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Magic the Gathering
Wizards of the Coast has explained how some of its upcoming Magic the Gathering ‘Universes Beyond’ Secret Lair cards will be accessible for as many players as possible.
Earlier this year, Wizards announced Universes Beyond, an umbrella term for MTG cards featuring other media properties, retroactively starting with the controversial The Walking Dead tie-in. Series such as Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings have already been announced for Universes Beyond, leading to some concerns that Magic would lose its own sense of identity when diluted with crossovers.
Rick, Steadfast Leader was included in The Walking Dead’s Secret Lair Crossover.
WIzards of the Coast
In a blog post, Wizards reconfirmed that some of the Unvierses Beyond cards would only be available through Secret Lair, a series of special editions of cards only available for a limited time. However, unlike most Secret Lairs, which are simply new editions of existing cards, Universes Beyond editions would, instead, be completely original and mechanically unique cards, like The Walking Dead’s.
However, it has been confirmed that, approximately six months after the Universes Beyond Secret Lair, versions of the card set within the Magic settings would be printed in Set Boosters. These cards would be treated the same as their Universes Beyond counterparts in terms of deckbuilding restrictions and naming rules, in a similar way to how Ikoria: Lair of Behemoth’s crossover with the Godzilla franchise worked – they are, for all intents and purposes, considered the same card as their Magic property versions.
Ikoria included a Godzilla crossover, where both it and its original versions were treated as the … [+] same card.
Wizards of the Coast
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Re-Magicified Universes Beyond cards will be released in Set Boosters as part of ‘The List’, a series of older cards that rotate in and out between sets. They will appear more frequently than other List cards, to ensure people have a decent chance of finding the ones they need.
However, there are a few significant caveats to this approach. Firstly, Wizards says that it is not planning to do this with the already-released Walking Dead cards, meaning they will remain mechanically unique for the foreseeable future. Secondly, this only applies to Universes Beyond cards released through Secret Lair – ones launched in other products, such as the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks, will not get this treatment.
It is also worth noting the wording Wizards uses for this, “for the next Universes Beyond Secret Lair”, implying future drops of a similar nature may not follow this plan.
Ignoring the debates about whether Universes Beyond is a thing that should even exist (personally, I don’t mind as long as Magic’s story and lore continue having the primary focus), one big problem with this approach is that The List is designed to be exclusive. That is counterintuitive when your goal is making something more accessible.
Chulane, Teller of Tales from The List. Note the Magic logo in the bottom left corner.
Wizards of the Coast
The List is found in only 25% of Set Boosters, and there are hundreds of cards in The List already. Not only do you need to hit that 25% chance to get a List card, you then need to luck out even more to get the precise one you want. In the Secondary market, List versions of sought-after cards also sell for more than their non-List counterparts – Chulane, Teller of Tales, Training Grounds, Enlightened Tutor all being good examples of this.
The List’s inherent exclusivity works counter to Wizards’ plan of it being a way to distribute already limited cards. Personally, I think including them in Collector’s Boosters and as Box Toppers would also go a way to help availability. Or simply including them in Draft packs, like Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive.
Regardless, I appreciate that this is something Wizards has addressed. Mechanically unique Secret Lair cards were always going to be a tough sell to the playerbase (even if, financially, The Walking Dead Secret Lair sold incredibly well), and this is a solution many people have already suggested.
No release dates have been given for any upcoming Universes Beyond products.