Over the course of the last year, there has been an extra emphasis on MTG Universes Beyond crossovers. From My Little Pony cards designed for some proceeds to go to charity to various Secret Lair products, featuring the likes of Tomb Raider or Jurassic World, Universes Beyond products have been a major focus recently. As expected, this does not appear to be changing much in 2024.
We already know of an MTG Fallout crossover as well as a collaboration with Marvel even further down the line. Given how successful Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth was as a set, this isn’t too surprising. What’s interesting, though, is that there are a lot of different methods that have been used to produce these crossovers. These include Secret Lairs, full sets, and even booster inserts within premier sets.
While Secret Lairs and full sets are likely to stay, there appears to be some hesitancy to utilize booster inserts moving forward. According to MTG head designer Mark Rosewater, no premier sets that are currently in design will feature Universes Beyond cards. While it isn’t exactly clear how far down the line this is referring to, we should not expect these booster inserts in the near future. To understand how this may affect things moving forward, it’s important to go over exactly what these booster inserts are and how they have been utilized.
In 2022, Universes Beyond booster inserts were introduced. The idea behind these booster inserts was to show off Universes Beyond cards within packs from a premier set. This is quite similar to the way Godzilla cards from Ikoria were handled. In Ikoria, some cards were “skinned,” meaning they were given unique artwork and new titles to better resemble the Godzilla characters being represented.
In the case of skinned cards, the new title given functioned just like flavor text, as these Godzilla cards were functionally identical to their traditional Ikoria counterparts. While booster inserts are similar in the sense that they show up in premier sets, the big difference is that they are mechanically unique Universes Beyond cards. In this sense, the cards have nothing to do with the premier set mechanically in any way. They also specifically showed up in set boosters, collector boosters and bundles rather than draft boosters, leaving the Limited environment unaffected.
The two examples of Universes Beyond booster inserts up to this point have been the Transformers cards that appeared in The Brothers’ War, as well as the Jurassic World cards that were featured in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.
Play Boosters Playing a Potential Role
It’s interesting that there won’t be any more Universes Beyond booster inserts for the foreseeable future, but there are a few factors that likely contributed to this decision. One of them, which was clearly in the works for a while, was the introduction of play boosters. Play boosters have ultimately replaced both draft and set boosters.
Much like set boosters, play boosters can have cards from The List. They can also feature up to four rares total, but actually opening four rares is highly unlikely. Though it’s unclear how long this will last, there’s a good chance that the switch to play boosters played a logistical role in the decision to not include Universes Beyond booster inserts for some time.
Additionally, because play boosters are replacing both draft and set boosters, play boosters will now be the primary booster used in Limited. As mentioned, up to this point, Universes Beyond cards have largely been kept separate from the draft environment. While bonus sheets, such as the Enchanting Tales cards associated with Wilds of Eldraine, add some flare to drafting, they are largely designed to stay more on-theme with the rest of the set that many Universes Beyond cards. They also generally feature reprints, rather than mechanically unique new cards that aren’t part of the premier set itself.
There’s also a good chance that cards from The List in future play boosters will be rather thematic as well. The Special Guest cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, for instance, featured Dinosaurs like Polyraptor as well as cards with Cosmium neon ink, such as Mana Crypt.
“Please keep it this way in the further future too. They should be someting you can opt in if you want, not something that you’re forced to deal with in limited.”bravelion83
The reality is, as far as booster inserts in general are concerned, there are a lot of players that simply don’t want to be forced to interact with Universes Beyond cards without intending to in the first place. With products such as Secret Lairs available, in some ways, it makes sense to keep these crossovers separate from the premier sets individually.
Not to mention, the last time booster inserts were showcased with the inclusion of Jurassic World cards in Ixalan set boosters, the massive distribution of basic Lands instead of mechanically unique Jurassic World cards led to a ton of frustration within the player base. After that debacle, a break from Universes Beyond booster inserts may be a good thing overall.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if smaller booster packs like the ones announced for Assassin’s Creed set were made because of this.”singerofw
It’s also worth mentioning that, announced with the MTG Assassin’s Creed crossover in 2024, a new type of booster called the Beyond booster will be available. This booster will not be draftable but will instead be designed to tell a unique story through the card choices. These booster slots will include new cards as well as reprints. Perhaps introducing these Beyond boosters means that the plan is indeed to keep Universes Beyond cards separate from premier sets somewhat, unless the entire set is based off the Universes Beyond crossover, like the upcoming Marvel releases. Only time will tell.