Throughout the collectible card game and wider collectibles industry, misprints can often be something worth getting excited about. As a much rarer defect than even the most elusive sheet, misprints can mean a lot of money for discerning collectors. However, that’s only if misprints are as rare as you’d hope. Unfortunately, in recent sets of Magic: the Gathering, it appeared that production errors were becoming a more common problem. While misprints aren’t a new problem, Dominaria United have been presenting all sorts of problems recently. This ultimately caused Wizards of the Coast to acknowledge mistakes while blaming a familiar enemy.
A litany of problems
In recent Magic: the Gathering sets, misprints, while still disappointing, have become much less noticeable due to their prevalence. However, the recent launch of Dominaria United managed to reverse that trend thanks to the litany of issues they were facing. While some production issues are expected, it’s not just manufacturers that have caused problems this time around. In addition to the somewhat expected miscut cards, Dominaria United simply misses a card from their draw.
While missing a card obviously isn’t good at all, luckily for Wizards of the Coast things aren’t as bad as they could be. Rather than print sheets missing a limited bomb or format warp map, it’s only Karn, Living Legacy‘s Emblem that does not exist. As one of MTG’s worst planeswalkers ever, this issue isn’t as bad as it could be. Karn, Living Legacy sees a game so tiny, after all, that no one really cares to notice this glaring mistake. However, a card that is simply missing from the printout is a huge mistake that needs to be corrected quickly.
Unfortunately for Wizards of the Coast, resolving this issue isn’t as simple as printing the map. After being asked about the mysterious case of Karn’s missing emblem, Magic lead designer Mark Rosewater revealed on Blogatog that while the solution is easy, Wizards “I don’t know where would be the appropriate place to print it.” Due to the emphasis on Powerstones, The Brothers’ War offers an obvious opportunity. However, that set is still months away. Ideally, Wizards of the Coast should implement a patch much sooner than that to fix the errors. However, this is not an easy thing to do.
Why does this happen?
During their statement on Blogatog, Mark Rosewater also unsurprisingly confirmed that this mistake was a real mistake, not just a confusing business decision. “I believe it was an accident and not on purpose,” confirmed Rosewater before reassuring fans of the possible solution. While this honest error means Wizards is likely to implement a fix sooner rather than later, it does raise a curious question; why did this happen?
Although unlikely, it is possible that Karn, Living Legacy simply undergone too many drastic design changes. In a recent make a magical post, Mark Rosewater revealed that Karn, Living Legacy was constantly subject to revisions and changes throughout the design process. While Karn only received an emblem in his fifth and final iteration, these drastic changes may have been too much for Wizards to follow. As a result, Karn’s emblem may have finally slipped through the cracks at press time. Although this is an impressive error, it is ultimately only a symptom of the larger problem.
A familiar enemy
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but for the last year and a half the world has been a bit…pandemic. This troublesome global pandemic ultimately caused many of the delays affecting countless industries, including MTG releases. Warhammer 40,000 Commander and Unfinity decks have both been hit by significant delays, for example due to the pandemic. Dubbed “ongoing supply chain complications” by The Wizards Themselvesthese complications may also be the cause of the increased number of misprints experienced by players.
However, it’s not just production facilities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with production issues, more accidental design issues have also seemed to slip through the cracks in recent sets. As Tumblr user Wildcardgamez pointed out, “Sheoldred and Jin-Gitaxias were missing the Phyrexian watermark, Karn is missing his token, some lands without borders have the wrong nameplate, Phyrexian text version of Ajani [is] using the wrong digital font,” and the artists were even miscredited.
After facing these many problems, Mark Rosewater admitted that Wizards of the Coast were not immune to mistakes. “We are starting to see the effects of the pandemic“, acknowledged Rosewater. “All of those who suddenly had to work from home created many new challenges. With the shift to working from home causing delays and problems for countless industries, this is one rather obvious. While this makes a lot of sense, not all MTG fans are happy with this reasoning.
More sets No more problems
Rather than laying all the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic, many players insist that Wizards is instead entirely responsible. Over the past few years, players have seen Wizards of the Coast release more and more Magic: the Gathering products. At the same time, many players reported more production and design issues appearing in sets. While correlation doesn’t mean causation, many players don’t think it’s just a coincidence. Instead, many complaints exist that Wizards of the Coast releases too much merchandise.
With ten major products released in 2022 alone, many MTG players are struggling to keep up. Subsequently, some players suggest that WotC is suffering from the same problem. With a shorter period between the release of each major set, it stands to reason that there is less time spent on each product. This, in turn, could potentially lead to more misprinted, overpowered, and downright broken cards making their way into sets. It’s of course unlikely that Wizards of the Coast will admit that they’ve overloaded themselves with their release plans. This, however, does nothing to prevent criticism and rampant conspiracy theories. As Blogatog user anyguy puts it, “blaming the pandemic becomes WotC’s go-to excuse because admitting they have to produce too much product and have to rush is not an option.”
In the end, we can only hope that Wizards of the Coast were honest in their pandemic assessment. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end, things may slowly be getting back to normal. Hopefully this means we can expect minimized design issues and fewer delays in the future. For that, however, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.
Read more: MTG will receive triple-sided folding cards