Strixhaven: School of Mages will be the second Standard-legal Magic: The Gathering set Wizards of the Coast is planning to release in 2021. Originally announced back in September 2020, the 87th Magic expansion is set in the elite university of the multiverse, featuring five colleges battling it out with their own takes on magic.
Here's a summary of what we know so far about Strixhaven: School of Pages (This page will be updated as Wizards of the Coast reveals more information about this set).
Release Date & Other Important Dates: When Will Strixhaven: School of Mages Be Available?
WotC hasn't announced an official release date for both tabletop and digital (Magic: The Gathering Arena & Magic Online) of Strixhaven: School of Mages yet, but based on the 2021 release schedule revealed in September, we know that Strixhaven will be released sometime in Q2 of 2021. 2020's Q2 Magic set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, was released in April 17, 2020, so expect Strixhaven to be released in April just like Ikoria and other MTG Q2 sets released in previous years.
Story & Characters of Strixhaven: School of Mages
While we know that Strixhaven will be set in an elite university of mages, WotC hasn't revealed additional details about the lore and characters of the upcoming set.
Although WotC hasn't confirmed any planeswalkers featured in Strixhaven yet, many are speculating that the blue-aligned planeswalker, Kasmina will play a major role in the set's story.
She was first introduced in last year's War of the Spark when she was lured to Ravnica by the Interplanar Beacon, and immediately became trapped there due to Nicol Bolas's use of the Immortal Sun. Not much has been revealed about Kasmina's background: where she was born, or what her goals are, but her blue-white hooded cloak outfit, long-crook staff, and her transformation magic give her that classic mage look suggesting that she is somehow tied to Strixhaven.
James Wyatt's The Art of Magic: The Gathering - War of the Spark book reveals that Kasmina is a leader of an ancient, secret Order of Planeswalkers, a shadowy cabal with mysterious goals. Her larger goals are still unknown, but her recent obsession is recruitment, and her preferred method is to identify what she calls "embers", non-ignited Planeswalkers. Kasmina helps these mages to discover their potential, even if it means causing trauma to ignite their spark before idoctrinating them in the ways of her Order. She is preparing for a looming threat that dwarfs the War of the Spark. Could it be the return of the villainous Phyrexians?
Perhaps Strixhaven is a school to prepare these mages for the looming conflict. Kasmina is most likely a teacher of Strixhaven focused in the arts of transfiguration and mind magic, so she might be a leader or one of the professors of the blue-centered collge of the elite university. She reminds me of the Transfiguration professor of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series, Minerva McGonogall.
As shown in the art of the Kasmina's Transmutation card, the mysterious planeswalker has a pet owl, which matches the set symbol for Strixhaven.
It seems Strixhaven is not the name of the entire plane, just the specific name of this elite university, which makes sense since the set's name is followed by "School of Mages", not "Plane of Mages". So what's the plane that holds Strixhaven? It could be a plane that fans are familiar with but haven't truly explored such as Vryn, the homeworld of the blue-aligned planeswalker, Jace Beleren.
Although WotC released cards featuring art associated with the world of Vryn, there's no Magic set focused on exploring this mysterious plane yet. After all, one of the cards with art featuring the plane of Vryn is Ringwarden Owl, which reflects the Strixhaven symbol. Its flavor text reads, "The owl learns of mana from the mages who know it best".
Are owls in Strixhaven or Vryn more tied to mages compared to the owls in other planes? Could Strixhaven be an elite university found in Vryn?
Themes & Mechanics of Strixhaven: School of Mages
Based on its elite university setting and own symbol, it's easy to associate Strixhaven: School of Mages with J.K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter series, so expect to see themes of witchcraft and wizardry studies, and characters with classic mage robes and wands. We might see more artifact cards for magical items like wands, invisbility cloaks, flying brooms, spellbooks, wizard hates and potions.
Strixhaven university is said to have five colleges, most likely associated to each of the five colors of Magic, so we might see themes of specific classes of magic like transfiguration, potion-making, herbology, charms, and Magic's versions of Defense Against the Dark Arts. We still don't know how classes will be translated into card mechanics, but it would be interesting to see how these themes are played in the game.
Magic head designer Mark Rosewater confirmed that Strixhaven will be the third set to feature Modal Double-Faced Cards (MDFCs), but we still don't know how they will be different from the MDFCs of Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim. Zendikar Rising featured MDCFs with land cards featured in the back; Kaldheim featured Equipment cards in the back; so will Strixhaven feature a different card type in the back?
If Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths featured Godzilla monsters in alternate-art versions of monster cards, I wouldn't be surprised if Strixhaven featured Harry Potter characters and themes in alternate-versions.
If WotC is aiming to make Strixhaven its own version of Hogwarts, it would be interesting to see Magic get its own version of horcruxes, powerful objects in which a Dark wizard of witch has hidden a fragment of their soul for the purpose of attaining immortality. Will we see new MTG creature types like "professor", "headmaster", and "student"? We'll have to wait to find out, but as a Potterhead, Strixhaven is the Magic set I'm most excited to look forward to the most in 2021.