Not in the Store – January 2022 The 2020’s certainly have been a mixed bag for many of us. Regardless of our opinions on the matter, Covid has reshaped a great many things in our society, and I don’t think that we have seen the end of it. 2021 was proof of that. 2022 has only just begun, and we are still seeing changes, and the world of Magic: The Gathering is no exception. Most likely supply chain issues will be one of the major topics of the year, and I expect that to impact your LGS (local game store), in some cases severely. But, we will keep working through it together. To start off this year, I thought I would try and predict some of the things coming to Magic throughout the year. I will try to keep to the timeline that WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) has plotted out, which has already seen it’s first delay with Unfinity getting pushed back to the second half of the year. Then I will throw some wildcard predictions in at the end. Kamigawa: Neon Dyansty (Prerelease February 11th, Release February 18th) This set has already had some spoilers and some leaks, and there is enough information for us to predict a lot of this set. We are getting ninjas, samurai and dragons. The original Kamigawa block also had spirits, and with all of the spirit tribal that we have seen over the past year there is a good chance we will see more with this set. Some leaks also suggest that we will see mono-colored legendary lands. It’s hard to throw too many predictions at this set now, since we know enough about it and the official spoiler season starts Thursday (Jan 27th). But, I have been predicting additional non-standard legal cards in this set, for a while now. I am sticking to that. I expect something along the lines of last year’s Strixhaven Mystical Archives. There are some pretty powerful cards from the original Kamigawa block, that have either not seen a reprint yet, or have been reprinted very few times. Things like Sensei’s Divining Top, the original legendary lands from that block, the dragons from that block, along with some of the ninja and samurai. Those cards are either too powerful for standard, or don’t fit with the futuristic theme from Neon Dynasty. Remembering that this set takes place 1200 years after the original Kamigawa block, meaning most of the characters from the original block should be long gone. The best way to reprint them would be something similar to the Mystical Archives. Plus, many of these cards are long overdue for a reprint, especially for the eternal formats that they thrive in, and they don’t seem like a good fit for Commander Legends 2. I will be mentioning this throughout the rest of this blog, remember that this is Magic’s 30th anniversary. I expect lots of reprints and a go big attitude for everything that’s dropped this year. Streets of New Capenna (2nd Quarter 2022 – possibly May 6) Less is known about this set, but the internet still has us covered with a bunch of information. What we know: New Capenna takes place on an unnamed plane, in a city created by angels but now run by demon crime families. Elspeth and Ob Nixilis are the expected planeswalkers There will be 5 crime families representing a different set of 3 colors, most likely the shards from Alara. Bant (Blue, Green, White), Esper (Blue, Black, White), Grixis (Blue, Black, Red), Jund (Black, Red, Green), and Naya (Red, Green, White). The easy predictions are that the third planeswalker will be new, since WOTC has pretty much been trying to stick to that pattern as of late. The shard colors seem like a sure thing, since WOTC hasn’t done as much with them since Alara. This is reinforced by the idea that the shard colors will complete the Triome (even if they get called somethine else) cycle. Also, this is expected to be the set where we get the annual commander decks, meaning there will probably be 5 decks coinciding with the 5 shard/triome colors, just like Ikoria. Most likely these will represent the crime families and whatever mechanics go along with them. Angel and Demon Tribal will probably get a lot of support out of this set. Also, if Elspeth is for sure in the set expect support for soldier tribal. There is a chance that both Elspeth and Ob Nixilis will get multi-color cards with this set, which would be interesting since both have always been mono-colored. The harder prediction I have for this set is that I anticipate better commander decks. I think with the anniversary, and the push for WOTC to make bigger sales, I believe these commander decks could have some big cards in them. Esper and Grixis have historically been control heavy decks, and seeing some heavy counter spells and maybe Cyclonic Rift in one of those decks would not surprise me. Commander Legends (2): Battle for Baldur’s Gate (2nd Quarter) Commander Legends was a phenomenal set, that I genuinely believe delivered on the hype for a booster pack set based around commander. It was fun to open, and I think it would have been a big hit for drafts had it not been for Covid. It was also a huge success for WOTC, which of course means we need a sequel right? Commander Legends gave us some great reprints and some awesome new cards to build commander decks around. So, with that success and with the great playability of the set why not mix that with a hugely underperforming set like ADV (Dungeon