There is a growing sense that there may be a few too many new Magic: The Gathering releases to keep up with lately. It was only back in June that Middle-Earth fans were treated to the ambitious The Lord Of The Rings Universes Beyond release, bringing in new audiences en masse. Should you catch the Magic bug and start collecting outside of a set based on your favourite IP, then there is a new themed set releasing seemingly every month. So it is with some surprise that I must admit I was thoroughly underprepared for the level of quality we are getting in the Doctor Who Commander line. If Wizards Of The Coast is going to cop the L on a major release this year, it certainly won’t be falling upon these affable time-travellers.
It would have been very easy for Wizards to pop out a fan service-filled retheme for its Doctor Who release, nodding at prominent iconography, staple villains, and riffing on long-running in-jokes. That would sell. What we’ve got here instead is that and much more. These hundreds of brand-new cards have unearthed the long-buried fan in me who watched the black-and-white episodes on ABC every weekday during the 2000s after finishing my homework. From the First Doctor to debut in 1963 through to the most recently aired Thirteenth Doctor, these cards are not content to simply celebrate the longstanding cultural appeal of this series but explore worlds, characters, and even notable conundrums from decades long past.
Frankly, there are some very curious folks over at Wizards who have gone deeper into the dense, often contradictory Who lore than anyone would have reasonably expected.
In this Universes Beyond release, the Commander format is the sole focus. The socially focused, four-player format has become a favourite among my mates, with its increased health, card pools, and lack of duplicate cards making for gleefully chaotic shared storytelling when played within themes. For players already familiar with Commander, it is exciting to see that this release allows players to have two commanders instead of the standard one. If playing with a Doctor as a commander, who can be summoned to the board without being drawn, you can also have a notable Doctor’s companion as an entirely independent second commander. As long as the mana costs can be played, those two can keep returning to the table as your tenacious time-travelling duo.
There are four 100-card Commander sets on offer, with additional Collectors Boosters for those who want to create custom decks or simply revel in surprise and nostalgia. There is a deck centred around a handful of the pre-revival Doctors, a deck around villains notable and obscure, one around the first three doctors of the revival, and the last set features the latest two Doctors to have aired. Of each of these tri-coloured decks, I have had the opportunity to bust out the classic Doctors set. I got a grin to see how some classic Commander cards have been reimagined, such as the Sol Ring. However, I was genuinely thrilled to see sagas depicting trials against Doctors from 50 years ago, which I must have seen re-aired in my childhood and parked in my memory until now.
This Universes Beyond release is sure to not be sticking around on shelves for long. If you are looking to buy into this impressive limited release that realises Magic: The Gathering wholly within the Who-niverse, be sure to check out EB Games or JB Hi-FI.
Are the displaced Doctors fated to draw you into the Universes Beyond? Let us know in the comments or on social media.