Everything We Learned About the Doctor Who Commander Decks

Wizards of the Coast invited us to a press event and shared juicy details on the upcoming Magic: The Gathering Doctor Who Commander decks

Published: October 3, 2023 1:15 PM /


Key Art showing the Tardis behind the Fourth, Thirteenth, and Tenth doctor, as well as Jasmin and Rose

Last week I was invited to a press event to find out more about the Doctor Who Commander Magic: The Gathering decks coming out next week. On Zoom, I and others listened to certifiable Whoovian and main designer for the Doctor Who Commander decks Gavin Verhey speak about the four upcoming decks, along with his coworker Laura Bond, and BBC Doctor Who brand manager James Page.

Doctor Who Commander -  Make Your Own Episode

Doctor Who Commander Cards The First Doctor, The Second Doctor, The Third Doctor, and The Fourth Doctor
The first Four Doctors are all in the Blast From the Past deck, with the Fourth Doctor being the face card

That’s the tagline that Wizards of the Coast used internally while working on the Doctor Who Commander decks, as the mix-and-match process that happens in deckbuilding and gameplay creates unique situations. Much like how you make your own fairy tale takes with roles in Wilds of Eldraine, mechanics like Doctor’s Companion let you mix different aspects of Doctor Who together. If you thought Donna Noble should adventure with the Fourth Doctor, you can make that come true in a minor fashion at least.

Companions were generally made to be synergistic with all the doctors they traveled with. For example, Sarah Jane Smith’s card works well with both the Third and Fourth Doctors. The Third Doctor grows with each token she makes, and the Fourth Doctor benefits from the clue tokens by letting you manipulate the top of the deck.

Doctor Who Commander Companions Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith, Clara Oswald and Amy Pond
No, you can't have Amy, Rory and a Doctor in the Command Zone - I asked!

All the Doctors also have a triggered ability, which works well with Clara Oswald. Representing the Impossible Girl story she had, Clara fits a bit of a role like Faceless One and The Prismatic Piper have in past Commander draft products. She is able to take any color, and her ability is designed to work with all of the Doctors.

Doctor Who Commander – Showcasing 60 Years of History

Doctor Who Command The Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eight Doctors
These doctors are also in the Blast from the Past deck and finish the classic Doctor Who Doctors.

People who don’t know Doctor Who may not realize how much of it there is. Sure, it’s easy to say there have been thirteen doctors, it’s another to grasp just how many episodes have been produced. Since the show started in 1963  there have been over 870 episodes of Doctor Who, telling 300 stories between the classic and revival runs. They are focusing just on that and the one canonical TV movie (and possibly TV show spinoffs), leaving aside the tons of audio plays, books, and other productions that have come out over 60 years.  

To showcase as much of that extensive history as possible, Wizards decided to favor showing a new episode or element before doing a second card focusing on one aspect (with iconic elements exempted). To accomplish this mission, there are fifty new cards in each of the decks, with only a few overlaps – like the TARDIS card - between them. Together this means there will be upwards of 200 new cards, or more than some small sets have had in the past.

Doctor Who Commander Sagas representing The Caves of Androzani, The Day of the Doctor, The Girl in the Fireplace and An Unearthly Child
Iconic, important, and fan-favorite episodes are told in the form of a saga

This will hopefully let players find their favorite Doctor Who moments in the decks. Iconic and Fan-favorite episodes like Girl in the Fireplace, The Caves of Androzani, and The Day of the Doctor will be depicted as sagas. Each doctor gets at least one episode shown, with four more episodes in the villain deck, and they teased there are a few bonus sagas around as well representing moments across 60 years of history.

Major characters are a key part of the focus of representation with a number of companions getting cards, and some Time Lords getting multiple cards showing different regenerations. The Doctor has all the main incarnations represented, along with the War Doctor, and Fugitive Doctor in the set, as well as the Valeyard.

