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Announcement Day Overview

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Hello everyone! Big news dropped from Wizards - dubbed "Announcement Day". I'm here to help everyone traverse everything that was announced and give some thoughts behind each of the individual announcements. There's a lot to cover, and plenty for players to be excited for!

 

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There's a lot of product to digest and think about going forward. Each of these new and exciting products is a great boon to the game and part of an overall push to add exposure to the game. I'm all for knowing what's coming, and really appreciate WOTC's transparency here. Some of these products will entice some players more than others, though there's something for everyone. I'm here of course to help players make the best decisions they can in terms of keeping their hobby affordable and maximizing the value (and fun!) they can extract from the game we all love. Let's get started:

 

Kaladesh & Aether Revolt

 

Here's what we know from these two set reveals: Not a whole lot.

We assume that Kaladesh will revolving around artifacts and thopters, and is placed in a very "steampunk" setting. This is gathering from the imagery (The Art Book was also revealed) and the story behind the Planeswalker Chandra and various cards from Magic Origins: Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Thopter Spy Network, and Thopter Engineer to name a few. They all seem to fit right in and this is consistent to what we've seen from the new planeswalker reveal: Saheeli Rai.

We are still left wanting though - What exactly will we see other than Artifacts? How will they play a roll? We're left with more questions than answers. That was likely the point of the reveal (and reveals before that) and assuredly we'll know more soon enough. One huge positive to take away is "aether" won't have that pesky spelling it had before - so that's a plus.

Of course, set reveals can't be set reveals without some sort of market movement these days. I wanted to highlight what not to do when a set is revealed and we know virtually nothing of the set.


I just can't get behind actual speculation like this. We have no idea if contraptions will be part of Kaladesh, and even if they are we have no idea how viable they will be. Another thought that clearly has eluded these hopeful buyers is that Steamflogger Boss could actually be reprinted in the set. It's just an all around bad decision in my opinion - and not something I (and likely others) would recommend when trying to stay cost effective with our hobby. This is nothing more than burning a hole in our pockets and hoping there's some unfortunate, uninformed player out there that will buy these.

Unfortunately this is just something that happens with a regular frequency when it comes to new set reveals and a select few players getting ahead of themselves. Could it actually pan out? Who knows. In the meantime, it's still never a good idea to purchase anything based on pure baseless speculation.

Kaladesh and Aether Revolt are made for all players, and just another two set block in Magic's new set cadence.  Whether you like drafting, constructed, or playing casually there should be something new for you out of Kaladesh

 

Set Bundle and Planeswalker Deck

 

This announcement was actually really interesting. Let's talk about the "new" Fact Pack first. Apparently they're doing away with the "Fat Pack" nomenclature and renaming them "Set Bundle" so in this case we'll be starting off with the "Kaladesh Bundle".

Nothing really huge here other than a few key changes:

  • MSRP $42.99
  • 10 Booster Packs
  • Decorative Reusable Box
  • Player's Guide
  • Spindown Life counter
  • Rules reference card
  • 80 card Land-Pack

One key phrase here is "it's not our intent for beginners to buy the Bundle" (taken from "Ramp of Approval") but since they know many beginners will they wanted to include something that will help guide them into other avenues of the game. In this case "Magic Duels" with the Rules reference card.

These have been pretty popular historically, and it's unlikely that these changes will impact that. There's a lot here, but I don't know if the increased MSRP for essentially 1 extra pack is going to make players want this product more than they did before. Time will tell, but I wanted to at least highlight it.

The really great announcement here (I think anyway) is the Planeswalker Deck:

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This is how these will work going forward: Each set will have Two Planeswalker Decks released alongside them. Each of them will be built around a different Planeswalker, and they will be relevant to that block (in this instance Kaladesh). These are essentially replacing "Intro Packs" in the future and I couldn't be happier for all players - especially beginners and casual players.

Here's the actual contents and information:

  • MSRP $14.99
  • One copy of a Mythic Rare Planeswalker
  • Two copies of a rare spell that has an effect and also tutors for the specific Planeswalker
  • Three copies of an uncommon that's enhanced by the Planeswalker being on the Battlefield
  • Four common cards flavored to the Planeswalker
  • Four copies of an appropriate common dual land
  • 2 Booster Packs

So, let’s talk about the obvious concern here first. These planeswalkers are constructed legal, and these Planeswalker Packs are the only way to acquire these specific planeswalker cards and the other cards in these decks. I’m going to be honest here - it’s a legitimate concern to have, but probably not one to worry about just yet.

