Greetings to all players, collectors, and other fans of Magic: The Gathering, the premier trading card game by Wizards of the Coast! We've had a rough two years, haven't we? COVID-19 has been a tough subject (and for many, a touchier one than others) in this time, and it's quite valid to state that no class of non-sport gamers has had it worse through this whole rigmarole than tabletop gamers. However, humans are built to fight that sort of adversity, and gamers often will take such a challenge in stride. As such, the heyday of virtual Magic has helped the game rise from the potential ashes where other tabletop games have had to crumble or fold. In this article, we aim to detail our picks for the top five innovations in the COVID era of Magic.
This article will look at not only innovations made by Wizards of the Coast specifically, but also at innovations made by third-party platforms that would be a fantastic thing for Wizards to officially sanction, incorporate, or otherwise keep going. Let's dig in!
#5. Historic Brawl on Magic Arena
Number five on our list is the fact that Historic Brawl is far more accessible on Magic Arena than anyone could've imagined it would be pre-pandemic. It's no secret that Commander is the biggest format in the game at large, and any offshoots will always make some kind of splash. On Arena, no Commander format exists – in its place, we got Brawl. With all of the format rotation, however, players made a point to give Wizards of the Coast some serious feedback and practically petitioned Wizards to bring Historic Brawl into being, and in a capacity where players didn't have to spend gold or gems to play it. At first, this was a once-weekly type of deal, but thanks to further feedback this option of play became much more frequent and prevalent for players. What a great response!
Now, when we mention Jumpstart, we aren't talking about Jumpstart: Historic Horizons (although it did absolutely pave the way for that, and eventually the all-new Alchemy format), but the set that revolutionized Sealed Limited. Jumpstart was really neat; it gave life to cards that generally are seen as absolute chaff, it reprinted some really important cards to reprint, and it printed new cards that seriously shook many different metagames to their core. We still use Goblins in Historic, headed by Muxus, Goblin Grandee. No, we feel no shame for that.
But also, the number of errors seen in these heavily curated packs often look super-cool and are a great thing for collectors of misprints to look out for. How fun it would be to open a card that looks like a Forest and an Island, and have it (kind of) count as a Tropical Island in function when given the green light in our Commander playgroup! A writer can dream, right?
Moxfield, a third-party deckbuilding website for Magic: The Gathering formats of all types, originally had a very heavy slant towards competitive decklists, from our experience with the site. However, they've been steadily adding on features that will allow any player to really get their decks into the public eye. As a matter of fact, we will be porting decklists for future articles onto Moxfield because of the innovative features they constantly add.
At first, when Infinitokens made the scene, a lot of players caught on quickly that the dry-erase tokens were absolutely going to be fundamental for players who needed to keep track of tokens that they didn't have adequate physical representations for. During the breakout of the COVID-19 global pandemic, this necessity seems to have been commodified even further because of the way that theft effects in Magic work in a physical capacity. Oh, and we can still make tokens with these things, too. It's amazing how versatile a tiny dry-erase board can be!
Our #1 may be pretty obvious to players who have been active over the past two years, but before we unveil it here is an Honorable Mention:
Honorable Mention: Set Boosters
Set Boosters have been a boon to collecting Magic: The Gathering cards through means other than the secondary singles market (although Wizards of the Coast has Secret Lair drops for that coverage if we are being frank!). The way that Set Boosters have allowed players to get really awesome cards through The List, Art Cards, or even other ways has been a fantastic way to circulate cards for players and collectors alike.
But Set Boosters only get an Honorable Mention because there are certainly better ways to obtain cards of value and worth, and to be fair the other innovations in this article are just more impactful for players across the board. Which brings us to…
An interface that should need no introduction for seasoned Commander players (nor most any other player who has been enjoying paper Magic virtually!), Spelltable is so good that Wizards of the Coast decided to obtain it and integrate it with their Wizards Play Network during the COVID-19 pandemic for the sake of their players, which is pretty darn cool. Infinitokens and Moxfield all factor as assists into how this interface basically saved paper Magic: The Gathering from going the way of the most distinguished of all flightless birds, the mighty Dodo. The fact that Commander players have been conducting games with Spelltable this entire time is a testament to how important it is.
So these are all things we are thankful for, and innovations that, if you haven't tried them, are something you should absolutely consider making use of. What do you think? Did we forget any innovations for Magic: The Gathering that are near and dear to you? Let us know in the comments below!