Ever since the product line was first created in 2020, Universes Beyond hasn’t had the smoothest ride. Lambasted for being a bold, new, and mechanically unique frontier, many MTG players seriously despised Universes Beyond. As much as it was once the most hated thing in Magic, miraculously, the Universes Beyond brand has come an awful long way.
Thanks to a few deeply flavorful, fitting, and fun sets, in 2022, the tone around Universes Beyond started to change. This continued in 2023 thanks to stellar releases like The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Providing flavor, amazing cards, and one hell of a promotion, this set took the world of MTG by storm. So much so, in fact, that players couldn’t deny its success any longer.
Despite this surge in success, Universes Beyond isn’t an entirely faultless endeavor. Some MTG players, for instance, aren’t all too happy with how Magic’s crossover cards are released and sold. Luckily for these disgruntled players, however, it seems there might just be hope on the horizon for change.
A Trio of Choices
Currently, until Wizards of the Coast innovates once more, Universes Beyond products can arrive in three different ways. In case you’re unfamiliar with the options, there’s the classic Secret Lair Drop, a full set release, and a “mixed-in” release. As you might have guessed from the title, the latter option is the one players aren’t happy about.
Most recently, this unfavored Universes Beyond release method was used in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Within this set, Jurassic World cards could be found within Set and Collector Boosters, instead of a normal MTG card. On its own, this is nothing new, as The Brothers’ War did the same with Transformers cards back in 2022. This time around, however, things weren’t exactly perfect.
Due to the Jurassic World set including a cycle of basic lands, opening Set Boosters could be rather disappointing. After all, instead of finding an interesting new card, you could just get a boring ol’ land instead. As you might expect, this quickly made the latest Universes Beyond release look rather bad, as MTG players were missing out.
Being frustrated with this issue, many MTG players weren’t shy about complaining across social media. Some disgruntled players, such as Tumblr user Jimmycomments, even took their concerns to MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater. Here, Jimmycomments highlighted the troublesome prevalence of Universes Beyond cards within packs, although not as you may expert.
Rather than appearing too often and ruining packs as a result, Jimmycomments was frustrated that Jurassic World cards didn’t appear more. As a fan of the franchise, Jimmycomments didn’t want to rely on bizarrely small odds to get the cards they crave. Thankfully, while WotC can’t turn back time, judging by Rosewater’s response, it seems things could get better in the future.
More Products, Less Problems?
For better or worse, in responding to Jimmycomments’ concerns, Rosewater didn’t issue a sweeping declaration promising better. Instead, Rosewater turned the question around on the community, posing a poll that asked “Which method do you prefer for Universes Beyond.” Letting players choose between “Own product” and “Mixed In” it was clear which option players wanted.
At the time of writing, “Own Product” has an almost 90% majority share of the poll’s 700+ responses. While this doesn’t guarantee a change will be made in the future, it nonetheless shows what the community wants. At least, what a small subset of the active MTG community wants.
Despite the small sample size and lack of guarantee, a change nevertheless seems healthy for MTG. As Tumblr user Derplingvonderp points out, for instance, dedicated products would allow players to actually buy what they want. This expands upon the principles of the “buffet” product model that Wizards currently touts, where choice is front and center.
On the surface, thanks to providing increased choice and availability, dedicated Universes Beyond products seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, however, there is a catch to making everyone happy within the world of MTG. Thanks to Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast being businesses, the all-important matter of money must be considered.
Considering the immense popularity of Universes Beyond releases, it’s practically guaranteed that the Jurassic World cards will sell MTG packs. This sales bump will likely be increased even further thanks to the rarity of the new cards, as players are encouraged to buy more. For better or worse, dedicated Universes Beyond products could massively change this revenue stream, disincentivizing a change.
Wishes Do Come True?
Despite the potential for a change to the revenue stream, remarkably, it seems MTG players’ wish for more products might actually come true. In fact, it seems to be almost guaranteed, as Wizards has already confirmed major changes to the product calendar. In 2024, MTG is getting both Play Boosters and Beyond Boosters.
Announced earlier this year, Play Boosters are first being introduced for Murders at Karlov Manor in February 2024. Replacing both Draft and Set Boosters into one product, Play Boosters seems to leave Universes Beyond cards without a home. Technically, Universes Beyond cards could pinch a Wildcard slot, however, this may not work since Play Boosters are Draftable.
Thankfully, while Universes Beyond cards might not have a home in Play Boosters, there is an alternative. Later in 2024, Wizards will release the brand new “Beyond Boosters” for the Assassin’s Creed crossover set. Currently, details about Beyond Boosters are very few and far between, however, they appear to be exactly what players want. Beyond Boosters appear to be the dedicated Universes Beyond product for smaller micro-sets.
Ultimately, since we don’t know what Beyond Boosters are yet, we’re just going to have to wait and see what the future holds. Hopefully, players will be getting exactly what they want but, again, we don’t know right now. Still, thanks to these new products being on the horizon, the future seems bright for both Universes Beyond and MTG.