Magic The Gathering’s New D&D Expansion Is The Best Of Both Worlds

Magic The Gathering’s New D&D Expansion Is The Best Of Both Worlds
Image: Billy Christian/Wizards of the Coast
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It took me a while to fully get into Magic: The Gathering. I flirted around with it in high school, but it never really stuck with me. It wasn’t until almost a decade later when I revisited it via Magic Arena that something finally clicked, with the game quickly becoming a new obsession.

My interest has waned a bit over recent months, but the new Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansion, which is directly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, has pulled me right back in.

We’ve previously seen the world of Magic crossover into D&D with Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros, so it’s surprising that Forgotten Realms is the first major crossover of the two properties in the opposite direction.

Ahead of Forgotten Realmsrelease, I was sent a few booster packs and invited to an online launch event to check out the new set (you can read about the latter here). I really like what I’ve seen so far.

What Forgotten Realms does well is that it combines the best of Dungeons & Dragons with the best of Magic in a way that appeals to fans of both games.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a celebration of all things D&D

magic dungeons dragons
Image: Tyler Jacobson/Wizards of the Coast

If you’ve played any edition of D&D before but have never touched a Magic card, there’s a lot to like about this new expansion. I know calling one thing that references another thing a “love letter” is a bit of a cliche, but the sentiment rings true.

The set adds classic D&D monsters, like Beholders, Displacer Beats and Purple Worms, to the card game’s evergrowing library of creatures. Even iconic characters like the archlich Acererak and Drizzt rear their heads.

There are instant and sorcery cards that are inspired by spells like “Shocking Grasp” or “Magic Missle”, along with Artifact cards based on character equipment, like a +2 mace, a potion of healing or a bag of holding. There are even enchantments based on the RPG’s classes.

The set also encourages players to engage in some light roleplay to trigger effects, with cards based on common Dungeon Master prompts – “You See a Guard Approach”, “You Find a Cursed Idol” and “You Come to the Gnoll Camp”. Do you distract the guard or do you hide from them? Forgotten Realms further dips into D&D’s mechanics by having a few cards that require you to roll a 20-sided die to determine which effect will be activated.

I really like the set’s attention to detail and how it celebrates the entire history of the tabletop RPG. Even something as simple as cards having art that homages vintage D&D illustrations, or lands that are designed to look like classic adventure module books are a lot of fun on a purely aesthetic level. The set even includes monster art cards with stat blocks for use in an actual D&D game.

Image: A collection of new cards and art variants. (Kotaku Australia)

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms isn’t just a collection of Magic cards splashed with a coat of D&D paint either. It also introduces a new card type known as “dungeons”.

The way this new card type works is that it first exists outside of the game and doesn’t take up spot in your sideboard. It can only be brought in when you play a card that triggers a “venture into the dungeon” prompt. Each dungeon has a series of rooms that will trigger new abilities as you pass through them.

If you’re a longtime Dungeons & Dragons fan who has never picked up a Magic card, there are enough recognisable traits from the tabletop game – from spells to characters, monsters and even classic tropes – that make for a familiar entryway.

The same goes for Magic: The Gathering fans who have never played Dungeons & Dragons before. If you’ve been curious about playing the tabletop game, the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansion might be the push you’ve been looking for. The new dungeon cards help introduce the storytelling mechanics of D&D, while the combination of creatures, enchantments and artifacts acts like a kind of character creation. Each game now plays like a mini-adventure, so get ready to roll for initiative.

The Magic: The Gathering’s Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is available now.

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