In addition to cancelling all in-store tabletop play, Wizards of the Coast has now delayed the physical release of the upcoming Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths set. It's all part of the company's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus.
The physical set will now be released on May 15, 2020 in North America, Latin America, and Europe. In Japan and the Asia Pacific region, the prerelease and launch are still scheduled for April 17, though this date is subject to change, and local stores should also consider local regulations. The set will still be launched on Magic: the Gathering Arena on April 16 as originally planned.
In order to help soften the blow, WotC has announced two components of what they are calling their "LGS Relief Initiative." First, they will be printing more of the recent Mystery Booster set and sending booster boxes to all stores that are part of the Wizards Play Network free of charge. All money from sales of these packs will go 100% to the stores. Second, stores will now be allowed to charge entry fees for organized events on Arena; this rule will be in effect until June 1 and entry fees are capped at $10.
As an additional note, the worldwide release of WotC's Transformers-based Titan Masters Attack game has been delayed to May 29.
WotC has noted that the May 15 release date of Ikoria is still subject to change, and they will reassess the situation as the date gets closer. In particular, they want to ensure that the release of Ikoria is accompanied by all the fanfare and in-person fun that other set releases have had. Considering this, it is reasonable to expect that the set's release might be delayed a second time, if the worldwide COVID-19 situation has not been relieved by mid-May. It will be curious to see how any further delays may impact the release of the Core 2021 set, which is currently scheduled for July 2021. We previously speculated that, while multiple physical releases may be delayed, the Arena release schedule would remain unchanged; with this Ikoria update, this seems like more of a possibility.
Stay tuned to Magic Untapped for further updates on the unfolding situation as they occur.