It was already weird enough this week that we got the totally-not-an-April-Fools’ reveal that the king of all Kaiju himself was making his way to Magic: The Gathering. What’s even weirder: That one of the Godzilla cards in that special set of Magic cards is about to become incredibly rare, thanks to...the novel coronavirus?
Sixteen new alternative-art cards celebrating Toho’s beloved Kaiju franchise are coming to the next Magic expansion Ikoria: Land of the Behemoths, featuring many different versions of the big G from nearly 70 years worth of city-stomping monster movie mayhem. But one inspired by 1994's Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is stuck in a very awkward situation thanks to the global pandemic brought about by covid-19. You see, all the new Godzilla cards have special titles, like, say “Godzilla, Primeval Titan,” or “Mothra, Supersonic Queen.” The SpaceGodzilla card in question has a title inspired by his ultimate attack from Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla...the Corona Beam.
You see where this is going, right?
Hmm. Yes. You can imagine why, as over a million people across the world have contracted covid-19 and deaths continue to rise, why it would be insensitive to release a Magic card with the words “Death Corona” on it.
In a statement hastily released yesterday in light of the announcement of the Godzilla Monster Series cards, Wizards of the Coast dutifully noted that, as Magic sets are developed well in advance of their release, the company never could’ve seen a reference to an old-school monster movie becoming incredibly indelicate thanks to an unprecedented pandemic. “Months ago, when Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was finalized, the world was a very different place,” Wizard’s blogpost opens, simply titled “Statement on SpaceGodzilla,” which would be very funny if not for the actual context. “As we all adjust to a world altered by the spread of COVID-19, the word ‘corona’ has taken on a new meaning.”
“In context, the card we’re about to show you made sense when it was originally conceived,” the statement continued. “‘The Corona Beam’ is SpaceGodzilla’s traditional breath weapon. However, we were unable to change our printing in time to address the new meaning of corona.”
What that means is the physical release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set to roll out next month will indeed include the “SpaceGodzilla, Death Corona” art card, but Wizards of the Coast will be mitigating the card’s dissemination going forward. Magic: The Gathering Arena, the online digital version of the game (which will receive the Godzilla cards this month), will never actually get the card at all, instead getting the replacement version, seen above, entitled “SpaceGodzilla, Void Invader.”
But as for the physical card game, after the initial print run of cards, this particular version of SpaceGodzilla—there’s a second in the set, revealed by The Hollywood Reporter yesterday—will simply never be printed again, removing it from the game entirely. Which means what suddenly became a very awkward card is now also going to become an extremely sought-after rarity on Magic’s collecting aftermarket.
Ikoria’s global release had already been affected by the impact the novel coronavirus has had on distribution and manufacturing across the world, beyond the fact that, as a primarily physical, social game, Magic as a hobby has been affected by measures promoting limited social interactions. One of the Godzilla series cards is actually being made as a special bonus exclusive to card game retailers, to encourage fans to support their local hobby store as they in turn are affected by mandated closures across several countries for nonessential businesses.
Running the risk of coming across as potentially insensitive is the least of the Magic team’s concern. “Everyone’s health and safety are important to us during this time,” Wizards’ statement concluded. “Stay safe, and we appreciate your understanding and patience.” Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths is currently set to release on May 15.
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