I took off the week of February 26 through March 2, but here’s what happened in the world of Magic.
First off, 25th Anniversary Masters was fully spoiled. The set draws upon some of the most iconic cards from the game’s history and includes at least one card from each of Magic’s black border sets (sorry Unglued, Unhinged, and Unstable). 25th Anniversary Masters will be released on March 16, 2018.
The weekend of March 2-4 showcased the 2017 Magic Online Championship. Players tested their mettle in Rivals of Ixalan-Rivals of Ixalan-Ixalan Draft as well as Modern featuring Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf. The Top 4 featured two former Magic Online Champions in Dmitry Butakov and Lars Dam, alongside Niklas Dahlquist and Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad champion Steve Rubin. The Top 4 was best 2-out-of-3 matches of Modern that saw Butakov on Bogles face off against Rubin on Jund in the finals. Rubin managed to win a match but Butakov won the set becoming the first ever two-time MOCS Champion!
Dmitry Butakov, 1st place in the Modern, 2017 Magic Online Championship
The Dominaria Leak
On March 8th a document that was later confirmed to be the Dominaria Frequently Asked Questions circulated around the internet. The level of detail all but assured that it was real and in an article from later that day, Blake Rasmussen, confirmed that it was indeed the actual FAQ. Rasmussen declared that yes, the document was released in error and provided links to the FAQ in multiple languages.
Much like the Ixalan leak, Wizards has decided to lean into the release of information. While the card image gallery will not go live until the official start of spoiler season, in order to showcase surprises in art and flavor text, Rasmussen also said that a “super-secret project” associated with the next set “involves a fun new way to play” and now they can discuss the project using known cards from Dominaria.
Update: This article from Aaron Forsythe, released on March 12, lets us know that Wizards will be taking its foot off the gas with regards to the Dominaria leak and the release of information. Instead, there will be a more traditional preview season starting on March 21.
So here is what we know about Dominaria. The set is centered around legendary cards. Cards with the legendary supertype will have a unique frame to help differentiate them from other cards. This new frame will not appear on legendary planeswalkers. New with Dominaria are legendary sorceries—powerful spells that can only be cast if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker. Each booster of Dominaria will feature a slot specifically for a legendary card.
Dominaria brings a new form of enchantment, known as Sagas. Cards with the subtype of Saga have three chapters. Sagas get a lore counter after entering the battlefield and after each draw step. These counters trigger the Saga’s chapter abilities. After the third chapter ability resolves, the Saga is sacrificed. Forsythe unveiled the enchantment – Saga card frame in his article. The text box shares the vertical space with the card art, with the rules text resembling a scroll.
There is a new marker for legendary cards, Sagas, and artifacts—historic. Cards in Dominaria trigger if a historic card is cast or when they leave play. The cards that are counted as historic are mentioned in reminder text.
Kicker and the enemy checklands (like Isolated Chapel) are both returning in Dominaria. With the allied checklands appearing in Ixalan, all ten of these dual lands will be in the same Standard environment. Llanowar Elves is also returning in this set, which gets a new template. Abilities that add mana to your mana pool now read: “Add [Color]” and the words mana pool have been removed. There are new planeswalker cards for Chandra (from the planeswalker deck), Teferi, Karn, and a first planeswalker card for Jaya Ballard. Cards with flavor text get a makeover with a line dividing rules text from flavor text.
Templating also becomes more inclusive with Dominaria. Moving forward, Magic uses the singular form of “they” as a third-person pronoun, replacing “he or she.”
There is a major rules change for planeswalkers coming with Dominaria. From here on out damage, will no longer be able to be redirected from players to planeswalkers they control. Instead, cards will now say whether they target creatures, players, planeswalkers, or all three. The text of “3 damage to any target” will encompass all three, a la Lightning Bolt. Lava Spike, for example, will read “3 damage to target creature or planeswalker.” Over 700 cards are going to receive errata in order to come into line with this rules update.
25th Anniversary Celebration Drafts
In case you haven’t heard, this year is Magic’s 25th anniversary. To celebrate, Wizards, in conjunction with ChannelFireball Events and Pastimes, will be hosting a series of Drafts of out-of-print sets. The headlining drafts? Beta Rochester drafts at Grand Prix Las Vegas and GenCon, and Unlimited Rochester drafts at Grand Prix Singapore, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, and Chiba. There will be qualifying tournaments leading up to the events, so keep your eyes peeled.
Great Designer Search 3
The third edition of the Great Designer Search has reached the Top 8. The last designer standing will win a six-month internship as a designer for Magic. The contestant profiles and submitted designs can be found in the above linked article. Unlike previous Great Designer Searches, the articles summarizing updates will not be synced with the challenges to ensure high quality, rather than rushing them out to meet the demands of a weekly article.
The Grand Prix Circuit
There were two team Grand Prix this past weeked. Madrid featured Team Trios and Santiago showcased Rivals of Ixalan-Ixalan Team Limited.
Grand Prix Madrid featured quite the finish. The race to the Top 4 came down to an unintentional draw in the final round that opened the door for the teams of Christoph Green, Ben Jones, and Charles Eliatamby and Adriano Moscato, Carmine D’Aniello, Alessandro Lippi. The Top 4 also included two teams with more recognizable names: Elias Watsfeldt, Joel Larsson, Per Nyström and Michael Bonde, Andreas Petersen, Thomas Enevoldsen. The finals set up Green, Jones, and Eliatamby against the team they thought ended their hopes of a Top 4 finish in Bonde, Peterson, and Enevoldsen. In the end it was the team of relatively unknown Brits that took down the tournament.
Christoph Green, 1st place in Standard at Grand Prix Madrid
Ben Jones, 1st place in Modern at Grand Prix Madrid
Charles Eliatamby, 1st place in Legacy at Grand Prix Madrid
Rounding out the weekend was the Team Limited Grand Prix in Santiago. With Dominaria right around the corner, Rivals of Ixalan-Ixalan Limited is poised to be the last multiset Limited environment for quite a while. The format’s victory lap in Santiago featured an absolutely stacked Top 4 with two Hall-of-Famers and four Pro Tour Champions.
The team of Luis Salvatto (Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan champion), Lucas Esper Berthoud (Pro Tour Aether Revolt champion), and Sebastian Pozzo took out Diego Roca Suárez, Marco Vargas, and Alejandro Van Mourik in the semifinals. They found themselves up against Wily Edel (Hall of Fame), Thiago Saporito, and Juliano Gennari Souza in the finals. Edel’s team got there by defeating a team of Guilherme Medeiros Merjam, Carlos Romão (2002 World Champion), and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (2 Pro Tour wins, Hall of Fame). At the end of the day it was the team with the most recent Pro Tour Champions—Salvatto, Pozzo, and Esper Berthoud—that emerged triumphant.