Tomorrow Comes Today – Announcement Day for Future Products

Way better than Big Block of Cheese Day

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Saheeli Rai, Planeswalker

Today on the Mothership, they announced an “Announcement Day.” In this Announcement Day, WotC announced the future products for the rest of the 2016 year. The announcements are as follows (announced release order):

  • August 26: Conspiracy – Take the Crown Draft Sets available at mass market stores.
  • September 2: Duel Decks: Nizza vs. Ob Nixilis 
  • September 30: Kaladesh – Fall Large Set. Previews begin PAX weekend (September 2)
  • November 11: Commander 2016
  • November 25: Planechase Anthology
  • Janurary 20, 2017: Aether Revolt – Winter Small Set.

And the following changes:

  • Intro Decks become Planeswalker Decks
  • Fat Packs become [Set Name] Bundle

Let’s take a look at each one and what all of this means.

Why now? Why release this information all at once. WotC answered it this way:

We want our fans to know when to expect upcoming products to be revealed—and to see further into the future of Magic‘s release schedule.

Therefore, as of this announcement, we will have two major product announcements every year—one in the spring and one in the fall. In those announcements, we will announce the next block and any supplemental products that will be released during the next year or so.

This makes sense. For enfranchised players, we kinda knew when products were going to be released. We all believed that they would make another Commander set even though it hadn’t been announced yet. For newer players or less in touch players, there was no real roadmap unless they wanted to dig. Now this information can be displayed on their website when players go to look.

Yes, we lose some of the surprise of when a product was going to be announced and the fun of the whole Conspiracy 2 announcement week is going to be gone in this shuffle. But they won’t release all of the information about a set and there should still be surprises in this as well. My guess, if it sticks to this Spring/Fall announcement schedule, From the Vault would be announced today. They don’t have to release all the products they’re going to produce (will a Masters set released in June be known in the Fall announcement?), but a majority of them will be in these two days.

So, what goodies will we have?

Conspiracy – Take the Crown draft packs

This one is pretty huge. The first Conspiracy was only sold in local game stores but the idea that releasing a draft pack of 3 packs so people who don’t have access to these stores is a great one. When I talked to some LGS people a few years ago, everyone was sitting on Conspiracy boxes because they thought it was going to hold value like Modern Masters ones did. With this, it not only incentives people to draft the sets, but allows players to keep some ready for drafting without buying the whole box (not that players only bought the whole box, but it was designed for that). I think this is a great idea and hope it works out for WotC.

Duel Decks: Nissa vs. Ob Nixilis

Here’s where things get interesting. For the past several years the Duel Decks were printed in the following pattern: Fall – Introduce Plane. Spring – Planeswalkers from previous year’s Plane. Don’t believe me, ask the dishes:

Spring (PW vs PW) Fall (New Set)
2012 Venser vs. Koth (SOM) Izzet vs. Golgari (RTR)
2013 Sorin vs. Tiblt (INN) Heroes vs. Monsters (THS)
2014 Jace vs. Vraska (RTR) Speed vs. Cunning (KTR)
2015 Kiora vs. Elspeth (THS) Zendikar vs. Eldrazi (BFZ)
2016 Blessed vs. Cursed (SOI) Nissa vs. Ob Nixilis (BFZ)

It was quite a surprise to have the 2016 Spring Duel Deck not be something from the Khans of Tarkir block (I’m sure many were hoping for an Ugin reprint), but it makes sense. As you can see, the shift from one block a year to two blocks changes the distribution model for how the Duel Decks will operate. The surprise here is the immediate callback to a block that will rotate out in weeks instead of introducing the new one with the new mechanics.

Will the Duel Decks focus on future mechanics, one being tied to the block right after its release, or focus on past blocks, one that is about to rotate? If I was a betting man, I would say the latter, based on the information we received about the Planeswalker Decks. I do think that’s the better way to go since everyone likes foil Planeswalkers. Hopefully, there will be some more cards that need reprinting as well but we’ll see how that goes.

Kaladesh

This is the new Fall set. It’s based on the homeworld of Chandra. The tagline is “Invent Your Tomorrow”, so we might get an artifact based block. The art above is out new Planeswalker, Saheeli Rai. We have to wait to get more information.

irggbcbqsnPlaneswalker Decks

Another big change. Instead of Intro Decks, Planeswalker Decks will take over as the ones that go along with the new set. Each of these 60 cards decks will have a new Planeswalker card of a Planeswalker relevant to that block (meaning some lesser Planeswalkers who don’t get a printing in the sets could and should find a home here. Think Jace in Battle for Zendikar block). The key is that these Planeswalker won’t be pushed for competitive play and they’re built for fun/beginners. There will be several cards designed to work with said Planeswalker and other cards to round out the feeling of it being based around the character. Also it will feature cards and mechanics based on the new block, something the Duel Decks used to do and I believe will take the place here.

