Magic: The Gathering is getting even more magical! Strixhaven: School of Mages, releases on 23 April 2021 (15 April on the digital platforms) and takes place on the plane of Arcavios, where the titular academy is located. The most elite magical school in the Multiverse, Strixhaven University is composed of five separate colleges, each founded by a different elder dragon that gave it both its name and its color allegiance: Silverquill for white-black, Prismari for blue-red, Witherbloom for black-green, Lorehold for white-red, and Quandrix for blue-green – and if these names sound Harry Potter-y to you, well, it's because they are!
A 275-card multicolored set based around enemy-color pairs, which is something that was never done before for a large set, Strixhaven explores all flavors of spellslinging, within a diverse setting featuring several sentient races, including Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Kor, Merfolk, Loxodons, Dragons, and of course owl-like Bird people. The "instants and sorceries matter" gameplay is expressed through two of its new mechanics. Magecraft is an ability word that generates an effect every time instants or sorceries are either cast or copied, the latter's clause emphasizing the experimental work of all the students enrolled in the five Strixhaven colleges, and not just the blue-red one, which is traditionally the color pair that cares the most about copying spells. Furthermore, the Learn mechanic allows for a special new subtype of cards called Lessons to be fetched from outside the game – or, failing that, to just discard a card to draw a card instead. Still flavorfully related to the school setting in which pupils are taught how to protect themselves from their highly magical surroundings, Ward is the new keyworded name for an evergreen ability that was previously known as "Frost Armor". It's the triggered ability of those permanents that demand an additional cost to be paid when they're targeted by the opponents, lest the targeting effect be countered.
Lastly, Strixhaven is a set that belongs to the 2020-2021 Standard cycle, so the modal double-faced cards make a return. Examples are the deans of the colleges, a position held simultaneously by two individuals of opposing colors, each represented on one of the two faces of the same card.
A magical school is certainly the right place to convene with a colorful bunch of interesting people, and the faculty is especially bound to comprise all kinds of fascinating mentors. One of those we meet at Strixhaven is none other than Liliana, now going by the alias of the elegantly austere Professor Onyx, clearly caught in a Severus Snape role. And we already knew the mysterious Kasmina was a teacher back when we first encountered her during the War of the Spark, but her Fractal-making Enigma Sage incarnation unexpectedly reveals her second color as green. The wonder twins Rowan and Will Kenrith offer their expertise as elemental scholars too and are clearly going to become the crush of more than one beguiled trainee. The planeswalking siblings are here depicted in their third different way to represent their uniquely shared spark; first, they were two separate cards with partners in Battlebond; then both were on the same card in Throne of Eldraine; and in Strixhaven, they're closely positioned together once again, but this time as the back and front of a modal double-faced card.
Strixhaven University hosts the Mystical Archive, the most exhaustive collection of spells ever known to planeswalkers. This concept is transposed in-game terms through a separate set of cards, similar to the Masterpiece Series, which reprints, in a special showcase frame, 63 famous instants and sorceries from across the history of the game (15 mythics, 30 rares, and 18 uncommons, some of which were previously printed at common). Examples include Swords to Plowshares, Mind's Desire, Demonic Tutor, Urza's Rage, and Primal Command, as well as the preview of Abundant Harvest from Modern Horizons two.
The Japanese versions bear alternate art inspired by traditional Japanese paintings. The legality of these cards doesn't change, as they remain legal only in formats where they already were – with the exception of the Arena-exclusive format Historic, which is given full access to 56 of the Mystical Archive cards, those most compatible with its planned power level. Regardless, Strixhaven Limited is strongly impacted by the Mystical Archive, both in paper and in digital, as each Draft Booster is guaranteed to contain one of the cards as a supplemental slot of random rarity. The same is true of Set Boosters, while Collector Boosters include at least three, could feature Japanese alternates even in non-Japanese products and have the foil-etched treatment rather than regular foil.