Mark Rosewater is the beloved head designer for Magic: The Gathering. While every set of new cards that comes out is the product of dozens of people working for months, even years at a time, MaRo as he’s affectionately known, is the one at the top. He’s been in the position for decades now, (after a stint as a writer on Roseanne.) Part of the reason he’s such a well-liked personality in an often churlish community, besides his impish smile, is that he’s very communicative with fans. He’s generous when answering questions and has his finger on the community pulse (as well as Hasbro funded market research about what people are liking.) He fielded so many questions about planes (the MTG term for a world) that he made a scale from 1-10 to let folks know how likely we would be to see that setting in a future standard legal set. He called it “The Rabiah Scale”, after the plane Rabiah, which we’re definitely never going back to. His criteria for whether we’ll see a setting again is based on what people liked, how much room there is to explore a story there, and if the plane had a strong mechanical identity to build cards around. When designing a set of new MTG cards, there’s a certain element that is like designing a whole new game, several times a year. This obviously takes a ton of resources and time and money, so it’s beneficial for the design teams to build off of existing mechanics and story lines instead of truly starting from scratch each time. For good or ill, here are the planes we’ll probably never get back to.

Mercadia

 

MaRo thinks of this as one of the least likely planes we’ll ever see in a standard legal set. Mercadia is a weird place. It became part of the MTG story well before Wizards took their current approach to world-building. Long story short, the plane is a dang mess. Everything is topsy turvy in that world. Goblins are hyper intelligent (including fan favorite character and immortal Planeswalker Squee) and mountains form with the peak on the ground their roots in the air.vThere aren’t any unique keyword mechanics in the set and the conflict in the set involved vague distinctions between “rebels” and “mercenaries”.

Rabiah

 

One of the earliest planes visited in MTG, we’re pretty much guaranteed to never re-visit Rabiah. Because we’re already there. Kinda. Rabiah is set in a fictional Earth that you’re probably very familiar with. The whole plane and Arabian Nights set was based off of the tales in the classic book 1001 Arabian Nights. Sure, there’s lots of magical creatures and spells, but it’s also existing IP that is used elsewhere by other companies. Wizards has left Aladdin behind.

Rath

Wizards of the Coast

Take a good long look.

Rath is a popular plane that folks liked a lot and that Wizards has placed many Magic sets in. Originally the plane was a hit because it was one of the very first times MTG left Dominaria. People loved it because it was something new, but as Mark Rosewater himself states, its world building doesn’t hold up to modern standards. (No pun intended.) Plus, during a battle with the Phyrexians, it got “overlaid” onto Dominaria, which means the whole plane got squished onto the other and the two are basically one and the same now. So does that mean we actually have gone back to Rath in Dominaria United?

Serra’s Realm

 

Serra isn’t just the name of the quirky swim captain from your high school, it’s also one of the most famous angels in Magic. She created the plane to be a place of perpetual peace where no inhabitant would ever have to suffer. You can probably guess how that went. Those pesky Phyrexians got their oily fingers into the mind of Serra’s right hand angel and corrupted the plane. Floating plateaus holding entire valleys and villages of peaceful inhabitants littered the sky which was perpetually lit as if in twilight. And despite Serra’s creed being “discourse, freedom, peace” everyone worshiped her. Not a ton of discourse if everyone believes the exact same thing, but we’ll let that slide. They did get totally rocked by the Phyrexians who wreaked havoc. And that’s probably why we’ll never go back. 

Ulgrotha

Wizards of the Coast

It's too scary to go back.

First appearing in Homelands, this plane has a classic and tragic tale. Two warring factions escalated their weapons until they blew up the whole dang place. Almost all life was wiped out after a magical nuke chime, blasted everything to hell. But as we should all know by now, life finds a way. And nomadic tribes re-formed and began to repopulate the plane. During the big ol’ war, some wild wizard had opened a portal to another plane to draw magic from, and folks found their way through that portal. Which is an interesting example of non-planeswalker creatures traversing between planes. 

Phyrexia

 

Phyrexians are some of the most ubiquitous (and scariest) baddies in Magic. They’re basically MTG’s version of the Borg. They want to “perfect” all life by turning every organism into a machine. They’re full of nasty ideas and magical oil and they just want the best for you sweetie. Unfortunately, some people in the multiverse are attached to their squishy limbs and stupid, regular, non-oily blood. This has cause a lot of conflict that’s fueled much of the MTG story and lore for years. They’ve recently reared their perfect, flawless machine heads on the plane where it all began, Dominaria. So why won’t we ever go back to their home plane of Phyrexia? There’s two reasons. One is a design conundrum, most of the Phyrexians use black mana or colorless mana and are artifacts. Showcasing the other colors would be a challenge. The second reason is simpler. The plane was totally blown to sh*t and no longer exists.

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