Last week Wizards made a pretty significant announcement about announcements. Yes, that’s kind of meta. Sure, they also made a bunch of really interesting announcements including Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Bundle Packs, Planeswalker Packs, Commander 2016, Planechase Anthology, Nissa vs. Ob Nixilis, and the Conspiracy 2 Draft Pack. But these all deserve their own consideration and they’ll get it in due time. Today we’re going to talk about the announcement about announcements.
One announcement, eight products. What will henceforth be known as the 2016 Spring Announcement gave us the rundown of all the products coming out in the latter half of 2016 along with the Aether Revolt expansion releasing in January. So six months worth of products spanning July through January. Not too shabby of an announcement if you ask me. But the community was caught completely off-guard, many blindsided by the sudden change.
Traditionally, as in for the past 20 years or so, Wizards announcements have been a slow trickle of information. About once a month we would get an announcement for a product releasing several months down the line. I’m here today to tell you that the old system was awful and I never even realized it until Wizards rolled out this new system. First, let’s get the details on the new system:
As of this announcement, we will have two major product announcements every year—one in the spring and one in the fall. In those announcements, we will announce the next block and any supplemental products that will be released during the next year or so.
Why was the old system terrible? Look at this announcement for Duel Decks Elspeth vs. Kiora. Not only was this an incredibly bland announcement but it was almost a full four months before product release with nothing else to go on. No spoilers. No deck lists. Just the two alternate art promos. There isn’t even a link to a high-resolution version of the new artwork. There’s very little spectacular going on here, and this announcement was only made 18 months ago.
Odds are that if you saw an announcement like that in November, then by the time the product contents were revealed you had likely forgotten the product even existed. So let’s fast-forward to the most recent announcement which included Duel Decks Nissa and Ob Nixilis. Am I going to remember that this is the new Duel Deck? You bet I am. Why is that? One word: Kaladesh.
Packaging all of these announcements with the lead announcement for the fall block is brilliant. Everyone is going to be talking about Kaladesh. Everyone is going to be speculating on the new planeswalker. Everyone is going to be driving up the price of Steamflogger Boss for literally no reason whatsoever. The excitement was palpable. Social media was abuzz.
So when I think about Kaladesh I’m going to associate it with this announcement. That means associating it with Duel Decks Nissa vs Ob Nixilis. It means associating it with the new bundle boxes and planeswalker decks. It means paying more attention to Planechase Anthologies and the Conspiracy Draft Pack, two products that otherwise may have been relegated way into the sidelines.
There are other benefits to this change in announcing new products. The other big one in my mind is financial. The ability to plan out how I’m going to allocate my Magic budget for half the year is incredibly helpful. Not everyone can afford a case of each new product. Many of us have to pick and choose where to put our gaming dollars. For some people, knowing that Planechase Anthologies is coming means putting aside some money that may have been spent on Conspiracy. On the other hand, for some people it means making sure they have enough money for everything. No matter what your financial situation, having this much information will help you plan better.
This announcement was everything Wizards hoped it would be and I’m sure they’re even more thrilled for the Fall announcement which should give us 100% new information. If anything I would make sure the announcement comes with more graphics. Wizards did say that a lot of the graphics were left out of this announcement because they’re still being finalized. That’s fine and perfectly understandable. However, six months from now when they make the next announcement I hope they have more visuals prepared. We live in a visual world driven by social media and pictures are the currency of marketing.
Also, Wizards should consider giving the press a bit of lede time to prepare well thought-out reaction columns to go out within a day or two of these announcements instead of a week later. I may be a bit biased on that point, but it could help…
What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.