Alara block

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The Alara block is a Magic: The Gathering expert-level expansion block, consisting of the expansion sets Shards of Alara (October 3, 2008),[1] Conflux (February 6, 2009)[2] and Alara Reborn (April 30, 2009). The Alara block focuses on multicolored cards, in particular cards with three or more colors.[3][4]

Shards of Alara[edit]

Shards of Alara
common expansion symbol
five-shard crystal
Released October 3, 2008
Size 249 cards (15 Mythic Rare, 53 Rare, 60 Uncommon, 101 Common, 20 Basic Lands)
Keywords Exalted,[5] Unearth,[6] Devour,[6] Cycling
Designers Bill Rose (lead), Aaron Forsythe, Devin Low, Mark Rosewater, Mark Gottlieb, Brian Tinsman, Mike Turian, Matt Place, Erik Lauer, Alexis Janson, Ken Nagle, Mark Globus, Graeme Hompkins, Noah Weil, Mike Mikaelian
Developers Devin Low (lead)
Development code Rock
Expansion code ALA
First set in the Alara block
Shards of Alara Conflux Alara Reborn
Masters Edition II Conflux
Shadowmoor Block Zendikar Block

Set details (Shards of Alara)[edit]

Bill Rose was its lead designer for Shards of Alara, and Devin Low was its lead developer. Shards is a multicolor set which revolves around three-color combinations.[5] Its tagline is, "Five worlds share one fate." The set consists of 249 cards, 20 basic lands, 101 common, 60 uncommon, 53 rare, and 15 mythic rare. It was the first set to contain mythic rares.

The design of Shards of Alara focuses on five different "shards" which together formed a single world once. Mechanically, each shard consists of one of the five magic colors and its two allied colors. Each shard has its own key worded mechanic or strong overarching theme, and its own creature types. The five shards were designed separately by three person design teams.

Shard Name Primary Color Secondary Colors Primary Mechanic Dominant creature types Planeswalker Design team
Bant White Green
Blue
Exalted[5] Angels, Rhox, Aven, and Humans[7] Elspeth, Knight-Errant Brian Tinsman, Kenneth Nagle, Mark Rosewater[5]
Esper Blue White
Black
All creatures are colored artifact creatures[6] Humans, Sphinxes, Homunculi, and Vedalken[7] Tezzeret the Seeker Mark Rosewater, Mark Globus, Mark Gottlieb[5]
Grixis Black Blue
Red
Unearth[6] Demons, Zombies, Humans, and Skeletons[7] Nicol Bolas (introduced in Conflux) Devin Low, Erik Lauer, Brian Tinsman[5]
Jund Red Black
Green
Devour[6] Dragons, Goblins, Humans, and Viashino[7] Sarkhan Vol Bill Rose, Mark Globus, Mike Turian[5]
Naya Green Red
White
Rewards playing creatures with a power of 5 or greater[6] Humans, Beasts, Elves, and Leonin[7] Ajani Vengeant Kenneth Nagle, Mark Rosewater, Mike Turian[5]

Shards of Alara introduced several changes in Wizards' design and publishing approach. Sets from Shards forward have a smaller number of cards, to reduce the size of the card pool for Block and Standard constructed tournament formats. A new level of rarity, "Mythic Rare", was added; mythic rares replace a booster pack's rare card in 1 out of 8 packs. Also, as part of a move to make products more beginner friendly, booster packs include a basic land in place of one of the commons, and pre-constructed decks will be rebranded as "Intro Packs" including a 41-card preconstructed deck and one booster pack. There are design changes to the fat pack, which for Shards includes five distinct box arts and the replacement of the usual set novel with an excerpt from A Planeswalker's Guide to Alara.[8] Shards was the last set for which tournament packs were released. These changes held for Conflux and Alara Reborn.

Shards of Alara also brings new planeswalker cards to the game. The first multicolored planeswalker to be revealed publicly was the red and green Sarkhan Vol. It was followed shortly by the white and red Ajani Vengeant, which is a new form of Ajani Goldmane from the Lorwyn set, and was the promotional card at Shards prerelease events and Launch Parties in September/October 2008.[9]

Storyline (Shards of Alara)[edit]

The plane of Alara, once rich with mana, was torn apart by an unknown planeswalker. The world survived, but it was split into five distinct shards. Each of the shards lacks two of the five colors of mana, which influenced their development and created different environments. [10]

Mechanics (Shards of Alara)[edit]

Shards of Alara introduced the mechanics of devour, exalted and unearth.

Conflux[edit]

Conflux
common expansion symbol
five-shard shield
Released February 6, 2009
Size 145 cards[2] (10 Mythic Rare, 35 Rare, 40 Uncommon, 60 Common)
Keywords Domain
Mechanics 5 color cards / abilities
Designers Bill Rose (lead), Mark Globus, Mark Gottlieb, Kenneth Nagle[2]
Developers Mike Turian (lead), Graeme Hopkins, Erik Lauer, Devin Low[2]
Development code Paper[2]
Expansion code CON
Third set in the Alara block
Shards of Alara Conflux Alara Reborn
Shards of Alara Alara Reborn
Shadowmoor Block Zendikar Block

Set details (Conflux)[edit]

Storyline (Conflux)[edit]

Nicol Bolas, the antagonist of the Shards block makes his first appearance as a Planeswalker here previously appearing as an elder dragon legend

The storyline focuses on the chaos which results from the Shards being forced together in a ring, constantly raking against one another. Esper finds itself clashing with Grixis and Bant, Bant is wedged between Esper and Naya, Naya finds its way between Bant and Jund, Jund conflicts with Grixis and Naya, and Grixis is pressed between Esper and Jund.

Mechanics (Conflux)[edit]

Conflux continues the Shards of Alara set's multicolor theme, expanding on it by introducing five-colored cards to the Alara block. Actually Conflux is the set with the highest number of five-colored cards of all Magic sets. Aside from the multicolor theme the set makes use of the mechanics introduced in Shards of Alara, Exalted, Unearth, and Devour. Finally Conflux introduces Domain, an ability word which refers to an effect involving the number of basic land types among lands the player controls (this had been used in Invasion, but not as a keyword). Domain expands on the existing mechanics of cycling and protection in the form of basic landcycling and protection from everything.

Alara Reborn[edit]

Alara Reborn
common expansion symbol
bound shards
Released April 30, 2009
Size 145 cards[2] (10 Mythic Rare, 35 Rare, 40 Uncommon, 60 Common)
Keywords Cascade,[11] Cycling, Landcycling
Mechanics Cascade, Cycling, Landcycling, Exalted, Unearth, Devour, Hybrid
Designers Aaron Forsythe (lead), Mark Gottlieb, Alexis Janson, Brian Tinsman[2]
Developers Matt Place (lead), Dave Guskin, Alexis Janson, Erik Lauer, Mike Turian[2]
Development code Scissors[2]
Expansion code ARB
Third set in the Alara block
Shards of Alara Conflux Alara Reborn
Conflux Magic 2010
Shadowmoor Block Zendikar Block

Set details (Alara Reborn)[edit]

Alara Reborn is the first set in the history of Magic the Gathering to consist mostly of multicolored, or "gold", cards (cards which require mana of more than one color to play).[12] It expands on the mechanics, themes and flavor laid down in Shards of Alara and Conflux, but creates new combinations of creatures under the influence of more than one shard, such as coloured artifact creatures from Esper that have the Bant ability Exalted.[13]

Storyline (Alara Reborn)[edit]

Mechanics (Alara Reborn)[edit]

Alara Reborn continues on the Shards of Alara set's Exalted, Unearth and Devour mechanics, as well as the Shadowmoor and Ravnica blocks' Hybrid Mechanic. Cards using the Hybrid Mechanic in this set lack the usual hybrid card border colors as they include a third color outside of the hybrid colors. It has also brought about the new mechanic called Cascade, which reflects the chaotic, magical nature of the Maelstrom(a huge mana-storm that has gathered about the centre of the now-reborn Alara) in altering the nature of otherwise normal spells. When you pay a spell with cascade, exile cards from the top of your library until you remove a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the removed cards on the bottom in a random order. This mechanic effectively means that when you cast a spell with the "Cascade" keyword, you get to cast at least one other "free" spell directly from your library.

Reception[edit]

Shards of Alara won the 2009 Origins Award as "Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion".[14]

Notable cards[edit]

Notable cards from Shards of Alara include Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Tezzeret the Seeker

Notable cards from Conflux include Noble Hierarch, Path to Exile and Progenitus

Two cards from Alara Reborn are Bloodbraid Elf and Maelstrom Pulse

References[edit]

  1. ^ Magic Arcana (18 March 2008). "Announcing Shards of Alara". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Magic Arcana — Announcing Conflux". Wizards of the Coast. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Greenholdt, Joyce (March 2008), Scrye, The Guide to Collectible Games, p. 106. 
  4. ^ ertaislament (2013-06-26), Shards of Alara Block, retrieved 2013-10-04 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Rosewater, Mark (8 September 2008). "Between a Rock and a Shard Place". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Rosewater, Mark (16 August 2008). "Shard Candy". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Whitters, Richard (16 August 2008). "Ripping a World Apart". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  8. ^ Rosewater, Mark (2 June 2008). "The Year of Living Changerously". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  9. ^ Magic Arcana (21 August 2008). "Shards of Alara Prerelease Card". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  10. ^ Beyer, Doug. "Alara, a World Broken". wizards.com. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Alara Reborn Visual Spoiler". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  12. ^ MTG Salvation (2009-03-09). "MTGCast 146: Alara Reborn confirmed as all Gold!". MTG Salvation. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  13. ^ Digges, Kelly (2009-04-14). "The Mother of All Dragons". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  14. ^ "35th Origins Awards". GAMA. 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]