Crossovers between the 2 fantasy multiverses owned by Wizards of the Coast have principally gone in a single route, with Dungeons & Dragons fifth version receiving books about Magic: The Gathering settings like wizard school Strixhaven, city-planet Ravnica, and Greek mythology blender mishap Theros. Only in 2021 did the streams lastly cross the opposite method—within the Adventures within the Forgotten Realms set, characters, creatures, spells, and locations from D&D’s present default world appeared on Magic playing cards for the primary time.
The Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate set is a component two. While the town of Baldur’s Gate is its theme and loads of playing cards come straight from the videogames named after it, Baldur’s Gate was a part of the pen-and-paper RPG first. So, like Adventures within the Forgotten Realms, plenty of playing cards symbolize normal D&D-isms.
I’m a fan of the You’ve Been Caught Stealing card, which supplies a alternative between two responses: Threaten the Merchant (which faucets each creature that may block), or Bribe the Guards (creating treasure tokens the caster can trade for mana). It’s neat to see one thing that occurs in principally each D&D marketing campaign become a card game mechanic, and there are others prefer it scattered all through, together with a reprint of You All Meet in a Tavern.
If you are extra accustomed to Baldur’s Gate in digital kind you will not be upset, although. You’ll see characters like Imoen, Jaheira, and Jon Irenicus, in addition to a brand new model of Minsc and Boo—a solo Minsc appeared in Adventures within the Forgotten Realms, however his miniature large house hamster Boo did not obtain the headline billing he deserved. Speaking of justice, for those who bear in mind Mazzy, the halfling holy warrior companion from Baldur’s Gate 2 who wasn’t allowed to be a paladin as a result of the AD&D 2E guidelines had been a fussy outdated bugger, you may be glad to see she will get upgraded right here as Mazzy, Truesword Paladin.
Even although it is nonetheless in Early Access, bits of Baldur’s Gate 3 show up too. There are playing cards for companions like Astarion, Shadowheart, and Lae’zel, and foes like Viconia the drow cleric, plus heaps of slimy-looking thoughts flayers and mind devourers.
Commander & Conquer
Unlike a daily Magic growth, this set’s explicitly for tabletop play in Commander mode, which started as a preferred house-rule format where gamers select a single legendary creature to be their deck’s normal. This face card, the Commander in Wizards’ official model, is put aside out of your deck and might be performed as quickly as you’ll be able to afford to. Commanders cannot be completely eliminated both, although their price goes up every time they’re re-summoned.
Other guidelines of the format embrace increased life totals and completely different deckbuilding limits, however what makes it a blast is that it is a free-for-all normally performed with huge teams. It’s balanced for 4, however I do know gamers who’ve tried it with eight, which appears like mayhem. There’s a model of Commander known as Brawl in Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online, but it surely’s actually a tabletop factor and that is where it shines. It’s concerning the inevitable chaos that comes with a heap of gamers, all assured to summon a strong legendary as quickly as they will, none of them actually conserving monitor of what everybody else is as much as. Perfect for pleasant knockabout matches in-person.
In a typical Commander game you’ll be able to solely use playing cards that share colours along with your Commander, or neutrals. Battle for Baldur’s Gate makes issues simpler as a result of it’s also possible to use playing cards that share a colour with one of many new Background playing cards, which sit beside your normal within the Command Zone and provides them a power-up. Like the backgrounds in D&D 5E, they add definition, solely as a substitute of normal issues like ‘legal’ or ‘sage’, they’re particular. Remember the blokes who shout “I SERVE THE FLAMING FIST!” time and again? With the Flaming Fist background, your Commander might be a kind of twerps and add some white playing cards to the deck. Or they is likely to be an Acolyte of Bahamut to attain green playing cards, a Dragon Cultist for crimson, or a Faceless One, which helps you to decide any colour.
Another neat factor Battle for Baldur’s Gate borrows from D&D and tweaks to its personal finish is Initiative. Here it is a card that seems as quickly as somebody performs a card with ‘take the Initiative’ listed in its results. Every flip you hold the Initiative you enter one other room of the Undercity dungeon and acquire a reward, identical to the dungeons in Adventures within the Forgotten Realms. You’ve bought to preserve that Initiative, although, and anybody who dings you for fight harm will get to steal it. It’s a motivation to play cutthroat, particularly as soon as gamers notice the Undercity’s closing room allows you to play a creature totally free with +3/+3, and which might’t be focused by spells for a flip.
