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MTG Universes Beyond was the highlight of 2023, says head dev

Sorry Universes Beyond haters, but it’s not going away any time soon – MTG’s head designer says it was the best part of the TCG in 2023.

MTG Universes Beyond art of Negan from The Walking Dead

Universes Beyond was the “best addition to Magic” in 2023, according to head MTG designer Mark Rosewater. In an official Magic: The Gathering blog post from March 18, Rosewater celebrates the success of the once-controversial crossover brand.

In case you’ve been living under a rock recently, Universes Beyond is a range of Magic products that cross over with other, existing IPs. The whole thing started with Secret Lair, but now we have full MTG sets and MTG Commander decks in the Universes Beyond line. Everyone from Frodo Baggins to Optimus Prime gets their own Magic card.

Despite some initial reservations from fans (and some pricey licensing fees), Universes Beyond has been a hit. The Warhammer 40k Commander decks were so popular that Hasbro had to reprint them at rapid rates, and MTG Lord of the Rings is the best-selling set ever. Even our resident Magic writer has come around to UB products.

MTG Universes Beyond art of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

“When Secret Lair x The Walking Dead cards first appeared, the idea of setting Magic cards in the worlds of other properties was controversial”, Rosewater says in Monday’s post. “The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, I believe, was the set that showed the full potential of what Universes Beyond can be.”

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it went on to be the best-selling Magic set of all time”, he adds. “As a designer, I have enjoyed how the top-down inspiration leads us to create designs we otherwise wouldn’t and allows us to tap into an emotional wellspring of joy.”

It wasn’t all crossover content in 2023, though. Rosewater says MTG Battles were a close runner-up for the year’s highlight, and we’ll be seeing more of these in future.

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