A marriage between Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons takes flight in the latest MTG set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
Wizards of the Coast are the best in the business when it comes to creating unique and expansive fantasy universes that with little effort, will have you completely immersed. Having created some of the oldest and most popular tabletop games of all time, Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast have made become an unstoppable force, their continued innovation ensuring that the tabletop platform stands out in an online world.
Their latest creation is Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, a universal crossover between their two biggest IPs in the form of a Magic the Gathering set, bringing together the players of both games. We had the chance to chat with some of the head honchos over at Wizards of the Coast, who gave us some insight into what we can expect from the new set.
Principle Product Designer Max McCall, Senior Communications Manager Blake Rasmussen, and Senior Game Designer James Wyatt teamed up to field our questions about Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Check out what they have to say below.
HAPPY: What was the creative process in developing the ‘Venture into the Dungeon’ mechanic?
MAX: Early in design we knew we wanted to capture the major elements of D&D that people fall in love with, and one of those is exploration. After a few experiments, it was clear that dungeon-crawling was the most resonant version and we dug into how to represent that mechanically to let people really feel like they were doing so.
HAPPY: How did you ensure that the different dungeons reflect the different Magic play styles such as rush and control?
MAX: We knew the three dungeons needed to feel really distinct, both in flavour in game play. We soon landed on a model, of “the default one”, “the dangerous one”, and “the long one”. There are a lot of ways to enture. Venture is easiest to make work in slower, grindier decks that can accrue a lot of room effects over time, but venturing into the Tomb of Annihilation can also be a great way for an aggressive deck to finish off the opposition!
HAPPY: As the set enters the standard rotation, how do you feel the addition of these cards will affect the current meta, in which red aggro and cycling seems to play a large role?
BLAKE: Like any new mechanic, we’ve made cards that will certainly impact Standard. Whether we see decks fully dedicated to Venture remains to be seen, but there are certainly cards with Venture we expect to break out individually, such as Nadaar, Selfless Paladin.
HAPPY: Does this collaboration change the story of either Magic The Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons, or confirm that the universes of both are linked in any way?
BLAKE: Magic and D&D have had a few crossovers already, including Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica, Mythic Odysseys of Theros, Plane Shift: Zendikar, and Plane Shift: Kaladesh. As to whether the Forgotten Realms are now canonically part of Magic’s Multiverse, for now, the answer is no. But we may change our minds in the future if it makes sense and is a fun net positive for Magic and D&D.
HAPPY: What was the fan hype like prior to the announcement for something like this, and was this a planned way to introduce fans of each to the other game?
JAMES: There are players who enjoy both MTG and D&D, and they knew this release was coming from an earlier announcement in the year. They were pretty excited to see how we’d realise all the D&D flavour in a Magic set since it’s our first-ever release like this. We’re looking forward to seeing even more reactions all of our fans once preview season kicks off and people can see all the new cards.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms was designed to make it easy for MTG players who may not be familiar with D&D to understand some of the lore, characters and mechanics of the game. It won’t give you a full understanding, but if you’ve never played D&D, you might have your interest piqued just by playing the new set. We spent a lot of time making sure it was faithful as possible. Even if you’re a D&D player who’s never tried MTG, there should be a lot of cool stuff to recognise while playing.
HAPPY: Were there any instances where ideas clashed between the development teams of MTG and D&D and if so, how did you overcome these?
BLAKE: Any creative process has push and pull on how to execute ideas, and that goes for any Magic set regardless of working with teams like the D&D team. For this project in particular, so many people who worked on this set live in both worlds – James Wyatt is the most visible, but many others work on both games – that aligning on vision was incredibly constructive.
HAPPY: What is the selection process like when deciding on artists and artworks for these projects?
BLAKE: For this set we selected artists based on our usual process with a twist – we also brought in some classic D&D artists! Fans of D&D will recognise not just names, but also some pretty distinct art styles.
HAPPY: With a growing interest in moving online, such as with Magic: The Gathering Arena, is there a push to preserve in-person tabletop gameplay, or are Wizards of the Coast looking to further develop their online presence?
BLAKE: Tabletop gameplay is a core part of our game. It’s the gathering that makes our game special. Growth in MTG Arena doesn’t mean pulling back in other areas – quite the opposite. As we grow in the digital space, it attracts more fans to tabletop play, and vice versa.
HAPPY: Are there any other plans for future collaborations between Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons?
BLAKE: On the MTG card set side, nothing we can announce at this time – but you never know what’s around the corner! On the D&D RPG side, the brand-new crossover adventure based in Strixhaven releases in November this year, and some recent ones from Theros and Ravnica are available now. Check them out!
HAPPY: Knowing now that Magic The Gathering is developing sets with ‘Universes Beyond’ that feature Warhammer 40k and Lord of the Rings, are there plans for official collaborations with other universes? Will these be purely for Magic The Gathering or will we see this in Dungeons & Dragons as well?
BLAKE: On the Magic side, we recently announced a partnership with Stranger Things. Expect Magic to continue to grow its partnerships with other worlds and characters that make sense for our audience. After all, if we can expand our story beyond the game system to things like comics, novels, and other games, then surely we can expand the game system to let players explore worlds outside of the worlds of Magic.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will be released on July 23rd, 2021. For more information on the cards, mechanics or even the pre-release details, click here to check out their website.