The Alphastream Game Design Blog
Magic the Gathering will finally have a card set devoted to D&D! This has many D&D fans wondering: what is the best way to pick up the cool cards? I spoke to Dave Chalker, an extraordinary game designer with deep expertise in both chocolate and peanut butter (I think D&D is the chocolate… I forgot to ask Dave).
If you haven’t been following the news, this is a full MtG set with all the trimmings. We have foil cards, alternate art, special lands, new mechanics, and more! With this comes a ton of advertising across both the D&D and MtG channels. The set is available everywhere MtG are sold, including on the digital platform, Magic the Gathering Arena.
The set is looking to be really popular, and the card previews look amazing. If you don’t mind spoilers, you can find previews of all the cards on the WotC site here. Awesome folks like Mike Balles have been sharing previews on Twitter. And, Dave Chalker will be streaming the digital cards as they hit Arena, all on the Critical Hits Twitch channel and the Critical Hits YouTube channel.
The idea of a D&D / Magic the Gathering (MtG) crossover has been on fans’ minds for a very long time. WotC staff on both teams have tried over the years to get this to happen… and the time has finally come. It’s a tremendous opportunity for both brands to grow. And I’m hearing a lot of excitement by D&D fans. The wide appeal and covid may make this hard to collect. WotC is already warning of shortfalls due to covid shipping impacts and increased demand as stores open up.
The set releases on July 8th digitally and physically on July 23rd. You can preorder physical products, and should if you want lots of cards.
You can find an overview of the products below, and also here. The card art is amazing, covering all kinds of aspects of D&D and the Forgotten Realms (and even Mordenkainen from Greyhawk). Some cards have alternate art evocative of early products, some have art that covers the whole card, and we even get land cards that look like classic module covers!
Speaking of adventures, five free adventures are being released with the set, one each week! As of this writing, In Scarlet Flames and The Hidden Page have been released. Both are by Will Hindmarch, an excellent adventure designer.
Before you start buying, figure out what you want out of this set.
Knowing your goals will help you shop efficiently.
Once you know your general goals, it’s time to decide between paper or digital (or both). I’m going to primarily focus on the physical paper products. MtG apparently doesn’t have MSRP (suggested retail prices), so I’m providing prices I found online – they may vary! Also, most sites will have a maximum number of copies you can buy to prevent reselling and hoarding. Smaller stores and even popular stores may already be out of stock even during the preorder phase.
These four decks are a great way to get playable decks and an intro to the Forgotten Realms set. Each deck is created to be a fun experience, and the four decks all play well together. You get 100 cards in each deck, including 2 legendary foil cards, a foil-etched commander card (which boosts your deck in some way), 10 double-sided tokens, a life wheel, and the deck box. If you just want to be able to play, this is a great buy.
These Commander Decks feature two-to-three colors, meaning a single deck won’t provide a sampling of all the colors. Buying all four will give you that wider experience.
Price: Around $130-150 for all four decks, or about $35 each.
If you are a D&D minis collector, you might know that with minis you can buy a case and get every mini in the set. This is not at all how Magic works. For example, about 10% of Set and Draft boosters contain a rare or mythic rare with an alternate art treatment. This means that collecting a full set is very hard.
If your goal is to buy most or all of the cards, your best bet is to pick up 1-2 Set Boosters, which are boxes of booster packs including art cards and other collectible cards beyond game cards. Each booster pack could have multiple rares in each (you get at least 1, but up to 4 is possible). You can then see what you are missing and pick up the single cards you need. A booster box has 30 packs of 12 cards each, for a total of 360 cards (you of course will end up with some duplicates and lots of cards you still don’t have, since cards have various rarities). You can get a Vorpal Sword promo card buying a box of set booster boxes at your FLGS (this also applies to Draft and Collectors boxes mentioned below).
Price: Around $120-130 per box.
This box holds 36 packs of 15 cards each. More cards, but the intention of these cards is to support drafting, where players take turns opening packs, choosing a card, and passing the pack around. These packs are less suited for collecting.
Price: Around $115-140 per box.
Expensive! You get only 12 packs in a box, but each pack of 15 cards has 5 Rare or Mythic Rare cards. These can be a great way to just get cool cards… at a price.
Price: Around $245-280 per box.
This large box is a pretty cardboard box to store your cards. It also comes with 10 booster packs, 1 foil alternate art promo card (Treasure Chest), 3 oversized dungeon cards, 40 basic land cards (20 foil), and an oversized d20 with the set logo.
This is mainly a fun purchase. If you play, the oversized dungeon cards are a nice feature, since you normally place the dungeon cards out in the open and refer to them. Larger cards provide utility and look cool. And, I mean… it comes with a d20! Oh, and there will be a second slightly different version released in August.
Price: Around $45-60.
You can always drop by your FLGS and pick up an individual normal booster pack ($4 or so) or a collector’s booster pack ($25 or so).
You can also pick up Theme Boosters, which are tailored to one mana color. Each has 1-2 rares or mythic rares and 33-34 commons and uncommons.
If you play on Arena, there are two bundles worth considering. The Lolth Pack Bundle grants you sleeve decorations, 50 packs, and a special Lolth card. The Ellywick Play Bundle offers sleeve decorations, a dragon pet, tokens, a Mastery Pass, and Ellywick Tumblestrum cards.
I hope this has been helpful! If you have tips for buying and collecting, share them below! And, once the set releases, tell us about your favorite card.