|War of the Spark|
|Symbol description||Bolas's horns over the planeswalker symbol|
Mark Rosewater (lead)|
Dave Humpherys (lead)|
|Release date||May 3, 2019|
|Themes and mechanics||Planeswalkers, colored artifacts, hybrid mana, Vehicles|
|Keywords/ability words||Amass, Proliferate, Affinity for artifacts, Crew|
(101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares, 15 basic lands)
+10 Planeswalker deck exclusives
+1 Buy-a-Box promo
|Core Set 2020 Standard|
|Magic: The Gathering Chronology|
War of the Spark is the 81st Magic expansion. It was released on May 3, 2019. Officially, it is not part of a block. However, it is part of a series of three consecutive sets on the same world, unofficially referred to as the Guilds of Ravnica block. It covers the event of the same name.
War of the Spark contains 264 cards (15 basic lands, 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares), and includes randomly inserted premium versions of all these cards. Ten additional cards are found in the set's planeswalker decks (2 mythic planeswalkers, 2 rares, 2 uncommons, 2 commons, and 2 common Guildgates). These are numbered #265/264 to #274/264. A unique Buy-a-Box promotional card numbered #275/264 is also considered to be part of the set. While all previous sets on Ravnica focused on the ten Ravnican guilds, this set focuses on the culmination of the Bolas Arc simply using the world as a backdrop. Mark Rosewater calls it an "event set", meaning it is built around an event rather than the plane. As a special feature, the set features a total of 36 planeswalkers cards (39 including the Buy-a-Box promo + 2 in the planeswalker decks. Each booster pack contains a planeswalker card, and all planeswalkers are new cards (no reprints).
|“||Be there when it ends.||”|
The storyline and set revolves around the fight between the Gatewatch and Nicol Bolas. The fight turns into an all-out planeswalker war. Dozens of powerful planeswalkers, from many disparate realities, unite against the elder dragon, who has claimed dominion over Ravnica and is perilously close to completing the Elderspell that harvests sparks and will grant him "ultimate power" and godhood. As they fight alongside the Gatewatch—led by Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, and Gideon Jura—against Bolas and his relentless army of Eternals, nothing less than the fate of the multiverse is at stake. Little do the Gatewatch suspect that Bolas has not only accounted for their interference, but he is practically relying on it.
The cards that represent the Story Spotlights in War of the Spark are:
- Act 1: Ignite the Beacon, No Escape, Emergence Zone, Dreadhorde Invasion, Ravnica at War and God-Pharaoh's Statue
- Act 2: Pledge of Unity, Rally of Wings, Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi, Topple the Statue, Enter the God-Eternals, Spark Harvest, The Elderspell, and Deliver Unto Evil
- Act 3: Storm the Citadel, Divine Arrow, Unlikely Aid, Tyrant's Scorn, Command the Dreadhorde, Price of Betrayal, Gideon's Sacrifice, Heartwarming Redemption, Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Despark, Prison Realm, Oath of Kaya, and Planewide Celebration
In addition to the novel and its sequel (both by Greg Weisman) and the prequel by Django Wexler, part of the story appeared in six Magic Story chapters written by Greg Weisman. Like the books, these were published after the set had been released.
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—Old Friends and New||Greg Weisman||2019-05-08||Ravnica||Rat, Hekara, Teyo Verada, Kaya, Ral Zarek, and many others.|
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—The Path to Opulent||Greg Weisman||2019-05-15||Ravnica||Rat, Teyo Verada, Kaya, Domri Rade and many others.|
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—Rallying the Reluctant||Greg Weisman||2019-05-22||Ravnica||Rat, Teyo Verada, Kaya, Jace Beleren, Gideon Jura and many others.|
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—Desperate Operatives||Greg Weisman||2019-05-29||Ravnica||Rat, Teyo Verada, Kaya, Ral Zarek, Trostani, Borborygmos, Vraska and many others.|
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—Operation Desperation||Greg Weisman||2019-06-05||Ravnica||Rat, Teyo Verada, Kaya, Ral Zarek, Vraska, Rakdos, Exava, Tomik Vrona and Hekara.|
|War of the Spark: Ravnica—Ashes||Greg Weisman||2019-06-12||Ravnica||Rat, Teyo Verada, Gatewatch, Dack Fayden, Liliana Vess, Vraska, Ral Zarek, Niv-Mizzet, Vorel and many others.|
Basic land panorama
War of the Spark is sold in regular 16-card boosters (one card being a marketing card and another one being a planeswalker), single color theme boosters, two planeswalker decks, and the War of the Spark bundle. The planeswalker theme of the set was revealed in a teaser that featured the art of the 36 planeswalker cards with an added stained-glass effect. The boosters feature art from Liliana and Gideon (both from the set's key art), and from Teferi, Time Raveler.
