Last updated on March 8, 2024

Voyaging Satyr | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Voyaging Satyr | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Oh boy. I have to give kudos to Wizards for announcing a lot of products, specifically Universes Beyond that are a departure from the mainly fantasy aesthetic of Magic and have upset quite a few fans.

I may be a little biased because I'm a huge Tolkien fan, so the Universes Beyond set based on his work definitely excited me a bit, and I love me an RPG, so 2025 should present a lot of great fantasy-magic moments. Then there are virtually no details on the Marvel and Magic crossover yet, but they'll pop up here when announcements are made.

But let’s go through the facts first, or at least what we know so far!

What in the World is Universes Beyond?

Crucible of Worlds | Illustration by Ralph Horsley

Crucible of Worlds | Illustration by Ralph Horsley

Wizards described Universes Beyond as a combination of Magic’s gameplay with worlds, stories, and characters “cherished by millions.” This means bringing other franchises and works into Magic. The official statement says that even though there may be some Universes Beyond Secret Lairs, the main focus of the product is more akin to products like the Commander decks or regular sets.

Wizards has also said that these products will be more widely available than Secret Lairs. Basically, you should be able to buy products from this brand anywhere you could find booster packs.

The cards in the Universes Beyond products vary from new cards to reprints to functional reprints. This means that you shouldn’t expect what happened with the Ikoria Godzilla cards, though it seems that it hasn’t been completely discarded as an option yet. These cards will also have a distinct frame and a specific holofoil stamp that’ll set them apart from the cards that are canon to the Magic multiverse. This is what the holofoil stamp will look like:

Universes Beyond Holofoil

WotC does choose when to print Universes Within when they want to bring cards into canon Magic.

None of the Universes Beyond sets are related to the Magic canon, multiverse, or lore in any way. Any planeswalker cards that are printed through Universes Beyond will be purely for the sake of gameplay. Technically the concept of a “planeswalker” doesn’t exist outside of Magic, so none of these characters are being confirmed as canon planeswalkers in-lore. This is essentially the same that happened with the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms “walkers.”

History of the Product Line

Reconstruct History | Illustration by Campbell White

Reconstruct History | Illustration by Campbell White

On February 25, 2021, Wizards announced the expansion of Magic to include other IPs in its gameplay and design, namely Warhammer 40,000 which was released as four Commander decks, and Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth received a whole set in addition to four EDH decks. These products are not Standard legal. LTR is legal in Historic, Timeless, and Modern. The Walking Dead Secret Lair was retroactively included since it fits into the design of Universes Beyond products.

In 2024, Magic crosses over with Fallout and Assassin’s Creed, and Final Fantasy in 2025.

Upcoming MTG Universes Beyond Products

Assassin’s Creed (2024)

Assassin’s Creed is a Ubisoft franchise that will get the Universes Beyond treatment and release on July 5, 2024. It was announced at the same time as Final Fantasy in October 2022. This Universes Beyond product was announced in October 2022 during Hasbro’s Investor Day presentation. Details are scarce, so stay tuned for updates!

Final Fantasy (2025)

We don’t know much about Final Fantasy yet, but it looks like 2025 will be the year of MTG X Ubisoft. It was announced at the same time as Assassin’s Creed in October 2022. There are very few details yet, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more!

All Released MTG Universes Beyond Products

Fallout (2024)

Dogmeat, Ever Loyal Dr. Madison Li Radiation

The Bethesda Game Studios post-apocalyptic world of Fallout came to cardboard on March 8, 2024. Fallout is represented as four commander decks, which introduce radiation and junk tokens. The set of cards also re-introduced energy counters and a new basic cycle of full art lands.

Jurassic Park (2023)

Alongside The Lost Caverns of Ixalan came a discovery that became public in 1993, Welcome to…Jurassic Park! The mechanically unique cards are found in set and collector boosters of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan which was released on November 17, 2023.

Celebrate a dino-featuring set with one of the world's most favorite dinosaur movies ever. The Jurassic collection features characters from the movies and double-sided basic lands!

Doctor Who (2023)

The Eleventh Doctor - Illustration by Justyna Dura

The Eleventh Doctor | Illustration by Justyna Dura

Magic crossed over with the long-running British TV series Doctor Who, dropped four new Commander decks for players to tinker with. And they brought along more planes for the Planechase variant! The four decks are separated thematically: three are piloted by Doctors, while the fourth is piloted by Davros, Dalek Creator.

