Here are the FIRST Spoilers from MAGIC: THE GATHERING Expansion Strixhaven

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Magic Strixhaven University Campus Map
Strixhaven Campus Map by Luiza Laffitte

Welcome to Strixhaven: School of Mages. Set on the plane of Arcavios, legends say that the libraries of Strixhaven, a University for wizards in training, contains the knowledge of every spell ever cast in Magic: the Gathering‘s vast multiverse. That’s a lot of spells.

Strixhaven: A New World, Full of Old Knowledge

Attracted by knowledge, possibility, and the promise of power, young students and legendary professors have gathered to teach and to learn. Founded by five Elder Dragons to put an end to a long-standing war, the campus is split into five colleges in honor of the founders: there’s the fashionably eloquent Silverquill, the dramatically bold Prismari, the mathematically inclined Quandrix, the history-obsessed Lorehold, and the biologically analytical Witherbloom.

Strixhaven Stadium by Piotr Dura

Today, Magic developer Wizards of the Coast revealed the first cards from the upcoming Strixhaven expansion. Between the new Planeswalker cards, an intriguing new mechanic that promises lessons to learn, a bevy of new Commander decks, and an overload of powerful instants and sorceries both new and old, it’s safe to say this may well be the most exciting new Magic expansion in quite some time. Without further ado though, let’s explore what Strixhaven has to offer!


Planeswalkers

Strixhaven sees the return of a number of fan-favorite characters from the Magic Multiverse. First off, there’s the mysterious Professor Onyx, who players may better know as Liliana Vess. Following her role as reluctant villain turned reclusive repentant…hero?, Liliana has traveled to Stryxhaven to recover, to teach, and to grapple with her past. According to Doug Beyer, principal game designer on the worldbuilding team for Magic, Strixhaven is actually Liliana’s “alma mater,” and she has come with an interest in studying magic that can “revivify the dead.” That last bit seems strange for a Planeswalker who already has extensive knowledge of necromancy, but perhaps mindless zombies are no longer what she’s aiming for…

Professor Onyx Standard Art from Strixhaven
Professor Onyx Standard Art
Professor Onyx Borderless Art from Magic Strixhaven set
Professor Onyx Borderless card

Another mysterious returning character is Kasmina. Originally introduced as the leader of a secret order of Planeswalkers during War of the Spark, Kasmina has appeared on Strixhaven to observe its students. Beyer says that Kasmina has “concerns” of a future threat to the Multiverse, so in preparation, she has come to Strixhaven to observe young Planeswalkers in danger of going “awry.”

Kasmina, Enigma Sage standard frame
Kasmina, Enigma Sage standard frame
Kasmina, Enigma Sage borderless card
Kasmina, Enigma Sage borderless card

And indeed, the Planeswalkers that Kasmina has come to observe are returning characters as well! We last saw Rowan and Will Kenrith on their home plane of Eldraine, and now we find them here at Strixhaven, learning new magic to level up their abilities.

In Strixhaven, Rowan and Will will appear as two halves of the same modal double faced card, which means that when you draw them, you get to pick which of them you want to summon to your aid in battle!

Rowan, Scholar of Sparks standard frame
Rowan, Scholar of Sparks standard card
Will, Scholar of Frost standard frame
Will, Scholar of Frost standard card
Rowan, Scholar of Sparks Borderless
Rowan, Scholar of Sparks Borderless Art
Will, Scholar of Frost Borderless
Will, Scholar of Frost Borderless Art

And one last returning face…Lukka! First seen in last year’s Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths expansion, Lukka used to be a commander of forces that protected Ikoria’s human cities from the many monsters that populated the plane, but he became an outcast when he forged a bond of kinship with a so-called monster himself. During the events of Ikoria, however, his companion was killed, and now Lukka finds himself adrift at Strixhaven. Beyer says that we can expect Lukka to “find a new companion” and “fall in with some pretty dark folks” during his time at school.

