Magic: The Gathering’s first set taking place after the defeat of Phyrexia, Wilds of Eldraine, has the onerous task of communicating the tone for the popular trading card game’s next era. Thanks to a panel at the recent Pro Tour Barcelona, we now know a bit more about our first return to a plane of knights, fairies and twins on the outs.
Wizards of the Coast Head Designer Mark Rosewater spoke to Gavin Verhey on an extended panel at the competitive MTG event over the weekend, taking a bit of time away from the head-to-head matches to explain some of the story and mechanical direction for Wilds of Eldraine. Still reeling from the devastation meted out by Phyerexians during the events of March of the Machine, Eldraine must pull double duty - cope with the trauma left by planar-wide war while also facing an entirely new threat known as the Wicked Slumber.
Created by the fairy sovereign Talion, the Kindly Lord and three witches, the Wicked Slumber was begrudgingly created to protect the denizens of Eldraine but now runs amok and threatens to leave the whole world under a magical sleep. Almost certainly unrelated, the nightmare-treading Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator has arrived on the plane to put some nefarious scheme into action. Former planeswalkers (but still current twins) Will and Rowan Kenrith find themselves at cross purposes regarding how to handle the current crisis, likely due to the death of their parents, the former king and queen, during the invasion.
Speaking of planeswalkers, Rosewater notes that Ashiok will be the only planeswalker card to appear in this set. MTG’s R&D department “general intent” will be to include only one planeswalker per big release, according to Rosewater. Most of MTG’s in-universe planeswalkers were ‘desparked’ in the aftermath of Elesh Norn’s defeat, considerably flattening the power level brought to bear during these massive narrative conflicts.
Mechanically speaking, this means planeswalker cards will likely be more impactful on the baord and unique in their designs. All of the previously sparked heroes and villains will still show up, only now as legendary creature cards. Rosewater confirmed that more than a few previous planeswalkers will rear their heads in Wilds of Eldraines, sans planar powerjuice.
It also leaves more spotlight for the world itself, and Eldraine will have plenty to show off. Wilds of Eldraine will apparently focus heavily on enchantments - a neat fit with the fairy magic theme of the set. Additionally, the 10 dual-Mana colour draft archetypes in the limited environment will each pull inspiration from a different classic fairy tale. For example, Red+Green Mana follows the tale of Red Riding Hood, while White+Black emulates Snow White and the witch who created the charmed apple.
Adventures will appropriately return, along with their gorgeous storybook frame treatment. Introduced in the first visit to this fantastical plane, Adventure card feature two ‘pages’ splitting the rules text box. A player can choose to play the Adventure on the left side for a different cost and effect or the creature as normal (though, the intended order is Adventure followed by creature for maximum value).
Food will also make an appearance, though don’t expect it to match the importance it had to the Hobbits in Tales of Middle-earth. Apparently the card designers have leaned heavier into more aggressive uses of the tasty little tokens, as exemplified in the Tough Cookie card. This gingerbread warrior can transform noncreature artefacts into 4/4 artefact creatures, putting that larder to work beating the snot out of your opponent.
Wilds of Eldraine will release to tabletop on September 8th following prerelease events beginning September 1st. MTG Arena will gain access to a digital version of the set on September 5th, while an Alchemy-related mini-set is planned for October 10th.