In an incredibly sudden move, The MTG Fallout Universes Beyond Crossover was announced to take place earlier today. This was incredibly unexpected considering that the previous release date given for the crossover was March 2023. We now know, following the First Look, that this release date has been moved up to early Feburary instead.
Alongside introducing all of the themes and face Commanders for the four new Fallout-inspired Commander decks and a ton of other new cards, two new mechanics releasing with MTG Fallout were also spoiled. Both of these mechanics are incredibly thematic, and look like a ton of fun to play with!
Of the two new mechanics showcased in the MTG Fallout First Look, Junk tokens are the more straightforward addition. Junk Tokens are rather similar to the somewhat overpowered Treasure Tokens in a lot of ways. Both of these are artifact tokens and both feature free one-use effects that sacrifice the token when tapped.
Instead of creating a mana of any color, Junk Tokens exile a card from the top of your library. You can play that card until the end of the turn.
These ‘Impulse’ draw effects are all over Magic. Commonly found in the red color on cards like Wrenn’s Resolve and Reckless Impulse, contrary to Treasure Tokens Junk Tokens offer you cards to play instead of mana to cast other cards. Unfortunately, you can only activate Junk Tokens at Sorcery speed, but the chances of Impulse drawing a card you can’t play on an opponent’s turn is more likely than on yours, so, aside from players trying to remove Junk Tokens and you being unable to respond, this probably is not the biggest issue.
So far, we know that Dogmeat, Ever Loyal, the Commander of the Naya Scrappy Survivors MTG Fallout Commander deck creates these tokens. Whenever a creature that’s enchanted or equipped attacks, Dogmeat scrounges up a Scrap token for your convenience. Being able to choose when you Impulse draw is a huge upside in comparison to Dogmeat Impulse Drawing on attack. Additionally, this gives Scrap Tokens the chance to interact with artifact and token matters effects.
Rad Counters are a new type of player counter that, really, represents a design space that has not been utilized too much in Magic. Having a few Rad counters can be a good thing, but having too many will quite literally be the death of you.
Rad Counters represent Radiation, something that, in Fallout, is considered to be a good thing to have a little of, but a not-so-good thing to have a lot of. Because of this, the Sultai Mutant Menace Commander deck can give Rad tokens to both you and your opponent.
These all stack up to a Radiation trigger that occurs on each player’s main phase. That player must mill cards and lose life equal to the number of Rad counters they control. A few Rad counters, say one or two, can function as a powerful mill tool to enable graveyard synergies. Having an abundance of Rad counters will not only mill your deck out, but the life loss alone can end your game.
The Wise Mothman is a good example of a Rad counter enabler that plays both sides of the coin. This gives Rad to everyone, but The Wise Mothman benefits from you having Rad Counters since it can grow itself and the rest of your team whenever you mill nonland cards.
Another example of a new MTG Fallout card that wants to drown opponents in Rad Counters was also introduced during the First Look. While The Wise Mothman gives everyone a little Radiation, Feral Ghoul wants to dump a bunch of Rad Counters on your opponents.
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Powerful Supporting Mechanics
Like the Doctor Who Universes Beyond set, there are a ton of returning mechanics appearing in the MTG Fallout crossover. One of the most powerful spoilers shown off at the First Look showcases an Instant that simply has two mechanics: Storm and Proliferate.
Storm is so powerful and problematic that it has an entire scale dedicated to the likelihood of a mechanic reappearing or not named after it. This is simultaneously a compliment and a curse.
Storm, in a nutshell, means that the spell with Storm will get copied for every spell played before it in a turn. For example, if three spells are played before someone casts Radstorm, regardless of who casted the spells, you will get three additional copies of Radstorm. This means you will have four in total.
Proliferate allows a player to add a counter of any type to anything that already has a counter of that type. This, of course, also includes Rad Counters. The intended function of Rad storm, similar to Feral Ghoul, appears to be to dump Rad Counters on your opponents.
For the first time since the Kaladesh block, Energy will also be returning. These are also player counters, but they’re more equivalent to an additional currency. One can gain Energy to spend on a variety of different spells and abilities. Dr. Madison Li, the face Commander of the Jeskai Science! Commander deck, represents this perfectly. After gaining Energy for casting artifact spells, Dr. Madison Li gives you three different abilities you can spend Energy on. The more Energy you spend, the more powerful the ability you recieve.
Finally, Squad is a sort of Multikicker ability. When casting a Squad card, you can pay the Squad cost any number of times. For example, if you pay an extra six mana when casting Gary Clone, you’ll get three extra copies of Gary Clone.
There’s a Lot More to Come!
This is just the First Look for the MTG Fallout set. While we finally got a taste of the fantastic thematic Commander set coming in early February 2024, there’s a lot more to come for Fallout fans. For those eager to see more MTG Fallout cards, you’ll have to wait until January 2024 until things pick back up.
For now, we appear to have a grasp of the prevailing themes in all four of the new MTG Fallout Commander decks. Rad Counters, in particular, are an incredibly interesting design. It shows that Wizards of the Coast can come up with effects that are simultaneously powerful in small doses while overwhelming in large ones. It would have been interesting to see something similar show up on the Tempted by the Ring mechanic from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth but, fortunately, we can still see more intricate designs like this one in the future.
If you want to see everything that was spoiled in the MTG Fallout First Look, you can find it all here.