The New X-Files Got Nothin’ On Thison February 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm
For the record, I haven’t done one of these in a while. So when you notice that I’ve posted in between comic releases in a time when we don’t have a regular schedule, and you notice I picked a niche topic, know that all of this is by design. It is my sincere hope that anyone who actually notices anything is here will have their eyes glaze over the moment I mention Magic: The Gathering so I can have some words to myself to find all the letters on the keyboard, again.
So Wizards of the Coast recently announced a new expansion set called Conspiracy: Reign of Brago. This set of cards, a sequel to 2014′s Conspiracy, returns thematically to the fictional world of Paliano, which would sit adjacent to Westeros on a list of fictional places sorted by back-stabbings per capita. The last time we saw Paliano in the Magic lore, the titular Brago had just finished tricking someone into assassinating him so he could be resurrected as an immortal ghost-king and rule forever. So his reign being the follow-up to that story was pretty easy to swallow.
Except some time later the coastal wizards posted a strange image on social media. It depicted an woman stabbing the immortal ghost-king in his ectoplasmic throat with a glowing knife. This was immediately followed up by the announcement of Conspiracy: The Empty Throne, replacing the previous announcement and sagely emphasizing that there was one fewer card in the set, now.
This was some really brilliant marketing. The original Conspiracy set was really well received, and Reign of Brago was a really exciting announcement that made total sense. But using the real world set announcement as a feint for Brago’s in-universe assassination is, as my little brother put it, “more flavorful than a mimosa.” It’s a perfect use of metatext to invoke the same sensation of surprise that the citizenry of Paliano would feel over the death of their forever-king in the hearts of invested real-world fans.
But then they released another follow-up image of some lady wearing the still-warm ghost-king’s crown, and the announcement of The Empty Throne was replaced by an announcement for Conspiracy: Take the Crown. And they added a card to the total for the set. Uh, okay. In comparison, this fell flat for me. I guess it’s in thematically consistent for Paliano’s crown not to sit idle for long, but I was already expecting to take it at some point. It was just sitting there, begging to be taken. That’s what an empty throne means to me in the context of a strategic card game.
The first announcement rope-a-dope was fantastic as a unique involvement of the reader in the fictional world of Paliano. Trying to make that lightning strike twice seems like pushing it too hard. Like a kid who immediately retells the joke you just laughed at because he wants to illicit the same response, oblivious to the fact that the spontaneity of the joke was it’s selling point.
I mean, where do we go from here? Another few pics, another few edits to the announcement with new titles, and then it culminates in the set actually getting cancelled before release because the whole story managed to resolve itself without any player input?
Actually, that sounds hilarious to me. But that’s because I’m a horrible person.