stunning Linkin Park remix to the story implications, this trailer took it to 11 in a lot of ways.
After that, the hits kept coming. Between previews featuring new characters and favorite mechanics, book releases for the storyline, and content creator collaborations, this is shaping up to be the most ambitious release to date. And so far, it’s looking pretty stellar.
With the storyline being focused around planeswalkers, Wizards announced that there would be a walker in every booster pack. 36 different characters from throughout the game’s story made appearances, including a few new ones. One-off characters like Arlinn Kord and Tibalt get a moment to shine alongside the headliners. Recent expanded-universe additions Jiang Yanggu and Davriel Cane are suddenly made canon.
Mechanically, downgrading the most powerful cardtype in the game to pepper the uncommon slot seems like a risky move. These were game-breaking cards once upon a time. But with previews rolling in, nothing in the set seems overly busted. The walkers are good, well-balanced, and all useful in one way or another.
Even beyond walkers, fan-favorite characters have been added to the mix. Niv Mizzet, the dragon wizard head of the Izzet League, is now a 5-color behemoth. Massacre Girl, Ravnica’s own Jane the Ripper, is a legendary board wipe I’m definitely building around in Commander. Even Fblthp, the cowardly homunculus that won players’ hearts back in RTR block, has his moment of cardboard glory. And like the walkers, nothing seems busted so far. No word yet on any more Arclight Phoenixes, but we’ll see.
Wizards of the Coast is already throwing so much at players, and the set isn’t even out yet. But amidst all the chaos in the storyline, this set seems to be walking that fine line of power and playability extremely well. And speaking of that…
War of the Spark also brings with it the conclusion of a multi-year story. The Gatewatch is launching a final attack against the god dragon, Nicol Bolas. We’ve watched these characters become individual people, not just protagonists; a far cry from the “Jace-tice League” feeling they once had.
We see Liliana, a powerful necromancer running from death, surrender her life by turning on Bolas.
We watch Gideon, forged in the fires of countless battles, sacrifice himself to take Liliana’s place.
And we find Bolas, the near-godlike Elder Dragon, banished to an empty prison realm.
The city-plane of Ravnica is filled with chaos and destruction. There are many dead to bury. But the main fight is over.
As this chapter of the MtG story draws to a close, there is sadness and joy, hope and loss, conflict and peace. The most cunning mind in the multiverse is sealed away, and Ravnica will rebuild as it has done.
There are, however, questions that have been left unanswered as of yet. What does Liliana do? What about the surviving walkers, or the people on Ravnica? Until the set releases, the book is out, and the full story is given, all we can do is guess. But for a brief moment, the multiverse is saved.
With the ending of this story comes the opportunity to begin another. As one hero falls, another rises to take their place. Where will we go from there? Back to New Phyrexia with Karn? Do Chandra and Nissa spend some time together in Kaladesh? Will Jace stay as Guildpact to rebuild Ravnica? Only time can tell. And I’m excited to find out.