MTG Doctor Who Commander decks feature more new cards than any EDH precon released before them. Between the four upcoming Commander decks, there are 200 new cards, so it averages out at 50 new cards per deck. Most Commander precons get 10.
The reason for the massive influx of new Doctor Who cards, releasing October 13, might surprise you: according to head designer Mark Rosewater, it’s all down to the art.
See, for most MTG Commander decks, it’s cost-effective to include a lot of reprints. That’s because reprints don’t require Wizards of the Coast to commission expensive new artwork, they can just reuse the old art. But, as MTG head designer Mark Rosewater explains in a new article on the challenges of Universes Beyond sets, Universes Beyond cards need all-new art anyway, even the reprints.
It wouldn’t make sense for the Doctor Who decks to include Blasphemous Act with artwork of an Innistrad vampire, for instance, because Doctor Who is not a part of the MTG multiverse. (The BBC probably wouldn’t sign off on it either).
Because of this, Rosewater explains, “Gavin and his team had the freedom to make as many new cards as needed”. This helped the designers solve several other problems, like the fact that there are very few existing Magic creatures you can sensibly tie to Doctor Who.
Having so many new cards also allowed the Doctor Who designers to delve deeper into unusual and interesting themes too. While some of the Doctor Who decks might’ve worked, from a design standpoint, with mainly reprints, Timey Wimey, which is all about the new Time Travel mechanic and Suspend and Vanishing cards, would not have been possible.
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