by Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop
One of my favorite things about Magic: The Gathering players is our unwavering interest in what lies ahead. No sooner is a new set spoiled than speculation begins for the next one, and the next, and the next.
I’m right there with all you speculators. To me, there’s nothing more fun than trying to guess the theme of the next set, or which mechanics they might use, or whether we’ll see yet another version of Jace.
So, without further ado, let the Speculation begin…
1. The enemy fetch lands will make their return…but not in Shadows Over Innistrad
I hate to start with a downer, but I’m pretty certain of this one.
Why? Well, for one, let’s think of the enemy fetches from a marketing standpoint. Wizards is trying to make as much money as they can with their new products, which means they’re more likely to print cards that they know people will want to go out and buy.
Thing is, because of the success of original Innistrad, Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) already knows that the sequel will sell, regardless of what they put in there. So why would they add must-have items to an already must-have set? I think it’s much more likely that these cards will appear in a new, unfamiliar world, similar to what they did in Khans of Tarkir. That way, WoTC can be sure that players will buy the new set, even if the world is unfamiliar.
Furthermore, they’ll never allow all ten fetches to be in Standard at the same time. I mean, at that point, you’d have to think of a reason not to play five-colour good-stuff…
2. We’ve seen plenty of sequel blocks…so what about prequel blocks?
Wouldn’t you want to see the story behind Karn‘s creation of Mirrodin, or a set exploring the formation of Ravnica‘s original guilds, or the true story behind Nicol Bolas‘s summer reading projects? Enter the prequel block.
This is not totally unprecedented. Just look at Fate Reforged, which depicted Tarkir 1,200 years before the Khans, or Magic Origins, which told the stories of the core planeswalkers before they were planeswalkin’. Personally, I think a prequel block would be super fun–so long as there’s no equivalent character to Jar-Jar Binks, that is.
3. Emrakul will return, only this time on a planeswalker card
The fact that Emrakul wouldn’t appear in the new Zendikar block was probably the worst kept secret since Oath of the Gatewatch (because of all the leaks…get it?). It seemed like every other flavor text on Battle for Zendikar cards read something like, “Hey, haven’t seen that freaky jellyfish in a while. Wonder where he is.” Also, it’s been hinted that he has the ability to travel to different planes.
We get it. He’s not on Zendikar. Which would mean he’s on another plane. Which would mean he’s a planeswalker.
Well, not so fast. Wizards has said that Emrakul isn’t actually a planeswalker. But if the dude’s walking from plane to plane, how else do you express that in-game if not with a planeswalker card?
4. Elspeth Tirel is not really dead
Was Gandalf really dead? Or Captain Barbosa? Or any character in any comic book? The only thing more fun than killing a beloved character is bringing them back in glorious fashion, which is exactly what they’re going to do with Elspeth. ‘Nuff said!
5. Someday, we’ll have a steampunk-themed set
WoTC has already played with this aesthetic a little bit with the Izzet guild of Ravnica, but I think there’s still plenty of interest among players. I mean, ever since William Gibson’s Neuromancer, this has been a popular subgenre of speculative literature. Who wouldn’t want to see a set full of cities in the clouds, airships, complex contraptions, and ridiculous goggles? If enough players are interested, they’ll make it.
6. We Will See Wedge-Colored Gods in the Sequel to Theros Block
Of all the predictions on this list, this one’s my favourite.
First of all, let’s look at this from a story standpoint. We’ve already established that gods can be made and gods can be destroyed––just ask Xenagos. So when we return to Theros, what if we find that all the previous gods have been overthrown and replaced with new gods, gods that represent not just one or two colors of magic, but three?
Come on. You know this would be awesome. They’d have something like 10 devotion in order to turn into creatures, and then another bunch of wacky abilities to go with it.
Furthermore, players love the wedge theme. Head Designer Mark Rosewater said in his podcast that a wedge set was one of the most requested sets around, which is why they made Khans of Tarkir. Plus, the original Commander set featured wedge commanders, many of which are still very popular today. This prediction might not pay off for a while, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
7. Speaking of returns…we’ll return to Kamigawa, and soon
The new two-block paradigm proves one thing to me: we’ll see a lot more return blocks. Heck, we’ll already have back-to-back returns this year alone. And that’s awesome––with so many amazing worlds in the backlog, why not revisit them?
But you might be wondering this: why Kamigawa? That block wasn’t quite so amazing.
I’d have to agree with you there. It was sort of a train wreck, only with ninjas, samurais, and weird anthropomorphic rat people. The cards don’t play well outside of the block, and there are so many legendary creatures that it almost ruins the whole point of legendary creatures.
However, purely from a worldbuilding standpoint, there’s a rich template there. And, just when you thought they’d abandoned that world altogether, Kaseto comes along in the new Commander product. To paraphrase the great Bill Engvall: “There’s your sign.”
8. The Commander release after next will be Four-Colored Commanders
Sigh. This is probably my least favorite prediction on the list, but also the most likely. Actually, when asked about this very subject on his blog, Mark Rosewater wrote, “the question is ‘when’ and not ‘if.'” They did enemy colors in 2015, so I’m guessing they’ll do allies for 2016, and then off to four colors.
EDH is my favorite format, so I’ve got to admit, I’m a little nervous for this one. The flavor for quad-colored cards seems exceedingly difficult to get right. Case and point: the Nephilim from Dissension. In my opinion, the Nephilim kind of capture the feel of three of their colors, but there’s always that fourth color that might as well not be there.
On the bright side, I think we’re in a golden age of Magic. Design and story have never been better than they are now, which gives me hope for this one. Let’s see what happens.
9. There will be some sort of bizarre planar clash set in the near future
I’m talking Lorwyn versus Zendikar, New Phyrexia versus Ravnica, Dominiaria versus Innistrad––stuff like that. War of the Worlds, Magic style.
Okay, I know it’s wacky. But this sort of thing isn’t totally unprecedented in Magic’s history, either. Time Spiral block played with older sets and planes converging. With New Phyrexia, we’ve also seen that old planes can reappear in new places.
And come on. Wouldn’t you want to see Squee take on Grimgrin? You know you would.
10. Wizards will someday reprint Steamflogger Boss
Just to troll us.
Hope you enjoyed this article! Am I a visionary genius or simply insane? Let me know what you thought of the predictions in the comments below! And remember… always Play the Ten Drop.