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It’s one of the biggest card games in the world, consistently producing new card sets for almost 30 years – and no, it’s not Pokèmon.
Magic: The Gathering has been a trading card and tabletop icon since 1993, with a recent resurgence of new players thanks to a new video game.
9News sat down with Max McCall, the principal product designer for Wizards of the Coast, to talk about how Magic: The Gathering has grown over the past nearly three decades and to learn all about the latest set – Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.
“From a lore perspective, we think there’s a few things longer-term fans will enjoy, as well as lots of fun stuff for new players too who aren’t as familiar,” Mr McCall said.
“There are some awesome returning characters and new ones too, who set up some cool things for what’s to come next.
“I encourage anyone who’s interested in Magic’s story to read the five-part series for Kamigawa on our website. It’s an awesome read.”
The Neon Dynasty is set 1200 years in the future from the original Kamigawa series, first seen in 2004 with Champions of Kamigawa.
Mr McCall said designing a new card set is a lengthy process, with the Wizard of the Coast team creating sets years in advance.
“It involves a whole host of talented people. There were so many things we wanted to get right for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty; from the world design to the card mechanics, and then also ensuring that the whole thing was realised in a way that was respectful of Japanese culture,” he said.
Taking inspiration from traditional Japanese iconography, Neon Dynasty features 10 Ukiyo-e lands, a type of Japanese art first seen in the 17th century.
These cards are a standout for me; in fact, the artwork on all of the new Kamigawa cards are a sight to see.
There’s something quite nostalgic about buying a fresh packet of trading cards and opening them to see what’s inside.
These days it’s more than just a hobby, collectors are making big bucks from the right cards.
The record amount for a Magic: The Gathering card was set last year, with the sale of the Black Lotus from the original 1993 set.
This one card, in particular, was signed by the artist and fetched around $700,000.
Wizards of the Coast are now behind an increasingly popular video game version of Magic: The Gathering called Magic Arena.
Magic Arena has played a big part in the resurgence of Magic the Gathering players and collectors, Mr McCall told 9News.
“When we released MTG Arena on mobile last year, it gave players the ability to play Magic anywhere, anytime.
“We certainly think that drove interest in the tabletop version, too.
“As for the game itself, I think we’re getting better at appealing to a wider variety of player types with all our different product offerings.
“I think especially with people coming out of local lockdowns and quarantines with COVID, people are craving more social time with their friends when they can, and Commander really facilitates a group of people coming together to enjoy some quality time together.”
For me, Arena was a great way to learn how to play.
There’s no extra cost if you’re just wanting to have a go, the game is free-to-play.
As a new player to the game, taking on Arena’s colour challenges was a great way to work out which cards are more suitable for your playstyle.
I recently played part in a mini-tournament to test out the new card sets, it’s safe to say I need a lot more practice before committing to the real thing.
Magic Arena first launched on PC in 2018, coming to iPhone and Android users in March last year.
The latest Magic: The Gathering set, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, is out now.
Another new set titled Streets of New Capenna is scheduled for release at the end of April.