The Rath Block (also known as the Tempest block) is a block of three Magic: The Gathering expansions that continues the events of the Weatherlight Saga. It consists of Tempest (October 1997), Stronghold (March 1998) and Exodus (June 1998). These are the 20th, 21st and 22nd expansion sets, respectively.
The crew of Weatherlight approaches Volrath's Stronghold in search for Sisay and the missing pieces of the Legacy. Deep in the Dream Halls, Gerrard learns that Volrath was his former blood brother Vuel and the one who stole the Legacy. What appears to be a final conflict between Gerrard and Volrath ends instead with the death of an imposter shapeshifter.
The crew of Weatherlight has rescued the pieces of the Legacy and Captain Sisay, and now must retreat through Volrath's Stronghold and escape to the portal that would lead them off of Rath. Volrath and his main lieutenant Greven il-Vec will stop at nothing to destroy them and reclaim the ancient artifacts that will allow Volrath to oppose his hidden master. However, they must also stave off the combined assault of Volrath's Stronghold by the elves of the Skyshroud forest and the human tribes of the Kor, Vec, and Dal, recently reunited by Gerrard of Weatherlight. Also, a disturbing change has happened to Crovax, the noble who accompanied Weatherlight to Rath. His newly formed bloodlust and thirst for power threatens to destroy the entire ship.
Tempest was the second set and the first standalone in the Weatherlight Saga, a continuous storyline for over four years' worth of Magic expansions. The release of Tempest represented a large jump in the power level of the card set, compared to the previous Mirage block. Many cards from Tempest instantly became (and still are) tournament staples. Its expansion symbol is a cloud, with a lightning bolt erupting out. On 8 December 2008 Tempest was released for Magic: The Gathering Online.
Originally Tempest was intended to have a major "poison" theme, but in the end all poison cards were pulled from the set.
Exodus is the first set to make a card's rarity visibly apparent on the card itself. All previous expansions had no way to tell whether a card was a common card or a rare card. From Exodus on, the expansion symbol reveals what rarity a card is. If a card has a black expansion symbol, it is a common card (there are eleven common cards in a fifteen-card booster pack). If it has a silver expansion symbol, it is an uncommon card (three in a booster pack). If it has a gold expansion symbol, it is a rare card (one in a booster pack).
Exodus is also the first set to add collectors' numbers to the cards themselves. Next to the copyright information are two numbers in the format X/Y, where X is the card's collectors' number and Y the number of cards in the set in question. The cards were numbered in alphabetical order by color according to the Magic color wheel, starting with white and going clockwise. Exodus is also the first set to center the artist and copyright information at the bottom of the card, rather than have that information aligned to the left side of the card. This change persisted until the card design change in 8th Edition.
Tempest Remastered is the Magic Online exclusive set which will be released in May 6, 2015. The set featured a selected-269 cards (including basic lands) from the above 3 expansions. Although most cards will retain its original illustration, all cards will be using the most recent card layout and rarity level instead of original one.
Tempest introduced two new keyworded mechanics to Magic: buyback and shadow. Buyback appeared on instants and sorceries. Spells with buyback had an optional buyback cost which, if paid, caused the spell to return to its owner's hand after being cast instead of being placed in the graveyard. Shadow was an ability on white, black and blue creatures, which mandated that those creatures could only block or be blocked by creatures with shadow. Tempest also introduced several new creature types. One of these was slivers, a type of creature that shared their abilities with other Slivers in play. Slivers continued into Stronghold, and later made appearances in Legions, Scourge, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight and Magic 2014. It also introduced Licids, a creature type that had the ability to become creature enchantments. It also introduced a cycle "stuck" or "slow" lands, uncommon lands that add mana of two allied colors, but when used, did not untap on your next turn, and medallions, a very popular cycle of artifacts, one for each color, that reduced the cost of spells of the appropriate color. Tempest introduced enchantments that gain counters each turn, as well has spells whose effects start small and grow each time a copy of the spell is played. Both of these mechanics would be used in subsequent sets.
Stronghold used many of the same mechanics as Tempest, including buyback, licids, and shadow. A prominent creature type in Stronghold is the Spikes. While first introduced in Tempest, Stronghold greatly expanded on this creature type that can make other creatures larger. Another creature type from Stronghold were the En-Kor, creatures that can redirect damage they suffer to other creatures, thus making them almost invulnerable to damage.
As was done in Ice Age and Mirage, Tempest continued to import staple cards from earlier sets into the current environment. In addition, a couple of newer staples from Mirage and Visions were reprinted. Tempest also printed a number of cards that combined abilities of older cards with the "buyback" keyword. An example of this is Elvish Fury, which is similar to Giant Growth. Tempest also attempted to fix a number of classic but overpowered cards.
Exodus introduces no new keywords or mechanics, but it did use the Buyback and Shadow mechanics introduced in Tempest. There were two cycles in Exodus called by the name of "underdog" cards The first cycle are the Oaths, one rare enchantment of each color, that would check a resource of each player and then balance them out. There were also the keepers, that were weaker creature versions of the oaths, and uncommon.