and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms)? Seems like a can’t miss right? Ugh. I don’t want to bash on this set. Yet. I really don’t. ADV had a lot of flavor, and seeing a bunch of the great characters from D&D on Magic cards was a lot of fun. But, the power level of the set and the mechanics left a lot to be desired. D&D players loved to collect the cards, but Magic players were underwhelmed by the set. So, let’s dive into the predictions. We will get reprints. Probably some good ones. Maybe even a really big one (I’ll circle back to this later). We will get some new, powerful cards but I don’t think we will get another Jeweled Lotus. Don’t get me wrong, Jeweled Lotus might be in the set, but I don’t think we will get another new card with that power level. WOTC seems hellbent on crossing over with other properties to cross-promote. So, the anticipation here will be that they will expand upon the mechanics and flavor of ADV. More Dungeon mechanic cards (bad idea!). More dice rolling cards (fun idea). Cross-promotional D&D books to coincide with this set. I am struggling with how WOTC will add some much-needed reprints to this set and still stay on-theme. Dominaria United (3rd Quarter – Probably September) Nothing much to report on this one yet, so it’s all predictions. It sounds like this going to be the anniversary set for Magic, and I expect big and flashy with a bunch of returning faces (possibly breaking the normal 3 planeswalkers per set standard). Teferi. Some really broken cards. We have been on a short run of lower powered sets from Magic this past year, and I fully expect this set to ramp things back up. Dominaria was one of the best-selling sets for WOTC, and I think they will want to top that. I am predicting early spoilers for this set, to get everyone excited. I am not expecting a lot of big reprints for this set. I think we will get new cards with old characters. Most of the reprints will be based around the commons and uncommons. I think that WOTC is banking on this set be a full return to in-store play, and will focus on the sealed/draft events. Which will mean that the set will see a lot of limited-play-focused cards. Double Masters (2) 2022 (3rd Quarter) We know that this will be another reprint set showcasing some of the greatest of all Magic cards. The first Double Masters was probably the most successful masters set WOTC has put out, and the sequel will probably be bigger and better. Maybe. There are plenty of predictions on the internet that this set might be a duplication of the last one, with all of the same big reprints. I hope not. There are a lot of long overdue reprints that we need in the game, to keep the prices down and make it still playable. I am expecting some of the cards from the first Double Masters to get another reprint in this set. Mana Crypt and Force of Will could easily get another reprint, especially since WOTC would like to put out some Force of Wills with new art to distance themselves from the Terese Nielsen scandal. We need a reprint of the allied fetch lands (Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, Wooded Foothills, Bloodstained Mire, and Flooded Strand). Kahns of Tarkir came out in 2014, and we haven’t seen the allied fetches since, meaning we are 8 years from the last printing. I expect them to show up in Double Masters 2022. Liliana of the Veil. Just because most people want her, and WOTC like to print her in big sets. Phyrexian Altar, Mana Vault, Cavern of Souls. Heck, expect a bunch of the cards from Ultimate Masters. I think we will see some Portal reprints in this set. Not all of the Portal reprints that we need, but I think we will get some. I am actually thinking we might see the tutors from Portal get their first reprints in this set. WOTC wants big numbers from this set, so I anticipate big cards. The Brothers War (4th Quarter) This is the set I am most nervous about for this year. I anticipate an artifact heavy theme with this deck. In Standard. That never goes wrong, right? Kaladesh. Mirrodin. Darksteel. Fifth Dawn. Nope Never. Urza and Mishra is what The Brothers War is based on, and while I am excited by the idea of the lore behind it, the idea of an artifact heavy standard set makes me cringe. Historically it has proven to be bad for the format. Here’s hoping WOTC has learned their lessons. For eternal formats, this could be a big boost. We could be looking at some great new artifacts to compliment any commander deck. I am expecting some artifact lands, and some old-school style artifacts ala Antiquities. I also expect this set to break standard, and for cards to get banned from this set. Jumpstart 2022 (4th Quarter) Jumpstart was a big surprise. This is another set that some online are predicting will be a duplication of the first set. I think we will see new cards. Much of the appeal of the first set was the chase cards. If WOTC wants to continue with big sales, it will hit us with a new batch of cards that we can only get if we buy pack of this set. And, just like the last set, I anticipate a bunch of tribal friendly cards. Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40k (4th Quarter) Dumpster Fire That’s it. That’s all I got for this set. At least for now. Unfinity (2nd half of 2022 – Delayed from April 1) This set was originally scheduled for April 1, but was the first product of the year to succumb to the new dreaded catch phrase “supply-chain issues”. I don’t believe it will be the last, despite the assurance from WOTC. I am predicting this set to have a bigger impact on eternal formats, than Commander Legends 2. Too many commander players would love to use Un-cards in their commander decks, and this is the set that will start allowing some of that to happen. This has the potential to add the casual back into commander. Or break it. Or both. The idea that un cards will get legal play in eternal formats could be huge. And, I am actually excited for this set. Now for the overall predictions for the year. Gonna Happen: There will be delays. This is unavoidable. Sit back and be patient. I genuinely prefer delays to the debacle of Crimson Vow where we only got some of the product and had to wait for the rest to trickle in. Please WOTC, if it isn’t ready just delay it until it is. Product fatigue. WOTC just came off a record-breaking sales year, and just like every megacorporation wannabe they will try to go bigger this year. Add into the mix that it’s their 30th anniversary, and we can expect an abundance of other products to show up through out the year. My biggest suggestion is to avoid the hype and the FOMO, and be selective about the products you want. Otherwise, we might see a lot of Magic burnout this year. Banned Card. Power creep has turned into power leap. WOTC insists on printing more and more powerful cards. In their defense, it works for them. We buy them, then ask for more powerful cards. This also leads to more banned cards. I anticipate the number of banned cards this year to exceed last year’s total. Probably Happen: Phyrexians. With Nicol Bolas gone, WOTC is pushing for these guys to be the big bad. I expect to see them pop up in at least 1 set each year to keep pushing that storyline forward. This can be good for a bunch of players, because that probably means new iterations of popular characters like Atraxa and Elesh Norn. Big Reprints. When you look at the history of Magic, there are a lot of cards that have had either very few reprints or none at all. Some of them make no sense, and I think some of those will get corrected this year. I predicted Imperial Seal would be reprinted last year. I was wrong, but I am rolling that prediction over to this year. I think it’s going to happen somehow, someway this year, even if it’s a Secret Lair version. I think it will be in a set. Most likely Commander Legends or Double Masters. Sales will be stellar for either set if it is, and that’s what WOTC is looking at. I also anticipate some of the other Portal cards to see a reprint this year, although those could easily be a Secret Lair set. More Print-On-Demand from WOTC and Secret Lair. WOTC recently announced the printing of basic lands revolving around astrology. These cards are going to be available for print all year, moving past the limited time ordering of previous Secret Lair cards. This is just another step towards Print-On-Demand for WOTC, and I expect to see more of this in the future. Ultimately, I believe the end-goal for all of this is for players to just go the WOTC website and order every single they want and have them printed and delivered. This process may be a few years from being practical, but I do believe it is on the way. Might Happen: Unbanned cards. This one is tough. However, there are some cards that I believe no longer need to be banned since we either have answers for them now, or the meta has moved in a direction that these cards are no longer as powerful in. Worldfire getting unbanned in commander last year was proof that it can be done, especially since the card had little or no impact on the format after it was unbanned. Splintertwin has a huge unban following on the internet. I also still think that Golos was banned for the wrong reasons. Secret Lair Reserved List Cards. This is a long shot. However, I still believe that WOTC has every intention of one day moving away from the reserved list. There is simply too much potential money sitting there for them. I think it will start with something small, and when there is no objection… BOOM dual lands and Power 9. A Return to Magic as Just a Game. WOTC might have learned from all of their past mistakes. They could decide to forgo all of the flash and shiny and collectability, moving towards a game experience that is more fun and designed around just the players. They could realize that commander was designed to be casual and that it was made by players for players, and not for WOTC to profit off of. They could balance Standard and make it fun and inviting for all players, new and old. WOTC could decide that power creep is ruining the game and focus on balance and playability. Collector’s packs and set boosters could go away so that draft is a primary aspect of the game, again. Foils could be rare again. I could win the powerball jackpot and retire this year. Yeah. That won’t happen. In conclusion, I am gonna be right about some of this, wrong about a bunch of it, and close on a few things. My predictions are my own, any mistakes in this article are mine alone and I apologies for them, and next year if all goes well, I will try to write another one of these and maybe compare to see what I got right and wrong. Sounds like fun. Thanks for reading.
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