Doctor Who Commander Decks

DeckNotable Creatures
Blast from the PastThe First Doctor, The Second Doctor, The Third Doctor, The Fourth Doctor, The Fifth Doctor, The Sixth Doctor,The Seventh Doctor, The Eighth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith (commander)GWU
Time-WimeyThe Ninth Doctor, The Tenth Doctor (commander), The Eleventh Doctor, Rose Tyler (commander)URW
Masters of EvilDavros, Dalek Creator (commander)UBR
Paradox PowerThe Twelfth Doctor, The Thirteenth Doctor (commander), Yasmin Khan (commander)GUR

Doctor Who comes packaged in collector boosters, and there is an accompanying Secret Lair Drop. The set was released on October 13, 2023.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Set (2023)

Bilbo's Birthday Party scene - Illustration by Livia Prima

Bilbo's Birthday Party scene | Illustration by Livia Prima

It’s not as annoying as saying Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, but The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is still a mouthful. It’s the biggest of the Universes Beyond products so far: a booster-based set with a focus on Draft. It’s legal in Modern and Historic so that most players can enjoy it without interfering with the Standard equilibrium.

The set focuses on the events of Lords of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and their characters. Sorry fans of The Hobbit or The Silmarillion; your faves don’t show up here. There are, however, multiple versions of many characters from LotR. This makes sense; many of the members of the fellowship are very different from who they were at the beginning of the story.

The set was released in June 2023 with a week of prerelease and launch party events prior to the set’s release on June 23. Draft boosters, set boosters, collector boosters, Jumpstart boosters, pre-release kits, bundles, booster boxes… all the typical set release products a Magic player could expect are represented. There’s even a starter kit!

Tales of Middle-earth also gave us a holiday release, with a gift bundle and new scene boxes, which feature borderless cards that can be put together to create a scene. Borderless cards are part of the main set, but scene boxes have new scenes that don’t feature in boosters. The holiday release also features alternate “scroll” art, as spoiled with Denethor, Ruling Steward.

Oh, and there’s that serialized The One Ring card, a 001/001 that got itself found from a collector booster. No big deal.

Commander Decks

Riders of RohanÉowyn, ShieldmaidenWUR
Food and FellowshipFrodo, Adventurous HobbitWBG
Elven CouncilGaladriel, Elven-QueenUG
The Hosts of MordorSauron, Lord of the RingsUBR

Secret Lair Drop: More Adventures in Middle-earth

Secret Lair Drop: More Adventures in Middle-earth is no longer available directly from Wizards, and is inspired by the 1978 animated film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. The full contents are 4 cards with art from the 1978 animated classic in foil and non-foil.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Don’t get confused: the other D&D Magic products aren’t Universes Beyond. The one that ties into the 2023 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie is a Universes Beyond product.

This Secret Lair Drop, available in foil and non-foil, features six unique legendary creatures that represent major characters from the film. As a bonus card, have a dragon!

Transformers (2022)

Optimus Prime, Hero - Illustration by Volta Creation

Optimus Prime, Hero | Illustration by Volta Creation

Transformers got the full treatment from Wizards of the Coast this time around. In addition to getting its own Secret Lair our favorite robots were also slid into The Brothers' War packs at a low chance!

The cards feature mechanics like more than meets the eye and living metal, which allow them to be cast as each side and transform throughout the match like they do in the shows and movies.

The Transformers cards available in The Brothers’ War products are:

Secret Lair Drops

Three Secret Lair Drops were released as part of the Transformers collaboration, and you could buy them together as the Transformers: Foil Bundle and Transformers: Non-Foil Bundle.

Transformers: Optimus Prime vs. Megatron is a set of three reskinned, reversible cards. The front and back sides of the cards each combine to form a panorama.

Transformers: Roll Out or Rise Up is a reprint-oriented Secret Lair Drop that contains art depicting important moments in the fight between Autobots and Decepticons.

Transformers: All Shall Stand, One Shall Fall is a Transformers themed land drop.

  • Plains
  • Island
  • Swamp
  • Mountain
  • Forest

Warhammer 40,000 (2022)

Vanguard Suppressor (Warhammer 40,000) - Illustration by Fajareka Setiawan

Vanguard Suppressor (Warhammer 40,000) | Illustration by Fajareka Setiawan

Commander Decks

I personally think that the least they could’ve done for this was use the more medieval-inspired setting of the original Warhammer. In any case, this product consists of four preconstructed Commander decks set in the science fiction/fantasy universe of the most famous mini game out there. The overall setting for Warhammer 40,000 includes many of the more typical tropes of fantasy like humans, elves, and orcs fighting each other, big and epic battles, plus aliens and space technology. This universe also features a notable grimdark setting.

