Wizards of the Coast announced last week that they’re bringing back Planechase as the multi-player format for this coming summer. It’s easily my favorite summer format since it’s so much fun, blends well with other formats and is easy for new or casual players to grasp. Plus, the new Planechase sets will have some goodies for Commander players, new cards, and a new type of Plane card, the Phenomenon.
You can read the original review of Planechase, but here’s how it works in a nut shell: everything works just like a regular game of Magic, except there’s an additional deck of Plane cards (one for each player, or a single combined deck). The top Plane card is turned face up, depicting one of the strange magical planes where Magic is set. There’s a static effect that affects everyone, all the time (draw an extra card during your draw step, or all spells that deal damage deal twice as much damage, for instance) and a chaos effect that only goes off once (discard your hand and draw 7 cards, or sacrifice a creature and put a 2/2 zombie token into play, for instance). The whole thing is controlled by the roll of a D6 that can shift the game to a new plane or trigger the chaos effect.
This summer’s release will include Phenomenon cards in the Plane decks. When they turn face up, they’ll have an effect that will change the game in some way, then they’ll be discarded and a new Plane immediately turned face up. There will be four new decks, and each one will come with a Plane deck of eight planes and 2 phenomenon cards. Those cards will be unique — no reprints from the last Planechase sets, no sharing between decks. That means 32 new planes and eight total Phenomenon cards!
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that Wizards has taken a cue from the massive success of this summer’s Commander release. They will be printing 21 entirely new cards in the Planechase decks. These cards will be tournament legal — they’ll never rotate through Standard, but they’ll be legal in older, “eternal” formats. It will be interesting to see if any of them have an impact — to my knowledge, none of the cards from the Commander decks were strong enough to see Legacy or Vintage play (which is fine, they’re awesome cards for Commander, and that was the point).
Speaking of Commander, at least some of the new cards will be legendary creatures, giving you some more options when it comes time to build your Commander deck. They’ve already spoiled one new legendary creature, Maelstrom Wanderer. You can read the official announcement to have a look.
One last thing to look forward to: one of the decks is named “Night of the Ninja.” How could you not want to play that deck?