The Tardis | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov
Of Magic’s planned releases for 2023, my personal most-anticipated set just happens to be a Universes Beyond product. I know what MTG veterans think about these products in general, but I’m still ready to ride the wave of excitement.
Doctor Who meets Magic this year. This set will debut almost exactly when the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who takes place, with new episodes and a 60-year special. Interest in Doctor Who-related stuff will no doubt peak, MTG included. It almost sounds like a match made in heaven, but I totally understand if Universes Beyond content isn’t your cup of tea.
Still with me? Allons-y!
Doctor Who Commander Basic Information
The Doctors | Illustration by Alexander Gering
|Number of Cards||4 decks of 100 cards|
|Paper release date||2023 Q4|
About the Set: The Story
What the Heck Is Doctor Who?
The Eighth Doctor | Illustration by Anna Pavleeva
Doctor Who is based on a BBC Network show that turns a young 60 in 2023. It’s a property that’s been named “TV’s longest-running sci-fi show” according to the Guinness Book of Records.
The show has two distinct eras, 1964-1989 (Old Who) and 2005-2023 (New Who). Disney also made a deal with BBC to support the show and put it on Disney+. From 2023 on we can expect a more cash-powered version of the show, which was always very budget-friendly until now.
The story follows the main character, the Doctor, a member of an ancient race called the Time Lords. Time Lords are ancient, eternal, and all-knowing beings that come from the planet Gallifrey. They don’t age and they can “regenerate” if mortally wounded, which means transforming into another version of themselves.
The main thing about the show and Time Lords is that they have mastered the art of time travel and can be anywhere in time and space. The Doctor usually travels with an Earth companion from modern age inside a ship called “TARDIS” (Time and Relative Dimension in Space).
Doctor Who is basically a family show meant to be emotional and educational. It’s intended for parents to watch with their children. There’s always something to be learned since the Doctor meets people from the past, present, and future. Although the Doctor usually says they’re the last of his kind, some other Time Lords appear here and there thanks to time travel and alternative timelines and dimensions.
Why is the Doctor the last of their kind? Because they went full Urza’s Ruinous Blast and destroyed their “plane” with all their people and the Daleks (Doctor Who‘s Phyrexian analog) inside. They’re the only one left.
Why Doctor Who Makes Sense in Universes Beyond and MTG
The Eleventh Doctor | Illustration by Justyna Dura
Doctor Who is very similar to modern MTG in the sense that the Doctor comes to a foreign land, like planeswalkers to solve something beyond the capability of its denizens.
The Doctor has a vast knowledge, the result of advanced Time Lord tech and living more than a thousand years. They use their knowledge to help civilizations, make peace in war situations, and fight space villains. That’s kinda what we expect from MTG’s typical planeswalker-centered story in different planes like Kaladesh and Kamigawa. Like Magic, Doctor Who features stories in medieval-like settings as well as futuristic/sci-fi settings.
The set is being developed by Doctor Who fans like WotC’s Gavin Verhey in collaboration with people from BBC that are, presumably, MTG fans.
What can we expect from the set? Judging by Warhammer 40k, a similar product that explores the lore of a given series in four Commander precons, it’s very likely that the different Commander decks will show different eras of the show instead of strictly faction-themed decks.
I don’t expect a Dalek vs. Earth citizens showdown or something like that.
The show had many Doctors portrayed by actors like Tom Baker, Peter Capaldi, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. I expect them to be those “planeswalkers that can be your commander”-type cards since they’re the main time travelers.
They’ll also definitely feature in a lot of different artwork doing Doctor-y stuff.
Companions are usually humans that travel alongside the Doctor. We can expect important companions like Rose, Martha, Donna, and Sarah Jane to be part of this set somehow, either as creatures or through artwork.
The partner mechanic would also make a lot of sense here. A companion could be a partner to a Doctor or another creature, like Sarah Jane and K9.
Daleks are hybrid organic/machines made for war, hate, and killing (yep, like Phyrexians). They’re the main enemies of the Time Lords and fought the time war. Even a single Dalek is a threat since they’re virtually indestructible, at least by Earth weapons.
Cybermen are people that were given mechanical implants to feel nothing and be perfect machines (again, similar to the Phyrexian compleation process). They follow a cyberman hivemind and want to transform all people into cybermen to upgrade them.
The Master is a rogue Time Lord and a rival to the Doctor. He’s like Magneto to the Doctor’s Xavier. His motivations involve doing evil deeds and trying to rule the galaxy but has a special relationship with the Doctor that usually hampers his plans in a way.
Sontarans are clones who are bred to be soldiers. They’re humanoid creatures unlike the Daleks. They’re Viking-/Spartan-like in their minds, always seeking to do battle and die honorably.
The Weeping Angels
The Weeping Angels disguise themselves as statues of angels. If you’re not looking at them, that’s when they strike. And then you’re screwed.
Whenever you see one of them, don’t blink! Blink and you’re dead.
The Silence are curious creatures. You instantly forget about them the moment you stop looking at them. They use this innate power to infiltrate organizations and seize power.
One of the main characteristics of the show involves different episodes taking part on different planets and in different eras.
Some stories are set on the Moon, Mars, or Earth. Others take place on Skaro, the planet of the Daleks. The Doctor also visits humanity’s past, like ancient London or Rome, as well as a probable future in the year 3000.
Like Warhammer 40k I’d expect two or three new mechanics and the use of ability keywords. It’s fair to speculate on Time Spiral mechanics like suspend and split second considering the time travel aspect. The partner mechanic could be a great fit since the Doctor has human companions, like I already mentioned.
The Fugitive Doctor | Illustration by Greg Staples
I’m curious to see what the developers and designers have in store for us, and if MTG players become more interested in the Doctor Who franchise. If it sparks even a little interest like the Warhammer 40k franchise did for me, then that’s good.
Universes Beyond is bringing two of my favorite IPs to Magic: Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. There’s always the fear that Magic is losing its unique appeal, but in the end I think these are worth exploring.
Are you as excited about this release as I am? Are you the type who can’t stand Universes Beyond products? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
Take care, and remember never to ignore coincidence! Unless, of course, you’re busy.Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: