Earlier this month the Magic: The Gathering community was hit by a massive wave of spoilers for their latest upcoming set – Oath of the Gatewatch. The first set of spoilers leaked was for the new version of the Eldrazi card – Kozilek, the Great Distortion and the introduction of a new basic land called Wastes. Many speculated as to whether this was a legitimate card or a fabrication, as the new basic land featured a symbol for colorless mana, introducing a big rules change to the game.
On the 13th of December another wave of leaked cards appeared on imgur featuring new expedition lands (ultra rare foil full-art cards that can fetch up to 250$ per card), two new Planeswalker cards – Chandra and Nissa, and spoilers from the upcoming unannounced Duel Decks set featuring Geist of Saint Traft. Whilst these were also unconfirmed, the photographic images of the hard-to-fabricate foil cards and the sheer amount of volume left many feeling that these were very much legitimate upcoming cards.
Whilst Wizards of the Coast often refrains from commenting on leaks, many Magic media personalities and pro-players commented on the unofficial spoilers in a negative way. Most were upset as the leaks took the excitement out of visiting the web media outlets for official announcements that are carefully set up, detracting traffic from content creators, whereas the community itself was split on the issue.
Eventually WotC themselves published an article titled Why Leaks Hurt, echoing the sentiment of the previous comments. This article went a long way to emphasize how seriously Wizards are taking the issue.
“So if we can’t design a game that is leak-proof, our only other option is to work hard to prevent leaks. Which we do. We follow rigorous security protocols to ensure assets don’t sneak outside the building. So when you see a leak online, what you are seeing is theft, and we have an obligation to pursue and punish those engaged in that activity.”
On December 21st Wizards of the Coast announced a suspension for multiple level 2 and 3 judges in the Southeast section of the US. Many surmised that this was linked to the recent leaks and a later statement from WotC confirmed this. The cards were shared by two members of the Judge community on a private Facebook group and every member of the group received a DCI suspension, preventing them from any judging or sanctioned play in the near future.
Oath of the Gatewatch is set to release worldwide on the 22nd of January, with pre-release events happening on the weekend of the 16-17th of January.