How Should a Magic: The Gathering MMO Look Like?

By Jeff Francis
How should a Magic: The Gathering mmo look like?

Over the last fifty years, there have only been a few games that have been revolutionary and made their mark. One such game is Dungeons and Dragons, which introduced pen-and-paper role-playing to the world in the 1970s. Another milestone game is Magic: The Gathering, which was released back in 1993. This game created the entire collectible card game genre and made its parent company so rich that they were able to eventually buy the makers of Dungeons and Dragons. While there have been a few video game adaptations, there has never been an official Magic: The Gathering mmo...until now. Wizards of the Coast recently announced the development of a M:TG mmo, which has sent gamers into a tizzy. It's time to tap some mana and ponder the following: how should a Magic: The Gathering mmo look like?

Magic: The Gathering Serra Angel

Wizards of the Coast have tapped Cryptic, the makers of Star Trek Online and Neverwinter, to create the Magic: The Gathering mmo. So far, we have very little information about the project. There is a blurb on their website that reads, "Cryptic Studios is developing a new free-to-play, action MMORPG based on Magic: The Gathering, the acclaimed strategic card game. Experience stunning visuals and sound as we bring Magic to life in this next generation MMORPG. As a Planeswalker, you explore amazing worlds, combat powerful creatures, and meet the legendary beings that shape the fate of the multiverse." That's enough info to whet our appetite, but not much more. So how should a M:TG mmo look like?

The first thing we want to see in a Magic: The Gathering mmo is that it true to the card game's lore. There was no true world lore consensus when the card game first started, but a central storyline began to form over time. Expansions to the game began to tell a specific narrative that was played out through the individual expansions that made up a specific block, such as the Mirage block featuring the Mirage, Visions, and Weatherlight expansions. One of the fascinating things about Magic: The Gathering is that a really cool universe was created over twenty years, and this universe was comprised of individual planes that were quite unique in nature. Only the powerful Planeswalkers could travel back and forth between these planes. My hope is to see the planes from the various expansions be fully fleshed out within the online rpg. My guess is that there will be the core world of Dominaria, which serves as the nexus of the multiverse, and that future expansions will bring in the worlds (and creatures, spells, and characters) from the various card game expansion blocks.

Magic; The Gathering Onslaught

Another feature we want to see in a Magic: The Gathering mmo is that the card game's central feature is incorporated in some manner. I'm talking about the five different mana colors (black, white, green, red, and blue) that the players use to power their cards. I can see some classes or races being associated with a specific color, but I think the most logical possibility is in different schools of magic. Clerics would obviously use white mana while necromancers would use black. It would also be quite interesting to see if tapping is incorporated into the M:TG mmo in some way, such as activating the power of a piece of gear. Of course, such a mechanic is standard in online games in the form of activating the inherent power of an item. Still, I think most players want to see the online game pay some sort of homage to the mechanics of the card game.

Pondering on how a Magic: The Gathering mmo should look like, it's definite that popular cards should find their way into the mmorpg. While players will argue over which cards are best, there's often a pretty good consensus on which cards are pretty popular, whether for their in-game power or for just being cool. This means that fan-favorite characters, monsters, and spells need to be ported directly into the game. I know I'm dating myself (as I first started playing the game during the Unlimited Edition), but I would squeal with girlish glee if I saw a Serra Angel or a Black Knight in the mmo. Artifacts would be the easiest to port over as they're tailor made for player gear. I would also like to see some of the notable characters (such as Urza Planeswalker, Baron Sengir, and Sorin Markov) appear in the game, although it could be tricky in that many of them are found on specific planes and at different time periods. Still, such concerns are not insurmountable.

Finally, we want a Magic: The Gathering mmo to use the card art as a template. One thing that has really made the CCG stand apart is its amazing art. I honestly could stare at the cards in my collection for a long time as they're just beautiful works of art, and those amazing images need to serve as the visual foundation of the game. Overall, I'm pretty excited about the thought of getting to play a M:TG mmo, even though we'll have to wait a bit for it. My main thought is that the online game needs to be true to the original card game and incorporate some of those core features as a way to pay homage. The universe of the CCG has been greatly expanded over the last twenty-four years, so there's plenty for Cryptic to work with.


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