MTG Players Have Successfully Demanded More Tribal Cards

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Since the inception of Magic: the Gathering in 1993, players have always loved the game’s tribes. This love has only grown stronger over the nearly 30 years of MTG’s life, thanks to formats like Commander. As MTG’s premier casual-focused format, Commander has provided an excellent home to weird, wonderful, and dubiously powerful themed tribal MTG decks. Having steadily risen in popularity over recent years, Commander is now one of the driving forces in MTG’s development. For better or worse, this has caused an increasing number of legendary creatures and niche tribal cards to appear in recent premier sets. 

Despite this uptick in support for this fan-favorite format, MTG players aren’t always happy about the new cards being created. Not because they’re damaging to the health of the game but instead because their chosen tribe isn’t the one getting support. With so many creature types in MTG, a tribe getting additional support in a set can be a bit of a lottery. To try and increase their odds in this game of chance, MTG players aren’t shy about voicing their wishes. Subsequently, Magic’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, is frequently inundated with suggestions for cards that support the latest tribe du jour. Typically, these suggestions are only met with a coy “maybe : )” however, recently, it appears Rosewater finally gave in to player demands. 

Sating The Soldier Demand

During The Brothers’ War’s spoiler season, many players have been delighted to see a surprising number of soldiers being revealed. Admittedly this isn’t entirely uncommon to see; especially in a set about war. However, soldiers are nevertheless a beloved tribe that players love seeing supported. Alongside the usual smattering of interesting creatures supporting the archetype, The Brothers’ War has taken soldier support one step further. In The Brothers’ War, soldiers are getting their very own land. Named Fortified Beachhead, this unusual bit of fixing allows players to buff and play their soldiers with relative ease. 

While its expensive abilities may not be groundbreaking, Fortified Beachhead is undoubtedly an exciting addition to soldier-themed decks. Unfortunately for excited players hoping for more tribal lands in MTG, Fortified Beachhead is all you get in The Brothers’ War. Mark Rosewater confirmed this disappointing truth on Blogatog, who explained this new land isn’t part of a cycle. Subsequently, players hoping for tribal lands that support cats, dogs, horrors, and horses will have to wait until future sets. Additional waiting may not sound like fun. However, the existence of Fortified Beachhead is still grounds for celebration. 

As we mentioned previously, this mild support for soldiers in The Brothers’ War was no accident. Instead of merely being the randomly chosen lucky tribe, players actively made this soldier subtheme happen. In a recent Blogatog post, Rosewater revealed that “‘Soldiers matter’ was the minor theme I was talking about influenced by this blog.” This means that roughly two years ago, Blogatog users, known as Question Marks, actually influenced MTG’s future to their whims. It may have taken some time thanks to MTG’s long development cycle, but it happened!

Power to The Players

Timmy, Power Gamer
Timmy, Power Gamer | Unsanctioned

Thanks to Rosewater’s admission, it’s now undisputably confirmed that Blogatog users and player requests do occasionally affect set development. For better or worse, this potentially puts a lot of power in the hands of vocal players. Offbeat tribes may finally see the cards they deserve, and wishful return trips to fan-favorite planes may be realized. Who knows, Wizards might even create a surprisingly often-requested phoenix planeswalker! The possibilities are pretty literally endless. That’s so long as suggestions from players keep being useful and relevant, at least. 

Prior to this confirmation, many enfranchised players had been left doubting the effect they have on their beloved game. Following Mark Rosewater throwing out the statistic that “the vast majority of tabletop Magic players (over 75%) don’t know what a planeswalker is,” it seemed that enfranchised players were a lot less important than expected. Thankfully, to quell the anger caused by this controversial statement, Rosewater would later explain that devoted players are still indispensable. “The enfranchised audience buys a lot of Magic,” Rosewater decreed, claiming they even make up 75% of the game’s revenue. 

With so much purchasing power, it’s no surprise that Wizards is happy to appease their most devoted fans. Subsequently, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see additional support for skeletons in the future. Skeleton tribal may seem like a random choice. However, according to a recent Blogatog post from lylethebloody, this is what the MTG community wants. Using data compiled from the “Great EDH Creature Type Request 2022,” lylethebloody attests that skeletons were the most requested creature type, with shamans and spiders following not far behind. So who knows, maybe after a brief two-year wait, skeletons will finally have a land of their own too. 

The Long Road Ahead

Soldier Token
Soldier Token | Modern Masters 2017

While the idea that dedicated MTG players may shape the future of the game is exciting, it’s important to note that Wizards is still designing the game. Player demands may be a guiding hand, however, Wizards won’t be led astray by it. The soldier matters theme in The Brothers’ War, for instance, is only there because it fits thematically. On Blogatog, Rosewater recently revealed that during the design process “we weren’t looking for a place to put ‘Soldier matters’, we were looking for something white/blue could do.” Typically, Soldiers have predominantly been found in the colors of white/red, however, as Rosewater explains, things needn’t always be that way. “Part of making sets feel different is not always defaulting to the colors the theme was in before.”

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