Mirage (Magic: The Gathering)

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Mirage
Mirage symbol
Released October 1996
5 December 2005 (MTGO)
Size 350 cards (110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, 20 basic lands)
Keywords Flanking, phasing
Mechanics Poison, Nightstalkers, Insta-Enchantments
Designers Bill Rose (lead), Joel Mick, Charlie Catino, Don Felice, Howard Kahlenberg, Elliot Segal[1]
Development code Sosumi/Menagerie[2]
Expansion code MIR
First set in the Mirage block
Mirage Visions Weatherlight
Alliances Visions
Ice Age Block Rath Block
Visions
Visions symbol
Zhalfirin Triangle of War or stylized letter "V"
Released February 1997
10 April 2006 (MTGO)
Size 167 cards (62 commons, 55 uncommons, 50 rares)
Keywords Flanking, Phasing, cumulative upkeep
Mechanics Come into play abilities, poison, insta-enchantments
Designers Bill Rose (lead), Joel Mick, Charlie Catino, Don Felice, Howard Kahlenberg, Elliot Segal[3]
Development code Mirage, Jr.
Expansion code VIS
Second set in the Mirage block
Mirage Visions Weatherlight
Mirage 5th Edition
Ice Age Block Rath Block
Weatherlight
Symbol Description = Thran Tome, an open book
Released June 1997
12 December 2007 (MTGO)
Size 167 cards (62 commons, 55 uncommons, 50 rares)
Keywords Flanking, Phasing, Cumulative Upkeep
Mechanics Graveyard matters
Development code Mochalatte
Expansion code WTH
Third set in the Mirage block
Mirage Visions Weatherlight
Portal Tempest
Ice Age Block Rath Block

Mirage was the fifteenth Magic: The Gathering set and ninth expert level set, released in October 1996. It was the first set in the block of the same name, followed by Visions in February 1997 and Weatherlight in June 1997. The Mirage block was the first official block set with one large expansion being followed by two smaller expansions all tied together through card mechanics and setting, beginning the trend that would be carried on through the rest of the expansions (excluding Lorwyn/ Shadowmoor). It also introduced 5th Edition rules (5th Edition was released in March 1997). On 5 December 2005 Mirage was released on Magic: The Gathering Online and was the first retroactively released set there.[4][5][6][7][8]

Storyline[edit]

The story concerns three of the most powerful nations of Jamuraa (a tropical continent modeled after Africa) — the militaristic kingdom of the Zhalfirins, the religious state of Femeref, and the trading province of the Suq'Ata empire. Zhalfir was the warrior nation, based mainly on red. Femeref was mainly white, and featured clerics and healers, while the seafaring traders of Suq'Ata were mostly blue. Mirage concerned these three nations and their struggle against the evil wizard Kaervek. Kaervek has imprisoned the powerful wizard and diplomat Mangara in an amber prison and the bulk of the story details the Jamuraans attempting to free Mangara. In addition to these events the planeswalker Teferi has caused his island to disappear from existence for almost 200 years. It is the phasing of the entire island that led Kaervek and Mangara to Jamuraa in the first place.

By the time of Visions, Femeref has been destroyed and Suq'Ata and Zhalfir begin to have internal problems as well. There is hope, however, when Kaervek's ally Jolrael betrays him at the urging of the planeswalker Teferi. Jamuraa's leaders, led by Jolrael's visions, free Mangara from the amber prison and begin to fight against Kaervek.

The storyline of Weatherlight is closely tied to the Weatherlight Saga. The story introduces the Weatherlight and her crew, who travel the planes of the multiverse in search of ancient artifacts known collectively as the Legacy. The captain of the ship, Sisay, is abducted to the shadowy world of Rath. Her old friend and crewmate, a former soldier named Gerrard, is pressed into taking command of the ship to rescue her. The story is continued in Magic's Tempest set.

Weatherlight Saga[edit]

The Weatherlight set was accompanied by a series of fictional works collectively known as the Weatherlight Saga. The saga was intended to be a "hero's journey"-style story, in which the characters were classic archetypes. Each was also assigned to represent a color in Magic's color wheel, so that the narrative and mechanical elements of the project would be more closely joined.

Then-developer Mark Rosewater chose the skyship Weatherlight and its captain, Sisay, as the germ of the new story. Rosewater has stated that basing the story around a ship allowed for narrative flexibility in setting. After developing story and character ideas with Michael Ryan, Rosewater pitched the Saga idea to his bosses. The Saga was heavily referenced in the flavor text and card names of the set.

Weatherlight marks a turning point in design and marketing philosophy for the Magic game and brand. While previous sets included allusions to an overarching story, Weatherlight was the first set to explicitly tell an ordered narrative focused on developed, archetypical characters.[9] Weatherlight marks the first use of a metaplot tied to a Magic set. The first novel, Rath and Storm, covers events shown in the Weatherlight set, while later novels tell stories for later game sets. It is referenced in sets until Apocalypse, although the aftermath of Saga events continued to be explored thereafter.

Set history[edit]

Mirage[edit]

Like Ice Age, Mirage began as a set of modifications to Alpha by a group of Richard Garfield's playtesters in winter 1992. Bill Rose, Charlie Catino, Joel Mick, Howard Kahlenberg, Don Felice and Elliott Segal created gameplay modifications and new cards that developed into "Menagerie", which developed over the course of three years. In October 1995, Mirage was sent to Wizards of the Coast for development. Rose lead the development team of Mike Elliott, William Jockusch and Mark Rosewater, while Art Director Sue-Ann Harkey provided Mirage's African influenced look.[10][11]

While its origins in playtesting linked it to earlier sets, Mirage was not designed to stand alone. Mirage was created as an introduction to Jamuraa, with two more planned expansions to create a cohesive set. This model became the standard for Magic: The Gathering expansions and began the concept of "block rotation".

Mirage's public debut was at Pro Tour Atlanta 1996, where professional Magic players had the challenge of playing sealed deck with cards they had never seen before. Mirage was also the first set to have pre-releases at more than one city.

Wizards of the Coast's design and development team considers Mirage to be the first set of the "Silver Age" or "modern" era of Magic.[12] It was the first set to be designed with Limited and Constructed play in mind. Previous designs had been imbalanced for formats like draft and sealed-deck, and cards were designed for casual players rather than with thought of their impact on the tournament scene.

On December 5, 2005, Mirage was released on Magic: The Gathering Online. This was the first time in the three-and-a-half years that the online version of the game had existed that an expansion older than Invasion (2000) became playable on MTG Online.[13] With their introduction on MTG Online, all Mirage cards received updated creature types and wordings to bring them in line with modern Magic cards.

Visions[edit]

The Visions expansion originated as a split from "Menagerie" (the original name for Mirage), which had grown too large for a single set. For a brief time during its development, Visions was known by the codename "Mirage Jr." It received its final name shortly later.[14] Visions was the first set to have the same name as a Magic card printed earlier, and the first set to have a wide dispersal of pre-releases.[11]

At the time of its release, Visions was a "first" in the release of quality cards at the common level. For instance, River Boa was considered "very good" compared to other green creatures, with two abilities (Islandwalk and Regeneration) and a 2/1 power/toughness at a casting cost of only two mana.

Visions was the last set to contain a poison creature (one that creates poison counters) until Swamp Mosquito was reprinted in Time Spiral. Visions's Suq'Ata Assassin was the last new poison creature created by Wizards for 10 years, until Virulent Sliver appeared in Future Sight.

Wizards of the Coast started selling Visions cards for Magic: The Gathering Online on April 10, 2006. The cards became legal to use in several formats as they went on sale. Official release events were held on April 13.[15]

Mechanics[edit]

Mirage introduced the first cycle of "charms". A charm is a spell that allow a player to choose among three different effects when the charm is played. Since then, similar cycles of charms have appeared in the Invasion block, Onslaught block, Return to Ravnica block, and others. Mirage also introduced a cycle of enchantments that could be played as instants. It introduced two keywords: flanking and phasing. A creature without flanking gets -1/-1 until end of turn if it blocks a creature with flanking. A permanent with phasing leaves play under certain circumstances, than returns to play at the beginning of its controller's next upkeep.

Phasing and flanking were expanded upon in Visions. Visions included many creatures that had abilities that triggered upon entering play. Visions introduced a cycle of lands known as Karoo lands that required you to return a land to your hand to play them.

Although Weatherlight is considered the third set in the Mirage block, it is mechanically distinct and does not prominently feature the keywords introduced in Mirage. Phasing appears on only three cards in Weatherlight, and flanking on only two. Weatherlight again had a cycle of cantrips, albeit ones that gave a player a card immediately after being played. Many cards in Weatherlight had graveyard-related abilities. Weatherlight was the last set to print a card with banding before the keyword was abandoned. It reintroduced the cumulative upkeep keyword with cards whose effects scaled as their cumulative upkeep costs increased. (Cumulative upkeep would not be used again until 2006's Coldsnap).

Notable cards[edit]

Notable cards in Mirage include Enlightened Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, Flash, Mystical Tutor, and Phyrexian Dreadnought.

Notable cards in Visions include Natural Order and Vampiric Tutor.

Notable cards in Weatherlight include Gemstone Mine and Null Rod

Art[edit]

For Mirage, Wizards signed about 50 artists who had not worked on Magic before, including fan favorites such as John Avon and Donato Giancola.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rosewater, Mark (6 September 2010). "Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Gatecrashing the Party, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  3. ^ Rosewater, Mark (9 February 2009). "Whatever Happened to Barry's Land?". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 26 February 2011. 
  4. ^ Miller, John Jackson (2001), Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide, p. 520. 
  5. ^ Moursund, Beth (2002), The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic The Gathering, p. 720. 
  6. ^ Justice, Mark (1998), Magic The Gathering - Advanced Strategy Guide, p. 128. 
  7. ^ Wakefield, Jamie (1997), Tournament Reports for Magic: The Gathering, p. 169. 
  8. ^ Johns, Scott (1997), Mirage Revealed: A Review of the Mirage Edition of Magic : The Gathering, p. 253. 
  9. ^ Mark Rosewater (March 3, 2007). "Weather(light) Report". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ A Three-Year Mirage
  11. ^ a b Searle, Michael (March 1997), InQuest, The Ultimate Guide to Card Games, p. 136. 
  12. ^ Jamuraa, the Merrier
  13. ^ Really Really Big News! No, Bigger Than That
  14. ^ "Codename of the Game" by Mark Rosewater, August 12, 2002
  15. ^ Wizards.com: Visions Release Events, March 28, 2006

External links[edit]