Universes Beyond: Balatro Just a Deck of Playing Cards

Jon Ruggiero • April 15, 2024

Renton, WA - Acknowledging the success of the indie roguelike deckbuilding game, today Wizards of the Coast announced Universes Beyond: Balatro. In an incredible display of laziness, the product is literally just 52 playing cards.

The decks will be released alongside a new set of rules, allowing any playing card to be played in a constructed Magic deck, as long as they are cards produced by Wizards of The Coast. These will not be the first French-suited decks Wizards has released: DCI members in the 90s could get their hands on a poker deck with  Magic: The Gathering card backing, but those cards are on the Reserved List.

Wizards expects the Balatro set to sell well, and Trent Crosby, WOTC spokesperson, hopes players can adapt to the new cards.

"I'm not going to lie to you, we didn't plan to print these," revealed Crosby. "Someone who shall remain nameless out of embarrassment mixed up orders with our card printing company, and instead of getting Lorwyn Rewritten, a secret set we were planning on surprise-releasing, we got shipped a bunch of regular playing cards.

"Luckily, we at Wizards know how to turn lemons into lemonade. After speaking with the game's solo developer, localthunk, and threatening our rules committee, we have worked out a way to make these playing cards 'official' Balatro MTG cards.

"On top of that, we're allowing stickers from Unfinity to be used in place of seals to add to the Balatro theme and make these as confusing as other recently-released cards. It'll be a great way to use the stickers many Magic fans have praised as 'completely useless'. Also we'll be watching the performances of these decks in the future as we may ban the Ace of Spades and Seven of Clubs for being too degenerate in Commander."

At press time, I still haven't beaten any of the Balatro challenges, and it's getting to be frustrating, but I will still play this game forever because it's that good.

Escape room designer, comedy show host, satire writer; Jon Ruggiero never misses an opportunity to do weird things for money. He's written for Cracked, Hard Times and Hard Drive, and hopes you enjoy what he writes here.