Storytelling isn’t easy and we can learn a lot from the Gatewatch era of the Magic story. The decision to bring the focus onto five core characters for two years has been met with mixed results. The team came together to fight the Eldrazi, and did so successfully. But then, with an inflated sense of their own abilities, they took on Nicol Bolas, and now they’ve been scattered to the Blind Eternities.

It’s no secret that Magic’s massive Gatewatch crossover story, which stretches from Battle for Zendikar through Hour of Devastation probably didn’t turn out the way Wizards had hoped it would. Beck Holden began a new series last week looking back at this era of storytelling, revisiting the weekly episodes and the on-card flavor that created the Gatewatch era. This epic, now concluded, will likely set up Magic’s story for the next few years.

But, if Magic’s story is to thrive we must learn some valuable lessons from the Gatewatch era. There is one key lesson we’re going to cover today and hopefully by the end of it you’ll be just as excited as I am for the future of Magic content. Here it is: There isn’t enough Magic story content to tell the story that Wizards wants to tell, and if they are going to continue down this path they better start figuring out how to create several magnitudes of more content.

What do I mean by more content? I mean everything and the kitchen sink. I mean more short stories. I mean bringing back novels. I mean bringing back comic books. I mean spinning up cartoon series. I mean negotiating a collection of Netflix shows and network prime time shows. I mean getting the movie back on-track. I want more content.

Now, you’re probably thinking, hold on, this is too much, you’re going to over-saturate and dilute the content and then Magic is just going to become Transformers. Or you’re thinking, Magic is a card game, not a children’s toy like My Little Pony or G.I. Joe. Well, this is where I have to tell you that you’re wrong.

Magic has always been a story-driven enterprise. Richard Garfield first conceived of Magic as a cool way to portray a duel between two immensely powerful Wizards that could walk between worlds and summon powerful monsters to do their bidding. It should be no surprise that the game debuted in 1993 and by 1994 the first Magic Novel had been published. To think of Magic as a card game first and a story vehicle second is incorrect. Magic has always been a story vehicle.

Content is king. If you happened to catch Hasbro’s Investor Day presentation (where they announced Magic Arena) you know that content was the main focus. For hours there were senior executives talking about the expansion of content for Transformers, My Little Pony, Stretch Armstrong, and Hana Zuki. The market research was clear to Hasbro: better storytelling and greater content translated directly to stronger revenue for their brand. But what about Magic?

If content is king then where is the rest of Magic’s content? I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care why it isn’t here. I don’t care that the Dack Fayden comics weren’t great or that the novels ultimately didn’t sell that well. I don’t care if there’s problems with the movie logistics. I don’t care about anything because it’s not my problem. As a fan we simply want more content and Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are currently failing to deliver it, and if Hasbro’s research is correct it means that this failure to deliver more content and better content is costing Wizards money.

Put me in charge of a comic book studio that produces monthly titles for Magic the Gathering and I’ll give you story-lines for years to come. Don’t believe me? Here’s a dozen comic books we could have right now that I bet you’d read the crap out of:

  • Ongoing Series:
    • Bolas – If any planeswalker is going to get their own solo monthly series, who did you think it would be?
    • Ghirapur Nights – Featuring the dark alleyways and bright lights of Kaladesh’s capital city
    • Legends of Dominaria – Featuring famous characters and untold stories from Dominaria’s past
    • Minds of Fire – Sarkhan Vol and Narset travel the multiverse
    • Planeswalkers – Weekly one-shot team-up stories from across the multi-verse
    • The Tenth – Tales from Ravnica’s most tumultuous district featuring all ten guilds
  • Mini-Series
    • Aftermath – A six-part story about the rebuilding of Zendikar following Gen. Tazri and other non-planeswalkers
    • Black & White – A four-part Sorin and Nahiri story from before the mending
    • Domri Rade – A four-part mini-series featuring the multi-verse’s youngest planeswalker
    • Human – A four-part soul-searching journey for the now-mortal Teferi
    • Hunter – A two-part story following Garruk Wildspeaker’s latest adventure
    • The Purifying Flame – A three-part Retelling of the novel in which Chandra and Gideon first meet

Now you’re thinking maybe comic books can come back and tell more story, but I’m still crazy if I think they’re going to produce Magic cartoons, Magic TV shows, and a Magic movie as well, right? Well, here are my pitches for network execs (many of whom almost certainly read my column each week, right?):

  • Cartoons
    • The Darby Crows – Follow the antics of several of Kaladesh’s most colorful race pilots and inventors
    • The Irregulars – A band of miscreants enjoys the world of Theros and takes their name from the legendary Kytheon
  • Netflix Shows
    • Jace, the Living Guildpact – A story about power and responsibility and learning the cost of arrogance in the multiverse’s least forgiving city
    • Kaya, Ghost Assasin – The spirits of Ravnica generally fall under the protection of the Orzhov, but when one is put to rest permanently, a planeswalking assassin becomes the center of the Azorius investigation
    • Ral Zarek – No one is more deserving of praise than the Izzet mage, but an experiment gone wrong will put this planeswalker face-to-fact with their darkest secrets coming to light
    • Tamiyo, the Moon Sage – The moonkfolk’s trip to Ravnica was purely academic until she got caught up in something even she could not ignore
    • Ravnica – Combining the storylines of Jace, Kaya, Ral, and Tamiyo to battle the larger threats that face the city (yeah I ripped the whole Netflix plan off of Marvel but why the hell shouldn’t I?)
  • Network Shows
    • Innistrad – Gothic horror meets Cosmic horror as the denizens of this forsaken world struggle to survive and unravel its secrets. The show follows Odric and Thalia primarily.
  • Movies
    • Dominaria – I’ll let your imagination fill in the description for this one

Content is king and there’s no doubt in my mind that this sort of content is the subject of at least a few meetings being held at Wizards of the Coast and at Hasbro. Hasbro has its science fiction brand in Transformers, its action brand in G.I. Joe, and its dramatic brand in My Little Pony. Magic the Gathering gives it a robust fantasy brand out of which they can build an entire universe because it already exists.

The Magic story is great, but if Wizards and Hasbro want to really grow the brand globally then they’ll start growing content and they’ll start doing it soon. I’d expect comic books to be the first medium to return, but I dare you to look me in the eyes and tell me you wouldn’t watch a 13-episode Netflix series about Kaya on Ravnica.

You so would.

Rich Stein just wants to read more stories about literally every single planeswalker and legendary card in the game’s 25-year history.

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