Mark Rosewater took to the stage at San Diego Comic Con over the weekend and gave the crowd a little sneak peek into the next year of Magic: The Gathering sets by revealing one image - some overt and others a tad arcane - each from a different upcoming set or special release.
As is often his nature, Rosewater remained cryptic during the talk - while he chatted about the popular trading card game and design in general, the images shown below were presented to those gathered without context or comment. Dicebreaker reached out to publisher Wizards of the Coast for more information but did not hear back by time of publication.
A lack of official context won’t keep us from making some educated guesses, using what we know of MTG’s release schedule through the rest of 2023 and some context clues from the teased artworks. For example, the first piece shows a monstrous goose hydra protecting its nest of golden eggs from interlopers. We know Wilds of Eldraine is next on the set release block, and that fairy tale plane has already produced one honker in the form of Gilded Goose. Easy peasy.
The second image seems to portray the dubious peddler Old Rutstein. We last saw this peddler on the plane of Innistrad, helping its denizens fight back droves of vampires by selling stakes, holy waters and other supernaturq 11al protections. Wizards of the Coast revisited Innistrad for the third time in 2021, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to further wear out players’ interest in the horror-drenched setting. Perhaps this fresh and fiery Old Rutstein found his way to another world or will be the face of a special release.
Peeking out from the bushes of the next teaser shot is a private investigator with an extremely magitech-inspired camera. The dress, style and architecture reflected in the lens screen New Capenna, and the beat detective or hidden journalist gathering intel or dirt fits directly into the first set’s love of noir puns in card names and designs.
Fans of Ixalan have been waiting for the appearance of a rumoured bat god amongst the Mesoamerican-styled pantheon, and one of the included artwork seems to give those dinosaur lovers exactly what they want. MTG’s return to the plane in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan will round out 2023 and supposedly focus on more adventurous vibes. This dino-armed demonic avatar will probably be waiting down there in the dark.
It’s difficult not to view the black-and-white motley, whirling knives and red face paint without the MTG lore-poisoned mind jumping directly to Ravnica’s Cult of Rakdos. The card game last visited the massive citywide plan in 2019’s polarising War of the Spark, a set that culminated one dramatic storyline and set the stakes for the next. Are we bound for a less doomsday oriented holiday to Ravnica in 2024, and will the murder carnival be there to welcome us?
Theros suffered mightily at the hands of the Phyrexian Invasion, losing most of their Greek-inspired pantheon of gods to Compleation. With that threat nullified, are new gods and demigods rising to fill the power vacuum? Perhaps the hydra tamer pictured in one of the artworks will be a devotee this fresh generation of deities.
Keen eyes will immediately spot the Lord of the Rings artwork amongst the eight teased images, identified by the White Hand of Saruman on one of those discarded shield and a Middle-earth Enterprises copyright mark in the bottom-right corner. We already know a special Tales of Middle-earth release is planned for the 2023 holidays, and it was assumed many of those cards would be printed with alternate artwork. This is very likely one of the included cards.
The last teased image is the least identifiable, and the most promising. Show me a mousy hero with a cloak fashioned from a single leaf and a tiny lightning bug companion, and my heart will immediately scream Redwall - as did many people on social media. Occam’s Razor tells us this is likely another piece of Eldraine art - the burning wolf creature doesn’t exactly fit with Brian Jacques’ world of anthropomorphic forest critters. But given the success of the Lord of the Rings Universes Beyond set, Wizards of the Coast may be galvanized into embracing even more beloved fantasy novels.