Preview season told a story in "scenes". All cards previewed on a single day had a connection to a story point, an event, or a key location in roughly chronological order.
- War of the Spark came online on MTG Arena on April 25, two days before prerelease.
- Prerelease took place on April 27–28, 2019, the same weekend as London MagicFest and the second Mythic Championship of the year. In fact, the MagicFest at a late date was revealed to be a "Prerelease grand prix".
- The Magic League was omitted from War of the Spark and all seasons for the foreseeable future, according to WPN because it demanded a lot of resources from stores and Tournament Organizers (TOs) and did little to drive play.
- Magic Weekend is an experimental one-off format, with special rules curated by Magic’s design studio.
- Magic Open House: full-art Liliana's Triumph
- Prerelease: a foil stamped card that can be any rare or mythic, and a foil stamped planeswalker
- Draft Weekend Launch promo: alternate art Bolas's Citadel
- Buy-a-Box: Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge
- FNM promos: Augur of Bolas, Paradise Druid and Dovin's Veto
- Planeswalker Weekend: alternate art Karn's Bastion and full-art Time Wipe
Japanese alternate art
All 36 planeswalker have a 50% chance that the regular artwork of the planeswalker card will be replaced by an anime-style alternate art card in Japanese-language War of the Spark boosters only. The Japanese boosters were made available to retailers around the world.
These cards were also available in WPN promo packs during the Core Set 2020 play season, appearing in roughly 1:4 of packs. The alternate-art planeswalkers have only been printed in Japanese, but will appear in promo packs around the world.
Tokens and emblems
- 2/2 Spirit creature for Ugin, the Ineffable
- 4/4 Angel creature with flying and vigilance for Finale of Glory and Parhelion II
- 2/2 Soldier creature with vigilance for Finale of Glory
- 0/3 Wall creature with defender for Teyo, the Shieldmage
- 2/2 Wizard creature for Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor
- 1/1 Assassin creature with deathtouch and "Whenever this creature deals damage to a planeswalker, destroy that planeswalker" for Vraska, Swarm's Eminence
- 2/2 Zombie creature for Liliana, Dreadhorde General
- 0/0 Zombie Army creature (1 of 3) for each spell with amass
- 0/0 Zombie Army creature (2 of 3)
- 0/0 Zombie Army creature (3 of 3)
- 4/4 Zombie Warrior creature with vigilance for God-Eternal Oketra
- 1/1 Devil creature with "When this creature dies, it deals 1 damage to any target" for Tibalt, Rakish Instigator
- 4/4 Dragon creature with flying for Sarkhan the Masterless
- 1/1 Goblin creature for Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
- 2/2 Wolf creature for Arlinn, Voice of the Pack
- 2/2 Citizen creature that is all colors for Planewide Celebration
- 3/3 legendary Wolf creature named Voja, Friend to Elves for Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
- 1/1 Servo artifact creature for Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
- Emblem for Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Themes and mechanics
The main theme of the set is planeswalkers and cards that interact with them. Apart from the usual mythic rare planeswalkers, the set also features rare and uncommon planeswalkers. All of the thirty-six planeswalkers in the main set have a static or triggered ability. The 20 uncommon ones have an additional minus loyalty ability (no plus abilities). The 13 rares have additional plus and minus loyalty abilities. The 4 mythic rares have three additional abilities. The four mythic rare planeswalkers are the two main protagonists of the story (Liliana and Gideon), the main antagonist (Bolas), and a secondary antagonist (Tezzeret). Some two-color planeswalkers show up as monocolor planeswalkers in their base color. Every planeswalker has a least one signature card that represents a spell they would cast. They're all named with the possessive, except for Jiang Yanggu, whose signature spell is his companion Mowu, Loyal Companion.
The keyword action Proliferate from the Scars of Mirrodin block sees a return. When a player proliferates, he or she chooses any number of players and/or permanents with a counter on them, then puts another of those counters on these players or permanents. However, a rules change has been implemented. Formerly, you had to choose a type of counter already present and added one counter of that type, now you are adding one counter of each type already present.
