Galadriel, Gift-Giver | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
21, Jul, 23

MTG Universes Beyond Complete Guide

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Since first launching all the way back in 1993, Magic: the Gathering has certainly come a long way. This is evident enough from the sheer number of cards alone. When first starting out, MTG only had one set of 295 cards, however, now Magic is comprised of over 26,000 cards! As you might expect, making all these cards has required to innovate an awful lot. One such innovation is Universes Beyond.

Developing new mechanics, card types, and even formats, MTG is certainly no stranger to innovation. Just look at the digital-exclusive Alchemy format if you need proof of that! Alongside this major, somewhat controversial, innovation, Wizards of the Coast has also made a number of new and exciting products and sub-brands. 

As you might expect from this article’s topic, one of these is Universes Beyond. Formally created in 2021, this product line has steadily been increasing in prevalence and importance throughout recent years. For better or worse, it appears this new brand will be sticking around long into the future too. 

In case you need a refresher on this rather new sub-brand, or are just curious about its history, we’ve got you covered! Here is everything need to know about Universes Beyond in MTG!

What is Universes Beyond? 

Universes Beyond Logo
Universes Beyond Logo

If you’ve not heard of it before, Universes Beyond (often abbreviated as UB) is Magic: the Gathering’s crossover product sub-brand. First appearing as we know it in 2020, Universes Beyond would be officially named by Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks in 2021. Following this reveal to investors, the sub-brand has steadily increased in popularity and prominence within MTG’s yearly calendar.

Similarly to Acorn Cards (formerly Silver Bordered cards), Universes Beyond cards can be identified by their own unique security stamp. As you can see above, this is a triangular design that is holographic on rare and mythic rare cards. Should you see this security stamp on a card, keep in mind that these cards are non-cannon and exist outside of MTG’s universe. 

According to Wizards of the Coast, when announcing the product line, Universes Beyond products will never be Standard legal. Predominantly, Universes beyond cards are only legal in Eternal formats such as Commander, Legacy, and Vintage. There are exceptions to this, however, such as The Lord of the Rings cards, which are Modern-legal.

Predominantly, Universes Beyond cards have been sold to players via Secret Lair drops. Recently, however, this has been changing, as now Wizards is releasing full Universes Beyond sets. Due to this, it seems that Universes Beyond collaborations will become a big part of Magic’s future going forward.

Upcoming Universes Beyond Products

The Thirteenth Doctor | Doctor Who Commander Decks
The Thirteenth Doctor | Doctor Who Commander Decks

Speaking of the future, currently, there are a number of upcoming Universes Beyond products in the pipeline. Unfortunately, details about these sets are rather sparse at the moment, however, we should be due to learn more soon. 

Later in July, Wizards of the Coast will be revealing details about future Universes Beyond products during MagicCon: Barcelona. Following this event, in August, Wizards will host a panel at Gen Con, where a huge number of details are expected to be revealed. 

Thankfully, while these events are still weeks away, we still know a number of details about future Universes Beyond products. So, let’s dive into all the important information about these upcoming products!

MTG Doctor Who Commander Decks

Doctor Who Commander Decks Art

Scheduled to release on October 13th, 2023, the Doctor Who Commander decks are the next Universes Beyond MTG product. As the rather descriptive name gives away, this UB release will feature the heroes and villains of the Doctor Who franchise. To properly showcase these characters, Wizards is releasing four Commander Decks.

Currently, being the release date, theming, and mechanics of this Commander release, not much is known. Actually, scratch that! Wizards of the Coast just revealed a plethora of details during a recent San Diego Comic-Con panel. For the first time, Doctor Who MTG cards have actually been revealed! You can take a look at them here.

Thankfully, following this brief preview, it won’t be long before the set’s First Look occurs. Currently, this event is scheduled to take place on July 28th. Following this, the Doctor Who Commander decks will have a debut video on October 3rd, kicking off the set’s spoiler season. 