Doctor Who Commander cards of the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors
These Doctors can be found in the Timey Wimey deck, along with the yet to be previewedd War Doctor

It’s not just the Doctor getting in on this though, as his foe The Master will also have multiple cards. While we have seen Missy, who generally opposed Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, we should expect to see other regenerations of The Master represented in the villain deck.

Doctor Who Commander Across Time and Space

Doctors 12, and 13 along with Missy
Doctors 12 and 13 are in Paradox Power, while Missy is in Masters of Evil

Gavin Verhey spoke about how this was a dream project for him, and his experience as a Doctor Who fan including doing things like sleeping on a sidewalk for a convention. The love shows through with many of the elements showing things from the very beginning of the show, to promises of some sort of future content representing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Doctors. There is even going to be a depiction in some form of at least one missing episode among the cards.

There are a number of other cards that we can share with you as well, and will here below, with some captions and some extra questions we got answered. Stay tuned for more about that future release which be a secret lair or might be like the Tales of Middle-Earth November release we learned more about last month.

Doctor Who Commander Companions Susan Foreman, Jamie McCrimmon, Jo Grant, and Tegan Jovanka
Susan travelled with the First Doctor, while Jamie was a Scottish Highlander who accompanied the Second. Jo Grant was part of UNIT and worked with the Third Doctor, while Tegan travelled with the Fifth Doctor

Question: Most Commander decks have only a couple of main commander options, but with these decks containing multiple doctors and companions, there are a lot more ways that even staying with the list they could be led. What design problems did that create, and how did you solve them?

Answer (WOTC): We’re very careful with where we deploy our partner-style Commanders these days. There are just so many possibilities, and it takes a ton of time to test them all and vet them out! The combinatorics are huge. There’s always such a high chance something will break away as an incredibly powerful combination.

But with Doctor Who, it really made sense for Doctors and Companions to be in the command zone side by side. So, we helped safeguard it by having the Doctors in these decks all be two colors and the companions all be one color, to create a three-color maximum, and also you have to pair doctor with companion – not doctor with doctor, or companion with companion. That also reduces the amount of search space. But it still took a lot of iteration and playtesting on these! I’m excited to see what combinations people gravitate toward.

Doctor Who Commander Companions Peri Brown, Ace, Fearless Rebel, and Yasmin Khan as well as the card Reverse the Polarity
Peri traveled with the Fifth and Sixth Doctors, while Ace accompanied the Seventh Doctor. Yasmin went with the Thirteenth Doctor as part of the 'fam'. Reverse the Polarity was essentially the Third Doctor's catch phrase and got its own card to reference that

Question: Was it decided to bring back Planechase for March of the Machines or Doctor Who first?

Answer (WOTC): It was decided to do Planechase for March of the Machine first. So when I was handed the Doctor Who project and I wanted to pitch Planechase – since it really was the PERFECT fit – I was a bit nervous about getting people to buy off on it. Fortunately, everybody I told immediately felt it made sense too and I’m so glad we could include it here.

Doctor Who Commander sagas showing episodes City of Death, Heaven Sent, Curse of Fenric, and The Eleventh Hour
The City of Death was a classic 4th Doctor story penned by Douglas Adams, while Heaven Sent was an acclaimed time loop story for the Twelfth Doctor. The Curse of Fenric was for the Seventh Doctor, while The Eleventh Hour began the Eleventh Doctor's run
Doctor Who Commander Sagas The War GAmes, and Trial of a Time Lord, as well as the card Everybody Lives
The Ninth Doctor is my favorite personally, and the humanity and joy he showed in moments like in The Doctor Dances are a bit part of why - he's so happy that everyone lives after surviving the horrors of the time war.


Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at tips@techraptor.net

Don Parsons
| Senior Writer

A longtime lover of speculative fiction, in almost all its forms, Don joined TechRaptor in 2014 on a whim sending in an application as he was looking for… More about Don

More Info About This Game
Learn more about Magic: The Gathering
Release Date
August 5, 1993 (Calendar)
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)