Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast recently revealed the existence of the Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond series, and despite initial concern, a follow-up explanation has since indicated that Universes Beyond Standard cards won’t be happening any time soon. Magic: The Gathering has been growing increasingly experimental with the ways it offers supplemental products to its core experience, with alternate art cards becoming a staple in Standard sets while other products, like Secret Lair, have gone as far as collaborating with The Walking Dead.
The decision to open up the Magic: The Gathering universe to other properties has been met with mixed reception thus far. Fans were more accepting of less intrusive decisions like alternate art cards in Ikoria that replaced monsters with those from Godzilla properties, and far less happy about the presence of The Walking Dead characters in Secret Lair – something that made Rick Grimes a legal Legacy card, and a powerful one at that. The biggest collaboration so far has been the announcement of an upcoming MTG Dungeons & Dragons Standard set, but that decision is one that joins two Wizards of the Coast properties that are highly compatible with each other.
Following the announcement of the Warhammer 40K and Lord of the Rings Magic: The Gathering crossovers, Wizards of the Coast published an article on the official Magic website explaining Universes Beyond a little better. Most importantly, the article clarified where Universes Beyond cards would be legal – or, rather, where they would not, as the article stated that they will not be legal in Standard. The article gave the example of the upcoming Warhammer 40K Commander decks and Secret Lair products as more likely homes for Universes Beyond collaborations, and plainly stated that “Universes Beyond cards will not be Standard legal” for full clarity on the matter.
While confirming that Universes Beyond card legality wouldn’t extend to Standard is a start, some more clarity would likely be appreciated by players down the line as these products appear with more frequency. The article states that the Universes Beyond cards will “often default to” creating new cards with the names of characters and places from other properties, rather than reskinning cards like in Ikoria. That may not be the popular approach, however, as fans seemed to welcome the reskinned cards more than The Walking Dead crossover.
Regardless of what happens with where Universes Beyond cards are legal, right now, players can all take heart in the knowledge that they will not be in Standard. Older MTG formats are more resistant to influxes of new cards, so even if Universes Beyond makes sets legal in Commander and Legacy, it’s far more likely they end up as fringe options rather than the centerpiece of new decks. The delicate balance between MTG and its collaborative properties is a tricky one and, given its newness, one that may see some mistakes along the way – but for now, Wizards of the Coast has acknowledged a pressing question with an answer that fans will be happy with when it comes to where Universes Beyond cards are legal.