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MTG’s Fallout Commander decks revive the post-apocalyptic video game series’ greatest villains

Power armour, ghoul mayors and The Master show up in the latest preview for Fallout Universes Beyond release.

Image credit: Bethesda

Fallout’s particular style of a 1950s atomic wasteland comes to Magic: The Gathering on March 8th via a quartet of preconstructed Commander decks featuring characters, scenes and tech from across Bethesda’s popular video game franchise. This includes the big bosses of each of the mainline video games, such as The Master and Agent Frank Horrigan.

Publisher Wizards of the Coast opened a bottle of Nuka Cola during a recent WeeklyMTG stream to preview a few dozen new cards that players will find inside the Fallout Universes Beyond Commander decks. Like the Warhammer 40,000 decks released in 2022, these special releases will be available as 100-card packages and premium collector boosters, though the latter will only contain alternate art treatments and flavourful reprints - every new card can be collected without cracking a single pack.

Senior game designer at Wizards, Annie Sardelis, and Bethesda’s lead weapon and character artist Dane Olds spoke at a press preview about adapting Fallout’s “Americana twisted in this real way” to a trading card game best known for universe-hopping wizards, dragon-gods and a more ‘dudes with swords’ vibe. Studio X, MTG’s internal design team, apparently tried to capture niche moments that players would still recognise, small encapsulations of quintessential Fallout, instead of only focusing on main plot points and the most famous faces. But there are still plenty of those, too, in the form of Nick Valentine, Preston Garvey and Mr. House.

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Let’s quickly run down what we know about the four decks, the contents of which will be officially spoiled over the coming week. Each 100-card preconstructed deck is composed of a mixture of reprints bearing Fallout-style art and a bevy of new card designs that marry the video game’s world with MTG’s mechanics and competitive gameplay.

Scrappy Survivors

Commander: Dogmeat, Ever Loyal

Strategy: Go Tall (colloquially known as Voltron)

Known included cards:

Science!

Commander: Dr. Madison Li

Strategy: Use energy to power everything

Known included cards:

Mutant Menace

Commander: The Wise Mothman

Strategy: Rad Counters, which mill and damage everyone but buff your mutant creatures

Known included cards:

  • Hancock, Ghoulish Mayor
  • Nuclear Fallout
  • Guardian Project

Hail, Caesar!

Commander: Caesar, Legion’s Emperor

Strategy: Generate and sacrifice tokens, Squad support

Known included cards:

Images: Bethesda/Wizards of the Coast

The Squad keyword returns from the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks to offer a little support to Caesar’s deck, while The Wise Mothman sports an entirely new player token playstyle with Rad Counters. Once accrued, these counters can be triggered by effects to make players mill cards from the top of their decks and take damage before shedding any Rad Counters. If you’re the Mothman player, you’ll also be buffing your menagerie of weird mutant creatures. Sardelis said the design team spent the longest time tuning this playstyle, as they wanted it to “feel bad, but not too bad,” - the first iteration of poison counters spring to mind.

Olds claimed that MTG is alive and well within the Bethesda studio culture, a habit started by Pete Hines, former vice president of marketing and apparently “really big Magic fan.” Hines would coordinate booster drafts in the office and started a Slack channel where cardboard-canny staff could share their love.

Some other bits from the press screening: you can find all seven S.P.E.C.I.A.L. trait bobblehead cards scattered across the four Commander decks, and a few Vault stories from the games are depicted as Sagas and tell the weird and often tragic fate of their inhabitants. Sardelis mentioned that plenty more faces from the Interplay era of the series (Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Brotherhood of Steel) would appear on cards, but Wizards of the Coast kept those names in their blue and yellow jumpsuit for now.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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