Next year, Magic: The Gathering turns 30, which means it'll finally be old enough to sit down on a crowded train without feeling guilty about it. Publisher Wizards of the Coast has announced various promos and events as part of a lengthy birthday celebration (opens in new tab), but one of them has made Magic tragics even more upset than they usually are. It's a box with four 15-card booster packs in it that will set you back $999, making it the most expensive official Magic product ever released.
The 30th Anniversary Edition (opens in new tab) contains old school Magic cards like Shivan Dragon, Serra Angel, and Swords to Plowshares with their original art. Some of them are in retro frames, and to really jam the needle deep into your nostalgia vein, they include such hallmarks of 1990s Magic as the original white mana symbol (opens in new tab) and land cards that say "Tap to add" instead of having the modern curvy arrow symbol (opens in new tab) to represent tapping.
It even has cards from the Reserved List, a set of cards that would ordinarily never be reprinted like Black Lotus and the rest of the infamous Power Nine (opens in new tab). They're only included here because all the cards have a distinct back marking them out as the 30th Anniversary Edition and aren't legal for tournament play or any sanctioned Magic event. They're a collector's item, something streamers can open on-camera and coo over rather than a way of bringing Magic as it was played circa 1993 back into rotation.
The reaction online (opens in new tab) has not been positive (opens in new tab). The cost (opens in new tab) is an obvious point of contention: "All these big huge piles of money around me have really gotten in the way of me playing Magic: the Gathering," says @HexproofHarry (opens in new tab), "I'm so glad they're releasing 4 booster packs for $999". The fact that a whole grand buys you four randomized packs with no guarantee you'll get a cool Black Lotus or whatever has also come under fire, with u/Last_Mandalorian (opens in new tab) posting on the r/magicTCG subreddit, with a Redditor's typical sense of appropriate response, "This is the most predatory thing Wizards has ever done, and I am seriously considering whether or not I should give this company one more dollar."
Other players who've been clamoring for reprints of the Reserve List cards for years are frustrated that it's finally happening, but in a format they can't use. Which is no worse than it not happening at all, but you can't tell the internet that.
Meanwhile, next year's Dominaria Remastered set, releasing on January 13, will be full of returning cards for regular prices and in a format that's standard-legal. Some of them are the exact same cards as in 30th Anniversary Edition, like Swords to Plowshares and Birds of Paradise, and some will have retro frames too. As another part of the birthday celebration, a retro-framed card from each year of Magic will be reprinted as a promo for in-store prerelease events, starting with 1993's Serra Angel, which is also in the 30th Anniversary Edition.
So if you're interested in old school cards in a playable format without bank-busting prices, some of those will be available. Just not Black Lotus, because that bad boy in mint condition is still worth thousands of dollars on its own (opens in new tab), and Wizards of the Coast isn't about to bring down the fury of the secondary market.
"I think this 30th anniversary edition is the exact kind of thing WotC *should* make", said card game designer, former Magic pro, and voice of reason Brian Kibler (opens in new tab). "It doesn't gatekeep actual game pieces from people behind high prices and allows them to target collectors directly, like with Secret Lairs. I'd much rather this than even more sets all the time."
On the off-chance you really do want to drop one thousand whole dollars of your own money on the 30th Anniversary Edition, it'll be available from 30thEdition.wizards.com (opens in new tab) after November 28. If you'd rather just look at a gallery of the cards in the set, go "hey, I remember when Black Vise (opens in new tab) looked like that" and then move on with your life like a normal person, that's an option too (opens in new tab).