A new mechanic is Amass. "Amass N" means put N +1/+1 counters on an Army creature you control. If you don't control one, create a 0/0 black Zombie Army creature token first. It appears in because it is flavorfully connected to Bolas's army.
Affinity for artifacts, last seen in the Mirrodin block, appears as a one-off on Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge. It reduces the mana cost of a spell by the number of artifacts that player controls.
There is a small tribal theme for zombies. Some notable creature cards give bonuses to zombie tokens, depicted as members of the Dreadhorde.(Eternal Skylord, Vizier of the Scorpion, Dreadhorde Twins and Gleaming Overseer).
War of the Spark features the following limited archetypes:
- : Stall and evasion (Dovin's Veto, Elite Guardmage)
- : Building up amass (Gleaming Overseer, Tyrant's Scorn)
- : Sacrifice amass (Angrath's Rampage, Mayhem Devil)
- : Power brutes (Domri's Ambush, Rubblebelt Rioters)
- : Go wide proliferate (Huatli's Raptor, Pledge of Unity)
- : Small utility creatures (Cruel Celebrant, Despark)
- : Spells-matter amass (Invade the City, Ral's Outburst)
- : Multicolor ramp (Deathsprout, Leyline Prowler)
- : Aggro tricks (Heartwarming Redemption, Tenth District Legionnaire)
- : Go tall +1/+1 counters (Merfolk Skydiver, Neoform)
War of the Spark has eleven cycles.
|Uncommon planeswalkers||Teyo, the Shieldmage||Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor||Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage||Jaya, Venerated Firemage||Arlinn, Voice of the Pack|
|The Wanderer||Narset, Parter of Veils||Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted||Tibalt, Rakish Instigator||Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter|
|Ten monocolored uncommon planeswalkers, two for each color.|
|The Gatewatch||Gideon Blackblade||Jace, Wielder of Mysteries||Liliana, Dreadhorde General||Chandra, Fire Artisan||Nissa, Who Shakes the World|
|Five rare and mythic planeswalkers representing the original Gatewatch members. Each one has an "ultimate" loyalty ability, or one that cannot be activated immediately.|
|Triumphs||Gideon's Triumph||Jace's Triumph||Liliana's Triumph||Chandra's Triumph||Nissa's Triumph|
|Five uncommon spells, each enhanced if you control a planeswalker of the respective type. They each depict a member of the Gatewatch and are a direct reflection of the "Defeats" from Hour of Devastation. Each has art by Kieran Yanner, who also illustrated the Defeats.|
|Gods||God-Eternal Oketra||God-Eternal Kefnet||God-Eternal Bontu||Ilharg, the Raze-Boar||God-Eternal Rhonas|
|Five mythic gods, four invading eternalized gods from Amonkhet and one native to Ravnica.|
|Finales||Finale of Glory||Finale of Revelation||Finale of Eternity||Finale of Promise||Finale of Devastation|
|Five mythic monocolored sorceries, that each get a bonus effect when X ≥ 10. The names reflect the Accounting of Hours from Amonkhet.|
|Colored artifacts||Parhelion II||Silent Submersible||Bolas's Citadel||Mizzium Tank||Vivien's Arkbow|
|Five rare colored artifacts.|
|Legendary natives||Tomik, Distinguished Advokist||Fblthp, the Lost||Massacre Girl||Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin||Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi|
|Five rare monocolor spells that represent important figures in Ravnica: four legendary creatures, and one instant that turns a land into a legendary creature.|
|Bonds||Bond of Discipline
|Bond of Insight
|Bond of Revival
|Bond of Passion
|Bond of Flourishing |
|Five uncommon monocolored sorceries, that each represent a pairing of two guilds sharing the card's color, forming shards.|
|Hybrid planeswalkers||Dovin, Hand of Control||Ashiok, Dream Render||Angrath, Captain of Chaos||Samut, Tyrant Smasher||Huatli, the Sun's Heart||Kaya, Bane of the Dead||Saheeli, Sublime Artificer||Vraska, Swarm's Eminence||Nahiri, Storm of Stone||Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner|
|Ten uncommon planeswalkers, who each have hybrid mana in their mana costs.|
|Gold creatures||Elite Guardmage||Gleaming Overseer||Mayhem Devil||Rubblebelt Rioters||Huatli's Raptor||Cruel Celebrant||Invade the City||Leyline Prowler||Tenth District Legionnaire||Merfolk Skydiver|
|Ten uncommon gold creature spells (or in one case, a noncreature spell with amass). Each is a signpost for a draft archetype.|
|Gold noncreatures||Dovin's Veto||Tyrant's Scorn||Angrath's Rampage||Domri's Ambush||Pledge of Unity||Despark||Ral's Outburst||Deathsprout||Heartwarming Redemption||Neoform|
|Ten uncommon gold noncreature spells, each of which is a generically powerful spell that encourages drafting in its colors.|
War of the Spark has (at least) two mirrored pairs.
|Weirds forming a partnership.|
|Creatures with converted mana cost of 2M that proliferate when a certain card type is played.|
- Ajani's Pridemate, first printed in Magic 2011, last seen in Challenger Decks 2019 (where it already had the War of the Spark expansion symbol).
