Between Secret Lair drops, promos, Universes Beyond releases, and most notably, the Portal expansion that took place during the semi-fictionalized Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, Magic: the Gathering has visited our real world on many occasions. But what’s the most-represented modern-day country in the game of Magic?
With the advent of Universes Beyond, this question is much too big to answer: even Scryfall tagger is unclear about the country of origin of hundreds of cards from expansions that clearly take place on our third rock from the sun. To navigate this question, the team here at Cardboard by the Numbers did what we tend to do in these situations: we decided to use basic lands as a proxy. Here are our results!
As you can see from the infographic above, the clear winner is China, in no small part thanks to the 1999 expansion Portal Three Kingdoms, which took place entirely in a semi-fictionalized China from more than 2,000 years ago. The third and final Portal set, Three Kingdoms was an attempt to bring Chinese card game aficionados to Magic with the “simplified” version of the game that Portal provided. While this didn’t work as intended, the gorgeous basic lands we received instead certainly were a boon to the game.
An additional note on China – the first Portal expansion also had a series of 20 Chinese-language-only basic lands. These lands are very likely intended to be set in China as well, due both to their aesthetics and also the fact that the swamps were all reprinted into Three Kingdoms. However, because it could not be verified that these are specifically set in China, they’ve been left off this infographic.
Japan is a strong behind, owing half of its lineup to The Tokyo Lands Secret Lair drop with full-art beauties from Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Andy Williams, Mr. Misang, Yuumei, and Nicole Gustafsson & Marija Tiurina. Japan was also the most-represented country in the APAC lands promo packs of the late 90s, owing in no small part to hopes from WotC in wooing the large population of TCG players in the country.
The United Kingdom is the last real-world country to receive a significant number of basic lands, mostly from the APAC land follow-up program, Euro lands. Beyond the White cliffs of Dover and Dracula sculling around the streets of London, the recent Doctor Who expansion delivered three new UK-specific basics, each proudly displaying a T.A.R.D.I.S. in iconic locations: Bad Wolf Bay (Southerndown Beach in Wales), the sunny fields of Scotland from The Eaters of Light, and Sherwood Forest from Robot of Sherwood.
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Miles Atherton is the editor-in-chief of “Cardboard by the Numbers” and has been playing Magic since 2006. Since studying Agricultural Economics at UC Davis, he’s built a career as an award-winning marketing executive in the entertainment industry with a love of data journalism. He’s also written for Anime Buscience and Crunchyroll News, serving as Executive Editor of the latter from 2016 to 2021.