Magic: The Gathering Unveils Its First Lords of the Rings and Warhammer Cards

Magic: The Gathering Unveils Its First Lords of the Rings and Warhammer Cards
A sneak peek at Warhammer 40K card art from the upcoming Magic: The Gathering release. (Image: Fajareka Setiawan/Wizards of the Coast)

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast held its Magic Showcase 2021 — a Magic: The Gathering gathering, if you will — a news event detailing the collectible card game’s next few years. That includes the first peek at the already announced (and much anticipated) Universes Beyond sets inspired by the fantasy classic Lords of the Rings and beloved sci-fi miniatures game Warhammer 40K.

There’s no reason to dilly-dally, so:

Image: Slawomir Maniak/Wizards of the Coast Image: Slawomir Maniak/Wizards of the Coast

Here’s a little taste of the Warhammer 40K set, coming in 2022. Aside from special releases, Universes Beyond’s dabbling with the iconic tabletop franchise will focus on four Commander decks, which are unique, plus-sized decks based around a specific character and cards of the Commander’s same colour types.

Image: Wizards of the Coast Image: Wizards of the Coast

It’ll be joined by Secret Lairs sets — limited edition, limited availability releases — alongside two more gaming franchises of an altogether different sort. The first is based on Capcom’s venerable Street Fighter video game franchise, which will be celebrating its 35th anniversary next year…

Image: Wizards of the Coast Image: Wizards of the Coast

…and a second based on the terrifyingly popular online shooter/metaverse simulator/crossover smorgasbord Fortnite.

Image: Dmitry Burmak/Wizards of the Coast Image: Dmitry Burmak/Wizards of the Coast

Of course, the most anticipated release is Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, which unfortunately won’t be out until 2023. These will be a “full Magic set release,” meaning they are official cards that can be used in most tournament formats — Tales of Middle-earth cards will be playable in the game’s alternate “Historical” and “Modern” formats, but not the yearly-updated rotational “Standard” format that focuses on otherwise-current card sets. But, unsurprisingly, the Lord of the Rings/Magic: The Gathering collab is getting a huge push from Wizards of the Coast. As the company puts it:

“Gandalf, Gollum, Frodo, Aragorn — the characters you know will immerse you in Middle-earth as you battle for the One Ring, scheme with Saruman, or journey to the heights of Mount Doom. Coming to tabletop, Magic Online, and MTG Arena — plus four Commander decks and special Secret Lair drops — this set will be available everywhere you play.”

Image: Kamila Szutenberg/Wizards of the Coast Image: Kamila Szutenberg/Wizards of the Coast

Additionally, Magic will return to Dungeons & Dragons’ Forgotten Realms setting with new cards centered on Baldur’s Gate (which, not coincidentally, happens to be the subject of the extremely popular CRPG series of the same name, and specifically inspired by the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3):

“Focusing on the city of Baldur’s Gate and building on the Commander-first gameplay of 2019’s Commander Legends, our return to Commander Draft with Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate brings in iconic characters, new mechanics, more flavorful spells from D&D, plus Commander Legends-style foil-etched legendary creatures — all packed into an even greater social experience.”

Amazingly, and somewhat intimidatingly, this wasn’t close to the only news that came out of Magic Showcase 2021; for information about the CCG’s standard 2022 releases, like a return to the Eastern-fantasy setting of Kamigawa for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, a dive into the history behind the original Magic plane for The Brothers’ War, the zany sci-fi set Unfinity, and more — you can watch the entire event here.