The latest installment in the world-renown collectible trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, will be released on June 14th, 2019.
Magic, a strategy game where players battle it out by casting spells, summoning monsters, and wielding sorcery, was the first of its kind by asking players to custom-build a deck of cards to play with out of their own collection. The particular assemblage of cards one chooses, then, becomes an extension of oneself, not just in how those decisions impact the game, but also in the personal history and relationship a player has to their cards.
To keep things fresh and interesting, Magic releases new batches of cards throughout the year in sets by the hundreds, with each one aiming to deliver something new and exciting to the game.
This one, entitled Modern Horizons, has its own unique angle:
“Magic sets are always about something,” explains co-lead designer, Ethan Fleischer. “Modern Horizons is a Magic set about Magic: The Gathering.”
And that makes it very interesting to me, an enormous fan and active player since the 90s.
Because I’ve fought vampires-versus-werewolves on the foggy fens of Innistrad, I’ve gone treasure hunting with pirates (and was eaten alive by dinosaurs) in the wild jungles of Ixalan, and I’ve even communed with all the gods of the pantheon of Theros, yet Modern Horizons threatens to take us somewhere even far more distant than that… into the very past itself.
There are more than twenty thousand cards to choose from in the Magic corpus today, and the goal of Modern Horizons is to take a sentimental look back over that vast and varied legacy in the form of some 250 cardboard snapshots. So ambitious is this project that it even comes with a special new rule to help it fit in better with the game as a whole.
One of the first powerful cards I ever got my hands on was Sliver Queen, the horrendous brood mother of a species of vicious creatures who can magically share their strengths and abilities across the whole hive. Once Mama starts pumping out babies, her hungry young spawn will quickly devour whatever’s conveniently at hand – in most cases, your unsuspecting enemies.
Harkening back to those days long past, Modern Horizons introduces us to The First Sliver, giving players like me a nostalgic prequel to the early games of my youth, while also providing a shameless excuse to rebuild that old Sliver deck and relive my former glory.
Almost every card in Modern Horizons was painstakingly crafted to be either a nod or homage paid to, a modification or variation on – or a continuation or amalgamation of – something or someone that came before. It is a massively elaborate love poem written in a language that’s equal parts visual art, literary prose, and game design.
In short, it looks to be a thing of wondrous beauty….
Now, I just hope it’s also fun to play.