Skip to main content

Magic: The Gathering’s thirst-trap planeswalker Oko shows that tabletop games can be sexy in the right ways

Attractive AND steals from the rich? Get yourself a man who can do both.

Artwork for Magic: The Gathering - Outlaws of Thunder Junction
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

It feels like Magic: The Gathering character Oko was created specifically for me. A planeswalker originally introduced in 2019’s Throne of Eldraine set, and headlining the upcoming Outlaws of Thunder Junction set, Oko ticks all the boxes when it comes to characters I’m into - he’s a mischievous, charismatic faerie antihero with a dark past and a distaste for authority. This isn’t even mentioning his appearance, which definitely plays a major factor in Oko’s appeal as a character.

The artists at Wizards of the Coast knew what they were doing when they designed Oko in Throne of Eldraine. It’s not just his fine facial features and the fact that he’s always depicted as being bare-chested, though those things certainly help. It’s the blue face and body paint, the tight trousers, the feathers on the cropped jacket and mop of dark, unruly hair. All of these factors have made Oko one of the most attractive characters in Magic: The Gathering, in my humble opinion.

With Outlaws of Thunder Junction, Oko has only become more attractive. The character appears on multiple cards for the set, this time trading in his woodland nymphish look for a western rake style. This offers a different and equally excellent interpretation of the faerie ne’er-do-well, with his cropped jacket becoming even more elaborate - thanks to the addition of a sweeping cape, a huge collar and even more feathers - his tight trousers gaining a big, buckled belt and, of course, a cowboy hat that still retains aspects of Oko’s Eldraine bone crown.

Watch on YouTube

Though Oko has always been depicted as a trickster who has a history of doing misdeeds, Magic: The Gathering is leaning harder into the character’s more villainous side in Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Oko is an outlaw in this set, someone who is willing to mix with the wrong sorts of people in order to perform some serious larceny. This new propensity to commit crimes only further solidifies Oko’s role as an antihero, thereby making him that much more appealing. There is nothing sexier than stealing from rich people.

Whether it was intentional or not, Oko is a sexy character who feels designed for a gender and/or sexual minority audience.

It’s unsure how much of this was intentional, but Wizards has created a character who is unmistakably camp in all the best ways. Oko could have easily fallen into the trap of becoming just another Zack Synder-esque ‘cool’ dude for the straight cis guys to fantasise about being, if not for the elaborate outfit, the makeup and the immaculate female and queer gaze of the Magic: The Gathering cards the character is featured on.

Magic: The Gathering cards - Oko, the Ringleader standard and Oko, the Ringleader - borderless.
Oko's outfit in Outlaws of Thunder Junction perfectly combine the character's faerie origins with his new western aesthetics. | Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Tabletop gaming, particularly trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, has a long history of doing things that are off-putting - whether deliberately or not - to people with minority gender and/or sexual identities, who might otherwise enjoy the hobby. One of these things is utilising imagery designed to only appeal to straight cis men - namely dead-eyed women with huge breasts, conventionally attractive features and skimpy, yet dreadfully uninspiring, outfits. Alternatively, there are the ultra-muscular, hyper-masculine visages of men that the players are supposed to imagine they are.

Oko is the kind of sexy character who - probably - doesn’t make people like myself feel unwelcome or gross.

There are undoubtedly people who aren’t straight cis men who do enjoy this kind of character design; more power to them. Nevertheless, they are unlikely to be the initial target audience Wizards had in mind when creating these characters. This is why it’s fantastic to see characters like Oko in Magic: The Gathering. Whether it was intentional or not, Oko is a sexy character who feels designed for a gender and/or sexual minority audience, which is extremely refreshing to see from a 30-year-old trading card game that itself has previously banned racist and culturally offensive cards.

Magic: The Gathering cards - Oko, Thief of Crowns and Oko, the Ringleader - Wanted.
With the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, Oko has only become more of a villain and therefore more attractive. | Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Oko occupies a happy medium between the two potential approaches towards including sexy stuff in your tabletop game. He certainly isn’t in line with the exploitative, uncomfortable approach that people who back Kickstarter campaigns for nude female D&D miniatures enjoy. But he’s also not the kind of sexless, Action Man character you might see in a current major motion picture starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Oko is the kind of sexy character who - probably - doesn’t make people like myself feel unwelcome or gross. If he makes straight cis men feel gross, then I feel like he’s only doing a better job of occupying that happy medium space that I want to see more characters sitting in.

If Wizards has any more plans to put Oko into other highly thematic sets where he’s committing more crimes against the wealthy in another camp and sexy outfit, they can count on my absolute support.

Read this next

Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
In this article

Magic: The Gathering

Tabletop Game

Dicebreaker is the home for friendly board game lovers

We welcome board gamers of all levels, so sign in and join our community!