Chronicles (Magic: The Gathering)
|Repeated symbols from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark|
(counting diff. artwork)
Chronicles was the twelfth Magic: The Gathering set, and the first compilation set, released in July 1995 by Wizards of the Coast. The set is one of two sets that have been sold in twelve-card booster packs, the other having been Alliances.
Chronicles introduced no new cards; the set was designated as an extension of the 4th Edition core set for the purpose of tournament play. Chronicles consists entirely of cards reprinted from the first four Magic: the Gathering expansions: Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark. The cards in Chronicles are white-bordered, in accordance with the Wizards of the Coast policy of the time that black-bordered cards would only be reprinted with white borders. In addition, the game text on many Chronicles cards was updated to reflect then-current rules, rulings, and templating. For example, Cyclone from Arabian Nights instructed players to place "chips" on the card to mark its status, while the Chronicles reprint of Cyclone used "counters" instead, as had become standard usage.
Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark quickly sold out in the hobby-gaming market, so both new and existing players had extremely limited access to cards from those sets at the time. Chronicles was printed to satisfy the market demand of players who had been unable to buy as much of the first four expansions as they wished, or who were new players and missed those expansions entirely. Wizards of the Coast's development team for Chronicles excluded powerful, abusive cards that were the frequent sources of player complaints, such as Mana Drain, The Abyss, Nether Void, Moat, and Maze of Ith, while including cards that they determined had a high "coolness factor" and would drive sales with the predominantly-casual player base for Magic at the time, such as the Elder Dragon Legends, The Wretched, Sol'Kanar the Swamp King, Dakkon Blackblade, and the three "Urza's Lands" from Antiquities. Tournament players added Chronicles reprints City of Brass, Erhnam Djinn, Recall, Divine Offering, Fountain of Youth, and Feldon's Cane to their decks at tournaments such as the first Pro Tour New York in February, 1996.
Printing and distribution
Chronicles was released in early August 1995 and went out of print in December 1996. The set was sold in booster packs of twelve cards. In contrast to the only other set that was sold in twelve-card boosters, Alliances, Chronicles did not have genuine rares. Alliances booster packs contained one card from the rare print sheet, three from the uncommon, and eight from the common print sheet. Chronicles boosters contained three cards from the uncommon print sheet and nine from the common sheet. Of the cards from the uncommon sheet 25 were three times as common as the other 46, essentially dividing the cards from the uncommon sheet into rares and uncommons. The commons come in four different rarities. The five multicolored Legends at common are C1, appearing each once on the print sheet and thus just as common as the uncommons from the set. The seven common artifacts are C2 and the 30 common cards with a single color are C3. The remaining three commons are the Urza's lands, originally from Antiquities. They are C4, but each has four different artworks so for collector's purposes they often counted as three C1 cards each. It is estimated that about 180 million Chronicles cards were produced.
Wizards of the Coast released a similar set called Renaissance into German, French and Italian markets. The German and French versions of the black-bordered set are the same, and contained all the cards that rotated into 4th Edition from the first four expansion sets. This was due to company policy that stated that a card could not be reprinted in a white-bordered set without first appearing in a black-bordered set in that language. The Italian version of Renaissance (Rinascimento) had different cards, because Wizards of the Coast's licensee Stratelibri had already printed The Dark (Oscurità) and Legends (Leggende) in their entirety in Italian, and released them in that order, the opposite of the order of the original English versions. Rinascimento instead contained the cards rotated into 4th Edition from the Arabian Nights and Antiquities expansions, plus the cards reprinted in Chronicles from the Arabian Nights and Antiquities expansions.
Wizards of the Coast originally planned all foreign-language Chronicles sets to be black-bordered, except the Italian version, which would be white-bordered because every card in it had already been printed in Italian in a black-bordered set. However, Wizards of the Coast's licensee Hobby Japan ended up printing the only foreign-language Chronicles that was ever released—a Japanese printing with black borders.
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