Wizards of the Coast (not actual wizards, sorry) have officially unveiled the next set of cards coming to Magic: The Gathering and its digital counterpart, Magic: The Gathering Arena, and friends there’s no real way around it: Godzilla is in this dang game now. Yes the real, actual Godzilla, King of the Monsters, first kaiju of international import, property of Toho Co., Ltd., is part of Magic‘s upcoming set of cards, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, which is themed around gigantic monsters.
Godzilla will be joined by most of the other big-name monsters from the historic series, who at various points have served as rivals, frenemies, and villains during Big G’s adventures. Thus far we’ve seen cards for Mothra, Battra, King Ghidorah, King Caesar, Gigan, Spacegodzilla (twice!), Anguirus, Rodan, Destroyah, Biollante, and even the lovable little Dorat, according to Mythic Spoiler‘s collection of leaked cards. No word yet on whether the tiny fairy ladies that sing to Mothra will get their own card, but they’re the best part of the whole thing so here’s hoping.
These cards are, admittedly, a bit of a cheat. Instead of designing brand-new cards to represent Godzilla and pals, Wizards of the Coast is printing special Godzilla versions of some of the new Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths creatures, resulting in the Magic version of a palette swap. “Godzilla, King of the Monsters,” for instance, is actually another new card called “Zilortha, Strength Incarnate,” which will also exist in non-Godzilla form with its own art. Functionally, however, the two cards are identical: both are Legendary Creatures, both are Dinosaurs, both have Trample, and both cause lethal damage done to creatures you control to be determined by power, rather than toughness.
In typical tabletop card game fashion, collecting all the available kaiju won’t be as easy as just buying the new set’s booster packs. Godzilla, King of the Monsters, will only be available as a pack-in bonus with “buy-a-box” pre-orders, wherein one purchases an entire box of 36 booster packs ahead of time. Polygon reports that Godzilla, King of the Monsters will only come with booster boxes pre-ordered through local brick-and-mortar game shops, but I’ve been unable to corroborate that detail through anyone else’s reporting, or on any of Wizards’ official websites concerning the release. The rest of the monsters will be included in special “Card Collector Booster” packs, which are guaranteed to have at least one Godzilla series card in each.
Limiting the most notable card to retail-only pre-orders seems like a bizarre move considering the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed comic and tabletop gaming shops across most of the country until further notice. Last week, Wizards put out a press release acknowledging the impact that the virus has had on shops in the United States, saying that “for areas outside of Asia, it’s apparent that many, if not most, places will not be open for business, and our ability to ship to those locations is equally affected. While we’re doing everything we can to minimize the disruptions and make it possible to enjoy Magic, we’re putting the safety of everyone who works to get Magic from Wizards and into your hands first, including distributors, retailers, and more.”
My own local shop hasn’t been open for days and isn’t accepting pre-orders, so hopefully Wizards will clarify Godzilla, King of the Monster’s availability in the coming weeks. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths arrives in Magic: The Gathering Arena on April 16, with the set’s physical release scheduled for April 17 in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The rest of the world receives the set on May 15, should all go according to plan.