What to expect from Assassin's Creed Universes Beyond

Assassin’s Creed Will Be a Great Universes Beyond Set

Kristen GregoryCommander, Modern

Assassin’s Creed is set to be a Modern legal Universes Beyond booster product. How big the set will be remains to be seen, but what’s really on our minds is the set’s overall potential. Kristen takes us through her thoughts on a franchise she’s waxed and waned on over the years.

During Wizards of the Coasts’ Gen Con panel, they announced a slate of Universes Beyond products. The first we’ll see are the Lost Caverns of Ixalan x Jurassic World alternate treatments, but the next few years include 2024’s Fallout Commander Decks, a 2025 FINAL FANTASY booster product and, of course, Summer 2024’s Assassin’s Creed set. Originally announced as a Secret Lair, we now know this will be an entire Modern legal product, much like Tales of Middle-earth

It’s no surprise that the previewed artwork from the set leads with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, arguably the most popular protagonist of the series. “Renaissance Batman” featured in the games that propelled the franchise from proof of concept to household name. But what is Assassin’s Creed about?


A mix of history, conspiracy and bildungsroman, Assassin’s Creed has all the makings of a story that could be told through Magic cards. In short, Assassin’s Creed is a historical action-RPG series. 

Each entry in the series (unless it’s a sequel to an existing game) takes place in a different historical period, ranging from Classical Greece right through to Victorian London. You’ll follow the game’s protagonist as they’re inducted into the Assassin order, a sect embroiled with the Templars (another ancient order). 

The stories are told through the eyes of modern-day protagonists reliving the memories of their ancestors through DNA… science… stuff, in order to find answers to pressing modern-day problems. Given that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic (editor:groan? [actually the editor: nah]), we’re pretty sure that’s a greenlight for a Universes Beyond set.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, 2018
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, 2018

Let’s be real, though. Just as the modern-day segments in the games have petered out into a fraction of the play time, it’s unlikely we’ll get more than a passing reference to the Animus technology in the Magic set. It’s all about time-travel tourism, and battling with badass weapons and gadgets. Perfect for a Magic set. 


Despite there being some opportunity to print “needed” cards into Modern or Commander, the genesis for Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed, like most Universes Beyond sets, will be “top down” design. This is when a card is designed for flavor, with mechanics bent into shape to reflect the flavor of a card.

There are pros and cons of this approach. While it can be the best way to express a mechanically satisfying card (think Nahiri, the Harbinger, sower of Madness, destroyer of Markov Manor and summoner of Emrakul) it can also somewhat narrow creativity when cards are viewed only through that lens.

Top down has its limitations, of course. At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that every card in this product could be Dimir, but Assassin’s Creed is an ideal property to work with for UB because it lends itself to both top-down design and bottom-up design. 

Hidden Blade Concept art from Ubisoft
Hidden Blade Concept art from Ubisoft

We’ve got flavor to build from in Assassins and assassinations, artifacts like Hidden Blades and Pieces of Eden, and clear factions like the Templars; but we’ve also had settings similar enough to AC, including Theros, Kaldheim, Fiora, Amonkhet and Ravnica, that can give the design team foundations and ideas. From how a faction based set works, to how to evoke the flavor of “suiting up” a creature, to politics, we’ve got a brilliant back catalog to draw from.

With UB:AC being marketed at Commander as well as Modern, it’s bound to have dozens of Legendary Creatures. Given the product is likely to cover so many different time periods to fit these characters in, it’s safe to say it’s unlikely to just feel like a micro-expansion for Theros or Fiora — which it might, if it focused solely on Ezio, for example. 


Assassin’s Creed’s enduring motto “Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted” might be perfect for justifying what can be a Magic set, but I’m more interested in the infamous tagline you see as each game boots up: “This game was developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs.”

It’s a phrase that does a lot of heavy lifting, as Assassin’s Creed is less history and more historical fiction. It weaves together real history, conspiracy and (at times contrived) original plot lines together to tell a story. 

While it’s cute that Ezio was pranked by his bestie Leonardo Da Vinci, it’s the meta-narrative that tends to divide fans. When being liberal with the truth of history and religion, you’re setting up to frustrate and even offend, so it’s key to the franchise to communicate that, at heart, it’s a couple of steps away from historical fantasy (with some games, like Odyssey, leaning right into it and managing to turn people off of a stellar game just because it was less sneaky-sneaky edgelord Assassino). 

