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Examining the Crossover: The Early History of D&D and MtG

As we gear up for the release of Magic: The Gathering’s 88th expansion, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, on July 23, 2021, one cannot help but wonder how the world of Dungeons and Dragons came to collide with the realms of the Planeswalkers. In a brilliant masterstroke by Wizards of the Coast, two of the most lucrative franchises in tabletop gaming were combined—and tabletop history might never be the same.

MtG and Wizards of the Coast

WotC is arguably responsible for building many of the most popular tabletop hobbies today. It began in the 1990s as a series of retail stores and is now a powerhouse in the tabletop industry. One of the company’s most notable achievements was the creation and publishing of Magic: The Gathering.

MtG’s release in 1993 was arguably the birth of the trading card game, which would forever change the landscape of tabletop gaming. Following the success of Magic: The Gathering, WotC was purchased by Hasbro for a sum of $325 million in 1999.

The wizards of the Coast Headquarters
The Wizards of the Coast headquarters

Since then, billions of cards have been printed, and there are over 35 million players worldwide as of 2018. One can only imagine that this player base has grown since then.

20 Years Earlier: TSR, Inc.

It can be said, however, that Magic owes its success to a property developed twenty years prior: Dungeons and Dragons. This beloved tabletop roleplaying game that has now seen five editions and inspired countless other games was developed by the legendary Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. 

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Player Character Record Sheets

Gygax and Arneson could find no publisher willing to release D&D, which prompted Gygax to found Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. with his friend, Don Kaye. A few months after that, they took on Brian Blume as another partner. 

A year later, Dungeons and Dragons was finally released. Unfortunately, Kaye passed suddenly in 1975, never seeing the success of their brainchild in the late 70s.

How Dungeons and Dragons Came to WotC

TSR, Inc.’s development as a company was rather tumultuous. Financial underperformance led to the Blumes leaving the organization in the 80s. Lorraine Williams, who was VP at the time, even ousted Gygax from the company in 1985. The company never saw success again after, having been outraced by its competitors. 

The company finally saw some hope in 1997, when it was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. In 2000, Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition was released. 

The Rest Was History

Both Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons would grow in their respective fields, but it would take nearly two decades before their epic crossover. Controversies, failures, and successes would come and go during this time—which will be the subject of perhaps another article. 

The crossover came to a head in 2018 with the release of the Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica, a sourcebook that introduced various aspects of MtG lore to D&D gameplay. In 2020, another sourcebook was released called Mythic Odysseys of Theros. 

And now, the opposite is happening: the world of Dungeons and Dragons is being introduced to the mechanics of Magic: The Gathering. There is no telling how these completely different games will affect each other and the world of tabletop games. All we know is that this is a significant milestone of the era—one that may permanently alter the future of both Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering.


For other thought pieces about Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, go ahead and explore our blog. The Dragonforge is an online hobby shop by geeks for Pinoy geeks, and we just love playing and talking about all these amazing hobbies.