- Augur of Bolas, first printed in Magic 2013, last seen in Modern Masters 2017.
- Chandra's Pyrohelix, first printed in Kaladesh.
- Defiant Strike, first printed in Khans of Tarkir.
- Demolish, first printed in Odyssey, last seen in Ixalan.
- Gateway Plaza, first printed in Guilds of Ravnica, last seen in Ravnica Allegiance.
- Giant Growth, first printed in Alpha, last seen in Battlebond.
- New Horizons, first printed in Ixalan.
- Primordial Wurm, first printed in Dominaria.
- Sorin's Thirst, first printed in Magic 2012, last seen in Duel Decks: Sorin vs. Tibalt.
- Totally Lost, first printed in Gatecrash, last seen in Core Set 2019.
- Two Guildgates, first printed in Gatecrash, last seen in Ravnica Allegiance.
- Davriel's Shadowfugue is a functional reprint of Mental Agony.
- Divine Arrow is a functional reprint of Gideon's Reproach.
- Enforcer Griffin is a functional reprint of Shining Aerosaur and Skyswirl Harrier, save for creature types.
- Goblin Assailant is a functional reprint of Falkenrath Reaver, Defiant Khenra, and Swab Goblin, save for creature types.
- Ironclad Krovod is a functional reprint of Dutiful Servants, save for creature types.
- Kraul Stinger is a functional reprint of Daggerback Basilisk, save for creature types.
- Naga Eternal is a functional reprint of Coral Commando, save for creature types.
- Shriekdiver is a functional reprint of Blighted Bat, save for creature types.
- Tamiyo's Epiphany is a functional reprint of Foresee.
Banned and Restricted cards
- Karn, the Great Creator has a one-sided Null Rod passive ability that generally only gained power with larger formats. Despite its suffocating interaction with Mycosynth Lattice that led to Lattice's banning in Modern, it was not generally damaging for formats up to Legacy. Vintage, however, is defined by its fast mana, most of it being artifact based. Karn hence was restricted in August 2019.
- Narset, Parter of Veils has a draw-restricting passive most famously seen on Leovold, Emissary of Trest, already a powerful card in Eternal formats. While it was frustrating in most formats, most decks had sufficient methods to remove Narset at a reasonable exchange. In Vintage, however, the bulk of the format required some form of additional card draw to operate, and with fast mana Narset hamstrung enough decks that it needed to be restricted in November 2019.
- Teferi, Time Raveler, unlike the other two, had play problems as a whole. The passive ability prevents an opponent from casting spells on its controller's turn. However, the wording only allows functional sorcery spells, stopping combat tricks, spells like Finale of Promise, and protective spells like Lazotep Plating, cutting out synergy decks powered by such cards like Feather, the Redeemed and Arclight Phoenix. Its -3 ability rendered most non-planeswalker permanents that cost 3 or greater ineffectual, while the ability to cast a sorcery with flash punished aggressive decks greatest, given that Shatter the Sky was in Standard. All in all, Teferi pushed decks away from the middle of the curve into extreme aggressive or heavy ramp (consequently knocking out control); its only saving grace was that it kept Flash decks and Temur Wilderness Reclamation decks from overwhelming the format. Six weeks prior to rotation, Teferi was banned alongside Wilderness Reclamation as a sign that Wizards acknowledged how frustrating the two cards were. Teferi was later banned in both Historic (October 2020) and Pioneer (February 2021). With the release of Alchemy for Historic, it was rebalanced and unbanned by changing the passive to "Your opponents can't cast spells on your turn" and increasing the mana cost by .
- Dreadhorde Arcanist, like Karn and Narset, had varying impacts depending on the strength of cheap spells. It has the ability to "flash back" spells with cost less than its power, which at one power tends to be a reasonable threshold, and the 3 toughness makes it not particularly sturdy. That said, the breadth of options in Legacy makes it an engine in a format where one mana spells have high impact. It was banned in February 2021.