Despite executives doing their best to ruin a good thing, the series has featured a variety of protagonists and settings, and it has a rich tapestry to draw from when making a Magic: the Gathering set. I’ll be honest, I’m hoping that Wizards’ commitment to diversity means we’ll see Kassandra and female Eivor, but they’re up against Ubisoft, who notoriously can’t commit to having a female lead in their games, so we’ll see how that goes.

Evie & Jacob Frye (Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, 2015)
Evie & Jacob Frye (Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, 2015)

The thing about historical fiction/historical fantasy, though, is it’s relatable and popular. The best received Universes Beyond IPs so far have been those that “fit in” best in the wider Magic multiverse. 

Sure, Warhammer 40k has laser guns and aliens, but it still felt like it fit into the Magic world because it’s science fiction/fantasy, and not far from The Brother’s War or Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty a set I declared to be the first Universes Beyond set, priming us for more. Tales of Middle-earth was another that people loved, not just for the fact it’s Lord of the Rings, but because it’s more magical-realism, and feels like historical fiction.

Contrast that with the ones people have felt more divided over: The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Fortnite and Transformers (the latter of which fell flat partly because of the art style) and it’s clear to see which side of the line Assassin’s Creed will fall on. 


Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, 2013
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, 2013

I’m confident UB:AC will be a popular set. Just within the Magic ecosystem alone, you have players from Modern and players from Commander; players who enjoy rogues, players who enjoy artifacts and players who enjoy combat. Those very same Magic players might also be history nerds, HEMA nuts, or straight up Assassin’s Creed fans in the first place.

While we could argue all day about whether Universes Beyond is right for you, individually, it’s fair to say it’s a positive direction for Wizards and quite a few of the existing customers (when handled well, at least). Outside of UB releases, we all already have favorite planes and products we avoid, so opting out is actually pretty easy. 

It’s harder to opt out in say, Commander, where you could see Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White and Optimus Prime rolling up to fight. But in my experience? Commander players are sticklers for flavor, and most Universes Beyond cards have been self-contained in Lord of the Rings or Warhammer themed decks. 

You’re not alone in shying away from anachronistic gameplay, and even mono-white Angels decks shy away from including Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. 


Wizards is sure to pick up a bunch of new players with this release, and for fans of the franchise, they’re getting something too. Merchandise for big gaming franchises can be hit or miss, with many big brands having a dearth of interesting or collectible mementos. Hell, I’ve just started playing Baldur’s Gate 3, and my mind is already on getting something cool for my shelf. But beyond the Magic cards I already own, there’s not much out there yet.

Odyssey Kassandra fan art by Anna Helme via Artstation
Odyssey Kassandra fan art by Anna Helme via Artstation

What these sets will offer, above all else, is damned cool artwork. In spades

Good fan art can be hit or miss, and buying it is often costly. Fans of big gaming franchises often dream of seeing key moments or characters immortalized in beautiful art, and as a game, Magic has always had art direction that can fulfill those wishes. 

With a Universes Beyond set, Assassin’s Creed fans are going to be treated to some stellar artwork on high quality cards. Cards that have the potential to be timeless classics. And that’s just cool


I’ve been an Assassin’s Creed fan ever since you had to press A to move your legs as baby Ezio. I’ve loved some of the entries a lot, with Black Flag and Odyssey among my favorite games of their respective console generations. 

The franchise has had a few dips, and the gameplay could do with a little innovation, but it remains a big part of gaming for me and many others. It’s looking to be a near friction-free insertion into the Magic multiverse, what with its historical fiction tone, and that signals to me that we have a potential hit. 

If you’re looking to dive back into the series before the set comes out, I’d recommend playing my recent favorite, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, a game that took the Witcher 3 formula of dialogue, consequences and a “living world,” and baked it into the AC pie to create something special. 

Sure, it’s something of an “ironic” prequel to Origins, but it’s a very good game, and that’s what counts. Fighting as a mercenary in region battles never gets old, and neither does sailing the Adrestia around the Aegean Sea.