Many will tout this as a ploy similar to other TCG’s like Yugioh/Pokemon and those people would have a point to some degree. At this juncture without seeing how these walkers will be constructed by R&D we shouldn’t start a community uproar just yet - what we do know is this bit of information as to the design:

“Ideas ran the gamut from three to zero. In the end, we decided that we wanted them to work like all the other planeswalkers, but that we would make sure to design them more with beginners in mind."

I will be the first to say that all that needs to happen is one of these planeswalkers to be viable and all bets are off. In the meantime I have faith in WotC to make these severely underpowered and truly make them for the audience they’re made for. I don’t want to sully a really good product line with skepticism right now, because this is a really good first step toward Magic: the Gathering appealing to more people.

Thinking beyond the product itself is seeing this as a very good stepping point to something bigger. Pushing the actual characters (planeswalkers) and appealing to a larger audience. Increasing the game’s exposure, and almost becoming more like an entity as Marvel in some sense. Increasing exposure of it's characters and letting players and non-players alike connect with the planeswalkers. Maybe this is how Magic makes it to the big screen - wouldn’t players (and non-players) be drawn to Magic’s multiverse and planeswalkers battling it out in theaters? Magic: Civil War - I can see it now.

That sounds really exciting it me, and maybe I’m drawing too many conclusions from a simple Planeswalker Pack, but my wishful thinking wants me to see past this and embrace a bigger picture here.

Either way, I love this product as a replacement for Intro Packs and at $14.99 it may be the same value as an Intro Pack, but it just feels a bit better to open an actual deck and planeswalker than some (most of the time) crummy Intro Pack rare and random cards. I think it has so much more appeal than before and super excited to see what these decks will actually contain!

If you want to read additional information fellow writer Ryan Overturf wrote about the Planeswalker Packs here.

Commander 2016

The Commander product has been really good since WotC started creating these box sets. I can't think of a year were these weren't good at the very least. Outside of the Mind Seize debacle (which they resolved) it seems this product gets increasingly better. There's always something for everyone who enjoys EDH/Commander. 4-Color legendary commanders is no exception, and is something that has been on many player's wishlists for quite some time.

56 new cards, probably some decent reprints and 4-color legendary commanders - what's not to love? Even I'm intrigued by this and each progressing year the EDH product pulls me in to want to actively play EDH more than ever before. I'm sure it has the same effect on players who normally don't play, or don't play as much. I have a good feeling about this product because like I said - it always delivers.

I think the key here is balancing what exactly will be reprinted, and the power level of the new cards. WOTC R&D has largely done an excellent job thus far.


These are the types of reprints that are really effective when creating and releasing this product. While Wurmcoil Engine continues to be fairly expensive (even after a reprint) it fits the theme, and is a key reprint for other formats. Speaking of good reprints- maybe it's time to bring back some of the older Commander cards? Some of them are quite old in terms of today's market standard, and many of them can likely fit thematically and help out players when trying to acquire new cards along with their renewed interest. Kaalia of the Vast anyone?

Each of these will be MSRP: $34.99

Nissa vs Ob Nixilis - Planechase Anthology

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We round out Announcement Day with our Planeswalker Duel Deck: Nissa vs Ob Nixlis and Planechase Anthology. The Duel Decks are nothing new, but obviously there's some financial impact on Ob Nixilis, Reignited and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. This is actually a really good reprint, and I'm totally fine with it. It fits with the schedule of releases, and Zendikar was our "first" 2 block cadence so it makes sense to use planeswalkers from that block.

The art looks to be fantastic for these promo cards, and I'm going to love to get my hands on some cheaper versions of the foil promo for my collection. Obviously Gideon, Ally of Zendikar would have been the better card to choose, but these are still really good. Depending on the cards in each of the decks, we usually have a well rounded value in these Duel Decks. MSRP: $19.99

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Another Anthology to add to the product line, and I have to say I think it's a lot better than some people may give credit for. Some of the Planechase cards were only printed once, so it gives players a chance to grab these cards. In addition to that - I don't know the last time anyone cared to check, but the plane cards are actually quite expensive. It's just one of those random occurrences in the Magic market. If anyone really wants all of the Planechase singles and planes in one place, then an MSRP at $150 is probably a good enough price to purchase.

Well, that about wraps things up folks. I really am intrigued by Announcement Day, and some of these products are really sweet. I can't wait to see more, and I'm sure all of you are in the same boat. I also think looking at Announcement Day from a broader meta sense, can give us a better idea of where our game, and the Magic brand could be headed.

As always comments, questions, concerns are appreciated and feel free to comment below!

-Chaz @ChazVMTG

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