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Galactic death races and a return to both Tarkir and Lorwyn highlight Magic: The Gathering’s three-year plan

Dragons, Scarecrows and aliens all walk into a deck.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Historically speaking, Magic: The Gathering has kept fairly tight lips about the popular trading card game’s extended release runway. That’s why it was such a surprise to hear designers tease out an already jam-packed 2025 and 2026 release calendar that includes aliens, death races and a return to fan-favourite worlds Lorwyn and Tarkir.

Head designer Mark Rosewater joined Magic Arena executive producer Chris Kiritz, Wizards of the Coast head of staff Jess Lanzillo and senior product designer Athena Froehlich to talk at a Gen Con Indy panel about Final Fantasy and Fallout Universes Beyond releases, along with an exciting crop of new sets coming in 2024 such as the Redwall-esque Bloomburrow and “frontier fantasy” Outlaws of Thunder Junction.

Afterwards, the panel’s focus shifted further into the horizon, scattering a few interesting crumbs about Wizards' plans for the TCG in 2025 and 2026. Rosewater mentioned that the company rarely shares plans this early or discusses details around sets that don’t properly have a name (these largely used codenames), perhaps signifying a new trend for Magic: The Gathering’s communication.

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Building on the supposed success of Ravnica Remastered, 2025 will begin with a remastered set of cards pulling from the chronically haunted plane of Innistrad. Players last visited the realm of vampires, werewolves and hard-pressed angels in 2021’s double feature of Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, and four years might just be enough time to build up a bloodlust in the playerbase for another haunting.

Codename: Tennis will ostensibly follow in the first half of 2025, though it should be noted that any hard dates provided here could very likely change in the intervening two or three years. Rosewater described this set as a “death race that will take place across three worlds” and showed off concept art of a demon riding a black hot rod alongside a futuristic, sleek, Tron-like auto.

In true Rosewater fashion, the loquacious designer dangled hints about the three planes connected by the Omenpaths - the only remaining bridge amongst the Multiverese, post-Phyrexian invasion. Apparently, two planes come from premiere sets that the TCG has not revisited since their initial introduction. The last is one that has never hosted a premiere set but cropped up amongst the worlds invaded during March of the March of the Machines earlier this year.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards designers will cap 2025 by revisiting Tarkir, another fan favourite plane that hasn’t hosted a card set since MTG still used the now-retired block format, where consecutive sets stayed on the same world and spun a larger narrative over time. Players witnessed Tarkir’s past where dragons had long been extinct, the resurrection of the Elder Dragon Ugin and the forming of an alternate timeline where dragon broods ruled over Tarkir’s humanoid cultures. Rosewater said the next visit to the plane will offer the “best of both worlds”, and given the one piece of key art from the upcoming set we should probably expect newly formed khans leading the dispossessed of Tarkir against their scaly masters.

2026 begins with a set heavily steeped in science fiction aesthetics and narrative tropes as MTG heads into space for the first time in a premiere set (sorry, Unfinity - acorn cards don’t count). Creatures will feature the ‘alien’ type - something fans have apparently wanted for a long time, and the concept art shows vast, swirling nebula loosely themed after MTG’s five Mana colours. A burly, rock-skinned miner and more gelatinous being hints at some wild designs amongst the cast of this unnamed set.

The second marquis set revisiting an old plane will give Lorwyn “the Kamigawa treatment”, according to Rosewater. He explains that jumping forward in time and showing vast changes to a plane landed exceptionally well for players, so Wizards is planning a similar move for a set that performed historically poorly but has recently enjoyed cult popularity amongst modern players.

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Strixhaven will then open its lecture halls for another season within the Multiverse-famous school for magic (with a lowercase ‘m’). The set will keep the Mana colour factional identity of the original set and show more of the world of Arcadia found beyond the campus greens. When it dropped in 2021, players expressed disappointment with the lightweight story told by the cards and pushed for more time on each plane before jumping headlong into the next. Perhaps this revisit will sate those hungry for more mystical learning.

Another grand narrative capstone set like March of the Machine or War of the Spark will follow the return to Strixhaven, this time personally led by Rosewater as lead designer - he reportedly asked for that job specifically. Wizards was especially hush-hush about this set primarily because barely anything exists, yet. Rosewater claimed he and the team were only a month into conception, so players will be waiting a long time for specific details.

The Gen Con Indy panel delivered a plate full of promises to players during a period when criticism of recent choices is mounting amongst the online community. The price of Commander Masters products has sparked ire and disappointment, while others still rail against MTG’s continued slide into over-saturated collectability. With Lorcana mania not slowing down after The First Chapter’s soft release at Gen Con, this stacked release calendar might prove to be a shot in the arm to ward off bad press.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.

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