My son and I have spent many evenings staring at each other over hands of Magic: The Gathering, trying to guess strategies, short-circuit attacks, or summon enough beasties to overwhelm the other and win. I discovered MtG in college, where the gorgeous fantasy artwork drew me in and the deeper strategies required to dominate kept me playing (and buying far more booster packs than I should). Introducing the game to my 11-year-old son followed a similar path, only he’s a much better strategist than I ever was. It wasn’t long before he could build a deck that would chew me up and leave nothing in its wake but spent mana.
Come fall 2015, we will have a new way to enjoy Magic: The Gathering. Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are teaming up and bringing MtG to the tactical miniatures board game market. With a working title of Magic: The Gathering Strategy Board Game, WotC is working with the same rock star Hasbro team that brought us the much-loved classic, HeroScape and, my personal favorite board game of the last five years, Risk Legacy.
At a glance: Set on the mana-rich plane of Shandalar, the Magic: The Gathering Strategy Board Game will have you and up to five players customizing the battlefield by designing the map, then placing terrain and gylphs. Once that’s done, you’ll each choose one of the five highly detailed, pre-painted Planeswalkers figures that are included in the base set. Each Planeswalker commands unique (gorgeously translucent) creature squads that you’ll move around the map, trying to out-maneuver opponents and gain tactical advantages. In your quest to be the last one standing, you will use spells, summons, and unique Planeswalker abilities culled from the rich history of the Magic: The Gathering universe. While you don’t have to be familiar with MtG to enjoy the game (the game won’t use MtG cards), old-time fans like myself will find familiar skills like deathtouch, flying, and first strike with which to terrorize our enemies.
For now, when asked about the collectibility of the miniatures for the game, WotC and Hasbro will only say every base set comes with the same five Planeswalkers (Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, Nissa Revane, Liliana Vess, and one other that hasn’t been announced); but they don’t say anything about those shiny plastic creature squads. Much like HeroScape before it (and just about every other modern tactical miniature game) I wouldn’t be surprised to see new squads released on a regular basis, allowing you to vary your tactics and bolster your ranks.
I’ve been wanting an excuse to pick up a tactical miniature combat game for a while and it looks like this will finally give me the incentive I needed. I’ll be heading down to my FLGS once a final release date is announced next fall. Until then, slake your desire for more information from Wizards of the Coast at Magic.wizards.com/boardgame or follow Hasbro on Twitter under the handle @HasbroNews.