Strixhaven Takes Magic: The Gathering Players Back to School April 23
Not your typical magic academy
Chris De Hoog |
Mar 25, 2021
Wizards of the Coast have pulled back the veil on Strixhaven, the upcoming academy-themed set for Magic: The Gathering, with an “orientation tour” and a first look at new mechanics.
As revealed in a Twitch stream today, Strixhaven is the top university in the Magic: The Gathering universe, situated on the new plane of Arcavios. Founded by five dragons hundreds of years ago, being accepted to study at this famous institution is one of the highest honours a budding mage can earn.
In a similar manner to the popular sets based on the plane of Ravnica, Strixhaven focuses on factions based on two-colour “enemy” combinations—but in this case, the factions are the five colleges that make up the university:
Lorehold: the red/white college of archaeomancy, home to diligent researchers, scholars, and adventurers
Prismari: the blue/red college of elemental arts, where mages learn to express their minds and emotions with magic creations—compared to the “art club” of the academy
Quandrix: the blue/green college of numerology, where math magicians study patterns, fractals, and geometries to understand “the numbers underneath reality”
Silverquill: the black/white college of eloquence, where students weave magic into poetry and oration
Witherbloom: the black/green college of essence studies, the “goth bio majors” or pre-med students, who enhance or exploit nature
Each faction has meticulously designed by Magic: The Gathering‘s art team to give them distinct personalities and flavour, with their college symbol adorning their signature cards. The dragons who founded them are represented in this set as mythic rare cards. Art director Taylor Ingvarsson mentioned that the creative team wanted to create an awe-inspiring environment that would be welcoming for all people.
A comparison to Harry Potter is almost inevitable, given the different colleges named for their legendary founders. There’s even an official school sport, Mage Tower, where teams compete in a game of capture-the-flag with the opposing team’s mascot and non-lethal magic is fair play, almost like Quidditch. However the flavour feels very much like Magic: The Gathering, and it’s hard for any “magic academy” story not to feel somewhat inspired by popular franchise at this point.
Strixhaven is also home to the Biblioplex, a grand repository that is said to hold every single spell in the Multiverse—and it will be represented in-game with Mystical Archive cards, new printings of 63 of the game’s most recognizable instant and sorcery cards. In total there are 18 uncommons, 20 rares, and 15 mythic rares in this list; every Set and Draft Booster has at least one, while each Collector Booster pack will contain at least three. There are also Japanese-exclusive variants of all 63 Mystical Archive cards.
Meanwhile modal dual-faced cards and foil-etched cards make their return, to whet collectors’ appetites. In fact, this set may be highly sought after by devotees of the Commander play mode, like stream host Jimmy Wong, as variant cards abound. The cards for Planeswalkers and the dragons who founded the colleges come in standard and alternate, borderless art variants, for example.
There are at least a couple familiar faces in Strixhaven. Twin planeswalkers Rowan and Will from Eldraine appear as a modal dual-faced card, dubbed the “Scholar of Sparks” and “Scholar of Frost” respectively. The twins were sent to the academy by Kasmina, who also reappears—as does Lukka. Liliana Vess is present as well, apparently disguising herself as “Professor Onyx.”
In terms of mechanics, the new keyword Magecraft will allow players to reap benefits each time they cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell—for instance, Quandrix Apprentice lets players search their deck for a land card. The Learn keyword, when triggered, lets a player either discard one card and draw another, or play a Lesson card—a new subtype for instants and sorceries—from outside of their deck. Meanwhile creatures with the keyword Ward will automatically counter opponents spells when targeted, unless that opponent pays the requisite mana.
Strixhaven will hit Magic: The Gathering Online and Magic Arena first on April 15, followed by prerelease events from April 16-18, and the full tabletop release on April 23. The set will be available in Theme, Set, Draft, and Collector Boosters, with five preconstructed Commander decks hitting shelves as well. Players who wish to order in bulk may want to contact their local game store to preorder Set, Collector, or Draft Booster Boxes and receive a Buy-A-Box promo card. Magic Arena also has preorder bundles available now.
Speaking of Magic Arena, the successful digital version of the game has officially launched on iOS and Android today, and is crossplay-compatible with the desktop version.