If you live near me then this past weekend you were treated to one of global warming’s finer gifts. On Friday and Saturday it was just north of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius for our overseas readers, or Centigrade for Mr. Hagon). The prior week and the following week will be lucky to clear 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) which is to say that this weekend was a bit of an outlier.

As out-of-place as the gorgeous weather, sandals, sundresses, and other accouterments were, it was also a sign of one of time’s ever-present reminders of its passing: the movement of one season to the next. As we finally (hopefully) shake free from the cold bindings of winter and welcome the warmth and regrowth of the spring, we also prepare to take our leave of Ixalan (stupid Azorius binding spell now removed) and set sail for the sunny skies of Dominaria.

Saying Goodbye to Ixalan Season

And so that’s a wrap on Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan season. Before we get all nostalgic for Ixalan and the lonely shores of Idiot Island, we have the final two Grand Prix of the season to cover, and they both provided compelling closures to some interesting storylines.

First up, Jessica Estephan, Ryan Lewis-Jones, and Lachlan Saunders made history at Grand Prix Sydney. The team event featured the unified Modern format and when the trio secured the final victory, besting 349 other teams, Estephan became the first woman in the 25-year history of Magic the Gathering to be crowned Grand Prix champion.

For their efforts, Estephan, Lewis-Jones, and Saunders are on their way to Pro Tour 25th Anniversary later this year where Estephan will try to continue blazing a trail. Back in America, Matt Nass took down Grand Prix Hartford, which featured the individual Modern competition, and continued to highlight the diversity of the format.

The top 8 in Hartford combined with the top 4 in Sydney gives us 24 top decks to look at which shows an incredibly healthy metagame featuring:

  • Affinity
  • Amulet Titan
  • Blue Moon
  • Bogles
  • Burn
  • Control
  • Dredge
  • Elves
  • Hollow One
  • Humans
  • Ironworks Combo
  • Living End
  • Titanshift
  • Tron

Folks, if you’re not happy with Modern at this point, I have news for you, you’re never going to be happy with Modern and it’s not the format for you. For the rest of us, what a time to be alive, right? Has there ever been a more entertaining and more stable non-rotating format? Maybe Extended circa 1997? Legacy circa 2005?

So anyways, with Sydney and Hartford in the books, the season has come to an end and it’s safe to say that Ixalan was a smashing success and really sets the table well for the future of Magic. The limited environment, once Rivals came out, was incredibly rewarding. Standard is healthier than ever and only one card from Ixalan was (preemptively) banned. Modern is as mentioned previously.

The end of Ixalan also means the end of Magic’s “block” structure of set design, a philosophy that has been in place since Mirage block came out in the mid-90’s. Sure, there were some experiments along the way like Lorwyn, and we changed up the order in which sets were drafted on a few occasions, but for the most part we went from Mirage through Tarkir with three-set blocks (plus the four-set Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block), and then from Battle for Zendikar through Ixalan with two-set blocks.

Will blocks ever return? I sure hope not.

Dominaria Pre-Releases Coming Up Next Weekend

And now finally it is time to move on to the new season and it is fitting that Dominaria comes to us in the Spring, the season of renewal, as Dominaria has surely renewed many a Magic fan’s vigor and passion for the 25-year-young card game. Things got off to a rocky start when a large swathe of the set was accidentally leaked by Wizards of the Coast, but preview season has been a resounding success thanks in part to Wizards’ new approach to preview season as well as the strength of the set’s design.

If you haven’t checked out the full card image gallery, and you don’t mind being spoiled before the pre-release, then you should spend some time going through all the nostalgia-laced card names and flavor text. I’m working out the details of being able to attend an in-person pre-release for the first time in years, but at the very least I should be able to give it a spin on Magic Online and share my thoughts next week as we preview Dominaria’s competitive season.

Are you going to be attending the Dominaria pre-release? Send us your photos and stories on Twitter @HipstersMTG or @RichStein13!

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13

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