The goal of these products will be to get newer/casual players Planeswalkers in their hands with a deck that’s built around them. I think this is a great idea, and it should be looked at when we get our hands on the first one. MaRo talked more about them today and they have some very interesting design goals with them. The biggest is the four copies of a common dual land that will be in Standard:

Oath of the Gatewatch and Shadows over Innistrad introduced a ten-card cycle of dual lands that enter the battlefield tapped. It is our intention to make sure that ten-card cycle stays Standard-legal so that budget players will always have access to them. For Planeswalker Decks, the plan is to include the appropriate ETB-tapped dual land that matches the colors of the deck. The card will have brand-new art tied to the world of the block. There will be four copies of this card.

Very interesting on how this continues to play out about what is legal and not legal in a format. It used to be “If it’s in this set, then it’s legal”. But now with all of these supplemental products, it might start getting harder to keep track, especially with more casual players. With five cards that are in each deck that won’t be in the main set, it might be confusing of the once simple system. There needs to be better outreach in my opinion.

[Set Name] Bundle

Gone are the named Fat Packs. Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Different sized box (no info on that yet)
  • 80 basic lands instead of 50
  • 10 Booster packs instead of nine
  • Rules Reference card
  • Loss of those cardboard deck boxes that I threw away
  • MSRP price of $42.99

It might be time that I stop buying the Fat Packs. I loved the box size as it fit into my closet shelf where I store my cards. I love the Player’s Guide (still included), but at this price, I may just buy the Guide separately online. They’re still a good deal for 10 packs, the box (maybe, we’ll see), the Guide and the Spindown Die (still in there), but $43 is a tough pill to swallow.

Commander 2016

We’re getting four colored Commanders. Hopefully the Commadners will be good and this can be another design box we can check off and not hear about for a while. Yes, I’m excited and yes, I’ll pick up all five decks. Not much more to go on from here. There is a rumor of four of the Legends in each deck being foil, which I’m all about.

Planechase Anthology

This announcement made me sit up a little. Much like the Duel Decks Anthology last year, this is a great shot in the arm for one of my favorite alternate formats. I love Planechase and wish they would come out with another set. Hopefully this is a precursor to another set being released, or at least another test run to see what the market is like for a return to it. This big box includes:

  • The four decks from Planechase 2012
  • All 86 Oversized Planes/Phenomenons (including promos)
  • Four slide deck boxes
  • Oversized deck box
  • 35 double-sided tokens
  • Special edition planar die
  • Four spindown life counters
  • Strategy insert

So if you already have everything, unless you wanted updated frames on your cards, this is a pass. I’ll want to pick up the tokens if stores have them for sale. The real killer is this products MSRP’s at $149.99. This is a huge investment. If you’ve got a playgroup and what to pick up the Planes to play with, this is the way to go. Everyone chips in some money and your playgroup has a really fun variant to play. This is also the Magic holiday gift to give this year. Only if they’re really competitive does this gift doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what I noticed: Both the Commander and the Planechase Anthology are released in November, right in shopping season for the holidays. Is WotC making the “Casual” buying season at the end of the year while the “Competitive” one right in the middle of it with the release of the Masters sets? Remember, Duel Decks Anthologies was released around the same time last year. This is an interesting development if true. $160 for Commander Decks and $150 two weeks later? That is a lot of money for a casual player, or any player really.

Aether Revolt

The Small set for the Kaladesh block. It’s not Æther Revolt, WotC has dropped the use of Æ, which is nice because while cool, it’s not the easiest to use. The tagline is “It’s Time to Take the Power Back” so people are rebelling against the established power, or no one has electricity. I’m on a Fringe rewatch and so this reminds of Season 5. Spoilers: My least favorite season (1-3-2–4—5).

This is what we have: The two major sets, three confirmed products of their series line, some changes in established products, and an addition in how a product is being distributed. This is a ton of information to digest all at once. I think there are some good changes here not only for me personally, but for the game itself. What do you like most of about the announcements?

Oh, and there will be a Kaladesh Hardcover Art book.

So happy Announcement Day! Go have a lamb taco.

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