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MTG could one day be designed by AI, says head designer

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater believes AI will inevitably make its way into the TCG – but perhaps not anytime soon.

MTG AI design - Wizards of the Coast art of Unctus, Grand Metatect

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic for tabletop gaming fans right now, and Magic: The Gathering designer Mark Rosewater reckons MTG AI design is a pretty plausible future. “I believe there will come a day where AI is a tool we use for design”, Rosewater writes in a blog post from June 14, “but there are a whole host of issues to work through before we get there”. MTG sets designed by computers? Maybe it’s not as silly as it sounds.

Other tabletop publishers are already considering if they can (and should) incorporate AI into the production of their games. We spoke to several publishers about the use of AI art in tabletop RPGs. While there are plenty of ethical and legal issues to navigate (with some creators outright calling AI art theft), many tabletop creators agree AI isn’t going away anytime soon.

Wizards of the Coast did not respond to previous requests for comment on AI art, so the company’s stance on artificial intelligence remains unclear. It’s possible, then, that Rosewater’s prediction could come to pass. The question, then, is how Magic: The Gathering could use AI.

MTG fans are already playing around with AI, but outside of images, they’ve not had much success with the tech. One YouTuber asked Chat GPT to build an AI Commander deck, and the results were dubious at best. It’s not surprising, then, that Magic fans are skeptical in the replies to Rosewater’s blog.

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“You expect an AI to figure it out without actually knowing more than the text on cards?”, writes Tumblr user Charitycharicola. “Heck, AI could barely beat humans at Go until about 10 years ago, and Go is nowhere near as complex as Magic.”

“If you want your text to be useful for something besides making people think a human wrote it, too bad, it can’t do that”, says Pjweisberg. User Su92 echoes the sentiment: “How do you think this would work? And if the answer is ‘I don’t know, but it seems like a good idea’ then it’s not a good idea.”

While AI’s game design capabilities may not seem like much now, there’s no telling where the tech could be in a few years’ time. If you love to speculate, here’s something else to mull over – how high can the MTG One Ring bounty go? Or, if you prefer to deal in absolutes, here are the MTG Arena decks and MTG Arena codes you should absolutely check out.