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Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming Strixhaven set keeps running into problems

Art plagiarism, shipping delays and swapped assets mar the upcoming launch.

Strixhaven: School of Mages is scheduled to release on April 23rd, teleporting players to the eponymous college where some of the collectible card game’s most powerful arcane practitioners are supposedly trained. Unfortunately, the lead up to the set has been studded with controversy, delays and mistakes at seemingly every turn.

On April 1st, publisher Wizards of the Coast put out a statement that physical cards would not be available in time for prerelease in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. Events in the United States and other countries seem to be unaffected at this time.

“Unfortunately, due to shipment delays, the Strixhaven: School of Mages Prerelease will now be combined with the release date of April 23. Prerelease events and all other Strixhaven: School of Mages products will be available beginning that day,” the statement reads. “Additionally, for Thailand, Strixhaven: School of Mages Bundles will release approximately mid-May.”

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Prerelease events for Magic: The Gathering sets often occur the week before, giving players an opportunity to try the set in a limited format . Often these coordinated events take place at local game stores, but Wizards of the Coast has been producing take-home bundles through the COVID-19 pandemic. Strixhaven’s prerelease was previously planned to begin on April 16th.

The publisher further said that production issues on the Draft Boosters and Japanese-language Set Boosters for Strixhaven have caused an unexpected shortage and will likely not be available in sufficient quantity, if at all, in many areas during release. Wizards of the Coast claims more boosters will be coming at an undisclosed date later.

Speaking of the Japanese-language boosters, which have a chance to contain one of the alternate-art Japanese Mystical Archive cards, Wizards of the Coast put out another statement April 1st acknowledging a mistake regarding the artwork on two cards.

According to the publisher, the alternate art for Ephemerate and Memory Lapse were somehow swapped during development - the card text remains accurate. As some Reddit users pointed out, not only are both pieces by the same artist, but the composition and colours look similar enough to be interchangeable. In fact, more than a few players have expressed liking the switch or simply not noticing before the publisher copped to the error.

The alternate Japanese variants are a new project for the trading card game, done to celebrate traditional Japanese artistic style while providing players and collectors a unique subset that will be packaged in several different boosters and boxes. This is on top of the Mystical Archive, which collects nearly 70 spells from Magic: The Gathering’s history and reprinting them with specific borders and fresh art treatments.

One of those cards caused a small controversy earlier this week when a freelance artist pointed out that one of the Mystical Archive cards - Crux of Fate - contained not only blatantly plagiarised work from a fan piece she had published in 2016 but also from a previously released card from another artist. Wizards of the Coast announced it would be cutting ties with the established Magic: The Gathering illustrator, who publicly admitted to the act on March 31st.

“I’ve waited to make a public response because I wanted to reach out to the affected artists Kitt Lapeña, Raymond Swanland and WotC first. I was overworked, but that’s no excuse. I messed up and I’m trying to make amends,” Jason Felix said via Twitter.

Dicebreaker has reached out to Wizards of the Coast for more information as to what caused the delay in production and shipment of Strixhaven: School of Mages. While the community has wondered whether the six-day Suex Canal traffic jam or February’s devastating winter storm in Texas are to blame - Cartamudi, who handles Magic: The Gathering’s English-language printing, is based in Dallas, Texas - the exact cause remains unclear.

Edit: Corrected list of countries with postponed prerelease events to accurately reflect Wizards of the Coast press release.

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