By: Travis Allen
Are you familiar with this piece of American folklore? The lives of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln shared many facets, which depending on your understanding of probability, ranges from “unremarkable” to “concrete evidence in reincarnation.” Among those amazing coincidences are “last and whole names include the same number of letters” and “assassinated.” Here’s the Wiki page on the topic; I’d advise you refrain from viewing if you’re the gullible sort.
(Seemingly) switching topics entirely, do the words “God Book” mean anything to you? If you started playing Magic in the last few years, probably not. Perhaps you heard tenured players use the term in reference to New Phyrexia, but if you weren’t playing back then, you wouldn’t have much reason to know what it is.
Those of us that were around for New Phyrexia are quite familiar with God Books though.
A whole sordid tale played out over several weeks, which you can read about here. It was the first major leak in modern-bordered Magic. The short version is that a French guy who was good friends with Guillaume Matignon and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa was goaded to releasing a pdf of the entirety of New Phyrexia on IRC. (Yes, IRC. Don’t know what IRC is? Don’t feel bad; it was just as irrelevant in 2011 as it is today.) Shortly after the God Book found its way into the hands of the public, and a month before official spoilers started, the entire internet-using Magic community had access to the entire card list.
It was thrilling and shocking at the time. (What was especially shocking was that not only was a Stoneforge Mystic answer not in the set, but they had doubled down with this new nonsensical equipment “Batterskull.” We all know how that one turned out.) After the initial excitement of pouring over the entire list, the fervor died down, and like the man who knows his girlfriend already found the ring in the jacket pocket, Wizards was forced to go through the motions with full knowledge that the audience lacked the emotional intensity so desired. Months later, once the dust had settled, several players were banned for years and the set was likely undersold as a result of diminished hype.