Strixhaven launches in Magic: The Gathering – Arena and Magic Online on 15th April, and then a week later in shops, in those nice shiny foil packets, from 23rd April.
It’s Harry Potter-ish because Strixhaven is a school for mages, which is also broken into various inner-houses, or colleges in this case. Each is themed around the long-running colours of Magic.
Lorehold, the college of archaeomancy, is white; Prismari, the college of elemental arts, is red; Quandix, the college of numeromancy, is blue; Silverquill, the college of eloquence, is black; and Witherbloom, the college of life and death, is green.
The cards we’ve been given are from the Silverquill school. These are the masters of words, and they’re also apparently very stylish, as am I, in pyjamas and a cardigan.
The cards are Academic Probation, Ageless Guardian, Beaming Defiance, Dueling Coach, Semester’s End and Thunderous Orator.
Academic Probation is arguably the most interesting because it involves one of the new Strixhaven ideas: a Lesson. These are cards you can pull from outside your deck during battle! You do it by using a Learn card, which gives you the option of either discarding a card and drawing a new one, or taking a Lesson.
The other big new mechanic is Magecraft, which is an ability that triggers whenever you use, or copy, a sorcery or instant spell. The ability might make the creature more powerful, or draw you a card – there are many variations – but Magecraft is the triggerable aspect of it. And when you consider how many opportunities there are to use sorceries or instants, and copy them, you can begin to imagine the chain-reactions possible. There’s also Ward, a creature-based spell/ability counter that opponents have to either pay mana or health to negate.
In addition, a supplemental Mystical Archives set of cards will be released alongside Strixhaven, and contained within the booster packs of it. These cards are reprints of spells from Magic’s past, and they’re gorgeous, each brought back to life with new artwork, it seems.
Magic: The Gathering – Arena is the free-to-play, online version of Magic, and it’s rather good. It’s also now available iOS as well as Android.