Wizards of the Coast officially announced the next non-standard set for its massively popular trading card game Magic: The Gathering on February 25th, causing no small amount of excitement - and worry - among players online. Time Spiral Remastered has been touted as a gift to all MTG players while at the same time representing some of its worse recent tendencies.
Time Spiral Remastered will be the first set from the long history of the card game to be physically remastered in a modern release. Several sets have and are planned for re-release on digital platforms Magic: The Gathering Arena and MTG Online, but this one picks some of the best and most sought-after cards from a 2006 block - Time Spiral, Planar Chaos and Future Sight - and bundles them into a playable collection of their own.
Cards printed in Time Spiral Remastered will showcase old frames, text and other design quirks consistent with their original public release. In addition, many cards from sets outside the Time Spiral block - both before and after - will be “timeshifted” in and marked with a purple symbol to denote their special quality. For non-MTG players, this can be a pretty confusing arrangement, but to put it simply: the set contains both old and new cards without the modern card design but packaged and sold according to contemporary releases.
YouTuber Brian Lewis recently published a video extolling the virtues of Time Spiral Remastered for its benefit to the MTG community. According to him, modernising this set will lower the price of exorbitantly expensive singles that see a lot of play in popular formats such as Commander and Modern while introducing newer players to what many view as a design high-water mark in the game’s history.
“It isn’t a set where new players to the game can’t find reasons to play,” Lewis said in the video. “This is exactly what someone who’s new to the game can sit down, draft and greatly enjoy. And it treats those new players as such with respect, not dumbing down the cards or watering down the gameplay.”
Lewis refers to the concept that every MTG set is “a game unto itself” that has been designed to play certain formats - Draft, Sealed, etc. - using only the cards and interactions contained within the set. Time Spiral Remastered allows new players who may not have deep knowledge of every individual card from a 15-year-old set to crack open boosters and learn through play.
Sentiment online seems to agree with Lewis’ comments. Twitter and various Magic: The Gathering subreddits have been full of discussion about favourite returning cards and mechanics that can now be afforded without taking out a loan on someone’s house. That said, an undercurrent of doubt can be seen running through nearly every thread and forum post. The past few years of Magic: The Gathering physical releases have been marred by inconsistent print quality, foil cards dramatically curling within days of being opened and limited print availability causing an immediate inflation in price through vendors and online platforms.
“I love the set. I'm disappointed at the inexplicably higher-than-a-normal-booster price, let alone the inflated prices resulting from an apparently short supply,” said Reddit user DRUMS11. Amazon listings via the Magic: The Gathering store account are already selling for $200, with aftermarket slots already reaching higher. Local game shops reflect a similar price tag, but many players worry about their local shops receiving enough to handle demand.
“I can tell you this: LGSs are being highly allocated and they are receiving only 20-25% of their initial orders. As far as LGSs have been told, there's no reprints coming later,” said Reddit user crobledopr. Wizards of the Coast has spent the last couple of years leaning heavier on Amazon to handle distributing the bulk of their sales, forcing independent stores to sell their small cache of boxes to customers at higher prices to make up the difference.
Dicebreaker has reached out to Wizards of the Coast for comment on distribution figures to local game stores. Time Spiral Remastered releases on March 19th and will be available through 15-card boosters, both individually and sealed.