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News Brief: Heroes of Dominaria, Creature Forge, Arena, Nationals, and GP Phoenix

Some weeks are busier than others in the world of Magic news. Last week, for better or worse, was relatively quiet.

Heroes of Dominaria and Creature Forge

On March 12 WizKids announced that they are producing two new Magic products. The first is Heroes of Dominaria. Described as a “Euro game”—a board game more in the vein of Settlers of Catan, as opposed to MonopolyHeroes of Dominaria is for 2-4 players as they vie for resources in an effort to explore the plane of Dominaria and fight against the reborn Cabal. Heroes of Dominaria will visit areas such as Llanowar and Urborg.

The board game will come in two versions: Standard and Premium. Both versions will feature the game pieces necessary to play the game. The premium bundle, however, will come with four painted miniatures of some of Magic’s heroes. Both versions will release in August 2018.

Heroes of Dominaria is the second Magic board game to come to market in the past three years. Arena of the Planeswalkers, while not a Euro game, featured members of the Gatewatch and their signature spells. Using miniatures as well, the game revolved around planeswalkers casting spells and dueling with each other, as opposed to a resource management game.

Creature Forge: Overwhelming Swarm is another miniature product. There will be 28 different options, representing different creature tokens from the history of Magic. The base for each token miniature will feature the creature’s color identity. Creature Forge will be released in July 2018.

Arena NDA Ends

Magic: The Gathering – Arena is still in beta test and the new way to play Magic digitally is still some time away from being complete. But on March 22 the non-disclosure agreement will be lifted. Starting on the evening of March 22, participants in the closed beta will be able to create content based on the program. On March 22 Arena will go down for an update but when it comes back up not only will it have Amonkhet block. Players will be able to stream the game as well.

In order to facilitate the dropping of the NDA, Wizards has crafted a creators’ kit. This kit, available in the article linked above, is designed to foster a community of content creators. Starting in April, people will be able to apply to be part of a more formalized content community around Arena.

Nationals Update

 The National Championships are still several months away, but on March 15 we got a slew of updates about the tournaments. First and foremost, Honduras will be hosting a National Championship, bringing the number of these tournaments around the world to 74. Nationals will now scale with the size of the player pool. For tournaments 200 or fewer players, tournaments will be between six rounds and eight rounds of Swiss followed by a Top 8. If a Nationals has over 200 players, it will be 12 or 13 rounds followed by a Top 8. In 2018 there will also be Last Chance Trials for Nationals, with the number of such trials tied directly to the Planeswalker Point threshold for entry into the tournament.

Also included in the announcement was an update on the Pro Players Club. As the Pro circuit heads towards the “Spaghetti and Meatballs” cycle, the thresholds for the Milk cycle were set. They are:

  • Bronze: 10 Pro Points
  • Silver: 22 Pro Points
  • Gold: 37 Pro Points
  • Platinum: 52 Pro Points

The Milk cycle begins on March 25, 2019.

Grand Prix Phoenix

Modern got another chance in the limelight at Grand Prix Phoenix. Over 1,200 players on Day 1 meant around 250 on Day 2. The Top 8 featured eight distinct archetypes and notably only had four copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor split across two different decks. Jace’s partner in breaking free of the banned list—Bloodbraid Elf—did slightly better, with two decks running the full four copies. Despite worries of these cards coming to dominate the Modern format, for at least on Sunday evening in Phoenix, Jace was held in check.

The finals pitted Pierson Laughlin on Jund against Steve Locke on Humans. Laughlin made the finals by the skin of his teeth, flipping an Inquisition of Kozilek with his Dark Confidant while at a precarious 2 life to win his semifinal against Matt Nass on Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo. Locke also had a close semifinal, using the power of Aether Vial to defeat Vikram Kudva’s Knightfall. Locke was playing for his second Grand Prix victory this year and won the first game with an onslaught of Humans that swung for 13 in a single turn. Laughlin took game 2 in typical Jund fashion—by generating an overwhelming amount of value. Game 3 was a tense affair but Locke pressed his advantage and lowered Laughlin’s life total. With a Dark Confidant on the board and at 3 life, Laughlin revealed the top card only to see Bloodbraid Elf, cementing Locke’s second Grand Prix victory and following up his victory at his last Grand Prix in Minneapolis.

Humans

Steve Locke, 1st place at Grand Prix Phoenix

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