War of the Spark features two planeswalker decks:
|Gideon||W||B||Gideon, the Oathsworn|
|Jace||U||G||Jace, Arcane Strategist|
- War of the Spark Credits
- Mark Rosewater (January 11, 2019). "Is war of the sparks set code wos or war or what...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Magic Europe. Twitter (February 18, 2019).
- WPN Product info
- Wizards of the Coast (April 19, 2019). "War of the Spark Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2018). "In the summer announcements video gavin mentions...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (September 10, 2018). "Guild to Order, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2018). "Going back to ravnica is exciting but getting 3...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (May 20, 2018). "As you look to revisit ravnica three times will...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 9, 2019). "Would that make War of the Spark a top-down set?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 9, 2019). "If event sets are based around a single event, ...?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (January 24, 2019). "War of the Spark is doing something incredibly crazy that has never been tried before.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Chris Gleeson (March 8, 2019). "A Closer Look at the Stained-Glass Planeswalkers". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 8, 2019). "Is that the crazy aspect about the set that you're super excited for us you see?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 8, 2019). "Are we allowed to know yet if any of the 36 planeswalkers are reprints?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Cameron Kunzelman (September 1, 2018). "Magic: The Gathering Returns to Novels in 2019 With Greg Weisman's Ravnica". Pastemagazine.com.
- War of the Spark: Ravnica (Magic: The Gathering) (Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover). Amazon.com.
- James Wyatt (January 2019). "The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ravnica". Wizards of the Coast.
- Chris Gleeson (April 18, 2019). "War of the Spark Story Hype". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Jiri_One (May 2, 2019). "A Quick rundown of the new themed boosters". Reddit.
- Mark Rosewater (March 9, 2019). "Will it be possible to buy stained-glass artworks of the planeswalkers on shirts or posters in the future?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 11, 2019). "You said the stained-glass planeswalkers weren't painted that way and the glass effect was added afterward.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Chris Gleeson (April 1, 2019). "War of the Spark Promos and Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- MTG Arena Admin (April 2, 2019). "Preorder War of the Spark on MTG Arena". MTG Arena Forum.
- Blake Rasmussen (March 27, 2019). "War of Spark Preview Season Tells a Story". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Deutschland. Twitter (February 15, 2019).
- Magic: The Gathering. Twitter (February 11, 2019).
- CFBEvents. Twitter (February 11, 2019).
- Gavin Verhey (April 23, 2019). "War of the Spark Prerelease Primer". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Before You Schedule War of the Spark.... WPN (February 15, 2019).
- Magic War of the Spark : Pre-Release, Friday Event #1
- Wizards of the Coast (April 22, 2019). "Japanese Alternate-Art Planeswalkers". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Chris Gleeson (April 18, 2019). "The Tokens of War of the Spark". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Tehtmi (April 30, 2019). "Token Rarity in WAR". Reddit.
- Mark Rosewater (March 10, 2019). "Are there cards in WAR that aren't planeswalkers but synergize with them or use mechanics that they benefit from?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Matt Tabak (March 31, 2019). "War of the Spark Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (April 1, 2019). "Waging War of the Spark, Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "Do all the uncommon planeswalkers only have minus loyalty abilities?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "Does every planeswalker in War of the Spark have a non-loyalty ability?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "The 3 mythic planeswalkers?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "I just realized that Teferi, Narset, and Dovin are all in the set. And all WU.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "Vraska’s Finisher, Tibalt’s Ravager, Ajani’s Pridemate... is this a trend we can expect to see with the remaining PWs in the set?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (April 8, 2019). "Waging War of the Spark, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "The Proliferate reminder text on Flux Channeler doesn't match the current rules". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (April 15, 2019). "Waging War of the Spark, Part 3". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "Why force such a mechanic into these colors?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2019). "AFFINITY FOR ARTIFACTS IN STANDARD?!". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Dave Humpherys (April 17, 2019). "Chronicling War of the Spark Set Design". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Chris Mooney (April 4, 2019). "Wanna See Something Weird?". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic: The Gathering – War of the Spark Official Teaser (Video). Magic: The Gathering. YouTube (February 15, 2019).
- War of the Spark Official Trailer – Magic: The Gathering (Video). Magic: The Gathering. YouTube (March 31, 2019).
- Mark Rosewater (May 13, 2019). "Odds & Ends: War of the Spark". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.