Wizards of the Coast dropped a fairly important piece of information in the middle of a recent stream that provided more details about its upcoming summer sets for trading card game Magic: The Gathering. The publisher will allow a return of sanctioned events at US-based local game stores starting May 28th, under three weeks before the release of new set Modern Horizons 2 on June 18th.
“While exactly when and how will vary store by store per their local guidelines, it means a return to visiting your local game store for that Tuesday night draft, battling at Friday Night Magic, and discovering new cards and combos at an in-store Prerelease event,” a post on Magic: The Gathering’s official website reads.
Local game stores in the US can choose to host sanctioned play - including prerelease weekends and tournament matches - beginning on May 28th, though individual locations must follow safety guidelines set by local and state governments. The US will join Africa, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region as those where public Magic: The Gathering events can be held. The publisher did not mention when Europe, the UK or other countries would be considered for reopened play.
The announcement follows a burst of COVID-19 immunisations in the United States as availability of the three approved vaccines expanded and all adults were authorised to schedule appointments. While business, work and school restrictions remain intact across the country, most states have continued to push their residents to vaccinate in an attempt to reach the reported herd immunity threshold necessary for controlling and eventually eliminating COVID-19.
That goal might be outpacing the US effort, scientists told the New York Times, due to flagging vaccination rates. Half of the country’s adults have now received at least one shot, but the more reticent chunk of the population - spurred by early misinformation and conspiracy from former President Trump and other government representatives - may mean relegating COVID-19 to the same position as influenza: manageable but still deadly for thousands every year.
Wizards of the Coast first halted sanctioned play on March 24rd 2020 as a response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations. The publisher quickly switched to at-home prerelease events and digital or mail distribution of promotional cards and packs. Many of those alternative methods of attending events will remain intact alongside their in-store counterparts for the foreseeable future.
Those that do patron their FLGS can look forward to Modern Horizons 2, the next upcoming set for Magic: The Gathering. Releasing in physical form on June 18th, the set is the second to provide a game format - complete with draft and collector boosters - aimed directly at Modern format players. Similar to Historic and Legacy, the Modern format allows for decks containing cards from collections spanning back to 2013’s core release. Like other recent sets, Modern Horizons 2 will benefit from special border treatments, this time hearkening back to the retro frames also used in the recent Time Spiral Remastered.
The set’s headline feature is the reprinting of some very popular land cards. Fetch lands, as the community calls them, are highly sought-after pieces in several formats, leading to their value in singles marketplaces to reliably hover around an $80 (£57) average. Reprinting five of the more expensive ones at rare quality might be enough to drive down the price - something players have desperately asked Wizards to do for years.
Modern Horizons 2 will first come to online clients on June 3rd and be followed by a physical release worldwide on June 18th.