Ever since the first MTG set was printed, creatures have always had an associated creature type. Savannah Lions for instance, was a Summon Lions spell, as you might expect. While this creature type was incredibly fitting, eventually, this classic card would be errata-d, changing the type to Cat.
Despite the changes that many original MTG cards have seen, creature types are nevertheless hugely important in MTG. Whether you’re synergizing cards with one another, or building an entire Typal deck, creature types never stop being important. Unfortunately, thanks to this deeply ingrained importance, it’s not uncommon to see players kicking up a fuss.
Between Un-set creature types such as Clown and the dissolution of Kithkin, there are definitely contentious and controversial creature types. Despite this, these much-debated creature types may soon be made to look like yesterday’s news, as a new creature type is changing the game. Launching in the Doctor Who Commander decks, Time Lords are coming to MTG.
Magic’s First Two-Word Creature Type
On the surface, the new Time Lord creature type in MTG may seem completely inoffensive and inconsequential. After all, it was entirely expected that Wizards would introduce this or a similar, creature type for the Universes Beyond product. This had been done before with Astartes in the Warhammer 40,0000 Commander decks, so it made sense that Wizards would do it again.
Thanks to this expectation, seeing the Time Lord creature type alongside Dalek and even Alien creature types wasn’t a surprise. That being said… there is something up with that Time Lord creature type, as it’s not like any other in MTG. Sure, we’ve had dual creature types before like Bird Wizard on Curiosity Crafter, but Time Lord is different.
As explained by senior MTG Designer Gavin Verhey, “Time Lord, by the way, is all one type. Magic’s first-ever two-word type.” Considering the past precedent, this is definitely a weird decision. After all, upon seeing cards like The Tenth Doctor, most players will automatically see Time, Lord, and Doctor as individual creature types.
To make matters even more confusing, MTG does have hyphenated creature types which have been used in the past. This can be seen on Urza’s Power Plant from all the way back in Antiquities. While originally just a land, this card would be errata-d to have the creature type “Urza’s Power-Plant” in Eighth Edition.
Alongside this oddity of a land, MTG has a number of Assembly-Worker cards such as Academy Manufactor. Cards featuring this creature type have been printed since 2017’s Kaladesh, so there’s undeniably past precedent to add to the confusion. As a result, you might be wondering why on earth Wizards decided to make Time Lord as it is. Thankfully, there is an explanation.
The Method to This Madness
Addressing the highly unusual creature type, MTG player 1for3ban recently complained to MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater. Stating “I wish Time Lord was Time-Lord instead,” the seemingly sensible creature type choice was made obvious. As Mark Rosewater went on to explain, however, this hyphenated approach simply wouldn’t have worked for the Doctor Who decks.
“One of the important things when making a Universes Beyond product is staying true to your source material,” Mark Rosewater revealed. As a result of this, since Time Lord is never hyphenated in Doctor Who, the MTG creature type isn’t either.
For the most part, this explanation makes sense, as Wizards has obviously been respectful of source material in the past. We saw this in the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks we mentioned earlier, which also had unique creature types. Despite this, however, Wizards has also taken some liberties in the past. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, for instance, doesn’t have Hobbits, as it instead uses Halflings.
Thanks to these discrepancies, it’s easy to pick holes in the unhyphenated use of Time Lord. At the end of the day, however, it’s important to remember the Doctor Who decks are a Universes Beyond product. As a result, The BBC likely had a hand in the creation of a set, encouraging the unhyphenated creature type.
Ultimately, since this two-word creature type exists, it evidently works within the rules. Mark Rosewater confirmed as much stating they “did work with the rules manager,” indicating that everything is above board. As a result, regardless of whether you like it or not, this creature type exists now and forevermore.
The Cost of Doing Business
While Time Lord may work within the rules, using it in MTG isn’t without cost. As Mark Rosewater explained, Wizards had to give up “having Time or Lord as a creature type by itself.” Since “Lord” cards are incredibly popular in MTG, this may seem like a great loss, however, it isn’t nearly that bad.
Thankfully, “Lord” is now only a colloquial name for board-buffing typal creatures. The actual Lord creature type was phased out in The Grand Creature Type Update, all the way back in 2007. Thanks to this, the only real loss is the lack of a Time creature type, which doesn’t make much sense anyway.
Ultimately, despite Time Lord taking up two potential creature types, it appears that nothing of value was lost. The question remains, however, what will become of hyphenated creature types now that two-word creature types can exist? Thankfully, we already have an answer, as in a follow-up question, Rosewater revealed Wizards has “no current plans to de-hyphenate any creature types.”
At the end of the day, it thankfully appears that the Time Lord creature type has been properly thought through. Despite this, however, we’re nonetheless concerned that this creature type may cause some unnecessary confusion. After all, new players who start playing with the Doctor Who Commander decks may assume every creature with multiple types is like Time Lord. Thankfully, some simple explanation should rectify this problem, however, Wizards nonetheless needs to be careful going forward.