Magic: The Gathering has been gearing up to explore fictional worlds outside its own multi-plane reality in a new trading card game line called Universes Beyond. On June 7th, publisher Wizards of the Coast outlined how and why cards initially printed in Universe Beyond Secret Lairs will find their way to the public.
The post, titled Secret Lair Universes Beyond Update, explains that the trading card game publisher has been listening to feedback regarding Secret Lairs - the company’s premium line of direct-to-consumer cards, often featuring special themed art treatments - that contain “mechanically unique” cards. While the popularity of Secret Lairs has proven successful, many players criticise locking otherwise interesting game pieces not found anywhere else behind an expensive and limited-run purchase gate.
In response, Wizards of the Coast plans to release versions of those cards “set in Magic's Multiverse” around six months after they appear in Secret Lair drops. These treatments won’t include the alternative art and names from other words, such as Warhammer: 40,000 or Lord of the Rings, but will be functionally identical in their respective legal formats.
Players will be able to pull these non-Universes Beyond equivalents from booster packs as they will be added to The List, a Wizards of the Coast-curated collection of 300 cards that comprises one slot in set boosters and changes with each new set. Set Boosters have about a 25% chance of containing a card from The List among its contents, and whatever appears in that slot follows normal rarity rules - meaning pulling a rare or mythic from The List can be, well, pretty rare.
The publisher did note that it would be increasing the frequency of Universes Beyond-alikes when they first enter The List’s rotation, though the article did not contain any hard numbers on those rates. Wizards of the Coast also claimed it withholds the ability to reprint them elsewhere in the future.
Player response to this announcement has been mixed. Many are happy that often interesting and fun cards will eventually find their way into boosters and therefore the singles market, freeing Secret Lairs to be an avenue for officially sanctioned alters instead of necessary investments. That said, The List is barely understood at the best of times and isn’t a reliable source for specific cards - several commenters characterized it as a neat treat. Many feel like this trades an exorbitant door charge for a lottery service.
In a comment on the r/magicTCG subreddit, the Wizards of the Coast community team clarified that grandfathering in The Walking Dead Secret Lair cards, as worthy of reprinting without so much Rick is something the company is open to exploring, despite the original blog post explicitly claiming otherwise. This would allay some of the criticism lobbed at that specific release and bring it closer to the model first used in the Godzilla-flavoured alternate art from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
Wizards of the Coast is planning a Universes Beyond Secret Lair in the near future and says it will continue to gather feedback on that model and hone the proposed pipeline of premium drop to in-world alternatives.