It’s almost trite to mention the breakneck clip at which Magic: The Gathering has been releasing sets. The massive trading card game seems to be in constant spoiler season, previewing cards from upcoming sets when the last felt like it dropped only weeks ago. Don’t expect 2022 to offer players a breather - three new events have been planned for January alone, setting the pace for another cramped year.
In a September 28th news blog, Publisher Wizards of the Coast posted dates for Innistrad: Double Feature and the rescheduled Commander Parties, along with Commander Collection Black, all arriving on January 28th. That’s a big day for local game stores and players who can safely gather for physical events, as the first two take advantage of big crowds. Let’s break it down.
Innistrad: Double Feature is a special edition draft booster containing cards both from the recently released Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and the vampire-laden Innistrad: Crimson Vow, due to swoop in November 19th. The half of this totally-not-a-block-set focused on werewolves scored higher in aesthetics than gameplay with us, but perhaps the inclusion of some blood suckers and ghosts in its companion will complete the spooky picture.
Riffing on the pre-colour drive-in horror flicks of the early 20th century, Double Feature’s card will be printed with a black-and-white treatment and comprise a fully playable draft set all on its own - meaning participating players can crack open booster packs and build a viable 40-card deck for limited format events from both halves of the latest visit to Innistrad. A preview event will hit certain local games stores a week before on January 21st.
Those not interested in moody competitive play can instead take part in Commander Parties, which starts during the same weekend as Double Feature. Originally planned for Halloween weekend, the collaborative spin on the popular fan-made format lets a group of players affect an immersive story through the actions and outcome of their matches. It’s meant for casual players, so maybe keep the several hundred dollar tutors and voltrons in the bag for this one.
Split into factions at the beginning, a video guide will call for a certain resource - life, creatures, land cards, etc. - and the faction with the most will advance along an accompanying game board, along with benefitting from some nice in-game bonuses. Wizards hasn’t said anything more about the story other than its taking place on Innistrad, so expect a post-winter holiday injection of frights.
Both of the in-store events will offer promotional art cards - Endless Ranks of the Dead for Double Feature and Conjurer’s Closet for attending Commander Parties. Newcomers to Magic: The Gathering can use these themed events and sets to familiarize themselves with the game and their local community, and it also shows some continued support from Wizards for brick-and-mortar stores as they hurtle towards a second full year under pandemic conditions.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, the first core set of next year, is still waiting for a release date more concrete than “Q1 2022”. The return to a long time favourite plane may also prove contentious for its embracing of cyberpunk aesthetics - a far cry from the card game’s usual high fantasy look and a cultural phenomenon quickly succumbing to over-saturation. Then again, the constant grind of something fresh allows about two weeks for grievances before spoiler season returns once again.