Well, they’ve done it. They’ve officially crossed the proton streams.
After almost two decades of fantasy role players and fantasy collectible card game players (many of which are the same people, shhh) speculating that the Dungeons and Dragons game, and Magic: The Gathering, the biggest collectible card game, both owned by Wizards of the Coast would somehow merge some of their content.
After years of saying that never the ‘twain shall meet, every Ghostbuster’s nightmare has come true and they’ve crossed the proton particle streams.
And, it’s beautiful.
On April 27, Wizards of the Coast announced Plane Shift: Zendikar, a basic outline of the world of Zendikar to be used for the Dungeons and Dragons current 5th Edition game system. The free pdf allows role players the chance to experience the world of Zendikar from a different perspective than just the Magic: The Gathering card game. The fully detailed world that can be seen through its beautiful artwork in the hardcover book, The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Zendikar available online or in bookstores.
The Art of Zendikar gives you the images, of what the world feels like, the creatures that inhabits that world, while Plane Shift: Zendikar gives players and Dungeon Masters the tools to help turn their gaming worlds filled with vampires and Kor as player characters, or the ancient and super creepy Eldrazi as the main villains of the world.
As someone who plays both MtG and D&D, this just makes sense. As a cross promotion between the distinctly different games is also pretty smart marketing, which may help draw table top gamers to the highly addictive card game, or card players to hang out with their friends and fight common enemies instead of smack-talking each other across the table while out dueling the other’s planeswalker. There could be less raging quitting. Just sayin’.
Not everyone is going to be a fan, not wanting their peanut butter to touch their chocolate, and that’s fine. You don’t need to download the pdf, and you can continue to use vampires as pure evil undead villains in your game, and not the possible non-evil cursed creature that the vampire is in Zendikar. Yeah, I said it. Not undead. WTF?
Obviously, there’s limitations of crossover between a card game that involves the player to build up and store “mana” to summon monsters and cast powerful spells against a rival player trying to do the same, and a role playing game that pulls you more immersively into a roleplaying world and lets you look around a bit and adventure in it. If you’ve been playing a white weenie deck for years with the race of the lanky Kor as your central creatures, or have always liked the vampire decks in Magic, this allows you to explore that world as one of those creatures. Play with your friends and search out that tentacle-draped Eldrazi creeper that feeds your nightmares and smash it to a fine pink mist.
It doesn’t hurt that MtG has just finished the most recent block of cards from the world of Zendikar, so the card game lovers know all too well the creatures and mysterious adventure world that Zendikar is.
Now that Wizards is moving on to the newest block, Shadows over Innistrad which happens to be a return to the black-mana vampires, werewolves, angels, or the Van Helsing-like human creature cards, I can’t imagine why Wizards wouldn’t follow up with a similar Innistrad D&D document, to allow players to explore that world if they wish. The newest adventure from D&D also happens to be a vampire-themed one, with The Curse of Strahd, a return to the mysterious Barovia in what was once known as the Ravenloft® gaming world. So, there’s some crossover already around the Wizards’ water cooler talk.
All this being said, a savvy role-player who has never tried the MtG game might still not ever want to, but at least it gives them the chance to experience the massive amount of effort that goes into the creation of these worlds that are made for MtG players, like in Zendikar. Back stories, histories, feuds, allies, in depth art creation of what the lands look like, the cities and places, as well as the wealth of new and interesting monsters to fight – that are actually just minor modifications of monsters already in the Monster Manual. It’s actually one of those things that you’ll think afterwards, why the hell didn’t they do this sooner?
I for one, think that the timing is right. The Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford and Christopher Perkins brain trust (there’s many more at Wizards, but I follow these ones on Twitter), were part of the design of the new 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons and this newest version of the rules is ready to tackle Zendikar, and hopefully Innistrad, Mirrodin, Ravnica, and Theros down the road.
Will it go the other way? Will there be a Forgotten Realms block of Magic: The Gathering? With Elminster, Drizzt, Timat and the Zhentarim be in the cards? (See what I did there?)
Only time will tell. (Dammit, I threw it away with a classic cliché)
So, apparently, Dr. Egon Spengler’s worry that “all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light” was unfounded, and D&D and MtG can co-exist and maybe even cross the streams sometimes…
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