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.

Notes

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.

Higher Powered Cube Possibilities

The shift to newer sets also opens up more immediate possibilities for building a high powered interplanar cube in a couple ways:

  1. With older sets presently “off the table,” I’m setting the stage for eventually feeling like they’re just generally shelf-bound, thereby freeing up their card pools for this more general cube project.
  2. As we go through the newer sets, I might even want to skim the best cards off the top, automatically seeding the high powered cube and making the play-and-giveaway sets harder for me to win due to their flatter power curve. It’s an interesting design challenge!

With this in mind, the high-powered cube could eventually supplant the cycle of older planes, either coming in after Lorwyn/Alara for a four-month rotation, or cutting them off entirely. I have a feeling the pace of my interest in a budget high-powered cube will outstrip my patience with this four-year deployment plan for all these planar cubes.

In fact, I’d guess that by the time Otaria rolls around, I’ll feel like we’ve had a chance to play most of the archetypes contained in the Archetype Collection (e.g., Morph in Tarkir, Madness in Innistrad, Cycling in Amonkhet, etc.), and I’d be more interested in exploring new archetypes or taking on a new level of play via the higher powered cube. Besides, I might have a better sense of how to condense some of these archetypes into the smaller confines of a single cube and/or which archetypes I enjoy the most and would want to revisit.

Formats

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.

[14]: “I will probably want to put this together someday, and it’ll likely cost ~$40 to do so with the cheapest cards. Despite complaints about board complexity, this block still intrigues me, but by this time, I imagine I might be viewing it the way I view Tinner’s Trail or some other obscure Martin Wallace title.”