MTG Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed | Ubisoft
Assassin’s Creed | Ubisoft

Moving into 2024, Hasbro has confirmed that, in the future, MTG will be teaming up with Assassin’s Creed. Currently, beyond the fact this Universes Beyond crossover product will exist, very few details are known, unfortunately. There’s no word, for instance, if this crossover is just a Secret Lair release or a more substantial Set product.

While very few details are currently known about this upcoming crossover, MTG players still have plenty of reason to be excited. After all, thanks to the Assassin’s Creed franchise having 12 games, there are no shortages of protagonists and locations. That being said, however, there may not be enough to fill an entire 300-card MTG set. Subsequently, it seems more likely this could be a Secret Lair drop, rather than a major MTG set.

MTG Final Fantasy 

Final Fantasty VII Remake Intergrade
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade | Square Enix

Similarly scheduled for a 2024 release, next year, MTG will be teaming up with the Final Fantasy franchise. As with the Assassin’s Creed crossover above, currently, very few details are known about this upcoming Universes Beyond product. Thankfully, as we mentioned before, this should change soon thanks to the Gen Con panel in August. 

At the time of writing, there is no word on whether this Universes Beyond release will be an MTG Set, Commander decks, or Secret Lair. Given the depths of the Final Fantasy franchise, any of these options seem to be viable options. Subsequently, we’ll just have to wait and see what gets announced.

Past Universes Beyond Products

Glenn, the Voice of Calm | The Walking Dead Secret Lair
Glenn, the Voice of Calm | The Walking Dead Secret Lair

As we mentioned before, Universes Beyond has come to have quite the history in MTG, for better and for worse. Initially starting back in 2020, to date, there have been nine major Universes Beyond crossovers. If you want to know more about each of those crossovers, we’ve got you covered!

MTG The Lord of the Rings

Aragorn, The Uniter | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
Aragorn, The Uniter | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is the latest Universes Beyond product to be released. Alongside being the latest, this product also broke boundaries by being the first Draftable crossover set. As if that wasn’t enough, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is also legal in Modern and Alchemy.

As the first of its kind, Wizards of the Coast went all out for Tales of Middle-earth. Introducing brand new mechanics, Scene Cards, and Story decks, this set had plenty of awesome details. None of these, however, compared to the set’s defining promotion, a one-of-one serialized copy of The One Ring.

Valued at over $2,000,000, this card is due to become the most expensive in Magic: the Gathering’s history thanks to its rarity. Beyond just being rare, however, this card is also incredibly powerful. So much so, in fact, that alongside bombs such as Orcish Bowmasters it has been warping multiple formats. 

Thanks to having awesome collectibles, incredible art, and powerful cards aplenty, The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth has certainly had a successful release. Remarkably, however, this set isn’t finished yet, as it’s being released twice. Later in November, Wizards will launch new, holiday-oriented, Tales of Middle-earth products.

Currently, there is also a Lord of the Rings-themed Secret Lair available for purchase. As with most Secret Lairs, this drop is comprised of reprints with new art. In this instance, the art is taken from the 1978 animated The Lord of the Rings movie by Ralph Bakshi.

MTG Dungeons & Dragons

Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist
Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist | Secret Lair x Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Technically, Dungeons & Dragons crossovers with MTG are not automatically Universes Beyond products. This is thanks to Wizards of the Coast owning both franchises. As a result of this, Premier sets such as Adventures in the Forgotten Realms don’t have the triangular stamp.

Despite this important detail, Dungeons & Dragons has still managed to have a Universes Beyond MTG product. This is thanks to the recently released blockbuster movie. In celebration of this, Wizards released the Secret Lair Drop Series: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Comprised of six brand-new cards, this Secret Lair drop utilized the likeness of the film’s main cast.

While these new cards have been a delight to Commander players, unfortunately, this Secret Lair is also rather controversial. Much to the dismay of many players, Wizards is not reprinting these cards, as is expected of other crossover Secret Lair drops. As a consequence of this, the cards from this Secret Lair drop are all rather expensive on the secondary market. 

MTG Transformers 

Optimus Prime | Secret Lair
Optimus Prime | Secret Lair

Released in late 2022, MTG has a surprisingly large amount of Universes Beyond Transformers cards. Of these, 15 are brand-new cards that are only available in Set and Collector Boosters for The Brothers War. Fittingly for the franchise, the cards could flip and transform from a creature form to a vehicle form. 

Alongside the new cards found in Boosters, Transformers also had several UB Secret Lair drops. Comprised of only reprints, the trio of Secret Lair drop contained plenty of valuable Commander staples. This allowed players to better theme their decks around their new Transformers cards, which can all be Commanders.

As a note, the mechanically unique Transformers cards from The Brothers’ War are only playable in Eternal formats.

MTG Warhammer 40,000 

Abaddon the Despoiler
Abaddon the Despoiler | The Ruinous Powers

As the first major Universes Beyond product, the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks were a turning point for the sub-brand. Previously, many players viewed the crossover cards as an affront to all things MTG. Thankfully, by being deeply flavorful and enjoyable, the Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks changed that perception. 

Throughout four decks, Wizards of the Coast created 168 brand-new MTG cards for this Universes Beyond release. Alongside this, another 98 other cards were given art, themed around the Warhammer 40,000 universe. For better or worse, not many of the Warhammer 40,000 cards are played in competitive Eternal formats currently. 

To complement the crossover Commander decks, Wizards also released a trio of Warhammer Secret Lair drops. Themed around 40,000 Orcs, Age of Sigmar, and Blood Bowl, these Secret Lair Drops were only reprints of existing cards. 

MTG Fortnite

Battle Royale (Triumph of the Hordes) | Secret Lair x Fortnite
Battle Royale (Triumph of the Hordes) | Secret Lair x Fortnite

Out of all the Universes Beyond crossovers released to date, the Secret Lair x Fortnite collaboration is definitely one of the most contentious. Featuring bold and striking art, many MTG players were quick to bemoan the styling of these cards. Thankfully, however, since they were just alternative art reprints, these Universes Beyond cards didn’t take away from anything. 

Across two Secret Lair drops, only 114 Fortnite-themed MTG cards were released. Seven of these cards were the aforementioned alternative art reprints which turned Etherium Sculptor into Supply Llama. Additionally, a Secret Lair containing six Fortnite-themed basic lands were released. 

MTG Street Fighter

Ryu, World Warrior
Ryu, World Warrior | Secret Lair X Street Fighter

Released as part of the Secret Lair February Superdrop 2022, this Universes Beyond crossover is only comprised of nine cards. Out of these, eight are brand-new legendary creatures, allowing them to be the focus of a Commander deck. To entice you to do this, each one of the Street Fighter MTG cards has a suite of rather interesting and unique abilities. 

Alongside the main eight cards available in the Secret Lair drop, this release also contained a bonus card. While not quite as enticing as another unique Commander creature, a reskinned Lightning Bolt is nevertheless a fun inclusion. Since their initial release, these cards have been reprinted with in-universe versions.

MTG Arcane

Round Two (Seize the Day)
Round Two (Seize the Day) | Arcane x Secret Lair

Similarly to the aforementioned Fortnite crossover, the Arcane Universes Beyond MTG cards are purely alternative art reprints. Alongside getting new art, several cards were also given new names to increase the flavor of the crossover. This was the case for Seize the Day, which was renamed to Round Two.

As a note, when a card is renamed in this fashion, it is still considered the same card. Subsequently, you’re only able to use one copy of either Seize the Day or Round Two in a deck. 

In total, similarly to the Fortnite crossover once again, a total of 14 Arcane-themed MTG cards were released. As is almost tradition at this point, five of these cards were thematic basic lands, with the rest being reprints.

MTG Stranger Things

Eleven, the Mage  | Secret Lair x Stranger Things
Eleven, the Mage  | Secret Lair x Stranger Things

The first ever Universes Beyond product to go by that name was MTG’s crossover with Stranger Things. Sold as a Secret Lair drop, this crossover contained ten cards, including the Bonus Card and one token. As with most Universes Beyond products, this collaboration turned the show’s main characters and locations into legendary creatures or land. Uniquely, to play into the themes of the show, all the card backs for these cards were upside down. 

Following their initial release in October of 2021, the Stranger Things MTG cards were reprinted in Streets of New Capenna.

MTG The Walking Dead

Rick, Steadfast Leader | The Walking Dead Secret Lair
Rick, Steadfast Leader | The Walking Dead Secret Lair

While the sub-brand had not been given its name at the time, The Walking Dead x Secret Lair crossover was the first Universes Beyond release. Unfortunately, for Wizards, however, this release did not go smoothly at all. Due to releasing mechanically unique cards that were only available for a limited time, Wizards was quickly embroiled in controversy.

Thankfully, in responding to this backlash, Wizards created a policy that aimed to reprint Universes Beyond cards following their release. Luckily for Wizards, this quelled much of the anger surrounding this product. For a time, that is, as, despite this policy, The Walking Dead cards would go un-reprinted for far too long.

Mercifully, after three years, The Walking Dead crossover cards are being reprinted in Wild of Eldraine. Here, the in-universe versions of these cards will be found in The List, which is found within Set Boosters. Considering cards from this Universes Beyond Secret Lair, such as Rick, Steadfast Leader are incredibly powerful in Commander, this reprint is long overdue.

Hascon Promos

Nightmare Moon | Ponies The Galloping (Hascon 2019)
Nightmare Moon | Ponies The Galloping (Hascon 2019)

Technically, the Hascon Promos from 2017 and 2019 are not Universes Beyond cards. That being said, however, they were Magic’s first crossover cards. Teaming up with other brands under parent company Hasbro, these cards ultimately laid the groundwork for what Universes Beyond has become today.

As the first-ever crossover cards in MTG, for better or worse, these cards are Silver Bordered and subsequently not Tournament legal. Thanks to Rule 0 in Commander, however, you are still technically able to play with these cards in casual games. Provided, of course, you agree to it with the people you’re playing with first.

Across the two years these Hascon Promos were released, MTG teamed up with Transformers, Nerf, Dungeons & Dragons, and My Little Pony. In total, only seven crossover cards of this kind were released, including a Gold Dragon token.

What is Universes Within?

Aisha of Sparks and Smoke | Universes Within
Aisha of Sparks and Smoke | Universes Within

As mentioned multiple times throughout this article, alongside Universes Beyond products, there is also Universes Within. As the name somewhat suggests, Universes Within cards are in-universe versions of crossover cards. For example. Eleven, the Mage was reprinted as the Universes Within card Cecily, Haunted Mage.

Currently, Wizards has plans to reprint crossover cards as Universes Within variants roughly six months after they’re released. Unfortunately, however, this plan doesn’t extend to every single Universes Beyond card that is released. The  Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves cards, for instance, are not being reprinted in this way. 

Much to the dismay of many MTG fans, cards from major UB sets are also not promised to be reprinted. Instead, Wizards merely reserve the right to reprint these cards if and when they should choose to. Currently, no such plans have been announced to reprint Universes Beyond cards en masse, however, it is a possibility.

Non-Universes Beyond Crossover Cards

Godzilla, King of Monsters | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
Godzilla, King of Monsters | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

To make things even more difficult, as a final point, it’s worth pointing out that non-Universes Beyond crossover cards exist. For example, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths featured new cards that were reskinned as iconic Godzilla monsters. A similar treatment reappeared in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, which utilized the Dracula IP.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, these crossover cards do not have the triangular Universes Beyond stamp. Despite this, however, the non-Magic versions of these cards are still considered non-cannon. As a result, it can be rather hard to keep track of what’s what when it comes to Universes Beyond cards. 

Hopefully, now that the triangular Universes Beyond stamp has become commonplace, this shouldn’t be an issue in the future. Whether or not it will be, however, remains to be seen, as you’re stuck waiting for now. 

Read More: Disappointing New MTG Deck Shamed During Its Reveal

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