Magic: The Gathering’s head designer has revealed that the upcoming MTG Ixalan set took heavy notes from Minecraft in a bid to appeal to Gen Z players. In an official MTG blog post from November 6, Mark Rosewater says Wizards of the Coast filled Lost Caverns of Ixalan with references to mining and (you guessed it) crafting to appeal to younger fans.
Rosewater regularly shares excerpts of vision design handoff documents, and Monday’s post is from the same series. Here, we see that one of Wizards’ primary visions for Ixalan was “Create a set around gathering resources and building and upgrading items”.
“Older players have more associations with underground adventuring being tied to adventure parties exploring hidden worlds, whereas younger players associate the underground with resource acquisition and building or upgrading of items”, Rosewater writes. The D&D MTG set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms had recently covered the first association, so Wizards decided to target the latter for Ixalan.
“As a department, we’ve been trying to find opportunities to branch out to players from younger generations”, Rosewater says, “so we chose to go down the resource-acquisition path”.
“One of the recent findings as of this handoff was that the group with the largest potential for new players was Generation Z (i.e., people born 1997–2012).” “This age group plays games at a higher percentage than any other age group (at least older than it) and statistically lines up with qualities that increase the possibility of enjoying Magic”, Rosewater adds.
“This meant that when building new sets, I was to keep an eye out for opportunities to find resonance that spoke to a Generation Z crowd.” “An underground world was one such opportunity (a diamond pickaxe, for example, is more resonant to my son than it is to me), and it definitely influenced which path we took at this fork.”
To reflect this inspiration, Rosewater says the design team planned to add resources to Ixalan for mining, crafting, and upgrading. (It’s no wonder the ‘Craft’ keyword plays such a big role.) Wizards also wanted the set to include clear ‘recipes’ to get the full Minecraft feel, and the resources would drive the set’s story as well as mechanics.
The MTG Lost Caverns of Ixalan release date is set for November 17. So far we’ve seen some pretty powerful MTG Ixalan reprints, as well as great reprint value in the Ixalan Commander decks. You can read more about Rosewater’s design insights in Monday’s post.
For more on upcoming sets, here’s what’s coming up in next year’s MTG release schedule. And, for digital trading card game fans, here are the best MTG Arena decks and MTG Arena codes to check out right now.