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MTG designer: 75% of fans don’t know what a planeswalker is

MTG head designer Mark Rosewater claims most Magic: The Gathering players “are far less knowledgeable about the game than enfranchised fans realise”

MTG designer planeswalkers statistic - Wizards of the Coast art of planeswalker Liliana Vess

MTG head designer Mark Rosewater regularly shares his takes on the TCG via his blog. On October 18, he imparted a statistic that may shock some Magic: The Gathering mega-fans: over 75% of players don’t know what a planeswalker is.

Here’s Rosewater’s full bombshell from his blog post: “The vast majority of tabletop Magic players (over 75%) don’t know what a planeswalker is, don’t know who I am, don’t know what a format is (let alone know of any particular format), and don’t frequent Magic content on the internet (including this blog).” “They are far less knowledgeable about the game than enfranchised fans realise”, he adds.

The post was prompted by a fan question (or perhaps more of a fan statement) from Tumblr user fragrantreindeer9547. “A mistake folks in the hyper-enfranchised, intensely online segment of the Magic community make is thinking that all players are like them”, they begin. “Folks like me and them might buy Walking Dead because of human tribal or UNF for shock lands, but it seems obvious given how mainstream/popular Magic is that’s a relatively minority position.”

MTG designer planeswalker statistic - blog post from Mark Rosewater's Tumblr

The Tumblr post makes it clear this is a statistic Rosewater has shared before, asking him to directly repeat the planeswalker stat. While no one involved in the post mentions where this statistic originally comes from, we did spot Rosewater tweeting about the same topic two years ago.

“Occasionally, we do what’s called a ‘deep dive’ where we do market research on the larger population (and not through a site Magic players visit)”, Rosewater said on Twitter on December 2, 2020. “This lets us hear from Magic players that we normally wouldn’t and allows us to learn things about the ‘average Magic player’.”

“One of the most important things it teaches us is what most Magic players don’t know”, he continues. “The average Magic player doesn’t know what a planeswalker is, that Magic has a story, or who I (or any Wizards employee) am.”

While the wording of the Tumblr question seems critical of the “hyper-enfranchised” and “intensely online”, Rosewater’s original tweets are a bit kinder in their explanation. “We very much value the enfranchised Magic community (and we design a lot for you)”, he says, “but it’s important to understand that this is the most invested group and has a much better understanding of many things than most Magic players.”

MTG designer planeswalkers statistic - Twitter thread from Mark Rosewater

The final tweet in the thread seems to highlight Rosewater’s key lesson: “It’s very easy to assume that everyone who plays is just like you, but a big life lesson I’ve learned as a game designer is that people are very different and the majority of the world is not like you.”

This isn’t the first time Rosewater has encouraged Magic’s biggest fans to consider a wider perspective. His recent blog posts include warnings about gatekeeping Transformers cards and comments saying upset fans shouldn’t force others to ‘opt out’ of Unfinity stickers.

Just in case you weren’t sure, we’ve got a guide to planeswalkers that can tell you exactly what they are. We also have all the key details of the set release dates 2022 and 2023 release schedule for fans that want to stay up-to-date.