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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > July 2019 (#32) > Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering

As the dust settles on War of the Spark’s game-changing finale, Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater looks back on the biggest year yet for the CCG – and tells us what’s next
Images courtesy of Wizards of the Coast

“The way I describe Magic is it’s a pendulum; a rock on a string over a sandpit. We just keep pushing it in different directions.”

Mark Rosewater is revealing the “secret sauce” behind Magic: The Gathering’s ability to feel continually fresh with each new set, more than 80 expansions in and ahead of the collectible card game’s 26th anniversary this summer.

“While it might be going back to normal in one aspect, we will make a different aspect,” he continues. “The trick is: something’s different, something’s cool, but then the other things are back to normal.”

2018 was a perfect example. In spring, Dominaria overhauled the way expansions were released for the game, reintroducing core sets in-between trios of sets designed to solve issues with the smaller two-block releases started in 2015. Over the summer, the game celebrated its 25th anniversary by bringing back fan-favourite cards from its entire history in Masters 25, before returning the game’s story to the plane of Ravnica in the autumn, the first time the world had been the focus of a set in six years.

Off the tabletop, digital app Arena launched into an open beta on PC, bringing Magic’s virtual offering up to speed with the analogue game by launching expansions alongside their physical counterparts.

Without letting go of the elements that have attracted 35 million players over the years (according to Magic maker Wizards of the Coast, at least), Rosewater and his team swung the game in new directions – the head designer says that, as a result, 2018 was the “best year we’ve ever had” for Magic.

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