MTG’s Assassin’s Creed crossover is releasing at the wrong time

Jack Bye
MTG Assassin's Creed Ezio rooftop

MTG’s Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed will be released on July 5th. However, what should be a fan-pleasing crossover is being held back due to bad timing and unfortunate similarities to a famously disliked set.

Magic: The Gathering has been hitting home run after home run with its Universes Beyond crossover sets. The success has come despite initial fan misgivings that these crossovers may dilute the Magic brand and take the spotlight away from original worlds and stories.

Rather than churning out bland sets designed around mass appeal, MTG’s designers have blended exciting mechanics with respect for the adapted material. 

This has given us beloved sets like Tales of Middle-earth, Warhammer 40K, Doctor Who, and Fallout, all of which have been developed with clear fan passion.

In the best of circumstances, Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed would be the next success to add to that list. But unfortunately, it’s likely that Assassin’s Creed will be the first major misfire for the Universes Beyond line.

MTG fans are burning out on sets and spoilers 

MTG Assassin's Creed The Animus

The relentless pace of Magic’s spoiler seasons has been a real bugbear for many fans, and complaints abound that it’s difficult to keep up with them all. Sustaining excitement for any one set is made harder when there’s news of the next coming out right away.

The period between Outlaws of Thunder Junction’s set release and Modern Horizons 3 was intended to be a break for MTG fans. With no info on new cards coming out for several weeks, players would have time to enjoy Thunder Junction and reset before building up excitement for the rest of 2024’s offerings.

However, this break never occurred, as Modern Horizons 3 was hit by a huge wave of set leaks. In the run-up to MH3’s official spoiler season, unofficial card leaks were appearing all over social media daily. Wizards can hardly be blamed for these leaks but it means that fans continued to be inundated with new card updates all the same.

As a result, MTG fans have had very little break from the game’s constant onslaught of teases and spoilers. With so many premier sets, a standout Horizons set, and Universes Beyond: Fallout still being in the rearview, it’s all too easy for a smaller-than-usual set like Assassin’s Creed to fall through the cracks.

Maybe if Assassin’s Creed was released as a follow-up to an underwhelming set like Murders at Karlov Manor, it would be easier for fans to get excited. But with its high power level and effectively lengthened spoiler season thanks to the leaks, most MTG fans’ attention is still firmly fixed on Modern Horizons 3.

Assassin’s Creed’s boosters are a set-up for failure 

MTG Assassin's Creed Hidden Blade

Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed might still have been on track if it weren’t for the set releasing in Beyond Boosters. These smaller-sized boosters have drawn a great deal of fan ire for their pricing and resemblance to Epilogue boosters, a pre-existing and hated product.

It’s clear that the Beyond Boosters are an unhappy compromise. Tales of Middle-earth performed exceedingly well with regular Set and Draft boosters, but the reduced size of Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed wouldn’t fit with typical booster contents.

While modeling these boosters on a similarly-sized set like March of the Machine: The Aftermath seems like a smart move, Wizards weren’t prepared for the overwhelmingly negative reaction to The Aftermath. A planned Epilogue set for Outlaws of Thunder Junction was hastily absorbed into the main set as a bonus sheet, but it was too late in the production pipeline to fully scrap or heavily rework Beyond Boosters.

Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed release sits in an unfortunate middle-ground. It hasn’t been long enough for the sour taste left by Aftermath’s Epilogue boosters to fade, and it’s also too soon for anticipation to truly build for the set after the hotly-hyped release of Modern Horizons 3.

However, while Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed has several factors working against its success, the outlook isn’t entirely grim for the set.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ early trailers and gameplay reveals have gone down well with players, with many lapsed franchise fans looking forward to this latest entry. With Shadows building up hype for Assassin’s Creed once again, it’s entirely possible that Universes Beyond could see a related boost in interest.