The story of Strixhaven begins today, March 25th, at dailymtg.com. The main story will continue on Wednesdays following today, and as a bonus treat, on Fridays, we’ll see fiction that explores the experience of being a student at Strixhaven!


Spells Spells Spells

At Strixhaven, students come to study magic. And while Magic: the Gathering is often a game that centers around creatures, the action at Strixhaven is designed to revolve around instants and sorceries. To reinforce that theme, Strixhaven introduces players to the Magecraft ability word.

Magecraft

Magecraft shows up on cards across all five colors in Strixhaven, heavily rewarding players for casting and copying their instant and sorcery spells. Some of the coolest rewards show up on the newly previewed Dragonsguard Elite and Archmage Emeritus:

Dragonsguard Elite Standard Card
Dragonsguard Elite Standard Card
Dragonsguard Elite Buy-a-Box Promo Card
Dragonsguard Elite Buy-a-Box Promo Card
Archmage Emeritus Standard Card
Archmage Emeritus Standard Card
Archmage Emeritus Bundle Promo Card
Archmage Emeritus Bundle Promo Card

Lesson/Learn

Beyond Magecraft though, an even more direct blend of Strixhaven’s flavor and mechanical identity comes from the entwined mechanics of Lesson and Learn. Throughout the set, you’ll find various cards that ask you to “learn,” which means you either get to draw and then discard a card, or get to put a “Lesson” spell from outside the game into your hand.

What kind of spells can you learn? Well, they range from the creation of mundane pests…

To granting yourself the power to be haunted by your own guilt:

In Standard and Draft, when a card asks you to “learn,” you can take a “Lesson” card out from your sideboard and put it into your hand, ensuring you have much more consistent access to the spells you need, when you need them. Every Lesson card is a sorcery, and the draft, set, and collector boosters all have a seeded slot that contains one. In the draft boosters, you can even get more than one!

Unfortunately, because there is no sideboard in formats like Commander, you can’t search for a Lesson card, but you can still draw and then discard. And since the learn mechanic shows up throughout colors, you can end up with a white card that allows you to loot for cards a la Professor of Symbology:

Modal Double-Faced Cards

Finally, we’ll see modal double-faced cards in Strixhaven once more. While details on these beyond the Kenrith twins are still sparse, we do know, thanks to Magic‘s principal product designer Mike Turian, that they will show up at rare and mythic rare with yet another new twist from their previous appearances in Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim (notably, they also won’t appear at uncommon).


The Colleges

As a new student at Strixhaven, you aren’t simply sorted into a college. First-years are given time to explore before making their decision, and you’ll even see one of them as a card:

That said, eventually you’ll have to make a choice. What college should you join? Well, let’s get an overview of what your student experience will be like at each one!

Prismari

The Prismari college is Strixhaven’s equivalent of art school. Living up to its motto, “express yourself with the elements,” Strixhaven is all about wielding elemental magic to summon awesome feats of creativity. They wield red and blue magic, use elemental creatures as their mascot, and were founded by the Elder Dragon Galazeth Prismari. All the Elder Dragons who founded the colleges of Strixhaven did so with the goal of spreading the use of their preferred type of magic, and Galazeth is no exception, as a powerful user of elemental magic himself. His artwork showcases towers made from elemental stone, frozen in place to create massive structures.

Galazeth Prismari by Raymond Swanland
Galazeth Prismari by Raymond Swanland

Every house in Strixhaven has an early student showcased as a card. Prismari’s representative in the cycle of apprentices is, of course, Prismari Apprentice:

Storm-Kiln Artist is another card from the Prismari college, demonstrating that not every scholar of magic needs to wield multiple colors of magic to call a college home.

