Throughout recent years, Magic: the Gathering has grown to newfound levels of popularity and profitability. Making over one billion dollars in 2022 alone, MTG is arguably stronger than it has ever been before. Throughout much of 2022, however, a major part of the world’s oldest trading card game was missing; physical events. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, practically all major in-person events were canceled or replaced with digital counterparts. Thankfully, now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, Wizards has steadily been facilitating more and more events. Alongside the celebratory MagicCon MTG events, Wizards also revived the CommandFest series in 2022. For 2023, these aptly Commander-focused events are back in style, however, players aren’t entirely thrilled.
Earlier this week, Wizards of the Coast proudly announced “CommandFest returns with March of the Machine.” Revealing four events taking place across the US, CommandFest has typically offered Commander-loving MTG players an incredibly enjoyable weekend. This time around, however, MTG players have had a rather lukewarm reaction to the announcement from Wizards. So much so, in fact, that across social media, players criticized just about every detail about the upcoming events. Scheduling, for instance, was one such fault highlighted by players, as CommandFest overlaps with March of the Machine’s prerelease. Thankfully, during the events that are scheduled between April 14th and 16th, there will be prerelease events running, so players don’t miss out. Nevertheless, some users, such as u/Spekter1754, noted this is still a baffling decision.
“Why the hell they decided to hold this on prerelease weekend when tons of players are going to already have their Magic needs met is entirely beyond me.”
Alongside the scheduling concerns being raised by players, the preliminary prices for the event were also a sore spot. So far, only two of the four events, those in Orlando and Seattle, are open for registration. Unfortunately for interested players, neither of these events comes cheap, with three-day passes costing $159.99 or $149.99, respectively. While both these events offer Event Tickets, and promo cards to justify the price, there’s still a considerable cost. One that appears to be turning away otherwise interested players. “OOOF, 160+ for three days is pretty expensive. I am not sure the couple cards and lanyard are worth it,” u/Juicy_Endeavor commented on Reddit. “The vouchers and everything still are rough for the price. If they had cheaper options for three days, this would be for sure for me.”
Thankfully, for event organizers, at least, not everyone was so negative toward the upcoming CommandFest events. Some players, like u/Dr_ONE and u/DestroidMind, for instance, highlighted just how enjoyable the event has been in their experiences. This positivity, however, did little to keep players interested in the events themselves. Instead, many players focused on the new March of the Machine artwork that was being used as promotion. Across the quartet of CommandFest websites, so far, four new pieces of MTG artwork have been revealed. While there’s no telling if they’re actually part of the set, just yet, MTG players have nevertheless started speculating.
Out of the images u/ExtantDesperado collated and enhanced, the most tantalizing is undoubtedly the artwork depicting Realmbreaker and The World Tree clashing. As you can see above, within the artwork, Realmbreaker’s tendrils are seemingly being torn to shreds by Kaldheim’s World Tree. Understandably, this piqued the interest of many an MTG player, as March of Machine’s ending remains subject to constant debate. Many players, for instance, are anticipating a deus ex machina of some kind, something which this art seems to depict.
“You know looking at the world tree picture again I may have struck a eureka moment. Kaldheim’s World Tree might be destroying the realm breaker without hurting the planes and its branches go into the same paths the Realmbreaker did. This might cause planar travel possible again without a spark, and also contain Phyrexians till Wizards want to use them again, as it simply doesn’t connect to New Phyrexia/Mirrodin.”
Alongside the potentially climactic fight between two trees, the new artwork also depicts some potentially devastating reveals. Another piece of artwork on Kaldheim, for instance, seems to feature a compleated Toski, Bearer of Secrets. Meanwhile, over on what appears to be Eldraine, it seems Castle Locthwain has been Phyrexianized. This left some players, such as u/doesntphotographwell, suspecting this is the reason why Eldraine’s citizens have been pushed to The Wilds.
While the announcement of March of the Machine’s CommandFest events may have left something to be desired, for better or worse, that’s not all 2023 has to offer. Closing their announcement, Wizards also confirmed even more CommandFest events are in the works for this year. Set to take place “all over the world,” so far, only events “to celebrate the upcoming Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ release” have been teased. At the moment, no dates for this celebratory event have been announced. That being said, it’s possible they’ll also take place on the prerelease weekend, which is June 16th to 18th. Whether or not that is the case, however, we’ll just have to wait and see, as Wizards is only saying, “We’ll share more CommandFest information soon!”
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