Magic is in the Cards

Morgan Hoover, Staff Writer

Modern day trading card games can all trace their origins back to one single common ancestry — Magic: The Gathering. Produced by the company “Wizards of the Coast”, beginning in 1993, Magic has gone through over two decades of new set releases. Each one has brought exciting new cards for the various formats of the game, fun new mechanics for the cards, and gripping new stories of the many different worlds that are involved in the game. Magic recently wrapped up an overarching story that had been running for many years with their War of the Spark set, bringing a huge amount of work to a close, and bringing a huge portion of the cast together, with a finale comparable to Avengers: Endgame. And now, the next set has been released at a tournament event on September 28 and 29. This new set, Throne of Eldraine, is bringing an entirely new setting with (mostly) entirely new characters, along with some brand new mechanics.

Looking at the game from a lore perspective, Throne of Eldraine is huge. War of the Spark saw the defeat of the game’s biggest villain, and the protagonists go their own ways. The story was concluded. This next set brings fans a brand new world, rather than revisiting any old ones. Along with a brand new world, is a brand new cast. Only one character has appeared in previous stories, and he seems to be shaping up to be the new villain: Garruk, a cursed hunter whose prey is not animals, but people. Protagonists Will and Rowan, royal siblings, have appeared before on their own cards but not in any written stories. Their story promises to be a riveting one, as they find themselves hunted by Garruk. Garruk has some interesting ties to older characters as well, so it will be quite fun if any of said older characters make appearances in this new story.

Throne of Eldraine is a bit less exciting from a gameplay point. Several formats aren’t getting much gain out of the new cards. Legacy players are being met with a letdown after getting several nice cards from recent sets, as Throne of Eldraine doesn’t seem to be keeping up that trend. Standard players, on the other hand, need to brace for impact. With a pool of options restricted to only the most recent sets, a lack of certain types of land cards — which produce the resource, called mana, needed to cast any other cards — in Throne of Eldraine is going to create a suddenly tight mana base. Deck variety is going to become restricted. On the positive side, however, the set is introducing plenty of cards that will do very well in Standard use. The new mechanics of the set follow the same kind of pattern of negatives and positives. The Adamant mechanic isn’t going to be a very powerful one at a first look, but might find its use among the standard format. The Adventure mechanic essentially creates two different cards combined in one, and will be prized for card advantage along with being balanced incredibly well.

Whether examining Throne of Eldraine from a gameplay or a lore perspective, it’s a very important new part of a very important game. Magic fans should expect great new aspects of both parts of the game.