occasions. We will be celebrating the life of one of the greatest of creature types in Magic, soon to be relegated to the role of 'Rarely, if ever, Appearing' instead of 'Beloved Mainstay'.
While many of you may not have known our friends angels well, we still welcome you to our service today. Angels, the most heartwarming and beautiful of creatures, have been with us for many years. The lives of Angels have touched many, from the LGS whipping boy to the tournament champion. Angels have been around for so long that we really have no idea what our lives will be like with them. Please, join with me in a moment of silence as we remember the many Angels that have joined with us to fight back the hoards over the years....
Yes my friends, Magic has all but killed Angels. They are now on the endangered creatures list.
Death of the Core Set
Core Set 2016 will be the last of Magic the Gathering's Core Sets. As of September 2017, Core Sets will no longer contribute to Standard, and no more will be made. For some very good reasons (you can read about it here), Core Sets are going the way of the dodo. Instead, Standard Format will rely on between 5-6 sets at a time built on a two set block format. Any given Standard season will be comprised of three blocks and will rotate every 6 months.
This change has been met with a great deal of excitement. Most people are very happy to see this change, as the advantages are pretty clear for gamers. First, Standard will NOT become stale. The faster cycle of rotations will prevent that from happening. And secondly, it will mean greater excitement as we get twice as many new blocks over a year's time in a Large/Small development cycle. What's not to like?
Gamers are thrilled. Design and development at Wizards is thrilled. This new format has the appearance of being a win-win for everyone. But that's not the whole story. There is a pretty large group of people that will be negatively affected by this change.
Constricting Design Space
Undoubtedly, this change will result in constricting design space within the blocks. Current blocks are 3 sets, often in some configuration of 2 large sets and 1 small set. Each block represents a world/story within the Magic Community. And each of these worlds is fully fleshed out by the creative geniuses at Wizards.
Mark Rosewater has made the point that, "...the third set has always been the problem child," in his
By limiting stories to two sets, one large and the other small, we'll see tighter, more efficient design. Ideas that don't work in the first two sets can't be floated to the 'problem child'. They'll be cut. Reprints that some players come to love to see sneak into sets will no longer happen as often (with the likely exception of cantrips and removal spells), due to the tighter constraints placed on design by the limited card count and set size.
No longer will Design have a large bucket that it needs to fill. Now, it will have a cup - and it will have to get the job done with that cup every six months. Story and space will force Design to be very miserly with their set design.
This will be good for competitive players. Arguably, it will be great for them. But for casual players, collectors, and everyone else, this new design cycle has the potential to be disappointing. Yes, as Mark has pointed out we will get to revisit beloved worlds more often. The change in WotC's approach to design will have a negative affect though on things we've come to love the Core Sets for providing.
So what does the loss of Core Sets really mean? Aside from no more semi-regurgitated design, it means something pretty important to players. Several creature types will be going on the endangered species list. Of them all, I'm going to miss regular printings of angels the most. Angels are one of the creature types that simply do not fit well into many block stories. Yes, we saw a one in Gatecrash and a small host of them in Innistrad block - but aside from them they aren't commonly seen in blocks.
|The flavor text still gives me chills.|
As we go forward, surely angels will make their presence known. They'll sneak their way into the occasional Duel Deck or Intro Pack. When angels make sense flavor-wise, we'll get them in blocks. Remember though, unless they find their way into a block they won't be Standard legal.
I know that there will be other creature types that end up relegated to the back of the filing cabinet following this change. I'll be saddened by their loss as well. Nothing will make me more sad though - even if I've only been playing for just under 3 years - than knowing that regular appearances by angels will be no more. Core Set M16 will surely be a bittersweet experience for those of us that love angels in Magic. I plan on drafting every single one I come across, as a tribute to their greatness in the game.
And if I you happen to spot me at a draft late next summer and I have a little tear in my eye, you'll know it's not allergies.
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