Magic: The Gathering had a lot of exciting moments this year, like the return to Kamigawa and the three-color theme in Streets of New Capenna. But it wasn’t all hits, which is what lead designer Mark Rosewater discussed in his latest State of Design article.
Something that Rosewater said was a "big miss" was Double Feature, the combined release of both Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow in a single draftable package. The main selling point of Double Feature–besides combining both recent Innistrad sets, of course–was the “silver screen” art style that reprinted these cards in black and white like a classic silent film.
However, fans weren’t impressed with Double Feature for several reasons. Fans weren’t particularly enamored with the black and white art, which was the same as the recent expansions but with a monochromatic filter. Other players were hoping for a more curated draft experience, but instead Double Feature really was just the two Innistrad sets in one booster. This meant that some cards that had appeared in both previous Innistrad sets, such as Evolving Wilds and Bramble Armor, were reprinted for a third time.
"Players believed Double Feature was unnecessary," wrote Rosewater. "They didn't like the black-and-white aesthetic, felt we misled the audience on what the contents were going to be, and were upset that it wasn't a crafted draft experience rather than just the two sets thrown together."
Rosewater admitted that part of the problem with Double Feature was in communicating its contents to other players, which led to more than a few opening boosters only to be disappointed by their contents.
Another miss was Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, which Rosewater said was better at being "Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in Forgotten Realms 2 than Commander Legends 2." The D&D-themed cards were well received, but the expected Commander reprints didn’t arrive until Double Masters 2022, which “irritated players.”
Still, its this kind of self-examination that keeps Magic improving. In a blog entry over the weekend, Rosewater promised 2023's first set will be Magic's "most ambitious" yet.
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