One extra new rule is definitely an outdated one returning: Adventure playing cards. They might be performed usually for no matter’s written on their right-hand aspect, or despatched off on a jolly Adventure for the worth and impact within the backside left. Blessed Hippogriff is generally a 2/3 flying creature that provides one other creature Flying when it assaults, which is completely respectable. Play it as an Adventure and it grants Tyr’s Blessing as a substitute, making one other creature indestructible for a flip. Adventures might be performed usually after use too, as in the event that they’ve returned from a quest.
Is it me or is it drafty in right here?
You can play Commander with decks drafted from boosters, or with pre-constructed ones. Wizards is promoting 4 of these with surprisingly obscure picks for Commanders. There’s one led by Firkraag, a crimson dragon from Baldur’s Gate 2, and although he isn’t the game’s primary villain I do bear in mind doing him in. Then there is a deck led by Faldorn, who I needed to lookup—she’s the druid I kicked out of my social gathering for not getting together with Jaheira. The third has Nalia de’Arnise, a thief/mage who briefly serves as a helpful substitute for Imoen. I needed to look her up too. Maybe if I’d performed a fighter and bought her household preserve as a stronghold I’d have remembered her identify. Then there is a deck led by a thoughts flayer pirate known as Captain N’ghathrod who is outwardly from a tabletop D&D module that is not even set in Baldur’s Gate. I do not thoughts although, as a result of his deck has the superb identify MIND FLAYARRRS.
I performed Battle for Baldur’s Gate at a preview occasion where we drafted decks from boosters as a substitute of utilizing pre-cons. That meant cracking open a pack, taking two playing cards, and passing it to the subsequent participant to do the identical till we would labored via three boosters. Then we winnowed the 60 playing cards we would every chosen right down to 35, together with a Commander and a Background, earlier than including 25 lands to deliver us as much as regulation numbers. Where preconstructed Commander is performed with 100-card decks with no duplicates (barring primary lands), draft Commander is 60 playing cards and duplicates are allowed. One of the opposite tables let gamers commerce as properly, however our desk was desperate to get on with it.
After seeing what number of draconic playing cards had been going round, I put collectively a crimson/blue deck with a Commander known as Renari, Merchant of Marvels, a personality I’ve not seen earlier than whose reptilian combover is in an absolute state. I mixed him with the Dragon Cultist background, which meant I might play dragons and artifacts each time I wished, and if something I managed induced 5+ harm in a flip I bought a free 4/4 dragon.
My mistake is apparent in hindsight. In any free-for-all game, from Settlers of Catan to Starcraft, the participant who will get in entrance early turns into a goal, motivating the others to workforce up like an alien invasion in a superhero comedian. As quickly as I performed my first huge lizard everybody else noticed what I used to be as much as and their primary goal turned Get Dragonboy.
It did not assist that I stacked my deck with too many mana-producing artifacts and treasures, which gave me an on-theme pile of baubles to squat on at the price of issues to spend all that mana on—like extra of the massive lizards I wanted. Given what number of methods of getting further mana there are in these playing cards, Diamonds and Orbs in addition to special-effect lands like Gates (together with, sure, Baldur’s Gate itself), I believe 25 lands was too many. With 20 max I may need cycled via a bit quicker and bought to that Amethyst Dragon fairly than losing three turns in a row drawing Islands.
It was nonetheless enjoyable, as a result of Commander is meant to be messy and improvised. The match ended with a showdown between a green deck of druid-powered beasts with trample, together with a speaking bear named Wilson, and a black/blue deck led by Rilsa Rael, a Baldur’s Gate crime lord from the tabletop modules who provides deathtouch to a creature everytime you assault. After heavy losses on each side it appeared just like the Angry Tree Friends had been about to win—till their opponent whipped out Eldritch Pact, which makes a participant draw a card and lose a degree of life for each creature of their graveyard. With so many elementals and animals piled up after the slaughter, that was sufficient to tip issues the opposite method and provides blue-black a shock last-second win.
That form of turnaround occurs extra typically in Commander, away from aggressive play’s finely honed meta. Battle for Baldur’s Gate performs up that ingredient of shock with extra goofiness like playing cards that make you roll a d20 for a random final result, or allow you to throw a hamster, or inform everybody they have been caught stealing. This explicit set appears rather less beginner-friendly than Adventures within the Forgotten Realms because of the principles problems talked about above, however the Commander format is so chill and inspiring it nonetheless makes a good intro to tabletop Magic.
(One participant ought to undoubtedly download the companion app, which has a life tracker that is principally important.)
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate shall be out there from June 10.