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14, Feb, 24

New Universes Beyond Changes Threaten to Replace MTG Sets

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Once lamented as MTG’s latest step into a capitalism-driven corporate hellscape, Universes Beyond is now surprisingly beloved. Following back-to-back smash hit successes, now many MTG players can’t get enough of crossover sets and products. With incredible flavor, interesting design opportunities, and the natural allure of crossovers, it’s no surprise Universes Beyond is successful!

On top of being enjoyed by players, MTG’s parent company, Hasbro, has also been relishing in Universes Beyond’s success. By selling like hotcakes and smashing sales records, Universes Beyond sets have more than proved themselves. As a result of this, Hasbro is unsurprisingly now eager to capitalize on this growing success.

In 2025, Wizards of the Coast is releasing not just one, but two major crossover sets. For better or worse, Hasbro’s CEO wants this increased cadence of releases to become the norm.

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Galadriel, Gift-Giver | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
Galadriel, Gift-Giver | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth

To date, MTG has only had one Draftable Universes Beyond set. As if it needs any introduction, this set was The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. Thanks to flavor, the franchise, and a one-of-one card, this set completely surpassed MTG’s old sales records. Making Modern Horizons 2 look like nothing, this set sold $200 million of products in just six months.

Setting one hell of a precedent, Hasbro is unsurprisingly incredibly keen to repeat this success. Even if the royalty costs may be high, the interest from new players makes these major releases undeniably valuable. Thanks to this, Wizards is already doubling down on Draftable “tentpole” releases in 2025.

With Final Fantasy and Marvel sets already on the 2025 release calendar, the year is already looking stacked. Given the interest in both of these franchises, it’s difficult to imagine both these sets not selling insanely. As a result, it’s no wonder that Hasbro wants this expected success to happen again and again.

Speaking in a recent investors presentation, Hasbro CEO, Chris Cocks, revealed their new optimistic plans. “For ’25 going forward, you should expect to see, as part of our six [tentpole] sets per year [that] two of them will be Universes Beyond-branded.” Supposedly, each of these sets will be on the level of Tales of Middle-earth and propel Magic’s growth.

Currently, no Universes Beyond sets have been announced for 2026, but we can obviously expect some now. Judging by past announcements, one of these sets may be another major Marvel crossover, however, this hasn’t been confirmed yet. Unfortunately, since Wizards likes to keep things under wraps, we likely won’t find out any details for quite a while.

It’s Already Too Much

Modern Horizons 3 | Key Art
Modern Horizons 3 | Key Art

With twice as many major crossover sets now on the horizon, it’s easy to get excited about Universes Beyond’s possibilities. Unfortunately, Hasbro’s new plan to double down on Magic’s crossover sets does have a catch. At the end of the day, both of these sets will have to fit into the release calendar somewhere. Thankfully, no matter where they go, Standard-legal premier sets won’t be getting replaced.

Currently, in 2024, there’s only one major supplemental tentpole set on the docket; Modern Horizons 3. Given Hasbro’s target of six tentpole sets a year, this release should be joined by another later in the year. Even if this doesn’t happen, the 2024 calendar is already seriously busy, with nine major releases.

While they may not all be classified as tentpole releases, this is still an awful lot of content. Between Ravnica Remastered, Assassin’s Creed, and Pioneer Masters, players have a lot of content to digest. Loading even more content on top of this is only going to exacerbate MTG’s problematic and indigestible endless spoiler season.

Worryingly, for 2025, both tentpole Universes Beyond sets are already confirmed. Notably, these sets haven’t replaced Innistrad Remastered which is still launching in Q1. Instead, it seems the Universes Beyond sets are claiming the spots formerly occupied by sets like Commander Masters and Modern Horizons sets.

Admittedly, since 2025 isn’t here yet, we don’t know exactly what Wizards is planning for the full release calendar. It’s entirely possible that nothing is being replaced, with one or both Universes Beyond sets simply adding to the calendar. That being said, it seems unlikely that Wizards will just add a new tentpole set into the year. Not only will this require additional development resources, but it’ll also congest the already bloated calendar even more.

Something Has to Give

Trivia Contest | Unfinity
Trivia Contest | Unfinity

Ultimately, if Wizards is only releasing six tentpole sets each year, something has to give. The likeliest candidates are the existing tentpole sets like Masters and Horizons sets. For Hasbro, this seems like a no-brainer given the past sales success, but players may seriously suffer.

While Horizons sets may cause problems, they’re nonetheless part of the tapestry of content that is MTG. Made up of Legends, Masters, Remasters, and Un-sets, each of these products offers players a great deal of variety. While each set type can’t fit into a single year, having two tentpole Universes Beyond releases threatens to replace them all outright.

Beyond potentially removing a great deal of the variety from Magic, these sets could dangerously pick up the slack. Should a Universes Beyond set also try to be a Horizons set, the meta could become dominated by incredibly polarising cards. To some degree, this has already happened with The One Ring, however, future cards could be even worse.

With this issue in mind, the correct solution seems to be just adding even more sets to MTG’s yearly calendar. This way players could keep the variety they enjoy alongside Hasbro’s Universes Beyond push. Unfortunately, keeping up with all this content is a major issue that’s not to be understated. Thankfully, there is a solution.

Rather than Wizards changing the amount of sets they release, MTG players could instead change their attitude. By viewing MTG through the lens of a buffet, players could pick and choose what they play with. Previously touted by Mark Rosewater, this model seems like an ideal solution. Unfortunately, this solution is an almost unreasonable ask. Since MTG is an interconnected web of cards, not paying attention to a set is easier said than done.

The Future Is Coming

Whatever the right decision is, Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro have already made their minds up. For 2025, the MTG release calendar is already confirmed, and 2026 is likely set in stone too. Since MTG sets typically take two and a half years to develop, we can presume 2026 is already accounted for. Judging by the words of Chris Cocks, this means another two Universes Beyond sets are on the way.

While there is a lot of potential for doom and gloom, ultimately, we don’t know what’s going to happen yet. In theory, the uptick in Universes Beyond sets will be incredibly well-received, even if something gets replaced. Ultimately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens, as details are lacking at the moment.

Read More: Wizards of the Coast Reveals New 7-Card MTG Booster Pack

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