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MTG head designer: “We know you want the Reserved List gone”

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater says he knows most fans want the MTG Reserved List abolished, but obstacles stand in the way.

magic the gathering reserved list mark rosewater - a woman standing powerful in front of a group of hooded cultists.

It’s the oldest controversy in Magic: The Gathering. Some players insist it should be abolished right away. Others are adamant it’s crucial to the game’s very survival. We’re talking, of course, about the MTG Reserved List, that group of 572 ancient MTG cards that Wizards is committed to never, ever reprinting. And we’re not the only ones talking about it, as on Friday, July 15, Magic’s head designer Mark Rosewater broached the subject on his Tumblr blog.

Answering a fan who questioned if the community could take action “to help abolish the Reserved List“, Rosewater replied that Magic’s designers “know the majority of players would like it gone”. “That’s been true for many years,” he continued, adding that “that doesn’t make any of the other obstacles go away.”

It’s unclear what the precise nature of those obstacles is, as Magic creator Wizards of the Coast practically never discusses its attitude to the Reserved List. Of course, one biggie has to be that it has said it will not abolish the list. According to Wizards’ reprint policy, “reserved cards will never be printed again in a functionally identical form” and “no cards will be removed from this list”. Based on a recent statement from an ex-Wizards employee, it seems scrapping the list may cause expensive legal issues.

This is not the first time Rosewater has spoken up about the Reserved List. In 2015, Rosewater wrote that “the pro-Reserved List crowd stays mostly silent on social media, but it’s a much bigger number than I assume most of you guess it is.” Last year he also told his followers: “I can’t go into details, but I think you all will be mentally happier if you accept that it’s not going to change”.

magic the gathering reserved list mark rosewater - a dark petalled lotus flower

It appears the head designer may have some personal disdain for the list, however, as in 2018, Rosewater told fans “If I could snap my fingers and have it never have existed, I would.” ICv2 also reported that in September 2021, Rosewater wrote “I spent years trying. I don’t think it’s going away”.  It seems like this comment no longer appears on his blog, however.

Whatever your views on Magic: The Gathering’s Reserved List, it seems it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. If you want the counterargument to that view, though, check out our take on why The Reserved List is doomed. And check out our Reserved List guide for more details.