To celebrate 25 years of Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast is launching Masters 25. The set features a reprinted card from every black-bordered set ever produced. Polygon spoke with the developers last week to learn more about the new set, and even solicited some answers to specific questions sent in by fans. We’ve also been given access to three exclusive cards to reveal in the feature story below.
Masters 25 was fully explained just last week by Gavin Verhey, a former professional Magic player and now a member of the research and development team at Wizards. That feature-length article is recommended reading for die-hard players, but if you’re returning to the game after some time away, like I am, here’s the gist of it: Masters 25 isn’t focused on one particular format like Modern or Commander. There’s a little something in there for everyone, which will make the set particularly fun to play in a draft format, where players sit around the table and open fresh packs together, taking turns building decks on the fly.
“To clarify the theme,” Verhey wrote in his post, “what you’re going to see in this set, precisely, is a theme of nostalgia and history. We picked many cards, especially at common and uncommon, that should conjure up memories. I know playing with some of these cards again simultaneously gave me flashbacks to sitting on my carpet at home casting unsleeved spells with my brother, building decks for my first Friday Night Magic events, all the way through competing on the Pro Tour. No matter how long you’ve been playing Magic, you’ll find cards to remember here.”
“We wanted to design a drafting experience that was more about choosing individual cards you like, and synergies between those cards, than overarching archetypes for each color combination,” Yoni Skolnik, lead developer of Masters 25, told Polygon via email. “The main keyword mechanics in this set, Morph and Cycling, can be found across multiple blocks in Magic’s history. So, no matter when you played Magic the most in the past 25 years, you’ll be familiar with the types of cards in the set.”
Where can you find Masters 25? Wizards told Polygon that cards will be available wherever Magic cards are sold, including at your friendly local game store and big-box retailers. Like previous Masters sets (such as Iconic Masters and Modern Masters 2017) there will be no land cards. Instead, you’ll find a foil version of one of the cards from the set in every pack.
Another thing you won’t find inside packs of Masters 25 is anything on the Reserved Cards list. That’s a laundry list of highly sought-after and/or game-breaking cards that Wizards has vowed not to publish ever again. The reserved list was last revised in 2016, and the design team told Polygon that they didn’t even consider refreshing it this time around.
However, some cards have been removed from the banned list, including a planeswalker card called Jace The Mind Sculptor, which will be reprinted as part of Masters 25.
More than anything, Masters 25 is designed as a supplemental set for existing players and collectors. If you are looking to get back into the hobby and starting from scratch you might be better served looking into the most recent set, Rivals of Ixalan.
“People choose to play Magic in so many different ways,” Skolnik said. “Masters 25 is primarily designed to be a fun and deep draft environment, containing many cards that see play in many different formats, like Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, and Pauper. Masters 25 is a toolset of cards that gives players the chance to draft memorable cards from the game’s history, have some fun Limited games, and then try them out in a lot of different formats. There are more than 20 different formats of play, and cards from this set complement nearly all of them in some way.”