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The latest source of Magic spoilers is unusual. Someone claimed to have been part of a consumer survey run by a large retailer in the US. He was asked to rate a number of forthcoming products in the store, including these Magic: the Gathering packs:
This has set off a frenzy of speculation, some nuanced, others rather uninformed.
What should be clear is this: these are genuine set names, and genuine art. Wizards works far enough ahead that these will already have been finalised. If the stores being surveyed came back negative on the packaging Wizards might offer up new art (as this is already supplied) but not a new logo or new colours. It’s simply too late in the process to change. You’d better get used to Conquest of Power, as you’ll be opening those packs in January 2018. It will be the second set of the Atlazan block – another name you can rely on.
Many people seem not to understand the timelines of Wizards of the Coast and how far ahead they typically work. Artists will have submitted art a year or more before a set hits the streets (as seen by these images) and the art has already been approved before being submitted.
We can be certain of the set names. There’s no need to speculate as to whether these and the art are ‘real’. They are.
What can be speculated on are what the images might mean for set contents. It is likely that Nicol Bolas will be in Hour of Devastation rather than Amonkhet. This is not certain, as the image of Bolas on the Hour of Devastation packs could be form a spell referencing him, but I would judge this more likely to be the image from a Bolas planeswalker card. Similarly we can see Ajani Goldmane will make an appearance in Conquest of Power.
Is that Vraska on the Atlazan packs? I would like to think so, but that too falls into the realm of speculation. I mean, it looks like her but we have fewer images of Vraska than we have of, for example, Ajani Goldmane, so I’d put that down as a probably, not a definitely.
Assuming it is Vraska, another point of speculation becomes the Amonkhet images. The others follow a pattern of one pack showing a planeswalker, one pack with another character. Is there a new planeswalker featured on one of those Amonkhet packs? Certinaly we have been introduced to native planeswalkers in the last two blocks, with Saheeli Rai and Arlinn Kord.
In the history of Magic spoilers I have not seen one quite like this before. As an early peek at the style and characters of upcoming sets, it has been most insightful.