Tyranid Swarm is a Temur (URG) deck that features The Swarmlord as its face. Temur ramps and goes big, and Tyranid Swarm chooses +1/+1 counters as its buff of choice. The Ruinous Powers is fronted by Abaddon the Despoiler and operates in the Grixis sphere. Its strategy is less pointed, instead pairing cascade and demon tribal subthemes with all its instants and sorceries. Szarekh, the Silent King heads the thematically named Necron Dynasties deck. You’re in mono-black, so you’re raising the dead until dawn. The last deck is Forces of the Imperium, fronted by Inquisitor Greyfax. “Forces” is right; you’re going wide, and you’re buffing your tokens along the way.

Secret Lair Drops

The Warhammer Secret Lair all feature reprints of mainline Magic cards reimagined with Warhammer tie-ins. They’re mechanically the same, just with different art and sometimes names. These Secret Lairs are available in foil and non-foil.

Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin becomes Makari the Lucky Grot in Secret Lair Drop: Warhammer 40,000: Orks. The Orks drop focuses, yes, on orcs, but also on goblins and all kinds of aggression. Secret Lair Drop: Warhammer 40,000: The Orks is available in foil and non-foil and contains:

Score a touchdown with Secret Lair: Blood Bowl. Fellwar Stone becomes The Ball in the football-themed Secret Lair packed with reskins. Blood Bowl contains:

Secret Lair: Warhammer Age of Sigmar is all about defeating Chaos. This Secret Lair contains:

Secret Lair x Street Fighter (2022)

Street Fighter Promo Image

Street Fighter is a series of video games that feature a group of, well, fighters who battle each other. The games have a rich roster of characters. A handful of them are extremely popular, like Chun-Li and Ryu, who are both present in their own unique cards.

Each of the card's art is unique to Magic and isn’t simply screenshots or images pulled directly from the games. The release offers a regular package that includes one copy of each card in non-foil form, as well as an all-foil version which contains the same cards.

Here are the cards featured in this drop:

Chun-Li, Countless KicksDhalsim, Pliable PacifistGuile, Sonic SoldierZangief, the Red CycloneHadoken (reskinned Lightning Bolt bonus card)

Secret Lair x Fortnite (2022)

Fortnite Promo Image

The Fortnite x Secret Lair collaboration didn’t bring us the infamous Tilted Towers as a City of Brass reprint, but we were rewarded with some beautiful art for both the spells as well as the basic lands.

Regardless of what you think about Fortnite, you can't argue these are some wonderful works of art to enjoy.

Secret Lair x Arcane (2021)


This Universes Beyond set was part of the Secretversary 2021 Secret Lair drop. It served as a tie-in to the release of the Arcane Netflix show, based on Riot Games’ multiplayer online battle arena League of Legends.

The art for these cards is entirely taken from the show and depicts scenes and characters within this universe. The flavor text is also related to the show and its characters. Some of the cards also have a name change, the same system we saw on the Godzilla cards from Ikoria, giving pre-existing cards new names that fit this particular universe, without the need of creating new cards. 

This drop was also accompanied by an Arcane: Lands Secret Lair, with each land depicting either Zaun or Piltover, the two cities where the show takes place. 

Here are the cards featured in this drop:

A notable thing about this Universes Beyond drop is that none of the cards are character cards. They’re all either enchantments, instants, sorceries, or artifacts. 

Onto more personal opinions, while I don’t exactly like Secret Lairs all around, I think a crossover with Arcane (or League of Legends in general) isn’t a terrible thing. The game has a more or less similar aesthetic to that of Magic, except for the occasional gun or more modern-looking character. But with things like Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and Streets of New Capenna embracing more modern aesthetics, I guess this won’t be a problem anymore. 

I would’ve preferred to see some of the more fantasy-aesthetic characters depicted in the cards, but since the show’s first season didn’t feature them, it wouldn’t have made much sense.

All in all, I’m still not a huge fan of Universes Beyond but I’d much rather have these types of crossovers than things like The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, or Fortnite, which don’t fit in with Magic’s design sensibilities at all.

Secret Lair x Stranger Things (2021)

Stranger Things x Secret Lair teaser art

This is the first official installment of Universes Beyond since Secret Lair x The Walking Dead technically came out before it was announced. This drop follows right on track with the previous one.

Secret Lair x Stranger Things is based on the popular Netflix show and includes characters from that universe. The show centers around a group of kids and their adventures, including the notable Demogorgon from D&D.

