Magic The Gathering fans got some welcome news recently in regards to a line of cards.
In an official post on their website, Wizards of the Coast talked about their unique set of cards known as Universes Beyond. Basically, these are crossover sets based on different licensed IP. The very first of these was retroactively a special promotional Secret Lair that included characters from iconic horror series, The Walking Dead. These crossovers will continue with cards based on Warhammer 40,000, and Lord of the Rings, as was revealed with the announcement of Universes Beyond (which notably does not include the upcoming Adventures in Forgotten Realms set).
The announcement came to address the controversy surrounding the sets. Players were concerned that these cards, or even certain unique mechanics they have, would only be found in these unique IP cards which are only available in limited runs. To address this, Wizards of the Coast have announced that while various licensed cards will still be available, they will also create and print cards that are mechanically identical to these cards, but be set in the universe of Magic The Gathering. The announcement continues to say that these cards will be out roughly six months after their Universes Beyond equivalent have been out and will be available on The List and findable in Set Boosters. Finally, for balance purposes, these in-universe and UB cards will be treated as equivalent pieces: you can't have four of a UB card along with four of the in-universe equivalent.
This will not be impacting past cards, most notably Rick, Steadfast Leader from The Walking Dead Secret Lair, who was often pointed to as an example of cards people wish had a non-branded/crossover version. Additionally, cards that are functionally identical to others may not get alternative versions.
This is a way to address issues that Magic players have been having since Wizards began these experiments. Not everyone wants to play with media outside of the Magic IP, and without this change they were left either to choose not to play certain cards, or to hold their nose and do so. Of course, this is a greater challenge than just "reskinning" an existing card as Mark Rosewater has been open about, citing the challenges of repurposing Godzilla-themed cards for the set Ikoria: Den of Behemoths.
Either way, this will be a big challenge for Wizards of the Coast going forward, but hopefully should help keep the game as accessible for their players as possible.