Given its 30-year history, Magic: the Gathering has a massive roster of mechanics. Due to the need to innovate and create the next best thing, this expansive list is constantly growing larger. Set by set, Wizards of the Coast is slowly introducing more complexity. However, no set introduced quite as much as Future Sight. The set was released in 2007 and featured 81 “futureshifted” cards that predicted future MTG mechanics and themes. Many of these “pre-print” cards were far too powerful for their good. However, they nevertheless gave players a peek into the game’s future.
Now that over fifteen years have passed since Future Sight, a lot has changed about Magic. New mechanics have risen in popularity, and many have even become evergreen in MTG. Despite all the new mechanics on offer, however, players still look back fondly on Future Sight’s futureshifted cards. As a result of this adoration by fans, Magic’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, is often on the receiving end of countless questions about their returns. Addressing these requests directly, in 2020, Rosewater recounted Future Sight’s most exciting cards and assessed if they were due a reprint.
This expansive trio of Magic Magic posts put to bed many of the requests Mark Rosewater was receiving on Blogatog. For a little while, at least. In the years since these posts, Magic has continued to evolve, and players have continued to request Tribal’s return. Most recently, new Dominaria United State of Design posts have revealed that several once unlikely-to-return mechanics may actually be close to getting a reprint. This has led players to question Rosewater’s duplicitous intentions, potentially purposefully obscuring what is to come.
What Will the Future Hold
After the topic of Future Sight was brought back up by a user requesting to know which unused mechanic might be most likely to return, players started noticing discrepancies in the list. As the user Jericuboritox later noted, they “saw that Grinning Ignus was given an “unlikely” grade… less than a year before Strixhaven.” Due to the over two-year development cycle of MTG sets, Mark Rosewater surely knew this Grinning Ignus reprint was in the works. Subsequently, Jericuboritox asked Rosewater, “Do you have fun going ‘I dunno when we’ll do [X] again’ knowing full well that doing [X] again has been on the docket for a while?” In response, Rosewater could only confess, “I do have fun doing that. : )”.
This downright sneaky obscuring of future MTG mechanics and plans got us thinking and going back over Future Sight’s futureshifted cards. Within the list, as Mark Rosewater noted at the time, some Future Sight mechanics and cards have already been reprinted. For instance, mechanics such as Deathtouch, Lifelink, Reach, and Shroud debuted in Future Sight. Aside from Shroud, these mechanics have become part of the core of MTG. Future Sight’s Enchantment Creatures may also soon be part of most Magic sets if Mark Rosewater gets their way.
Alongside mechanics that would later become evergreen, Future Sight also introduced plenty of mechanics that had little hope of returning. Surprisingly, in Dominaria United, one of these underused mechanics might finally see the light of day. During Dominaria United’s design process, the Grandeur mechanic was briefly considered for Ertai Resurrected. This ability allowed players to discard future copies of a legendary creature to generate the same enter the battlefield effect. Unfortunately, Ertai’s Grandeur ability didn’t make it to print in Dominaria United. However, Wizards of the Coast is clearly considering using the mechanic.
Foretelling the Future
While Grandeur appears to be all but physically on the cards, it’s far from the only Future Sight mechanic that may return. Throughout the trio of articles, Mark Rosewater repeatedly mentioned how Poisonous could return in the future. Fynn, the Fangbearer recently brought an offshoot of this mechanic back in Kaldheim. However, we may be seeing it again. As Rosewater noted, “I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that poisonous could return,” and there’s no better place for the mechanic to return than in Phyrexia. While Scars of Mirrodin favored the Infect mechanic, this has since fallen out of favor, so it might finally be Poisonous’ time to shine.
Alongside Poisonous’ exceedingly likely return, on more than just Ajani, Sleeper Agent that is, Contraptions also seem inevitable. First appearing in Future Sight, Contraptions have technically already been reprinted in Unstable. As a silver-bordered set, however, these Contraptions may as well not exist to the majority of players. Despite its limited appeal, Contraptions quickly became a cult classic. As Rosewater notes, “the audience loved it so much, now I get players begging me to bring it to black border.” Thanks to MTG’s latest Un-set, Unfinity, and its Acorn cards, black-bordered Contraptions are now a possibility once again. Mark Rosewater has already seen no end of requests on Blogatog, so surely it’s only a matter of time.
It’s Not All in the Cards
For better or worse, not all of Future Sight’s pre-print mechanics are likely to return. This includes the fan favorite mechanic, Tribal. Appearing on a pair of Future Sight cards, the Tribal supertype mechanic was too powerful for its own good. By giving noncreature spells a creature subtype, as well as the Tribal supertype, these cards were dangerously synergistic. As a result, Mark Rosewater has stated that time and time again, the Tribal card type won’t be returning anytime soon.
Alongside the Tribal Enchantment of Bound in Silence, Future Sight also included plenty more unique enchantments. These included graveyard-focused enchantments such as Bridge from Below and Spellweaver Volute. Ultimately these MTG mechanics are interesting but once again too powerful for their own good. Subsequently, Rosewater has declared that these mechanics are “very unlikely” to return in a premier set.
As well as featuring several new mechanics that was “just a tiny bit lower than the number of mechanics that existed in all of Magic before Future Sight,” the set also included some vanilla creatures. Without keywords or abilities, these creatures are usually frightfully boring. However, Future Sight managed to spice them up. This is thanks to a cycle of full art frames for vanilla creatures. Unfortunately, however, it appears that these full art frames for vanilla creatures are destined to be a thing of the past. As Mark Rosewater noted, WotC typically now prefers to create “French vanilla” creatures (creatures with keywords). Since these creatures require at least a few words of rules text, premier sets will likely have to do without full art textless frames.