MTG’s Mark Rosewater: bigger creative team made for more detailed sets

Magic: the Gathering mark Rosewater creative team: Card art for growth spiral.

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater says the creative team for the CCG has grown immensely in the past 14 years, from a group of only around five people in 2008 to a team many times that size in 2022. Rosewater revealed the information on his blog, in response to a comment left by a fan favourably comparing the upcoming set, Streets of New Capenna (releasing April 29) to 2008’s Shards of Alara set.

While the first spoilers for Streets of New Capenna have only just begun trickling through, (with a handful of cards shown on March 3) this fan was impressed by how well realised the world appears to be: “Not only is New Capenna a single cohesive world, but the individual crime families have more depth, with both a front and a true purpose,” they said. In comparison, they claimed in Shards of New Alara, the “individual shards felt really shallow and one-note.”

In response, Rosewater said this wasn’t really a matter of the team growing in experience and learning from mistakes, but simply down to the man-hours available. “The creative team that built Shards of Alara was like five people. The current creative team is many times larger,” he said, adding that “The Alara team did amazing work with the resources they had”.

When asked by another commenter to elaborate on why the team has been able to grow so large, Rosewater kept it brief. Rather than attributing the team’s expansion to any particular success (like for instance, that Magic: the Gathering had its best ever year in 2021) he said the change had been gradual, and the team had “ramped up over time”. We can conclude therefore, that the Magic: the Gathering creative team is a Green Creature.

Magic the Gathering: Mark Rosewater creative team: Artwork of the Maestro family boss Xander, a demon, clutching a gold statuette.

Streets of New Capenna is superficially similar to Shards of Alara, as both sets feature five three-colour factions named shards. However, while in the 2008 set, these shards were separate, miniature worlds, in Streets of New Capenna each shard is embodied by one of five mafia families inhabiting the same city stuffed with art-deco architecture.

Be sure to give our Streets of New Capenna guide a look for more information on the set’s mechanics, factions, and themes, not to mention every spoiler shown so far. And if you want an opportunity to show your creativity with Magic: the Gathering check out our guide on how to build an MTG Commander deck – there’s all sorts of options available.