Homelands (Magic: The Gathering)
globe of Ulgrotha
|Size||115 cards, 140 including different artwork|
|Designers||Scott Hungerford and Kyle Namvar|
|Developers||Jim Lin, Chris Page, Dave Pettey, Skaff Elias|
|Expansion code||HML (HL)|
Homelands was the thirteenth Magic: The Gathering set and seventh expert level set, released in October 1995. It was considered to be part of the Ice Age block until the announcement of Coldsnap in October 2005.
The set takes place in a plane known as Ulgrotha. Homelands begins 600 years ago, during a war between the Tolgath, planeswalkers who desire knowledge, and the Ancients, wizards who are prepared to be cruel to defend 'their' mysteries. A Tolgath planeswalker named Ravi used an artifact called the Apocalypse Chime, given to her by her master, to destroy all life and mana on Ulgrotha. The plane became a prime battleground for wizards, until the planeswalker Feroz happened upon it. He wished to protect the plane, so he, along with the planeswalker Serra, created a ban to keep other planeswalkers out. Feroz later died in a lab accident while studying a fire elemental trapped in ice. Serra later allowed herself to be killed by a mugger that wanted to take her wedding ring (Serra would appear briefly in the novelization of a later set, Urza's Saga, but that appearance occurred prior to her coming to Ulgrotha).
The events surrounding the set begin many years after Feroz's death, when his ban begins to fade. The residents of Ulgrotha (now known to its inhabitants as the Homelands) are at war with one another.
According to Aaron Forsythe, Magic Director of R&D, "it seems Homelands started design as a story first". While most Magic sets have a background story, it is rather unusual for a Magic set to have the story dictate most of the design of the cards in the set.
The 140-card set introduced no new mechanics or keywords; however, it did use some of the mechanics previously unique to Ice Age. Most notably, Homelands used the "cantrip" ability: a cantrip spell in the Ice Age block allowed a player to draw a card at the beginning of the next turn in addition to a normally minor spell effect. Later cantrips allowed a player to draw a card immediately.
Homelands also included single-color legendary creatures, first found in Ice Age. In Homelands, each color had at least one legend, with some colors having as many as five (Black has Baron Sengir, Irini Sengir, Grandmother Sengir, Veldrane of Sengir and Ihsan's Shade)
Homelands was the last set to feature just two rarities, common and uncommon, and the last set to be sold in eight-card booster packs.
The expansion, on average, had an unexpectedly low power level compared to previously released expansions. Initially, very few cards were used for competitive play when the expansion was legal in the Standard tournament format. Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater labeled Homelands as "Magic's all-time design low". When the first Pro Tour was held shortly after the release of the set, Wizards even decided to have the competitors play a modified Standard. Each player had to have five cards from each legal expansion in his deck, so that at least a few cards from the newest set, Homelands, would be showcased in the top decks.
- Autumn Willow — A green legend, its untargetability made it a staple in many early green decks. It was the first creature printed to be untargetable as a static ability.
- Baron Sengir - A black legend that was considered the first "lord" for vampires in Magic.
- Merchant Scroll — A blue sorcery that allows a player to search his or her library for a blue instant card and put it directly into his or her hand. This card has been restricted to one per deck in the Vintage format because it can search one of the many other extremely powerful blue cards in that format, such as Ancestral Recall and Force of Will.
- Serrated Arrows - An artifact that was considered one of the more powerful cards in the set, as it allowed any color to remove creatures from play. It was reprinted as part of the "timeshifted" subset in Time Spiral.
- Ferris, Christopher (22 August 2011). "Homelands: The Making of a Magic Expansion". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Miller, John Jackson (2001), Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide, p. 520.
- Moursund, Beth (2002), The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic The Gathering, p. 720.
- Searle, Michael (September 1995), InQuest, The Ultimate Guide to Card Games, p. 104.
- Wakefield, Jamie (1997), Tournament Reports for Magic: The Gathering, p. 169.
- Forsythe, Aaron (8 October 2010). "Aaron's Random Card Comment of the Day #9, 10/8/10". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
- Rosewater, Mark (26 July 2004). "On Tour, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
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