McFarland has recently published an edited collection Beyond the Deck: Critical Essays on Magic: The Gathering and Its Influence, featuring a chapter by Jan Švelch about card previews as promotional materials and the related metagame discussions. The book, which comes out just in time for MTG’s 30th anniversary, was edited by Shelly Jones and includes contributions by a group of international scholars, covering issues ranging from mechanics and design to economies and competitions to player communities and themes beyond the game itself.
In his chapter Spoiling the Future Metagame: The Promotional Logic and Reception of Card Previews in Magic: The Gathering, Jan Švelch analyzes the promotional function of card previews for the 2020 Q2 set Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. His findings suggest that the promotional logic is closely connected to the game’s business model and that cards that are likely to have higher prices on secondary markets due to artificial scarcity such as rares and mythic rares are given more attention during the preview period. On the other hand, most of the so-called common cards were revealed at the tail end of the promotional campaign in one big batch. The publisher and content creators all benefit from hyping up the upcoming cards. This increases the interest in strategy content as well as drives pre-order prices before the cards could have been properly tested in play. The chapter also explores metagaming discussions by players, which are sparked by the card previews and allow fans to theorycraft and hypothesize about new decks and strategies before the metagame settles again.