Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shandalar Speculation

Ring of Evos Isle

So I know you have been intrigued by the cycle of rings in M13 that are said to come from the plane of Shandalar along with Onakkee Catacomb from the recent Planechase set . . . 

Plane - Planechase 2012 Edition - Onakke Catacomb

and the flavor text on Talrand's Invocation. 

Talrand's Invocation

Why would Wizards randomly be referencing Shandalar in one of its core sets? Surely Gleemax must have some sort of master plan for which this is a teaser. Why remind us of this plane from a nearly forgotten computer game of the late 90s without some kind of purpose? It isn't as if this world had many defining features or emotional resonance aside from being part of a fun game.

Over the months, my curiosity had faded from hearing all of these references last summer, but then I heard this question from a Q & A panel with R & D at PAX East. While they don't say anything specifically about Shandalar, the vision they have for making magic more accessible to those who aren't connected to other magic players seems like it would be fit perfectly with a remake of the original Microprose Magic the Gathering game from 1997.

Duels of the Planeswalkers is fun, but limited since you cannot do much in the way of deckbuilding, playing other humans, and are to a few cards. It has served it's purpose well of attracting former magic players back into the game by tantalizing them with Sengir Vampires, Serra Angels, and these crazy new planeswalker thingies, but it doesn't approach the level of fun and engagement that Shandalar had, where you are existing in a fleshed out world, free to explore collecting better cards for your deck along the way.

Creating a new Shandalar game would be an excellent way to attract other gamers into Magic who don't have the social network to suck them into the game. Maybe they will even make a paper set in the Shandalar world and then translate all of the cards over into the game world as well. Or they could continue to explore what a few of the cards in the original game did and focus on cards that can do things only possible with a computer. 

As evident by the pathetic AI and huge handicaps required, I'm sure one of the biggest challenges to such a game would be to program a wide variety of cards to work properly under the rules and have the computer understand how to use them properly and strategically. However, Wizards has been able to achieve this on a smaller scale with Duels of the Planeswalkers and who's to say that given the amount of money they could stand to make by expanding their player base as well as interesting most current magic players that they might be throwing a lot of resources into making this happen.


  1. A new Shandalar game would be sweet. The original was so much fun. I'd be a little worried that they'd go too much into multiplayer territory and take away from the RPG elements of the original. Hopefully they'd do a multiplayer portion and a single player one too instead of an MMORPG.

  2. Shit, I hadn't noticed any of this. Of course, I never really played the Shandalar game (though I remember watching Martin play a couple of times). I think it would be cool if they did a new Shandalar game. I feel like they need something to bridge the gap between Duels of the Planeswalkers and Magic online.