Ixalan – is it MTG Jumping the Shark?


This is an article that may seem out of place on a website initially meant as an episodic journal of my failings as an amateur game designer—especially since I’ve been in ghost-mode for the past six months, and after a series of failed promises and half-hearted attempts at revitalization, my plan is pretty much just to blog now whenever I feel like I have something I really want to talk to the world about—but I think this article has it’s place in a journal on game design nonetheless.

I promise, no other sentence in this post will be that long.

A high resolution image of the newest Standard set for Magic the Gathering was spoiled well ahead of spoiler season leaving many excited, upset, confused, or downright ambivalent. Personally, I was excited because my wife does a fair bit in selling the Magic cards our family seems to collect. So, getting a head start on what’s coming helps her to know what might be worth holding onto and what’s worth punting now.

I was excited, I think I mentioned that, “was excited.” I suppose I forgot to add some kind of marker of emphasis on that word was, but it’s there, in tone if not in markup. Elated might even had been a better term at one point. I love spoiler season, and to have it three months ahead of time. This was going to be like getting to open my Christmas presents on Halloween. Yes, I realize that’s less than three months but there are no good holidays in September and I love Halloween. It turned out I was more right than I expected. I got much more than I expected, mostly it was a let down, and there is entirely too much Red and Green going on here.

Pirates and Dinosaurs in an Aztec world. Yes, Ixalan’s new theme is old news by now, but I still can’t stop thinking about how bad it actually is. I mean, it’s bad right? It’s not just me? Or is it? Am I the only one with the soul crushing spirit of Ebanezer Scrooge or this guy?

©Deep-Fried-Flinch @ deviantart.com

Looking back at the success of HeroScape, which ironically was redesigned and reskinned as Magic: The Board Game and flopped miserably, and we see a huge success with a sizeable cult following. People loved that world of mixed up times. I know it will be a delight for our friends who believe that dinosaurs and people once roamed the earth together.

Which brings me to my first question. Is this the Magic team trying to pander to Creationists? While a world of magic and demons and such things is generally frowned upon in the world of the religious right, I can’t help but think the thing more palatable if  Wizards of the Coast finally came out with a set recognizing the truth. Jack Sparrow road a Stegosaurus.

If not, is it that they’re out of ideas? Did they just put index cards on a board and throw darts? Are they using a random world generator?

World building is so important to game design, I just think this world is a mish-mash of disparate things and I can’t help but think it will hurt the mythos of the game. It’s probably just me though.


2 thoughts on “Ixalan – is it MTG Jumping the Shark?

  1. Hi Gary! So nice to hear from/read you 🙂 Never been an MTG player, so can’t really comment on your blog. But wanted to say hi!

    Liked by 1 person

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