The face card for the Prismari’s Commander deck is Professor Zaffai, Thunder Conductor– can I get a HEYYO from the bards in the audience?! Zaffai uses elemental magic to fuel the instruments in their orchestra. You can see lightning emanating from various instruments in the art:

Quandrix

According to the Quandrix, “Math is magic.” While teenage me would not necessarily agree, adult me has developed a respect for math and its power. Their mascots are fractals, living creatures made from mathematical powers. They were founded by Tanazir Quandrix, who believes that the study of mathematics is the study of reality. Tanazir’s art features fractals and optical illusions to match his ideology.

Tanazir Quandrix, an Elder Dragon founder of Strixhaven, by Raymond Swanland

When you study at Quandrix, you are studying a dueling ideology: students are constantly questioning the core nature behind math: a human construct made to explain patterns around them, or something that simply exists as a foundation of the world that humans have revealed?

Quandrix’s Commander deck is lead by TWO professors: introducing Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, who feature a new ability called Ward and love to multiply your tokens!

Witherbloom

The college of Witherbloom focuses in “essence studies.” As the green and black magic college, their studies focus on spells that channel the essence of living things to manipulate life and death itself. The Elder Dragon Beledros Witherbloom founded the college, whose classrooms feature prominently in Beledros’ art.

Beledros Witherbloom by Raymond Swanland
Beledros Witherbloom by Raymond Swanland

In Witherbloom Apprentice’s art, you can see various components that go into their essence studies:

And in the face Commander card of the Witherbloom deck, Willowdusk, Essence Seer, we see your life total being manipulated for growth in a quite direct manner:

Silverquill

Silverquill is the “college of eloquence.” Whether it’s spoken or written word, their motto is “Sharp style. Sharper wit.” They channel their words through rousing speeches and biting insults into ink magic. Fittingly, their mascots are inklings, which are creatures formed from the living ink they wield. Silverquill was founded by the elder dragon Shadrix.

Shadrix Silverquill by Raymond Swanland
Shadrix Silverquill by Raymond Swanland

Students in the Silverquill college will find that their poetry and performances will grant them and their allies bonuses, as seen in Silverquill Apprentice:

And one of the professors teaching these students the secret of the word? Meet Breena, the Demagogue, who heads Silverquill’s Commander deck and is a bird warlock.

Lorehold

Lorehold is the College of Archaeomancy. According to Beyer, Lorehold wizards study “the history of the world and revive the ancient past by literally bringing the spirits back of ancient historical figures.” Home to a combination of red and white magic, they use spirits as their mascot. The college was founded by Velomachus Lorehold, an Elder Dragon who literally has magical scrolls dripping from his body!

Velomachus Lorehold art from Strixhaven by Raymond Swanland
Velomachus Lorehold art by Raymond Swanland

The first card from Lorehold to be revealed is Lorehold Apprentice. Lorehold Apprentice hints at synergies between the college’s magic and the spirits they summon.

Lorehold Apprentice
Lorehold Apprentice

And of course, the face card of the Lorehold commander deck…introducing Professor Osgir, the Reconstructor. He focuses on learning and teaching the history of war, and learns about past battles by examining ancient war machines.

Osgir, the Reconstructor
Osgir, the Reconstructor

Snarl Lands Shed Light on the Shadows!

Magic players know the value of real estate. Despite not being the shiniest or splashiest of cards, rare multicolored land cycles have often formed the backbone of competitive decks, ensuring players have access to the colors of mana that they need, when they need it. And longtime Magic players will know that there are plenty of these land cycles that are not yet complete.

Back in 2016, the Shadows over Innistrad expansion introduced us to “Reveal Lands,” a cycle of dual lands that came into play untapped if you revealed another ‘and card from your hand that shared a land type with the color of mana the “Reveal Land” produced.

At the time, players only received the “Reveal Lands” with “ally” color pairings, meaning that while we had five of these cards, there were still five possible lands with this effect yet to be added to the game.

Well…let’s introduce you to the Snarl Lands.

These new enemy colored Snarls not only have a catchier name, but also pair quite nicely with the Triome lands from Ikoria, thanks to the bevy of land types each of the latter lands have. As such, the Snarls are about to make Standard mana bases way more consistent and fast!