Here are the cards you can get in this drop:

Secret Lair x The Walking Dead (2020)

Secret Lair x The Walking Dead teaser art

Man, do I remember when this thing came out. I’ll be upfront with you, I hated Secret Lair x The Walking Dead the second it was announced. I probably have some bias because I don’t like The Walking Dead (the show; I have no particular feelings on the comics, don’t come for my throat in the comments) and I don’t like the hype around it either.

There was a lot of talk about how a lot of the cards were mechanically unique and not easy to get when this was announced, which meant prices were probably going to shoot up. This was also a pretty dirty business practice since most Magic cards can expect reprints while these were a one-time-only release.

Another big part of the backlash was because these cards were black bordered. This meant they essentially invaded the Magic universe in a really annoying way. Things like the My Little Pony or Transformers cards were all silver bordered. They were promo cards used by Hasbro to promote other products and they were illegal in every format. Having the TWD cards be black bordered meant they were tournament-legal, which affected the meta and the overall feeling of the game.

Wizards has also refused to do functional reprints of these cards so far, which has only added insult to injury. Since this drop came out before the Universes Beyond announcements, the new six-month promise doesn’t apply to them. But that's enough complaining, let’s talk cards.

The drop features five cards depicting some of the most important characters in the show. They’re a few of the last humans remaining in a world where zombies have taken over, trying to survive the undead and their encounters with each other.

The cards included in this drop are:

Why Do These Products Exist?

The main argument I’ve seen so far is that since Magic has already expanded beyond its own limits with novels, comics, video games (remember Legends? That went well), and even D&D modules. It would be reasonable to bring other media into Magic. This might also attract fans of those other products into MTG and increase sales.

What is Their Legality?

Rule of Law | Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Rule of Law | Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

All we know so far is that the Universes Beyond products will not be legal in Standard. The focus will apparently be on Historic and Modern. We can also safely assume that they’ll be legal in Commander since the Warhammer and Lord of the Rings sets come with entire Commander decks.

What is the MTG Universe? How is This Different?

Magic has had an in-game story and lore pretty much from the very beginning. I’m not even gonna try to talk about it here because it’s really long and really confusing. What’s important is that Magic’s lore is set in a multiverse, a variety of worlds (called planes) with various civilizations, aesthetics, technologies, and forms of magic.

But the multiverse isn’t infinite and not everything and anything exists within it. There’s a certain set of rules and design sensibilities that permeate all the planes of the multiverse. One rule is that the planes are all set in fantasy-inspired realities. Even the more mechanical creatures and worlds, like the Phyrexians, Mirrodin, and Kaladesh, have technology that looks and feels magical. None of the vehicles in Magic look anything like the vehicles we see in real life and neither do their artifacts or machines.

The worlds from Universes Beyond are simply not part of the Magic universe in any way. None of the new places and settings are planes in the multiverse and they have no bearing in MTG's story. The aesthetic and narrative decisions in these worlds aren’t necessarily aligned with those that are used for the multiverse.

So basically, none of these products are related to Magic lore-wise. They exist in their own fictional universes and are simply being represented through Magic cards.

Is Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Part of Universes Beyond?

Potion of Healing - Illustration by Pauline Voss

Potion of Healing | Illustration by Pauline Voss

The short answer is a simple no. Forgotten Realms is legal in Standard so WotC chose not to include it in Universes Beyond.

That being said, the way the set's lore and characters are treated is very similar to the treatment the worlds of Universes Beyond are getting. Nothing depicted on cards from AFR is canon in the Magic universe. The characters depicted as planeswalkers aren’t actually capable of walking across planes, just really powerful or important characters.

So even though the way these different products exist within the lore of the game is very similar (they don’t), they’re not a part of the same branch of Magic.

Is Secret Lair x The Walking Dead Part of Universes Beyond?

It wasn't originally, but it is now. The TWD drop was just a crossover between Magic and The Walking Dead and there’s no sign that it was meant to be the launching of Universes Beyond when it came out.

It has been retroactively added since it fits all of the criteria for Universes Beyond products. It could be argued that this Secret Lair was sort of a testing ground to see if Universes Beyond was a viable idea, but that’s just speculation.

Is This Actually Good For Magic?

I think I’ve been pretty opinionated about this so far, but I could honestly go on for hours. I won’t, don’t worry. But I’d like to assume it’s at least entertaining.

Are you not entertained? gif from 2000's Gladiator

Gladiator (2000)

I personally think that these products will be inconsequential in the best-case scenario. In an unlikely worst-case scenario, it could mean a fundamental change in Magic.

The main idea behind Universes Beyond is to bring fans of other franchises and IPs into Magic. I also think this is far from the best way to do it. Only a tiny fraction of new players brought in from Universes Beyond will continue to play or branch into more “traditional” Magic products and formats. Some of them might buy the cards just to collect them but most won’t care about any of this at all.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing the aesthetic and core design values of the game shift ever so slightly. No, these cards aren’t canon or legal in Standard. But they are legal in tournaments and in Commander. They already warp the fantasy feeling of the game.

Maybe I care about it more than most other players, but I don’t really like to see sci-fi-looking characters in my fantasy games. I think the way the characters and worlds in Magic look is as important as the game’s mechanics. I love the lore and the design of this game, even if it’s terribly messy at times, and I don’t want to sacrifice them just to have a few non-players buy cards to make a big company money.

All this being said, I think crossovers are possible and not an entirely terrible thing. I think the Godzilla cards from Ikoria were fun collector items that didn’t affect the game much. I enjoyed Forgotten Realms a lot, even if I think it could’ve been handled better lore-wise. It was a crossover that made sense because D&D and Magic share very similar design and world-building sensibilities.

I’m not against crossovers in and of themselves and I'm not against exploring large-scale crossovers, but I think the IPs Wizards chooses to do crossovers with should be more carefully selected. There are plenty of games and shows out there that fit almost perfectly into the Magic design style that could be easily translated into the cards.

There’s a trend of movies, shows, and games becoming a constant showcase of other IPs. They sacrifice a lot of their own potential just to say, “hey, remember this thing?” even if it has nothing to do with the plot. I don’t want Magic to become that. I don’t want a game with such rich lore to become a constant reference to other products.

Do MTG Universes Beyond Products Release on MTG Arena?

Only one Universes Beyond product has come to MTG Arena thus far. Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth was the first Universes Beyond product to be released on MTG Arena on June 20, 2023. It coincided with the release of the paper set. It’s not clear at this time if and/or which future Universes Beyond products will be released on Arena.

There certainly are cosmetics to show off the Universes Beyond art and characters, often as digital card sleeves, Arena companions, or profile avatars.

Wrap Up

Silkwrap - Illustration by David Gaillet

Silkwrap | Illustration by David Gaillet

At the end of the day, we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Universes Beyond. I may be acting a bit like a doomsayer about the whole thing, but I hope I’m wrong and it ends up being mostly inconsequential. And even after all my complaints, I’m still allowing myself to enjoy The Lord of the Rings set.

But what do you think? Am I overreacting about Universes Beyond’s effect on Magic? Do you think it'll kill the game? Are you excited about any of the products? I won’t judge you if you are, I promise. Let me know in the comments below, and don't forget to follow our blog and head over to Twitter for more content like this.

That’s all for now. Stay safe, and I’ll see you in the next one!

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  • Avatar
    Forger October 28, 2021 1:52 am

    “Why Do These Products Exist?”
    Money. Let’s not kid ourselves with all the niceties about it. WotC is a company: a company’s primary concern is to make money and it’s far easier to bank on people’s familiarity with something than to put in effort to make an original IP.

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha October 28, 2021 7:32 am

      Yes, in fact just slightly later in the article the author says:

      I love the lore and the design of this game, even if it’s terribly messy at times, and I don’t want to sacrifice them just to have a few non-players buy cards to make a big company money.

      As a Magic fan I think it’s dumb too. But if they want to do it, it’s their prerogative.

  • Avatar
    J Ray March 8, 2023 4:23 am

    I’ve been playing since beta, and those of us who have been playing since the early 90s seem to understand about magic something that alot of “newer” players ( 20 yr or less vets ) fail or refuse to acknowledge is the fact that mtg is as much a collectable as it is a game… Living off of my old cards in my mid 20s made this clear to me. Had I only held off until nowish to sell…..
    Limited runs of highly popular franchises are definitely of interest to collectors, especially to fans of the material…

    Also, magic has never been purely fantasy based. Sci Fi has been a part of it since pretty much the beginning… Heavily so in some expansions, such as tempest, and the urza sets.

  • Avatar
    SG March 19, 2024 1:32 am

    I’m against cosmetics in MTGA because it ruins aesthetic of game and there’s no option to disable them. You can’t just hack game either for that.

    I’m ok with non-legal cards because I’ll never see them in game. It’s like “create your own MTG card” but official.

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