Oath of the Gatewatch marks some big changes in Magic for a number of reasons. One, most obviously, it’s the conclusion of a new kind of block – the first-ever lasting disruption of the foundational structure of three-set blocks that has existed since 1996 or so. The community may have known about the two-block paradigm for more than a year now, but it still feels new, seeing it put into practice for the first time. Two, for those who haven’t heard, some mana symbols are changing for, and there’s a lot of debate, as always, over whether that’s a good thing. But the seeds of other new things are being sown as well, as they always are, quietly in the background.
As Magic’s first two-set block comes to a close, the rumor community is revving its engines for the latest speculation in real time. Here are three questions that may not be on the absolute forefront of the discussion (that would be reserved for whether colorless is a color right now), but are certainly important.
Is the Gatewatch as shown missing a member? In the teaser images for Oath of the Gatewatch, we see four planeswalkers – Gideon, Jace, Chandra, and Nissa – ostensibly taking the titular oath. For those keeping track, that means four colors are represented, each with a monocolor “iconic” planeswalker – but where’s black? Well, the most prominent monoblack ‘walker on Zendikar at present is Ob Nixilis – who has not exactly been a helpful or benevolent presence, but at least he hates the Eldrazi. Will Ob come around to the heroes’ side?
Where the heck is Emrakul? We know Ulamog and Kozilek are present and have caused havoc on Zendikar in the current storyline, but the 8,000,000,000-pound gorilla in the room is their “sister”. Emrakul arguably is the Eldrazi to a lot of people – her card was the most iconic, over-the-top, and tournament-playable of all of the original Titans, and she’s been referenced by name on Vestige of Emrakul thus far – it would hardly be fair of Creative to pull the “mysteriously missing for a period of time” trick if it weren’t foreshadowing. Has Emrakul retreated to the Eternities to create a terrifying new form? Has she been battling Ugin in a spiritual and unseen realm?
How much focus will the multiplayer aspect pull? Oath of the Gatewatch is meant to support team play as well as one-on-one, which is always refreshing in a non-supplemental product; it is, of course, good to know that R&D cares about alternative formats and keeping them as healthy as possible. But will we see official Two-Headed Giant matches at the Oath prerelease, in a special event a la other “gimmick” prereleases of recent years?