Antiquities (Magic: The Gathering)
|Size||100 cards (41 commons and 59 uncommons)|
|Designers||Skaff Elias, Jim Lin, Dave Petty, Joe Mick, and Chris Page|
|Expansion code||ATQ (AQ)|
Antiquities was the fifth Magic: The Gathering set and the second expansion set. It was the first set to have an original backstory that explores the mythos of the Magic universe (see Magic: The Gathering storylines). The story is primarily about the brothers Urza and Mishra who are inseparable at first, but become sworn enemies over the finding of two power stones. Trying to get hold of the other's stone they eventually lay waste to the whole continent of Terisiare. The set was created by the group of students at the University of Pennsylvania that had helped Richard Garfield design the original game. Mechanically Antiquities revolves around artifacts. Only 35 of the 85 different cards are colored, the remaining 50 cards being artifacts and lands. The expansion symbol for Antiquities was an anvil.
Antiquities managed to solve many of the printing errors that had plagued previous sets, although the expansion symbol was missing from the card Reconstruction, and the circle around the activation cost of Tawnos's Weaponry was omitted in half the printing. The only major problem noticed by players was the poor collation of the set; many booster boxes contained several packs with exactly the same cards in each, making it next-to-impossible for players in many parts of the country to collect complete sets. To correct this, Wizards of the Coast introduced a "buyback" program, allowing players to trade in their excess cards for money. This tentatively backfired on many players who cashed in early as Antiquities cards soon began rising in price on the secondary-sales market. In the UK, the 'buyback' was limited to the uncommon cards; however, it was possible to exchange these for cards from the previous Arabian Nights expansion.
The storyline of Antiquities is originally told through the flavor text of the cards in the set. It is given in full in the 1998 novel "The Brothers' War" written by Jeff Grubb. In 1999 the prequel, "The Thran" by J. Robert King, appeared. It describes the events leading to the Thran-Phyrexian War and the conflict itself. The Thran are the civilization that created the powerstones which are the cause of the separation and ensuing conflict of Urza and Mishra.
The story of Antiquities takes place on the plane of Dominaria and centers on the two brothers Urza and Mishra. Urza is born on the first day of the year 0 AR and his brother, Mishra, on the final day of that year. Ten years later when their father falls ill they are sent as apprentices to their father's friend, the artificer Tocasia. After several years at Tocasia's camp where the brothers made several inventions and discoveries, they explore the Caves of Koilos, a place filled with Thran artifacts. There the brothers each find one half of a powerstone that sealed the gate to the plane of Phyrexia which is also located in the caves. Mutual desire for the other's piece of the powerstone eventually leads them to turn the power of their stones onto each other. Attempting to end the duel, Tocasia puts herself into the middle, leading to her inadvertent death.
Afterwards the brothers separate and leave the excavation site. In the following years Urza and Mishra come into positions of substantial power in Yotia and amongst the Fallaji people respectively. After some hostilities the empires eventually conduct open warfare against each other. The events during the conflict lead to both Urza and Mishra acquiring the leadership amongst their people. The conflict becomes an all-out war, but no side is able to gain the upper hand. In the final battle of the conflict both armies fight to a standstill. Eventually Urza activates the Golgothian Sylex, an artifact that Urza's lieutenant Tawnos received from Mishra's lieutenant Ashnod. The activation of the artifact triggers a blast, that destroys the site of the last battle, the island of Argoth, and thus ends the war by destroying both armies. In the aftermath of the conflict, the blast triggered by the Golgothian Sylex upsets the climate of Dominaria leading to an Ice Age. The culmination of Urza's and Mishra's conflict was revealed in the 1998 expansion set Urza's Saga.
The Brothers' War is a central piece of Magic lore in that the background stories of many Magic sets are in some way related to the character of Urza.
Antiquities cards come in two rarities, common and uncommon. The cards were sold in booster packs of 8 cards, 2 uncommon and 6 common. Of the uncommon cards in Antiquities 29 are U3, meaning that they appear three times on the uncommon print sheet. 4 are U2 and the remaining 26 uncommons are U1. These are usually dubbed the rares of the set. Also the card Tawnos's Weaponry, a U2, exists in two versions, one —barely noticeably— missing the circle behind the activation cost of the ability. For collector's purposes Tawnos's Weaponry is thus sometimes counted as two U1 cards. Of the commons 25 are C4. The remaining commons are 5 C2 and 11 C1. The C1 commons are usually dubbed as uncommons as a C1 card is exactly as rare as a U3 card. Denomination for the C2 varies.
Despite Antiquities design as a set revolving around artifacts, it was largely the lands from the set that had most impact on the game.
- Mishra's Factory — This was the first land that could turn into a creature. Its design had a strong impact on later lands that are able to become creatures (called "man lands"), leading to the design of the Urza's Legacy man lands and eventually the Worldwake man lands. Along with Strip Mine and the Urzatron lands, Mishra's Factory is also the first non-basic land card with varying artwork (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) . Mishra's Factory was reprinted in 4th Edition.
- Mishra's Workshop — The Workshop is a mainstay of many Vintage decks today due to its ability to provide its controller with a lot of mana quickly. Mishra's Workshop is banned from Legacy play, but the card is not restricted in Vintage. On the secondary market, the card is by far the most expensive from the Antiquities expansion.
- The Urzatron Lands — Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower. When combined, these lands can add 7 mana to their controller's mana pool. While it is unlikely to draw all three cards early from a deck of sixty cards, decks built around searching for any playing pieces of 'Tron' have been powerful tournament decks in the Standard and Extended formats. Most notably a combo deck built around Tooth and Nail was one of the strongest Standard decks for more than a year. The Urzatron lands were reprinted in Chronicles, 5th Edition, 8th Edition, and 9th Edition.
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