It’s been just under a month since the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and we also have its Alchemy expansion, Alchemy: Kamigawa right around the corner. Nevertheless, Wizards of the Coast is already starting to give us some teasers about the next set coming in April – Streets of New Capenna.
At the beginning of the month, Wizards gave us some previews and other basic information about the set during a Weekly MTG Stream. In case you missed it, you can find coverage on all of that here:
New Capenna is a world ruled by five gang families, each headed by a scheming demon. We still haven’t learned much of anything about the specifics of the story or the characters, but Wizards of the Coast gained a lot of unlikely attention this morning through a post on their WPN website that was meant to offer guidance for Local Games Stores looking to increase playership at the upcoming Streets of New Capenna in-store events.
Most of the post doesn’t have much interest for a casual player or follower of the game, and it wasn’t meant to introduce a bunch of new information about Streets of New Capenna or the world itself. What piqued the community’s interest was a chunk of text regarding a magical substance called “Halo” which is apparently a focal point of the world’s lore:
Make Your Own Halo
Halo is the magical substance that rules the criminal underworld in New Capenna, sought after by all for its magic-enhancing qualities. It comes in many forms, such as crystals, liquids, and vapors, and you may consider adding your own to your in-store events.
You might present this ethereal substance by adding stones or crystals as part of your decorations—but if you’d rather serve it as a snack or beverage, you can get creative by using treats like rock candy or a fruity punch.
Remember, please do not serve in beverageware commonly associated with alcoholic beverages (i.e., martini glasses). Remember, Magic is for all ages and everyone should feel welcome!
Given that the setting of New Capenna is based on the themes of prohibition-era gangsters, comparisons likening this “Halo” to drugs or alcohol were inevitable. Shorty after the article was published, a Reddit post appeared about Halo, and discussion rapidly spread through the online MTG community.
In particular, players were confused about why Wizards of the Coast would be so averse to the idea of serving Halo drinks in vessels that are typically associated with alcohol while at the same time encouraging snacks like rock candy which could be more easily compared to other unsavory substances.
Some were also quick to point out that the aversion to using alcohol glasses is strange on its own given that in 2018, Wizards of the Coast published a update to their policies that allows stores to voluntarily age-restrict certain events and serve alcoholic beverages if they wish.
The figurative pot was stirred so much by this morning’s announcement – an announcement that should have gone under the radar for most players – that Wizards directly responded to the post by clarifying that Halo is “not a drug, but it is powerful” and even hinting that the substance on its own might be considered “pure and good.”
Clarification from #WOTC:https://t.co/SXJExYq1b7— Ben Bleiweiss (@StarCityBen) March 15, 2022
“Halo is a magical substance much the same way Aether or even mana is. It’s not a drug, but it is powerful. And like anything powerful, criminal elements seek to control it, no matter how pure and good the thing is.”#MTG https://t.co/g4t3Qxk6k0 pic.twitter.com/DBuULp9lbh
Wizards attempted to further lessen the comparison with real-world narcotics by comparing Halo to other substances that already exist in the world of Magic, particularly Aether – the magical fluid that is crucial to the inventors of the plane of Kaladesh.
In a similar fashion to how Halo apparently drives business in the world of New Capenna, Aether was the motivation behind many of the main events that occurred in Kaladesh’s story. However, it may be difficult for the company to shake the association when Halo is a substance that is consumed in order to heighten one’s magical abilities, especially when it’s controlled and possibly distributed by rival gangs.
Although most of the posts on social media have simply been poking fun at Halo and the concept of drugs being introduced into MTG, some were upset that Wizards would be encouraging players, including children, to be consuming the substance even just to pretend. Others were quick to point out that Magic’s story often involves other dark and adult-themed subject matter, including violent war, mass killings, and torture, and wonder if Halo would really be any worse.
Whatever one’s personal feelings about a dubious consumable substance being a major plot point in a Magic set, it does at least seems odd that this information came out in a WPN article before any of New Capenna’s story has been revealed besides what the company told us about the five families on stream.
We’ll be getting our first official look at the story of the set at the end of the month when the web series comes out, running from March 28-April 5. Card previews will be getting underway shortly after, starting with the set debut stream on April 7. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted with anything else that surfaces regarding Streets of New Capenna.