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The upcoming Shards of Alara set brings some changes to Magic's product and publishing lineup.

Changes as of Shards of Alara

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The letter B!eginning with the Shards of Alara set, which releases on October 3, 2008, Wizards of the Coast is making a number of changes to the Magic: The Gathering trading card game and publishing offerings. Below is a comprehensive list of the changes that are being made.

Trading Card Game Product Changes

Set Size

We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from fans that the volume of cards released each year is too high. After evaluating the set sizes, we have decided that card sets will be smaller than they have traditionally been. For example, the set size for the Shards of Alara block is as follows:

  • Shards of Alara: 249
  • "Paper" (codename): 145
  • "Scissors" (codename): 145

The set size of the core set to be released in July 2009 is still to be determined.

Rarity

In conjunction with the reduction of set sizes, Wizards will also be introducing a new level of rarity called mythic rare. The mythic rare cards will appear in approximately 1 out of every 8 booster packs instead of a rare. Here is the rarity breakdown for Shards of Alara:

  • Mythic rare – 15
  • Rare – 53
  • Uncommon – 60
  • Common – 101
  • Basic land – 20

For "Paper" and "Scissors," the rarity breakdown is as follows:

  • Mythic rare – 10
  • Rare – 35
  • Uncomon – 40
  • Common – 60

Premium foil versions of mythic rare cards will be distributed inside booster packs in the same manner as existing foils are. There will be a full parallel foil set available.

Booster Composition

We will also be replacing one common card in each booster pack with a basic land card. The expected composition of a booster pack will now be 1 rare, 3 uncommons, 10 commons, 1 basic land, and 1 tip card or token (with the mythic rare replacing the rare in approximately 1 out of every 8 packs).

New Product: Intro Pack

Along with the above changes, a new product will be introduced into the Magic lineup. The intro pack will be the best way for existing players to find out about the new set's mechanics and setting. It will also be the best tool for introducing new players into the game by allowing them to learn with the most current cards. Intro pack contents include:

  • 41-card preconstructed deck, which includes 1 premium foil rare and one non-premium rare
  • A booster pack of the current set
  • A set-specific insert explaining the new mechanics in the set and info on the preconstructed decks included in the intro packs
  • A learn-to-play insert for new players that includes game rules, deck building tips, and storyline information

There will be five different intro packs released with each set. A display box of intro packs will include one of each different intro pack for that set, for five packs total. Suggested retail price for the intro packs will be $12.29 USD, which is the same price as the currently available theme decks. As with theme decks, intro packs may not be available in all local languages and pricing may vary by market.

In order to avoid redundancy in products, when the intro packs release, the theme decks will be discontinued.

For a more in-depth look at the above product changes, please see Mark Rosewater's article here.

Publishing Changes

The Magic publishing line-up will also undergo some changes that we've outlined below according to season (northern hemisphere).

Fall: Planeswalker's Guide

The ultimate resource for planeswalkers in their travels throughout the multiverse. For an exclusive, insider's guide to Magic's newest fall expansion set, the Planeswalker's Guides offer lavish, full-color illustrations from concept art to final cards as well as an in-depth review of the showcased plane. Never before have planeswalkers been given such complete access to the world of Magic: The Gathering. The first of the Planeswalker's Guides will be A Planeswalker's Guide to Alara, releasing on September 2, 2008.

Winter: Planeswalker Novel

Early 2009 will mark the ascendance of a new age in the planeswalker mythology. Be there on the ground floor as we kick off this series with a bang, taking fans deeper than ever into the lives of the multiverse's most powerful beings: Jace Beleren, a powerful mind-mage whose choices now will determine his path as a spellcaster; Liliana Vess, a stunning beauty whose love of mischief belies a dark secret and even darker associations; and Tezzeret, leader of an interplanar consortium whose quest for knowledge may be undone by his lust for power.

Spring: Block Novel

In the spring, a full-length novel will focus on the currently featured plane of Magic's multiverse. This is where the story of each block of Magic's expansions is told. In spring 2009, Shards of Alara will be the featured block. Learn the fates of the five shards as their worlds are irrevocably changed by ancient, sinister forces of magic. This one novel will replace the current cycle of books that tells the story behind the TCG sets.

Summer: Planeswalker Novel

The planeswalker series continues to tell the interweaving stories of Magic's star characters. In summer 2009, read the novel that begins the story of Chandra Nalaar, the impulsive young fire mage. Even as Chandra explores the multiverse and the extent of her own volatile power, she is watched by prophets of an ancient faith who ascribe a greater meaning to her actions.

Fat Pack

Beginning with Shadowmoor, the fat packs began to undergo a redesign, including raising the booster pack count from six to eight. With Shards of Alara, the redesign will be complete, and to give Magic fans a taste of the new publishing line, each card set's fat pack will now include an excerpt of the most current publishing offering in lieu of the previously included set-based novel.

As with intro packs, publishing offerings and fat packs may not be available in all local languages.

For a more in-depth look at the above publishing changes, please see Doug Beyer's article.

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