This is the third year Wizards of the Coast is producing a set of San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Magic: the Gathering cards, this time with art by iconic fantasy artist Wayne Reynolds. If you’ve got the iron will to wait in line, you could own the planeswalkers everyone’s going to want.

The Comic-Con planeswalkers feature a unique black-on-black color scheme with a shimmering, reflective surface on the colored areas of the art. They’re actually kind of hard to read (and really hard to properly show off in photos or scans), but they sure do look badass. This year’s set also comes with a book exploring the backstories of the five planeswalkers featured in this summer’s Magic Origins expansion: Chandra, Jace, Nissa, Gideon, and Liliana. In it, you’ll find a short story for each planeswalker, plus expanded art from some of the key cards in the set, which looks extra impressive when it hasn’t been cropped down to fit a Magic card.

“Wayne Reynolds has worked with Wizards of the Coast for over a decade, and has become one of Magic’s most iconic artists,” Colin Kawakami, Creative Manager for Wizards of the Coast, told us. “The black on black card treatment we’ve used on the SDCC exclusive has a stark, graphic quality that works well with Wayne’s dynamic style. In the cover treatment for the Planeswalker Anthology, that style is echoed on the hardcover, and then finished with the brilliant color portraits on the book’s dust jacket.

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These sets are only available in limited quantities at San Diego Comic-Con, July 9 through 12, with a few going up on the Hasbro online store after the con (hope you like hitting refresh on your browser). The limited supply means they become collector’s items immediately—retail price is $120, but the last two years’ sets are worth significantly more than that. I talked to a Magic player on Twitter about the process for getting the SDCC planeswalkers last year (Hasbro has confirmed the process will be the same this year):

Wait in initial line for Hall H. I waited from about midnight to 8am, but slept. Get ticket and time slot, wait at Hasbro line in main hall (about 1-2 hours more), purchase any number of Hasbro exclusives. Magic has daily allotments, sells out fast. Last year, you could use your slot at a later time and day if sold out, but another 1-2 hour wait. You can usually pick up other items...from same wait; GI Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony, etc. But Hasbro is very popular, so high percentage of folks at the front of the line are there for Hasbro.

This year’s planeswalkers are extra special because they are doubled-sided cards that transform from each character’s young version to their final form, after they gain their spark and become true planeswalkers. These images show both sides of each card.

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Transforming cards were introduced a few years ago to represent the shapeshifting werewolves of Innistrad (not to mention the odd vampire or demon-haunted dagger). Each character has a unique trigger for transforming, creating a cool sort of mini-game within your Magic match—can you get five cards in your graveyard with Jace? Have something die in Liliana’s presence? Attack with Gideon and two buddies?

Their planeswalker abilities cover a wide range of effects. Gideon is a toned down version of his original planeswalker card, but that +1 ability to make a creature indestructible is kind of a big deal. Liliana’s ability to force everyone to discard works perfectly well with her other ability, to resurrect something from her own graveyard. When you can make an affect that hits all players symmetrically work in your favor asymmetrically, that’s some good Magicking. And while Nissa’s trigger, which requires having seven lands in play, seems tough, green is well-equipped to do it. And once she transforms, Nissa’s pretty powerful: drawing more cards, playing more lands to throw down huge green creatures, occasionally making a 4/4 for the hell of it—all in a day’s work for elf planeswalkers. As for Jace and Chandra, well, sure. They do things too. (Can you tell I’m not a Jace fan?)

Here’s an excerpt from the book, telling the tale of Nissa’s life as a young elf.


Top image by Izzy