MTG’s Doctor Who Set Could Add TV’s Best Sci-Fi Monsters

doctor who several characters with the fourth doctor

Magic: The Gathering uses a wide variety of creature types to depict the monsters, spirits and denizens of the multiverse, including familiar faces like Zombies, Angels, Goblins, Elves and Beasts. Some expansion sets even include new types or subtypes, like Nobles and Warlocks, but the Universes Beyond project takes things to a whole new level of creative freedom.

A striking example is MTG‘s fan-favorite Warhammer 40,000 decks, which added never-before-seen creature types to MTG like the Tyranid and Astartes. While many familiar types will appear in MTG‘s upcoming LotR crossover Tales of Middle-Earth, the Doctor Who Universes Beyond set, releasing later this year, is another story. The expansion will feature scores of weird and wonderful aliens, monsters and robots from the iconic BBC TV series unlike anything seen in MTG before, and fans are wondering how these distinct and unusual creatures will mesh with MTG‘s established creature type system.


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Most Doctor Who Monsters Are Unlike Any MTG Creatures

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Creature types are one of the most immersive and flavorful parts of Magic: The Gathering, as they help to define a creature’s physical attributes and abilities. The current model supports a primary creature type to describe its species or status, and one or more secondary types for its D&D-style class or abilities, like Wizard, Artificer, Cleric, Rogue, or Advisor.

Certain settings and card sets are notable for their creature types, such as the Vampire and Werewolf tribes in Innistrad sets or the Kithkin of Lorwyn. Now, the Universes Beyond project is adding non-canon creature types, which says a lot about the creatures being presented and how they fit into the game.

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Fans on Reddit agree creature types are a major factor in how these cards are designed, and giving a card an unfitting creature type would disappoint and confuse fans. The designers have their work cut out for them — Doctor Who is a science fiction franchise, so unlike Tales of Middle-Earth, most of MTG‘s fantasy-based creature types won’t apply.

There are exceptions with Human characters like Rose Tyler and Donna Noble, but the otherworldly aliens, monsters and robots that make Doctor Who so iconic, from Daleks to the Doctor themself, don’t fit into MTG‘s existing creature type framework. Fans are unsure how well this will work out; WotC might choose to approximate creature types, like by labeling Daleks as Constructs or Weeping Angels as Horrors, or they could add dozens of new creature types for the Doctor Who release.

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MTG’s Doctor Who Creatures Need Tribal Support to Flourish

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For the sake of consistent gameplay and Doctor Who storytelling flair, MTG‘s Doctor Who Universes Beyond release should reach a compromise. If the Doctor Who decks had too many new creature types, then the product might feel disjointed in its gameplay, and there would be little to no tribal support in this product and in MTG as a whole.

Conversely, if the Doctor Who decks primarily used MTG‘s existing creature types, it would ruin the point of Universes Beyond, and many creatures wouldn’t fit the flavor of their type. The Doctor, for example, is not a Human, Elf, Vampire, Angel or any other official MTG creature type. Instead, the Doctor Who release could include a handful of powerful, standalone creatures that don’t need tribal support to function, and give them unique types.

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Other creatures in the set should be adapted to fit existing MTG creature types so that they can benefit from tribal support. This would allow them to slot into casual decks that use such tribes. At the very least, this will happen with Doctor Who‘s human creatures, and the same might happen with MTG‘s broader creature types, like Weird, Horror, Construct, Nightmare and Mutant. Already, a few Doctor Who monsters fit these existing types — it makes perfect sense for the iconic Cybermen to be artifact Construct or Golem creatures.

If WotC handles this compromise correctly, it will improve the Doctor Who set’s gameplay and flavor, and prove the merit of Universes Beyond as both a standalone product and a part of MTG as a whole. Colorful card art and fancy spells help players tell MTG‘s planes and universes apart, but creature types make creatures feel distinct and exciting to play. Now, MTG has the opportunity to bring Doctor Who characters and creatures to life as fun, powerful cards that still retain their own sci-fi identity. MTG‘s Doctor Who set releases on Oct. 13, 2023.


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