MASTERPIECE THEATRE

Hello there, it's been a while! Since my A to Z Challenge in April to be exact. I've been a bit busy on my other blogs, and honestly, not playing much Magic: The Gathering hasn't really been helping matters either. BUT there was some exciting news about the future of Magic and I wanted to share and talk about it.

Earlier this week, Wizards of the Coast (Mark Rosewater, specifically) made an announcement on the Mothership that starting with their newest set, Kaladesh, and moving forward, they would be adding a feature called the Masterpiece Series. What exactly is the Masterpiece Series?

Zendikar Expeditions

In essence, it's based on a system that Magic players are already familiar with (unless just recently getting into the game). The Masterpiece Series was inspired by the marketing success of Zendikar Expeditions, which was a promotional, premium (foil) set of cards randomly distributed throughout booster packs of the Battle for Zendikar block. These highly sought after cards added a new level of rarity (slightly more common than a premium mythic), boasted unique art and frames, and bore their own expansion symbol.

Many Zendikar Expeditions are reprints of older cards, with some exceptions of those that doubled from the sets they were featured in (albeit different art). They can be played in Limited formats they are opened in, as well as any Constructed format the cards are naturally legal in. Although only printed in English, they are distributed in packs of all languages.

In the same vein, the Masterpiece Series will follow these guidelines in how they are designed and function — Zendikar Expeditions essentially acting as a precursor.

The Rules of Masterpiece Series Club

Okay, maybe not so dramatic. But aside from what is outlined above (and/or being a bit more concise), there are a few more details about the Masterpiece Series:

  • While Masterpiece Series will be the official name for this new feature, each block will have it's own individual title. For example, Kaladesh Inventions is the specific name for the series in the Kaladesh block (as Zendikar Expeditions would have been for the Battle for Zendikar block).
  • The cards chosen to be highlighted in the series will be tied thematically to the world featured in the block it represents (for Zendikar Expeditions it was lands, while in Kaladesh Inventions it will be artifacts). This includes their special frames.
  • The unique expansion symbol of each Masterpiece Series will be shared between the sets of a block, yet be different than each individual set symbol.
  • Each Masterpiece Series will consist of roughly 50 cards split among the sets of a block. However, that number and how they are split may vary.
  • The Masterpiece Series will be included on Magic Online (albeit nonredeemable), but not Magic Duels.

A Game Changer

What does this all mean for Magic: The Gathering and its future? It means the game may want to invest in a fine pair of shades. Most signs point to this being a very positive, healthy decision by Wizards of the Coast. They've made some odd choices, and still have a few tweaks to make, but the overall set designs and marketing process has been on a solid trajectory in the right direction. For years I've been expecting some sort of crash, some peak being hit before the inevitable downward slope, but so far the game continues to grow year after year, drawing more people in. The Masterpiece Series will only excite and attract new players by the droves, and maybe even rope back in some older players who have "retired", much like myself.

In the announcement, Rosewater mentioned some points as to how and why they came to the decision of making the Masterpiece Series. While I may not understand how the feature make the Standard format more accessible as he claims — I personally feel Standard is a huge money sink and exhausting to keep up with as it's continually changing, even more so now with the newer rotation schedule — but I agree with the rest.

This is a great way to reprint older, out of reach, cards in order to get them into the hands of newer players, offers a chase factor for collectors (despite fearing some woes in price fluctuations of reprinted cards — hopefully that increased rarity balances it out), and is a great way for people to "bling" out their decks in a new way!

 Pick your poison!

Pick your poison!

The reaction to the Masterpiece Series has been, thus far, resoundingly positive. I've yet to read anything scathing, citing any major negative impact the feature will incur on the game. As for myself, I think it's a really smart move. It allows for a continual platform (aside from supplemental products like Commander, Eternal/Modern Masters, etc) for reprinting cards that would otherwise be format-warping if released in Standard. Plus, I LOVE foils and unique art variants!

One caveat is that I could see this driving up the prices of cards existing on the Reserve List, given their untouchable status, now that each block will allow potential for even more major reprints, despite the increased rarity factor. Time will tell.

You can read the full announcement by Mark Rosewater HERE

I've put up the entire Masterpiece Series: Kaladesh Inventions HERE

Were you a fan of Zendikar Expeditions? Which, if any, have you collected so far? Are you excited about the Masterpiece Series? What cards do you think will be included in Kaladesh Inventions for the second set, Aether Revolt, of the Kaladesh block? What themes would you like to see in future expansion blocks and/or entries into the Masterpiece Series? Are there any specific cards you'd like to have reprinted with this unique treatment?