CLB: Story and Predictions

Chris CornejoCommander

CLB Previews start tomorrow! Chris is here with a quick recap of the Baldur’s Gate story, and some predictions for the new set!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate previews start tomorrow, but I’m writing this a few days in the past, so I’m going to do something maybe a little foolish: I’m going to make some predictions that might be immediately proven to be wrong. But as any Dungeons & Dragons player knows, it only takes one well-placed critical success to win a seemingly impossible fight, so let’s see if I can manage to call some shots here! 

Of course, I’m not exactly going into these predictions blindly. Baldur’s Gate is a familiar name to a lot of folks, with two award-winning and much-loved computer games made from the setting. So before we get to prognosticating, let’s quickly review the lore. 

The Plot 

This is going to be a very brief overview of the story for several reasons. First, spoilers. Yes, the original game is over two decades old, but it’s really, really good, and I don’t want to ruin things for people new to the games. Second, there’s a lot of little side missions and worldbuilding details in these games, which would take way too long to get into. Third…doesn’t really have a lot to do with Magic, which is kind of the point of this whole site, soooooo…yeah. Anyway! 

Baldur’s Gate takes place on the Sword Coast of Faerun, one of the main settings of the Forgotten Realms in Dungeons & Dragons. The original game follows the adventures of the ward of the mage Gorion (Abdel Adrian in the novelization) and their companions as they try to figure out the mysteries of the Ward’s lineage, what exactly is happening to the iron mines of the Sword Coast, and who the eldritch figure is who keeps showing up and causing chaos and violence. Sarevok, the main antagonist, is looking to ascend to godhood, and is willing to use any means necessary to get there. From sacrificing his own half sibling, shattering the economy and peace of an entire region, and just generally being a pretty uncool guy, Saverok means business. He is trying to become the Lord of Murder, after all. You defeat him, and all is well! 

Not really, otherwise how would expansions and a sequel work? The sword coast is still rocked by Saverok’s actions, and the ensuing cleanup (involving a bunch of intrigue, a trip to Avernus – or D&D’s version of a circle of hell – and you getting framed for murder) gets messy, and you get captured by the evil elven mage Irenicus. Irenicus wants to harness the unique nature of your soul to give him enough power to resurrect his long-dead wife. Fighting vampires, infiltrating the Underdark (another hell-like dimension), and saving the world tree all lead to a final confrontation against Irenicus in the Abyss (more hell!) for the fate of your soul and the world itself. 

All right! With that quick refresher, let’s get to the good stuff. 

The Predictions 

Some characters from Baldur’s gate have already appeared in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and the Commander Decks from that set. Minsc and Boo we already know are coming back as a planeswalker card, but folks like Volo and Drizzt also already exist, and as they are relatively minor characters in Baldur’s Gate, I wouldn’t expect to see them again. But this is a Commander set, so I’d expect a fair number of both your companions in the game and your enemies to get their own cards.  

So first prediction: every companion that appears as a companion in both main games will get their own card. This isn’t much of a prediction on its own, as likely a lot if not all of the companions in the games will get cards. So let’s see if I can nail the colors for all of them as well. It’s been…way too long since I’ve played through the games, so going off of very hazy recollections, here’s the colors I predict for the five of them: 

  • Minsc and Boo: Green/Red, and yes this is cheating since we already have their card for the set. 
  • Imouen: White/Blue. 
  • Jaheira: Green/White. 
  • Edwin Odesseiron: Blue/Black. 
  • Viconia Devir: Black/Red. 

But of course, there were forces arrayed against you in the games. And the previous Commander Legends set had a ton of legendary creatures. So we have space for some antagonists too. 

  • Sarevok: Blue/Black/Red. 
  • Irenicus: Blue/Black. 
  • Bohdi: Red/Black…she’s a vampire! 
  • Mulahey: Red. A very minor villain, but one of the first ones you fight. And he brings kobolds!  

You might note that I didn’t list the main character, Abdel Adrian. I’m going to foolishly say that Abdel won’t get a card, as Abdel is purely a character in the novels, and not in the games. While WotC can pull from anywhere, not just the games, I kind of want them to not include Abdel – you got to make your own character in the games, and we’re all planeswalkers in the fiction of Magic already, right? 

On that same note, no Elminster. Elminster is just…too much. For an Elminster card to be true to the character, it would have to be insanely overpowered (think Urza, but more), and anything less will feel like a letdown, so no appearance from the powerful wizard. We already have several overpowered Blue mages in Magic, no need for another.

Now that the character predictions are done, let’s round this off with three more general predictions; one likely, one maybe, and one longshot. 

Likely: The Return of Dungeons and D20 Rolling 

Originally featured in the Adventures of the Forgotten Realms set, these two mechanics are literally tailor-made for a Dungeons & Dragons-themed set.  

Commander is a natural fit for the variance-based D20 rolling mechanic, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this a little more pushed than it was in the Standard-legal set. While WotC is wary of creating another True-Name Nemesis situation, the variance inherent in the mechanic makes it less likely for any card with it to break through into other major formats, no matter how pushed it may be. 

I’d be interested in seeing a second attempt at dungeons, and the Baldur’s Gate games feature plenty of fodder for new dungeons to be based around. Dungeons were fairly clunky and, while extremely flavorful, hard to get the full benefit of in practice. The extremely incremental nature of the mechanic means that it would have to have an incredible payoff to break through out of Commander, so I’d like to see this entire mechanic powered up a bit. 

Maybe: The Return of Party 

Party was a mechanic in Zendikar Rising that cares about creature types – specifically, Wizards, Rogues, Clerics, and Warriors. Effects on cards would scale up depending on how many of those different types you had on the battlefield.

Seems like a pretty natural fit for a D&D themed set, and a lot of folks were at least mildly surprised when the mechanic didn’t come back in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Part of the issue may be that Fighter is a little more in line with D&D as a catch-all martial class, whereas Magic has Soldiers, Knights, Warriors, and so on, with more specificity in your basic “person what beats stuff up good” creature types. AFR only had ten Warriors, but also had six Knights and six Soldiers.

That said, Party could indeed make a comeback here – sets that aren’t beholden to Standard have more room to stretch their numbers in their creature types to suit one mechanic or another – but it’s not a sure bet. Tribal-based mechanics like party can warp Limited environments in unexpected ways, and with a Limited-focused set like a Commander Legends, that could be seen as good or bad, depending on what WotC wants out of the set.

Longshot: The Return of Level Up 

The Level Up mechanic from the original Zendikar block was directly inspired by the leveling system in Dungeons & Dragons, so if it was going to pop up anywhere, a supplemental set based around the game that inspired it would be the place.

BUT – Level Up was not a popular mechanic, and things like it have been done in seemingly less clunky ways since. I fully expect the set to have Sagas, as those have become evergreen (popping up every few set where they can), and possibly the return of Class cards, the closest equivalent to Level Up that has come since. Compared to those, Level Up is slow, resource intensive, and mechanically clunky, and not terribly well remembered – the card with it that has the most impact in the game still is maybe Joraga Treespeaker, and that’s hardly an auto-include in Commander or anything.

For Level up itself to return is a big ask…in a Standard-legal set. If it’s going to come back anywhere, it’s here and now, so this will be my longshot – Level Up will be in this set, and will appear on Legendary creatures to mimic their progression in the games.

We’ll be able to see whether I’m right or wrong on any of this pretty much immediately, as previews will be coming shortly the time this article gets published. Come either laugh at me or shower me with praise over on Twitter, and if any of the cards catch your eye, presale for the set is live over at!