Zagoth Triome from Ikoria

Mystical Archives

Now that we’ve reached the end of our campus tour, let’s end with stories of some college legends. Strixhaven is home to the Biblioplex, a massive library said to contain knowledge of every spell cast across the multiverse.

The Biblioplex by Piotr Dura
The Biblioplex by Piotr Dura

Unlike those who live on most planes in Magic‘s multiverse, denizens of Arcavios have a much higher awareness of the existence of Planeswalkers and worlds beyond their own. This makes Arcavios a nexus of sorts for all sorts of magic wielders, and makes it a world of great import to Magic‘s story moving forward.

Channeling the flavor of the Biblioplex into the gameplay and collectibility of Strixhaven: School of Mages, every booster pack contains at least one card from the Biblioplex’s archive, handpicked from Magic‘s vast history. Every Mystical Archive card is an uncommon, rare, or mythic rare, and all the uncommons are reprints of Standard-legal instants and sorceries, while the rares and mythics will continue to exist outside of Standard play. However, regardless of which rarity of spell you open in your draft booster, you’ll be able to draft and play it in Limited.

Duress, from the Mystical Archive
Duress, from the Mystical Archive
Lightning Bolt, from the Mystical Archive
Lightning Bolt, from the Mystical Archive
Time Warp, from the Mystical Archive
Time Warp, from the Mystical Archive

And to go even further above and beyond, Japanese Strixhaven boosters will not only feature these standard mystical archive cards, but they will also occasionally be replaced with own exclusive Japanese-language variant art cards from the Mystical Archive:

Duress, Mystical Archive Japanese variant
Duress, Mystical Archive Japanese variant
Lightning Bolt, Mystical Archive Japanese variant
Lightning Bolt, Mystical Archive Japanese variant
Time Warp, Mystical Archive Japanese variant
Time Warp, Mystical Archive Japanese variant

And if you don’t live in Japan, don’t fret– it’s still possible to get your hands on these cards. To summarize what would otherwise be a hefty amount of explanation, here’s the breakdown of how you can get your hands on cards from the Mystical Archive:

  • In draft boosters, every pack contains one non-foil Mystical Archive card, and you have a chance at getting a second Mystical Archive card in standard foil treatment. These will all be standard art.
    • In Japanese draft boosters only, in the Mystical Archive card slot, half the time, you’ll receive a standard Mystical Archive card (written in Japanese). The other half of the time, you’ll receive a Japanese-exclusive alternate art treatment Mystical Archive card.
  • In set boosters, every pack contains one non-foil Mystical Archive card, and you have a chance at getting a second Mystical Archive card in standard foil treatment. These will all be standard art.
    • In Japanese set boosters only, in the Mystical Archive card slot, half the time, you’ll receive a standard Mystical Archive card (written in Japanese). The other half of the time, you’ll receive a Japanese-exclusive alternate art treatment Mystical Archive card.
  • In collector boosters, every pack contains three Mystical Archive cards, with the chance of receiving a fourth.
    • Mystical Archive cards will appear in collector boosters with standard foil treatment, but exclusive to these boosters, they will also appear in the “etched foil” treatment first introduced in 2020’s Commander Legends expansion.
an example of an etched foil card from Commander Legends
an example of an etched foil card from Commander Legends
    • Each collector booster, regardless of language, contains an etched foil Mystical Archive uncommon, and then an etched foil Mystical Archive rare or mythic rare.
      • If your etched foil uncommon is a standard art Mystical Archive card, your rare or mythic rare will be a Japanese variant art card from the Mystical Archive. The opposite is true as well.

Time to learn

Phew, that was a lot of information to process. Is your head spinning yet? You might want to see a wizard about a potion for that. Just be careful that it’s not made with newt heart…

Welcome Booster art by Lindsey Look
Welcome Booster art by Lindsey Look

Strixhaven: School of Mages hits Magic: Arena on April 15th and store shelves on April 23rd.

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