August 5th, 2018, will mark the 25th anniversary of Magic: The Gathering. First published in 1993 by the Renton-based company Wizards of the Coast, Magic is the first and the most successful collectible card game. It was a fad in the 1990s and spawned a horde of imitators, but still has millions of active players to this day. These range from the casual players who are hanging out at your local game store right now to the professionals on the Magic Pro Tour.
To celebrate the game’s imminent birthday, Wizards of the Coast is bringing the Magic universe back to its beginnings with its newest release, Dominaria, a standalone set and the card game’s 78th expansion. (Yeah. Seventy-eight. I feel old, too, right about now.)
Science fiction author Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, The Death of the Necromancer) is the lead writer on Dominaria, which is set shortly after the events of the 75th expansion, Hour of Devastation. In the multiverse of Magic, players and notable characters are “planeswalkers,” magic-users capable of traveling between worlds, and of bringing creatures and objects with them to serve as weapons and servants.
Dominaria was the setting for many of the early Magic sets’ stories, and is considered the Nexus of the Multiverse. The story of this expansion begins with the return of planeswalkers Gideon Jura and Liliana Vess to Dominaria, where they intend to find and kill a demon that holds a contract over Liliana. A short story by Wells, “Return to Dominaria,” is available to read right now on Wizards’s website.
Dominaria features the return of Magic creator Richard Garfield to its design team for the first time since 2011, and marks the introduction of what Wizards is calling the “Three-And-One Set” style of expansions: large sets in the fall, winter, and spring, with a new core set in the summer. This replaces the previous style, the “two-block model,” where expansions typically came out in pairs.
The developers detailed the game’s mechanics in a post today. A big new addition to Dominaria is the introduction of a new kind of enchantment card, called a Saga. Every turn a Saga is in play, it gains a lore counter, and a new chapter in the Saga becomes active when you acquire a matching number of lore counters. When the last effect occurs and the story’s over, the card leaves play.
There’s also a new descriptive term, “historic,” meant to indicate the long history behind Dominaria itself. Specifically labeled historic cards, as well as artifacts and legendaries, are considered historic, and can be affected by a specific class of abilities. Many cards in Dominaria will feature the “kicker” mechanic, where you can opt to pay more to play the card in exchange for boosted effects.
Dominaria‘s pre-release events are scheduled for April 21 and 22, with a full retail release on April 27. Players in Seattle should also clear their calendars in early April for Magic’s Grand Prix Seattle, their first double event of the year.