Wizards of the Coast has announced a complete revamping of its core set releases for Magic: The Gathering.  Starting this July the core set releases will no longer be identified by edition number--like new cars (with their forward-looking year-by-year designations), the July 2009 M:TG core set release will be known as Magic: The Gathering 2010 Core Set or Magic 2010 for short.  Also starting this July WotC will release one new core set per year (instead of one every two years).  Thus M:TG will now be on a regular yearly schedule that will see the release of three expert-level expansions and one core set every year.


Unlike previous core sets, which were composed of all reprints, the Magic 2010 core set will have approximately 50% new cards--a huge departure from past practices intended to make the core sets attractive a wide range of Magic players.  New cards such as “Silence” and “Wall of Frost” use game terms that both new and experienced players can understand and employ to great effect in card combat. As was the case with Tenth Edition, all core sets going forward (including the Magic 2010 set) will be black-bordered.  Magic 2010 will include 249 cards including 15 mythic rare cards (9 of the 15 mythic rares are reprints, while six are brand new cards). 


Since the Magic 2010 core set contains so many new cards, Wotc is, for the first time with a core set, planning traditional Prerelease and Launch party events on back-to-back weekends in conjunction with the Magic 2010 debut on July 17th.  Previous core set releases have largely been ignored by the enfranchised M:TG player base, which looked at the core sets primarily as lists of cards that are legal in Standard tournament play.  The revamped M:TG core sets are geared to appeal to both newcomers and experienced players.  In order to put more focus on the Magic 2010 release, WotC is making sure that Grand Prix events in Boston, Niigata, and Prague will feature Magic 2010 Limited play events, an indication that going forward core sets will be an integral part of high-level organized play.


WotC is also changing its rotation policy to accommodate the more rapid release of core sets.  While 10th Edition will rotate out when Magic 2010 is released this July, Magic 2010 will remain legal until the fall of 2010 when the large release codenamed “Lights” is released.  That will mean that from July of 2010, when the Magic 2011 core set is released, until the debut of “Lights” in late 2010, there will be two core sets legal at the same time (another first for M:TG).  This pattern of approximately 15 months of “legal” status for core sets will continue into the future.


While the central concept behind the “core set” as being a “jumping-on” place for new players remains, the Magic 2010 set also includes five Lorwyn “Planeswalkers,” which are promoted to their proper place as “mythic rares,” and should also help to make this core set more attractive to highly skilled M:TG players.  The Planeswalkers cards are so cool that the designers behind the Magic 2010 core set are confident that newcomers to the game will do the work necessary to learn the rules behind the complex cards (the powers of these premier M:TG Characters can’t be explained on the cards themselves).