At last, Magic: the Gathering cards featuring Chris Pine and Hugh Grant are coming.
To commemorate the theatrical release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Wizards of the Coast is releasing a special edition Secret Lair collection under their Universes Beyond banner. The collection features characters from the upcoming film as brand new legendary Magic cards designed for collectors and players alike.
Although this is hardly Magic’s first time featuring characters from other pop culture landmarks, there are no current plans for the Honor Among Thieves cards to have in-game versions for future Magic releases — unlike recent Secret Lairs such as the Stranger Things and Street Fighter releases, whose card text was repurposed on later cards with updated names and depictions that more closely match Magic’s aesthetic.
“Never say never, but these cards are very specific to these characters and this moment in time,” said Jeremy Jarvis, Senior Creative Director of Franchise Development at Wizards of the Coast, in an email.
“Seeing the Tiefling creature type or a d20-rolling card on a Magic-universe card might be challenging, but as JJ says, never say never,” added Corey Bowen, Senior Game Designer for Magic: The Gathering.
While the Secret Lair team continues to release new collections with pop culture connections — it has another one planned later this year for Doctor Who — this is the first time fans will see a Universes Beyond treatment that connects to a film release.
“These were driven by the script and, yes, the RPG rules provided the Secret Lair team with additional design angles,” Jarvis said. “Simon’s d20 mechanic to represent the spirit of wild magic sorcery would be a good example.”.
According to Bowen, the D&D lore remained central to these designs, too.
“Aside from Jeremy’s insight and materials, being a big Dungeons & Dragons fan to begin with provided a lot of inspiration as well,” he said. “These cards not only represent aspects of these characters but also archetypical features of the D&D classes that they represent. These cards aren’t tied to a specific Magic set, so we can be more lenient on borrowing mechanics from Magic’s history to represent resonant features of these characters.”
Like many Universes Beyond releases, the cards themselves are templated as legendary creatures, making them particularly well-suited as build-arounds for Magic’s commander format. All five Magic colors are represented among the central cast, with an additional blue-red card featuring the character Edgin, played by Chris Pine.
“On this particular Secret Lair drop, we also had some serendipitous elegance in our favor,” Jarvis said. “Five of the six characters (what, a secret card?) mapped cleanly across the WUBRG color pie. But not our ringleader and bard, Edgin. The Edgin we follow most in the film is completely driven by emotion (red). Love, loss, resentment, regret. We know he has history as a Harper. His role was infiltrating, spying and information gathering (blue). He’s a planner and strategist (blue) that improvises and pivots on a dime (red). We also know he’s an artist, a musician that sings and plays the lute (red). I love the presentation of Edgin as a very non-Izzet take on the intersection of intellect and gut.”
The remaining cards in the set, which each only use one of Magic’s colors, feature designs and abilities players will recognize as classic renditions of the game’s color identities.
Doric, Nature’s Warden, which depicts Sophia Lillis’ character, is a green Tiefling Druid who fetches an extra forest card from the player’s deck when she enters the battlefield, and transforms into a massive Bird-Bear beater when she attacks.
Hugh Grant’s Forge, Neverwinter Charlatan is a black Human Rogue that can force opponents to sacrifice their own creatures and rewards you for these sacrifices with additional Treasure tokens.
Michelle Rodriguez’s Human Barbarian, Holga, Relentless Rager, is an aggressive red attacker that powers up additional creatures when she goes to battle.
Simon, Wild Magic Sorcerer, played by Justice Smith in the film, is a blue Human Elf Shaman that leans into D&D’s 20-sided dice mechanic whenever its controller casts instant or sorcery spells.
And Xenk, Paladin Unbroken, played by Regé-Jean Page, is a white Human Knight that gets stronger as it suits with additional aura cards.
Although this Secret Lair introduces the Tiefling creature type to a Magic card for the first time, in Xenk’s case, the designers played with Magic’s limitations when naming the card itself.
“Xenk Yendar’s card name was half driven by ‘paladin’ not being a supported subtype in Magic,” said Jarvis. “We wanted to ensure it was represented on the card, but ‘unbroken’ is a reference to an inscription etched on the blade of his Daggersword in Celestial: ‘Neither virtue nor blade shall break’. Ergo ‘Xenk, Paladin Unbroken.’”
Pre-orders for this Secret Lair begin on March 28 at secretlair.wizards.us, and will be available in both foil and non-foil treatments.