Last updated on March 8, 2023
Illustration from Square Enix
By the end of 2021 I decided to undertake a huge task: playing through every mainline Final Fantasy game. I obviously had to make certain adjustments, like not playing XI and XIV because doing only the main story in each could take well over 100 hours. I’m currently playing Final Fantasy X.
We got a new Universes Beyond announcement by October 2022: a Final Fantasy collab. This coincided with the game’s 35th anniversary, and the announcement of the next installment in the franchise’s main line, Final Fantasy XVI.
I’ve been pretty critical of Universes Beyond for several reasons. I’m not a fan of having original cards for other IPs; something like the Godzilla cards from Ikoria are a much better way to do it if you ask me. I don’t like that Magic keeps creating cards, Secret Lairs, Commander precons, and even entire sets for other IPs when those other IPs don’t necessarily include any Magic crossover or references. That’d obviously be hard in something like Lord of the Rings, but there’s things that can be done. For example, Warhammer could’ve launched a set of Magic-based minis.
That said, I have to admit I’m sort of excited for the Final Fantasy crossover. I’d prefer if they were Magic cards with alternate art and names, but we know that isn’t gonna be the case.
If Universes Beyond is gonna keep happening, we might as well allow ourselves to enjoy when they make cards of things we like. With this excessively positive intro out of the way, let’s look at what we know about Universes Beyond: Final Fantasy and make some guesses about what we don’t know!
Final Fantasy and Magic: The Gathering Basic Information
Blade of Selves | Illustration by Alan Pollack
The only official info we have on this product is that it will release at some point during 2024. Let’s speculate what this Universes Beyond could include.
A Full Set: The Dream
The first big question is what kind of product the Final Fantasy crossover will be. Considering the massive size of the Final Fantasy “multiverse,” I think a full set like the one announced for Lord of the Rings would make perfect sense. While the main line of FF games is approaching its 16th entry, that’s only in name.
There are around 20 Final Fantasy games if you count X-2 and the XIII sequels and consider XIV and XIV: A Realm Reborn as different games. There’s also the mini-sequels to II and IV, the FF7 remakes and spinoffs, and a never ending etc.
Considering this massive amount of possible content and how Final Fantasy fans tend to hail different games as their favorite, a whole set seems like the only way to truly cover as much ground as possible and keep a large number of fans pleased.
Secret Lair Reality Check
Realistically I assume we’re probably getting a Secret Lair with some of the most iconic characters in the series, and worst case scenario most of the cards will be focused on Final Fantasy VII.
I’ve gone through several Reddit posts and this seems to be something most players (the ones who actually want the product anyway) seem to agree; a set would be ideal, but a Secret Lair is probably all we’re gonna get. Even a 15-card Secret Lair can only have a card for each main protagonist, which feels terribly lacking.
Reddit user MixMasterValtiel jokingly (I hope) said they hope for a Secret Lair that’s just 15 different Cids and I absolutely agree.
An Argument for Commander Precons
There are some characters that can clearly be turned into viable commanders because they’re easy to relate to some of Magic’s archetypes, so I wouldn’t put EDH decks out of the question.
At the end of the day, I, and I think everyone else, mostly hope for a product that won’t be another case of Final Fantasy VII taking the spotlight. I love Final Fantasy VII, it’s possibly my favorite game so far in the series, and its influence in videogame history is undeniable. But Square Enix loves to make everything about FFVII and leave the other games aside. It’d be a huge miss, especially because most of the other games’ aesthetics fit the Magic design ethos a lot better.
Before we start I want to repeat that these are all either my own educated guesses or ideas from fans on Reddit since we still don’t have any real info.
One of Final Fantasy’s greatest staples is the job system. Jobs are basically the franchise’s version of D&D’s class system. Some of the game’s more well-known jobs are the dragoon, dark knight, rogue, black, white, and red mages, or summoner. There are also a ton of other jobs like ranger, samurai, ninja, viking, paladin, geomancer, and a ton more. These would make for a wonderful way to bring back the Class enchantments first introduced in Forgotten Realms.
