Last updated on May 13, 2022
Art by Slawomir Maniak
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Magic’s Universes Beyond products are here to stay. With two more slated for release in 2022, we can expect to see WotC expand Magic’s setting and mechanics to all sorts of properties in the coming years. I can’t wait for the day I equip my Batman commander with Luke’s Lightsaber so it can easily destroy your Master Chief planeswalker.
One of 2022’s Universes Beyond will be set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the far-flung future where there is only war. 40k, as it’s colloquially known, has been a staple in hobby shops since time immemorial (read: 1987).
While my gut tells me a consolidation of every IP I love might be bad for my wallet, I’m still very excited to dive right into everything we know so far about the Warhammer 40k crossover set!
|Set Code||TBA (speculated to be “40K”)|
|Number of Cards||TBA|
|Mechanics||Squad, Mark of Chaos Ascendant|
|Previews Begin||July 26|
|Secret Lair Drop||August 12-22|
|Worldwide Release||August 12|
|Launch Weekend Event||August 12-14|
Warhammer 40k is an epic miniatures wargame that you’ve probably seen around your local game store. It combines classic elements of fantasy with a violent, pessimistic future where heroic Space Marines defend the Imperium of Man against horrific Daemons, enigmatic and ancient aliens, and their own fallen Battle-brothers. It touches on a lot of classic fantasy tropes with allegories for elves (the Aeldari), orcs (“Orks”), and wizards (known as psykers). And, of course, there’s an abundance of swords.
Warhammer 40k is often cited as the origin of the “grimdark” genre. Its setting is a violent, cynical, and uncaring place where untold billions die each day and even more live in squalor or worse. It’s typically understood that there aren’t any “good guys” in 40k, just factions waging war on each other on a staggering scale. The heroes in the setting aren’t fighting for a better future, they’re fighting in spite of their enemies.
Most Warhammer 40k lore is set around the turn of the 42nd millennium, 38,000 years in the future. The Imperium of Man is on the verge of collapse. It wages war on its enemies with the heroic Space Marine chapters and never-ending regiments of the Astra Militarum, or Imperial Guard. Their enemies include the forces of Chaos including cultists, daemons, and fallen Space Marines in service to the Chaos Gods, as well as various alien factions like the enigmatic Aeldari, the bestial Orks, the expansionist T’au Empire, and the devouring Tyranid swarms. I expect to see nearly all these factions represented in one way or another.
Mark of Chaos Ascendant
One of the revealed mechanics is “Mark of Chaos Ascendant”, which gives spells that you cast from your hand during your turn cascade, so long as they have a mana value equal to or less than the life your opponents lost this turn. I see this having tremendous power potential in Commander, as getting plenty of damage on demand is super achievable with cards like Thermo-Alchemist.
Another revealed mechanic is the “Squad” mechanic, which allows you to pay a cost any number of times in addition to paying the creature’s mana cost, making that many tokens of the creature you’re casting. This mechanic is as close to kicker as you can possibly get, which makes it very simple to understand and quite powerful
Since only the core information is currently publicly available, it’s time for some wild speculation! Don’t worry, I can guarantee I’m qualified for this: I spend all day, every day, thinking about Magic or Warhammer 40k. I lead a very interesting and normal life, I swear.
Captain of the Watch | Illustration by Greg Staples
Despite what you’d expect, there are a ton of sci-fi adjacent cards in Magic that I think could see as reprints in the Warhammer decks.
First off there’s good old Power Armor. Every Space Marine wears “power armor” in 40k, so this one’s a no-brainer. There’s also a slew of “guns” and other modern-ish weapons in Magic. Rocket Launcher, Goblin Sharpshooter, and whatever the guy in Summary Dismissal is wielding. Besides that, there are tons of robotic artifact creatures that could fit in as Imperium servitors, Aeldari wraiths, or Necron troops.
Next up, I have one word for you: slivers. Okay, this one is wish listing, but my hope is that I’ll manifest it into existence by putting it here.
40k is home to the Tyranid Swarm, a race of biomorphing aliens that race from planet to planet devouring all biomass and leaving barren rocks in their wake. The Tyranids adapt and change depending on their enemies and environment and are ruled by a singular Hive Mind. Sound familiar? Maybe, just maybe, we get a 40k-themed reprint of Sliver Overlord and a whole slew of slivers with alternate art!
There’s also a trove of cards that could be related to Warhammer by name alone. Chaos Lord, Chaos Moon, Chaos Warp, and pretty much anything with the word “chaos” in its name. The Imperial Guard are an excellent allegory for expendable Soldier tokens, so things like Captain of the Watch, Martial Coup, and Mobilization. Pestilence, Pox, and other plague-themed cards fit right into the domain of the Chaos god Nurgle, and any number of berserker or warrior cards would also feel right at home.
Of course, this is all subject to change as official spoilers are released. Be sure to check back here to call me out on how wrong I was!
Warhammer 40k art by Örn Enok Brynjólfsson
The Magic 2021 Showcase gave us our first glimpse at the Warhammer 40k Commander decks. Product Architect Mark Heggen confirmed that the product would be four “ready-to-go” 100-card EDH decks with entirely 40k art. The decks will feature “new art, new cards, and powerful reprints.” He also mentioned that there’s going to be “a few Secret Lair bonuses coming along for the ride.”
Two pieces of art were also showcased. They both feature different Space Marines from the Warhammer 40k universe. Heggen describes them as “classic 40k art, with a dash of Magic.” Ultramarines fans would recognize the first as Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, wielding his paired power fists the Gauntlets of Ultramar. The second showed a squad of Primaris Suppressors, vanguard Space Marines that make use of jump packs to deploy in advantageous positions before laying down a withering salvo of fire.
May 12, 2022
4 Commander Decks
All we know for certain so far is that this product will have four pre-constructed 100-card Commander decks. The decks will have entirely new art, new cards, and “powerful reprints.” I’ll believe it when I see it, WotC. The cards will be stamped with the triangle non-canon security stamp.
The four deck’s names and colors are also now available, and we’re looking at a Temur deck called “Tyranid Swarm”, an Esper list titled “Forces of the Imperium, a Mono-Black named “Necron Dynasties”, and Grixis deck called “Ruinous Powers”. Each deck also has a collector’s edition available which come fully foiled in a “never-before-seen special surge foil”.
Art by Fajareka Setiawan
The Universes Beyond product have been divisive to say the least. Whether they’ll endure as a regular part of casual and competitive Magic remains to be seen. WotC has definitely abandoned other product ideas in the past (see: Planechase, Vanguard, paper Brawl, etc.). But I’ll reserve judgment until their release. It’s only fair!
I’m interested to hear what you think, though! Whether you’re familiar with both products or not, will you be playing with these Universes Beyond cards? Does this encourage Magic players to try out 40k, and vice versa? Let me know what you think in the comments down below.
Thanks for reading, and remember: in the grim darkness of the 42nd millennium, there is only war!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: