Magic - The Distributed Planar Collection

For each plane, I’ve put together a small custom draft set that captures some highlights of the setting, usually drawing from multiple expansions. Then, I periodically host competitions at which we draft the set, and the winner gets to keep it!

New Planes (2014 to present)

Plane Sets Giveaway Date Winner
Theros Theros, Born of the Gods, Journey into Nyx June 2017 Brian
Tarkir Dragons of Tarkir, Fate Reforged August 2017
Zendikar Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch October 2017
Innistrad Shadows over Innistrad, Eldritch Moon January 2018
Kaladesh Kaladesh, Aether Revolt March 2018
Amonkhet Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation May 2018
Ixalan Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan July 2018
Dominaria Dominaria September 2018

Apart from the chore of reselling individual sets of Commons and Uncommons, I can essentially acquire these planes for “free.” None of the representative sets has a stellar reputation for drafting, so I wouldn’t have much of an issue giving them away almost immediately.

After this, I’ll have caught up with Magic’s own release schedule and will be doing giveaways as the next new set is released, roughly every four months (three if I include Core Sets for some reason). If I want to maintain the two month giveaway cycle, then I can start dipping into the next section.

Old Planes (Before 2009)

Plane Sets Giveaway Date Winner
Otaria Odyssey block, Onslaught block November 2018
Mirrodin Mirrodin block, Scars of Mirrodin block March 2019
Kamigawa Champions of Kamigawa July 2019
Ravnica Ravnica block, Return to Ravnica block November 2019
Old School Early sets, Ice Age block, Mirage, Visions March 2020
Weatherlight Saga Weatherlight through Apocalypse July 2020
Lorwyn Lorwyn block, Shadowmoor block November 2020
Alara Alara block March 2021

I have a harder time seeing myself willing to give these sets away without first playing them out. Champions of Kamigawa has an excellent reputation as a draft set, and Ravnica–even if diluted considerably by its sequel–seems like a keeper as well. Even though Otaria and Mirrodin lack the reputation of these other sets, their component sets have their fans, and my hope is that by combining two blocks, the sets are more interesting. Lorwyn loosely aligns with these redeeming qualities, as it’s basically two blocks in one (Lorwyn + Shadowmoor) and has rabid fans (as well as detractors) in various corners of the internet. Alara’s the main exception, but even here, I’d have to put in a considerable effort (much less cash outlay) to get this set going; here’s hoping they do a Return to Alara sometime, obviating the “need” for this. In any case, I anticipate I’d be willing to part with all of these sets after a sufficient number of plays. I think I just wait till I’ve got a more regular playgroup that’s able to play sets more than once, and then I can start rotating through these.


What About 2010 to 2013?

From 2010 through 2013, every plane either has been revisited (Zendikar, Innistrad) or was a revisit (Mirrodin, Ravnica). Thus, this period seems absent from the two groups depicted here.

Gestalt Shift - June 2017

I really like the updated emphasis on the new sets for a number of reasons.

  1. It takes pressure off updating the Archetype Collection, which I’d already poured a lot of work into and am planning on tweaking even more. It would be a shame to use these just once before giving them away.
  2. It keeps the top draft-sims off the table as giveaway options. I was already uncomfortable with the prospect of giving away such legendary sets as Innistrad, but after just one or two plays? No way!
  3. It makes use of my ploy to get free sets without locking me into keeping them, managing them, etc. Especially given the shallower nature of these sets, the one-off play-and-giveaway approach seems like the perfect fit.
  4. The elimination of blocks from Magic’s rotation schedule is perfect for this. Every three months, there will be a new large set released. Even if I skip the Core Sets, I’m still looking at hosting giveaways potentially every four months, which is half the supply for the current pace. (Grain of Salt: The “current pace” is based on just two giveaway events. Extrapolating this single data point ad infinitum is ridiculous, but I’m doing it anyway.)
  5. For the time being, I’m going with a two-month rotation period, focusing solely on catching up on the past three years of set releases. Based on Dragons of Tarkir (large set) and Fate Reforged (small set), there are just enough cards between a large set and a small set to put together interesting singleton cubes of the blocks. I basically cut sideboard cards and was able to set aside 15 solid cards for a future Budget Cube.
  6. A two-month rotation currently seems like a really good pace for my new, mostly digital approach to exploring sets. I spend a weekend or two putting the set together, can draft it via CubeTutor or another site for the next couple weeks, and then do round robin matches on Magarena for another couple weeks. Bake in a week for the giveaway event and a week’s break, and there’s your two months.


Cutting two colors from each set (one if it’s multicolor) does a good job of forcing players to explore deeper archetypes and make use of weaker cards, thereby simulating a typical 8-player booster draft. For each player count, we adjust the format so that everybody sees about the same number of cards each time while also ending up with ~45 cards from which to build a 40-card deck.

Players Cards Draft Format Play Format Notes
2 162 18-round Grid Draft One-on-one
3 225 3-pack Sealed + 12-round Grid Draft Free-for-all Sealed packs from Core + Multiplayer modules
4 225 1-pack Sealed + 5-pack Booster Draft Two-Headed Giant or Round Robin (1v1)
5 225 5-pack Booster Draft Star (without color restrictions)

In all cases, a pack consists of just nine cards, rather than the usual fifteen.