Challenger decks, a mobile game, and the Mythic Invitational coverage team. It was a busy week in the world of Magic so let’s break down what happened.

Magic Story Newsletter

In the run-up to the release of the War of the Spark novel by Greg Weisman, Del Ray Books is offering a Magic: The Gathering newsletter. You can sign up here to receive 20 prequel stories that lead up to the story in War of the Spark, written by Django Wexler. Del Ray is running a secondary promotion as well, where if you preorder the novel and share your receipt here by April 23rd, you will get a novel signed by the author, Greg Weisman, and cover artist Magali Villenueve.

New Challenger Decks

The Challenger deck product line was designed to provide players a way to buy a prepackaged deck that could compete at Friday Night Magic level events. The first iteration, released for Kaladesh-Amonkhet era Standard was a resounding success. Therefore it should not be a surprise that a second series is coming soon.

The decks this time around are:

  • United Assault: A mono-white aggressive deck similar to the one that performed well at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica.
  • Lightning Aggro: A mono-red beatdown deck that bears a striking resemblance to the popular Experimental Frenzy decks running around current Standard.
  • Deadly Discovery: A take on Golgari Midrange. Good ol’ Rock—nothing beats Rock.
  • Arcane Tempo: Not quite Izzet Drakes, not quite Izzet Phoenix, but packing a punch nonetheless.

These decks will be available starting April 12th and will have an MSRP of $29.99. The Challenger decks will be available in English around the world, and be sold in Japanese in Japan.

The London Mulligan Comes to Magic Online

The London Mulligan will be coming to Magic Online from April 10th to May 1st as part of a test of the new rule. The London Mulligan, which will make its paper debut at Mythic Championship II in London, is as follows: When a player takes a mulligan, they draw a new hand of seven cards. Then, for each mulligan they have taken that game they put a card from their hand on the bottom of their library. So if a player takes N mulligans, they draw seven cards but then put N cards on the bottom.

The results of the Magic Online test will be taken into account when determining whether or not to implement the rule moving forward. The London Mulligan is being tested as a replacement to the Vancouver Mulligan, where each new hand is one card fewer than the last, but the player can scry one after settling on a starting hand. While the Mythic Championship in London will feature Modern Constructed, the Magic Online test will encompass all formats, including Vintage and Legacy.

Magic: The Gathering Arena Update

The next Arena update is going to make the game look a little different. This time around, new card styles are being implemented. Certain cards in game will receive a borderless three-dimensional “parallax” treatment. These styles can be unlocked either via purchasing them or through in-game rewards. A new card style applies to all illustrations of a card, so all copies of Luminous Bonds, regardless of their expansion symbol, can get special art, but not the Dominaria and Ixalan versions of Opt.

The next update will also come with various card “sleeves.” These sleeves will replace the card back during the duel scene. Some of these resemble the current guild sleeves available. Others take advantage of the digital nature of Arena and include animation and special treatments. Sleeves will also be available for purchase, although some will be part of in-game rewards as well.

Finally, the update will include an overhaul of the new player progression, add a practice match system, and provide additional player avatars that can be purchased from the Arena store.

Competitive Play Staff Updates

On Thursday, March 21st, we met two of the people in charge of competitive play. Ben Drago will be heading up tabletop competitive gaming. Drago was a level 3 judge before going to work for the Upper Deck TCG brand and comes to Magic after working as a product manager on Blizzard’s Hearthstone. Bear Schmiedicker will be leading digital competitive gaming. Schmiedicker spent eight years with Riot Games and was the lead on the League Championship Series there.

The digital side of Magic also got a new website: MTGEsports. The website appears to be a hub not only for competitive play, but the Magic Pro League as well.

Mythic Invitational Coverage Team

Speaking of competitive gaming, the broadcast team for the Mythic Invitational at PAX East was announced. There are some familiar faces, including Marshal Sutcliffe and Paul Cheon, as well as Brian Kibler and David Williams. The team also will feature Sean “Day 9” Plott, Becca Scott, and AliasV. According to Hipsters of the Coast, the team will also include Elle Osili-Wood.

Valor’s Reach Coming to Mobile

Soon you will be able to play Magic on your phone, but it won’t be Arena. Instead a new free-to-play game, Valor’s Reach, is coming to a device near you. The game will put planeswalkers at the center of the action, with each one having a unique suite of spells and abilities. New cards can be acquired through quests or by purchasing packs.

Valor’s Reach is being developed by Seismic Studios, the team behind Marvel Strike Force. The game will have a soft launch on Android in the Nordic region starting March 25th. Additional Android soft launches are planned, but no dates were released.

Grand Prix Kyoto

As if that was not enough, there was a MagicFest last weekend in Kyoto, Japan. The associated Grand Prix put Standard in the spotlight. The Top 8 was a star-studded affair with Magic Pro League member and Hall of Famer Yuuya Wantanabe headlining the elimination rounds with Teruya Kakumae, Petr Sochurek, and Kenta Harane also making the final stage. Yuuya made it all the way to the finals with his Sultai Midrange deck. There he fell to Daekyeung Bae and his Gruul Warriors.

Gruul Warriors

Daekyeung Bae

2 Gruul Guildgate
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
4 Unclaimed Territory
1 Forest
9 Mountain
3 Dire Fleet Daredevil
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Growth-Chamber Guardian
4 Gruul Spellbreaker
4 Kraul Harpooner
4 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Skarrgan Hellkite
2 Collision/Colossus
2 Lava Coil
4 Lightning Strike
2 Shock

Sideboard
4 Cindervines
1 Domri, Chaos Bringer
2 Lava Coil
2 Legion Warboss
2 Shivan Fire
2 Status/Statue
2 Vivien Reid

Looking Forward

The Mythic Invitational is at our doorstep. The 64-player tournament starts on Thursday with group play. The winner will walk away with $250,000, a quarter of the total prize purse. The Magic Pro League will square off against the other invitees, as well as the Arena challengers. And by next week we will have another champion crowned.