Magic the Gathering Set Review: M12

 

Wizard of the Coast’s latest Core Set - M12 - officially hit the shelves earlier this month and today’s article will focus on its shortcomings, highlights, and other generalizations (distribution, investment value, etc).

Three-Letter Abbreviation M12

Number of Cards 249

Release Date July 15, 2011

Prerelease Events July 9-10, 2011

Launch Parties July 15-18, 2011

Game Day August 13-14, 2011

Design Team

Mark Globus (lead), Doug Beyer, Aaron Forsythe, Ken Nagle

Development Team

Tom LaPille (lead), Kelly Digges, Peter Schaefer, Mike Turian, Steve Warner, Dave Humpherys

While quite a few of M12’s cards are recent reprints and carry-overs from M11, it has thus far been generally-received as a slight step down from last year’s offering. Some curious choices such as trading in fan-favorite Lightning Bolt for the duo of Shock and Incinerate seem like a strange attempt to keep the cards “fresh” for Standard, but are seen by players as a little disappointing. From a monetary perspective, some of the cards that were reprinted from M11 have driven down the value of existing versions, such as the Titans cycle.

Highlights of the set include several reprints from M10 that were replaced with “inferior” versions in M11, such as the use of Ponder (M10 and M12) over Preordain (its M11 supplicant). Other direct reprints from M11 were generally praised by Standard players for the very reason faulted by collectors – driving down the values of key cards such as Primeval Titan, Grave Titan, and Gideon Jura (from Rise of the Eldrazi) makes them more available to tournament goers and helps reduce the start-up cost for potential new players. As with other recent core sets, M12 also introduces a few new cards, including new versions of popular Planeswalkers in Jace, Memory Adept, Chandra, the Firebrand, and Garruk, Primal Hunter.

These three new Planeswalkers also happen to be among the set’s most valuable cards on the secondary market, based on their relative rarity, powerful abilities, and speculation that they should see substantial tournament play in the coming months (particularly so with Jace, Memory Adept).

Generally speaking, M12 is a very robust and well-balanced core set. There are enough “good” cards at each converted mana cost and in each color to allow for fair drafting. The pre-constructed decks do a decent job of showing off some of the new cards and are at least playable out of the box. Following the recent trend, they also include a booster pack for further customization.

Also following the trend of recent sets, larger retail outlets such as Target and Walmart have received shipments of “sample packs” – 6-card offerings with an MSRP of $2USD which include a token card, a basic land, 3 commons, an uncommon, and a “randomized” slot that could be another uncommon, a rare, or even a mythic rare. Additionally, we have the MSRP $10 “Booster Battle Pack” 2-player game option… It seems that Wizards of the Coast is still bent on selling a 2-player product (presumably for Limited play – feel free to read more about it at their official press release, here). It does offer a decent deal as it includes two booster packs and two semi-random, 15-card decks with enough lands to make two functional decks.

Investment-wise, M12 is a pretty solid offering with three Planeswalkers presently at or above the $25 mark (Jace is commanding almost $30 or higher), and at least five other cards hovering around $10. The next bracket includes ten or so cards hanging on to a decent value of $5, with many other rares falling somewhere into that $1 to $2 range (however, it should be noted that almost 40 rares from this set are currently worth less than $1).

Overall, M12 is a great core set and will not disappoint many players, but will hopefully see some interaction with the upcoming blocks to create a more diverse Standard environment.

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