Thursday, 06 May 2021 21:05

Wizards of the Coast unveils the Summer of Legend

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The legendary dragon, Tiamat. The legendary dragon, Tiamat. WIZARDS OF THE COAST

This week’s WeeklyMTG stream on Twitch was an eventful one, as stream host Blake Rasmussen laid out the details of the upcoming Summer of Legend. He was joined by Greg Tito, host of the Dungeons & Dragons-focused podcast Dragon Talk, to talk about the upcoming D&D-focused set that will be coming this summer. Read on to find out what all was revealed.

The stream kicked off with a trailer for the upcoming action RPG, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance. This trailer was originally released a couple of months ago, so there was no real new information to speak of here. Still, it’s a fun trailer, albeit a bit immature, and the gameplay looks fast-paced and intense, which is an appealing set of qualities to have. The game will be released on PC and consoles on June 22.

The first Magic-related topic was the upcoming Modern Horizons II. Due to COVID-related difficulties, the release schedule has been pushed back by a week:

  • May 20: Reveals begin.
  • May 24: Previews are unveiled.
  • June 2: The full set is revealed.
  • June 3: The set is playable on Magic Online.
  • June 11-13: Webcam prerelease play is available through the SpellTable beta.
  • June 11-17: Prerelease week, with in-store play where available.
  • June 18: Worldwide release.

After the schedule was detailed, the previews began. The first cards shown off were the five fetch lands, each of which will have normal, full-art and classic-border versions; after the popularity of classic borders in Time Spiral Remastered, they will be making a return in MH2. The next preview was Sanctum Prelate, which is making its first appearance in the Modern, and which will also have a classic border variant. Rasmussen noted that there will be a dedicated slot in MH2 boosters for new-to-Modern reprinted cards, which will either be standard or borderless versions.

The next card shown off was Brainstone, which is a twist on the Brainstorm card, acting as an artifact instead of an instant. Rasmussen stated that there will be other cards in the set that are “twists” on older cards, and to drive the point home, he showed off Diamond Lion, which is like a creature version of the famously busted Lion’s Eye Diamond; this card will also have a classic border variant. Next, they showed off the return of Counterspell, which caused the Twitch chat to briefly lose their minds. Counterspell is also going to have an extremely cool full-art version that I desperately hope I can get my hands on at some point.

The final MH2 preview was a card named Urza’s Saga, which Rasmussen immediately acknowledged as “weird”, and he was not wrong. This card is a land and a saga at the same time, gaining tap abilities as the saga unfolds. What was really fascinating was the introduction of “sketch” variants, where the alternate art is the original proposed sketch for the card, when it was in its development phase. This is a very cool and curious look for the card, and I can’t wait to see what the other sketch variants look like.

The next topic of discussion was the upcoming crossover set Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Once again, a timeline was outlined:

  • June 29: Previews begin.
  • July 8: Available in Magic Online and Magic: the Gathering Arena.
  • July 16-18: Webcam prerelease play is available through the SpellTable beta.
  • July 16-22: Prerelease week, with in-store play where available.
  • July 23: Worldwide release.

The five basic lands were shown off first, all of which had D&D-inspired art by Adam Paquette, and each one also had flavor text, which is a first for basic lands. The next three previews were Portable Hole (a staple of the franchise), Power Word Kill (another staple), and Prosperous Innkeeper (not a staple per se, but emblematic of the sorts of beings that inhabit the D&D world). These cards have a nice flavor to them, but as someone who’s not big on D&D, it’s not something that appeals to me much. At least, that’s what I thought, until they revealed Tiamat.

Tiamat is a fantastic-looking card that requires all colors of mana, but it’s a flying 7/7 that allows you to bring up to five other dragons from your deck into your hand. The card has normal and full-art variants, both of which look great, created by Tyler Jacobson. Tiamat is such a well-known and imposing staple of D&D that even a non-fan like myself can appreciate its appearance, and it makes me wonder what other creatures will be showing up that I recognize. Bahamut was name-dropped shortly after this, though that card was not shown.

The cool art didn’t stop there, as the artwork for Baleful Beholder was shown next, with yet another awesome-looking variant. They called this the Classic Rulebook variant, and it features the creature drawn in the same style as the original D&D Monster Manual, which is oddly nostalgic even for someone who wasn’t playing D&D back in its heyday. The final preview shown was the Vorpal Sword, another item I recognized, and one with the ability to instantly kill the opposing player if swung just right. This card is the Buy-a-Box promotional card for the set. After seeing these three cards, I quickly went from “uninvested” to “excited”. I can’t wait to get my hands on this set now.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will have draft boosters, set boosters, collector boosters, prerelease packs, and four pre-built Commander decks. These decks are named Aura of Courage, Dungeons of Death, Draconic Rage, and Planar Portal, and the decks were created to line up with the Commander decks for Strixhaven.

Next, Rasmussen mentioned the next Secret Lair superdrop would be happening between MH2 and Forgotten Realms, and that’s literally all he had to say about that.

After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctioned in-store play is returning to Magic this month, at least in the United States. The games may begin again on May 28, though all local regulations still apply, and the decision of whether or not to allow in-store play is ultimately up to each store. Sanctioned previews will be available for MH2, and starting on June 18, players who purchase $50 or more of sealed Magic product will get a Fabled Passage as a promo card, with multiple variants available. On top of that, limited amounts of Mystery Booster Convention Edition packs will once again be available through WPN stores, and they’ve been slightly tweaked since their last release. It’s both exciting and relieving to see in-store events resuming as the United States starts turning the corner on the pandemic, though I hope that both stores and players are smart about it. Nature is healing.

As far as online goes, a number of events will be happening in Arena over the next few months:

  • Historic Anthology 5 will be adding 25 new cards to the Historic format on May 27. Two cards were shown off here: Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger and Whirler Rogue.
  • The May Arena Open kicks off this Saturday, May 8. Sealed will be returning as the format, and there will be cash prizes, special card sleeves, and more.
  • The Strixhaven College Cup will be happening from May 13 through the end of the month.
  • From June 4 to early July, Jumpstart will be coming back to Arena.
  • The next Arena Open is scheduled for July 31 - August 1, and players can win up to $2,000 in prizes.

The most interesting announcement here was the reveal of an event known as Mirror, Mirror. This event is a short one where old cards will be altered instead of being outright banned; Rasmussen mentioned cards such as Oko, Thief of Crowns and Teferi, Time Raveler as cards that will be making a return, but in a more balanced way. This sounds very much like an experiment on WotC’s part, and I imagine they will be looking at the reaction to see if they should continue exploring the idea of “fixing” cards in the future. (For the record, the Twitch chat was extremely unhappy about this reveal, saying things like “paper is dead”, but you should always take Twitch chat hyperbole with a grain of salt.)

Overall, it looks like some very interesting and promising things are on their way to Magic this summer. I’m curious about Mirror, Mirror, pleased at the return of in-store play, and surprisingly excited to see more of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Hopefully each of these events lives up to their respective amounts of hype. For more information, you can read the official write-up about the Summer of Legend on the official website.