We have four preview cards for you today. When I first opened them, my immediate reaction was “I have to explain Trenzalore?” Yikes. The Matt Smith era was definitely high on the timey-wimey stuff. But more on that later. We’ll start with… relatively easier stuff and go “chronologically.”
The first card we have today is a phenomenon, which is a special kind of Planechase card that acts like a triggered ability. You walk to it, something happens, then you walk away.
We’re seeing a significant event late in the Tenth Doctor’s run. Donna Noble (his companion at the time) has, in desperation, touched the severed hand of the Doctor, which is at the time filled with regeneration energy (which is itself all a long story).
But as a result of that, Donna changes. She gains all the knowledge of a Time Lord (and, as we’ll learn later, gets her DNA rewritten some, too.) This is actually a gigantic problem as she can’t actually contain all that knowledge, but for a brief while she’s superpowered and saves the day.
The phenomenon essentially creates DoctorDonna, the merger of the two.
The second card is from a beloved episode of the series titled “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman himself. It’s a standalone in which the TARDIS’ consciousness (yeah, it’s sentient) is trapped in a mortal vessel. Yes, it’s so that another being can drain all the life from it, but while the Doctor has to figure out how to save it, it’s an opportunity for the Eleventh Doctor to have a heart to heart with his longtime travelling companion.
The card represents Idris, who had her mind wiped for the purpose, hosting the TARDIS for a brief period. Warning: it doesn’t end well for Idris.
Lake Silencio is the location that kicks off the main plot of the second season of the Eleventh Doctor’s run with a mystery that will last the season.
The Doctor meets with his companions (Rory, Amy and kind of River at that point) and an astronaut rises out of the lake. The Doctor orders them not to intervene and goes to talk to the astronaut who he seems to know and, a moment later, the astronaut shoots him. He’s dead, for real (and they even burn the body for good measure.)
But then the doctor steps out of a back room in a local diner and the mystery commences. And there’s time travel involved, of course. Learning the identity of the astronaut and why this is all happening occurs over the course of the season, and by the time we return to Lake Silencio with all the details… I won’t spoil it all here.
But, part of that mystery requires that Lake Silencio be a fixed point in time, which you can’t change with time travel. And the plane reflects that perfectly by giving everything split second. No putting things on the stack to retroactively alter events that have already happened!
And then there’s Trenzalore. I’m not even going to try to explain Trenzalore to you; it’s the culmination of the entire Eleventh Doctor run, tying together plot threads from the whole series. We’d be here all day.
But the design of this card is beautiful, so let’s try to give you enough context to understand why. The Doctor essentially retires to Trenzalore and lives there for 900 years, fighting off a series of alien invaders (the planet is the last link to Gallifrey, where Time Lords hail from) until he’s no longer capable of doing so.
But he’s out of regenerations. And old. And the final enemy, is, of course, the Daleks. So he goes to the top of the clock tower to do what he can to stave them off. But before he does, he is given a poem that, in part, reads:
Eleven’s hour is over now,
The clock is striking twelve’s.
In the final confrontation, he makes a connection to Gallifrey and the Time Lords grant him a new cycle of regenerations (and thus the strength to defeat the Daleks). And this card reflects that, giving you a new hand to help your Time Lord defeat their enemies as the clock ends the eleventh hour and strikes twelve.
Thus far, Doctor Who looks like a design slam dunk, and we’re excited to see the rest of the cards. If you haven’t had the chance to play Planechase with Commander, give it a try. It will certainly add to the chaos!