Jobs also evolve from one to another correlated one in some other games. You start as a lancer and eventually can turn into a dragoon. This could make for an interesting new mechanic with transforming Class enchantments.
Airships are a constant in basically any and every Final Fantasy game, and they usually mark an important stage in the game. Mainly because they allow you to access tons of places that were otherwise locked off.
Another constant in Final Fantasy games are the Cid characters. The name “Cid” shows up either in dialogue or as entire characters in every game in the series, and they’re always directly tied to airships and other vehicles. This would make any of the several Cid characters perfect for a vehicle-themed commander.
Summoned monsters (also called espers, eidolons, guardian forces, aeons, avatars, primals, or astrals) were first introduced in FFIII but later retconned into FFI and FFII through extra content and spinoffs. They’re some of the most powerful spells throughout the series and are very beloved by the fans.
Equipment are a key part of the FF games. Characters don’t necessarily level up in some games, so equipment becomes the main way to increase your stats. There are also several reappearing pieces of equipment like the legendary swords Masamune, Ragnarok, and Excalibur.
The different types of mages are some of the most well-known Final Fantasy jobs. It’d be a given that these are represented through spellslinger archetypes considering how well they fit into Magic’s mechanics.
Each of these jobs also have a strong focus on different types of magic that can be translated to MTG themes. Black mages focus on destructive magic, white mages on healing magic, red mages are balanced in both types of magic but can’t access their most powerful spells, blue mages use magic they steal from enemies, and green mages use status-changing spells.
There are two kinds of tribals in Magic: the ones that care about a creature’s “type” like elves or dragons, and the ones that care about a creature’s “class” like ninja, warrior, or pilot. Final Fantasy’s characters either have very clear classes or can be assigned to a specific class through the job system. Having some form of support for this sounds almost obvious.
Moogles and Chocobos
I don’t even care how these two adorable creatures are introduced into this product. Moogles and Chocobos are the face of the FF franchise and they’re absurdly cute, so they’re a must-have.
Cards and Characters
I think Rydia, Eiko, Dagger, Yuna, and the other summoners from the games could have some kind of archetype related to creature tokens to introduce summons. I’d personally make those tokens enchantment creatures for flavor purposes, too.
Gilgamesh is a character that’s shown up in a few Final Fantasy games, and has become a huge fan favorite. He’s often characterized as a wandering duelist who collects weapons and values honor and mercy in battle. He’s also a comedic relief, and his weapons are often cheap replicas of the real legendary weapons.
All of this could definitely be translated in artifact mechanics, maybe something like making tokens that are copies of artifacts with some downside or worse stats.
I’ve mentioned before that Cid (any of them) could fit perfectly into Magic’s vehicles archetype, so I’d expect at least one of them to get a card.
If we get either a full set or Commander decks, I’d expect to see pretty much every protagonist in some way. This is the way the Dissidia games are made where all main characters are placed together in a fighting game, so having them all as Magic cards wouldn’t be impossible.
Final Fantasy VII
The worst case scenario, and the most likely if Square Enix has any say in it, is that basically everything will be just Final Fantasy VII cards. I love the game and what it meant for video game history, but it ends up being the only game pushed forward on these types of products and crossovers.
That’s just boring, especially since this is one of the games that least fits the Magic aesthetic.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship | Illustration by Jung Park
I’m allowing myself to be excited for this product, even if it’s against my better judgment. I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan, and if Universes Beyond is here to stay I might as well get one that I can enjoy and geek out about. I have to say I probably expect a lot more from this (EDH decks or even a full set that properly dives into the various Final Fantasy worlds) than what we’re probably getting (a Secret Lair that only features Final Fantasy VII stuff, maybe Final Fantasy XIV and some promotional stuff for XVI if we’re lucky).
What do you think of this product? Even if you hate Universes Beyond, do you think these cards could introduce interesting mechanics or ideas that will then be applied to Universes Within? Do you think this is just another boring cash grab? If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, what do you expect to see from this product? Feel free to comment down below and let me know, and don’t forget to check out the Draftsim Discord where you can join an amazing community of Magic fans.
That’s all from me for now! Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time, kupo!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: