Mark Rosewater, commonly referred to as MaRo, is the longtime chief designer of MTG at Wizards of the Coast, and he posts regularly on his blog where he answers questions asked by players and Magic fans. On August 16, he answered a question from a user on a very controversial topic in Magic: black-border cards that represent non-magic intellectual properties (IP).
In October 2020, Magic communities on social media were ignited by the announcement of a Secret Lair Drop – a product that was already the subject of some controversy – that would feature characters from the television series The Walking Dead. Many fans were very upset, not only that the cards depicted characters from an unrelated fandom, but also because they are mechanically unique, available for a very limited time, and also legal in Eternal formats ( Legacy, Vintage, and Commander).
Despite the backlash, The Walking Dead Secret Lair was also apparently the best-selling secret lair until there. Even more controversy was generated when Wizards of the Coast announced Univers Beyond, a series of products that would contain more maps based on other IPs, including Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings.
Social media uproar aside, cards that depict intellectual properties outside of Magic’s own universe have been part of the game for many years without much trepidation. Arabian Nights, originally released in 1993, is the first Magic expansion to feature an expansion symbol, and is notable for being based on a non-Wizards of the Coast IP.
This blog post prompted the “Rabiah scale“which approximates the likelihood of an aircraft being presented again in a standard legal package.
Indeed, shortly before the Secret Lair controversy, other non-magic IP cards had been printed in the game. In 2017, a promotional set of silver-edged cards depicting cards from the Transformers universe was sold during of a convention. In 2019, a similar promotion was launched with cards from My Little Pony, and shortly before the The Walking Dead controversy in 2020, the standard legal Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set included special versions of cards from the set. main who have been “repainted” as characters. from the Godzilla franchise.
All of these versions predate Secret Lair: The Walking Dead, but have managed to avoid controversy (mainly) because they were either silver-lined (meaning they aren’t tournament legal in any format) , or in the case of Godzilla cards, they had regular magic. – universe maps that were mechanically identical for players of no Godzilla theme.
Perhaps in part in an attempt to avoid the wrath of Magic fans who dislike crossover products, Universes Beyond’s announcement specifically mentioned that nothing in the crossover series would be legal in Standard. That brings us to the present day, where the latest set, Adventures in Forgotten Realms, is itself a standard legal crossover with the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
To their credit, Wizards of the Coast also made it clear that Adventures in the Forgotten Realms was not considered a product of Beyond Universes because Wizards “was reserving the Universe beyond branding for worlds outside of those built by Wizards of the Coast. Now, however, Mark Rosewater has confirmed to a concerned fan who was disappointed with the D&D crossover that sets with non-magical intellectual properties will not be legal standard in the future.
Future sets with nonmagical properties will not be Premier sets.
Mark Rosewater, Chief Designer of MTG
In Magic, Premier sets are the four sets per year that are released in the Standard format. Therefore, it looks like Rosewater is confident to say that sets like Adventures in Forgotten Realms will no longer be printed as standard, or at least not anytime soon.
It should be noted that nothing has changed regarding the status of the universes beyond, so there is will be more cross products in Magic. Whether the cards will be legal for sanctioned play in any format, or whether they will have analogous cards that are in the Magic universe like the Ikoria crossover, remains an open question. It also remains unclear whether the wizards would replicate what they did with Ikoria’s makeover cards in the standard legal sets; Rosewater’s wording is too vague to be any sort of confirmation that Wizards wouldn’t be considering something like this in the future.
Still, it looks like crossover sets like Adventures in Forgotten Realms won’t be part of Standard going forward. Even in MTG Arena, which focuses primarily on Standard, it’s likely that crossovers will always appear in the game in one form or another, whether it’s alternate card skins like Ikoria, card sleeves, and more. ‘avatars or whatever.
If The Walking Dead drop has taught us anything, it’s that players have very strong feelings about MTG crossover sets on the positive and negative sides of the issue. What do you think of crossovers in MTG? Is there a universe you would love to see depicted in Magic, or do you even hate the thought of it? Let us know in the comments below!