It may still be 2019 in the real world, but fans of Magic: The Gathering are already dreaming of 2020. The last MTG set of 2019, Throne of Eldraine, is officially in spoiler season and set to arrive soon, which means Wizards of the Coast is ready to offer the earliest teases of what next year will bring. Up until just a few years ago, Magic fans would usually just visit one plane three times and round out the fourth installment for the year with a Core set. That has all changed now that sets are as long or as short as the story warrants and 2020 sounds like it will be a plane-hopping year taking fans to a few iconic locations from Magic's history.
With the recent announcement of four new Magic sets, fans can start to speculate about when and what they'll be playing in the coming year. The return to two of Magic: The Gathering's most popular locations, Theros and Zendikar, only help to build the hype. Will there be a new cycle of Gods? Will the Zendikar lands and make Modern more affordable to play? Players may have to wait quite a while to get answers to some of these questions.
Keep in mind that although the order of the 2020 Magic sets has been announced, the official release dates are still unconfirmed. That said, we can definitely use what we know about the traditional MtG and Arena schedules to estimate when these sets are due to arrive both digitally and in paper.
The name and rough release estimates that arrived from WotC earlier this week looked like this:
Q1 – Theros, Beyond DeathQ2 – Ikoria, Lair of BehemothsQ3 – Core Set 2021Q4 – Zendikar Rising
Theros, Beyond Death
As the quarter one set, players can expect Theros, Beyond Death to release in mid to late January 2020. Spoiler season for the Q1 set usually kicks off right around the winter holidays and players will likely see the first major spoilers from the new Theros set sometime around Christmas Eve. Look for a release day somewhere between January 15-30.
Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths
Ah, the spring set. If the wait between the Q4 and Q1 sets feels like an eternity, the Q1 to Q2 transition is the complete opposite. Just by the time you start drafting Theros like a pro, it's going to be Ikoria pre-release time. The spring set usually arrives around mid-to-late April, but on occasion can stretch out to the first weekend in May. That makes the release weekend the same as Free Comic Book Day weekend, which can make game and comic shops very hectic places during early May.
Core Set 2021
As always, the Core Set will arrive in quarter three, sometime during the summer. Don't be confused by the year, Core Set 2021 will ship during summer 2020... Core Sets are a bit like car models that way, always one named one calendar year ahead of actual release. Usually the Core Set drops a pre-release the weekend after July 4th and then is actually released the following week. This would put the estimated release day somewhere in the July 12-20 range. We don't know where the Core set is going to take place just yet, but WotC did tease that the planeswalker Teferi will play a central role...
This is the big one. Although Magic did return to Zendikar just a handful of years ago, it's still one of the game's most popular planes, so fans will likely go wild once again at the chance to revisit the location. Similarly to the upcoming Throne of Eldraine set, Zendikar Rising is slated for Q4. That means that Zendikar will be very likely be a September 2020 release. Usually the September set launches pretty late into the month, so look for something after September 20, 2020 when planning ahead for your Zendikar pre-release and release windows.
Arena Early Access Events
It's important to also note that since the launch of Magic Arena, the digital platform has been receiving full access to the new sets starting a few days before the paper pre-releases. That means players should have a chance to get some sealed tournaments in with the new cards for practice before they head to a game shop for an official tournament. Keep an eye out for MTG Arena release events throughout the coming year.
Be sure to check back in the near future for more Magic: The Gathering and Magic Arena strategy guides, news, and updates. Until then, stay lucky.
Magic Arena is available now in select regions on Android and iOS devices.