Last week, a thread appeared on MTGSalvation. A user posted screenshots of a PDF that he allegedly found on IRC (a chat service), and then mere hours later, we had the full set of New Phyrexia spoiled.
In the history of Magic spoilers, this is among the biggest leaks ever to occur. Perhaps the biggest leak was when the entire Judgment set showed up on MTGO over a month and a half before the set release. The New Phyrexia spoiling comes a little closer to set release, but still brings up the same sentiments that people expressed when the Judgment spoiler was released:
- WotC (and card shops) won't make any more money (from me) until ________ comes out.
- People can decide whether they will buy or won't buy any boxes of ________.
- WotC loses its surprise element with its prerelease tournaments and the actual release itself.
- We become impatient and wait for the new cards. What are we going to talk about two weeks after ________ is released?
- T2 players will now try to get the cards they need to combo with ________ cards . . . so ________ will not be like a new set with new cards. It'll be more like waiting for the newly released set to be tournament-legal.
That was from a post about the Judgment spoiling back in 2002. Many similar posts on message boards are popping up about the leak of New Phyrexia. Some are still valid and more thought-out than the above, but largely it is just proof that opinions regarding such huge spoilers haven't changed much over the past ten years.
What has changed, however, is the nature of the Internet. When MTGNews had the complete Judgment spoiler, they didn't attract the number of people that MTGSalvation and GatheringMagic as well as other sites hosting the New Phyrexia spoiler got. Magic is more popular now, and information travels faster than it used to. Wizards didn't change anything they did in regards to the Judgment spoiler except to post this article over two weeks after the spoiler had leaked.
This time, Wizards acted. They released the entire spoiler on the first day of "preview week." The Internet isn't like it was in 2002. Rumor sites are much more reputable (even though they were just as accurate then), as they have been calling things right for many years. Online stores are preselling cards posted on rumor sites now, something unthinkable even two years ago. Every non-Wizards article writer is talking about the new cards in their articles. Wizards now has a very structured preview card system, across blogs, podcasts, and article authors.
When WotC decided to release the entire spoiler, they knew it meant canceling all the “exclusive previews” they would give to other sites. This was a small concession, as the power of the “exclusives” is lost when the entire spoiler is known. The job WotC has now is to keep the cards fresh in everyone's minds all the way to the set release, and not make the set feel “old” when people open it up for the first time during the prerelease.
It was a bold move for WotC to release the entire spoiler themselves, but they made the best of a bad situation. They edited their preview articles to reflect the full set being on their site, and some R&D members are fielding questions about the set's design (not the leak) on Twitter, such as Aaron Forsythe.
In two weeks, we'll have the prerelease, and I don't think the leak will noticeably affect attendance. Players are extremely excited about the new set, and limited is going to be extremely different with New Phyrexia in the mix. Thankfully the leak happened with what appears to be a strong set, and not a weak set like Worldwake.
I am saddened that the rumor season was put to a quick end, but we have M12 and the Commander decks coming around the bend. I hope there are no negative long-term implications from this leak, and I hope nothing like this will happen again in the future—or at least for another nine years.