The article I wrote about Things WotC Would Rather You Not Remember got the most likes and shares of any since I started doing this column.
I guess people really like the clickbaity stuff. Or they like dirt.
I don’t have enough for a true sequel to that. How about things that are weird, but WotC doesn’t really care if you know them or not?
6 FUN RANDOM THINGS ABOUT MAGIC*
*things may not be random, or fun. Minimal research has been done.
There’s a Judge Hall of Fame
Truly the stuff of legend, Magic Judges are the adhesive that binds the tournament experience. There’s a saying among sports officials: “If the players remember who the referee was, the referee didn’t do their job well.”
Judges get to travel, and be part of the game at its highest levels. It’s a frustrating and wonderful experience. Where else do you get to dress like a Bavarian Nightclub owner and boss nerds around?
Evidently that wasn’t enough for some. You gotta have FAME!
I mean, as Halls-of-Fame go, it's not the worst. It's definitely got the highest percentage of people that start sentences with the word "Actually"
That's why I am officially announcing the first official Phyrexian Games Judge Hall of Fame. Ballots for the first class will be mailed shortly. They will only have my name, and a space for write-ins. Please don't fuck this up for me.
The Judge Hall of Fame was never sanctioned by WotC, and I understand they were more than a little pissed-off about it. They couldn’t do much, since they’re still claiming we judges aren’t employees, but they sure didn’t like it. Likewise, many players and even judges questioned the validity of such an institution.
The Magic Judge Hall of Fame still exists, but you won’t hear anything about it from official sources.
There have always been translation errors and mishaps in Magic. My favourite being the Spanish Mana Vault. One of the white-bordered editions of the Gathering (5th I think), gave us the Spanish Mana Vault. It cost one. It did not untap during your Untap step, and you could pay 4 to untap it during your upkeep.
That’s all it did. Most other Mana Vaults tapped for 3 mana. This one lacked that ability. But hey, at least it cost 1! (Also bear in mind that Donate was at least two years away.)
Not surprisingly, players South of the border weren’t all that enthralled with this...rare, and were genuinely confused as to why it sold for a not-zero amount of money.
There’s a Magic set that was never printed in English
Not long after Revised came out, WotC decided to do a white-bordered reprint set. Kind of a “best of” without pissing off the secondary market all that much. So...nothing good, but still stuff that was out of print.
They called it Chronicles. It was pretty cool. As a player kind of starting out around 1995, I was appreciative of the opportunity to get my hands on some truly mediocre cards.
However, the French, German, and Italian markets needed to get their mitts on some fresh reprints too! The decision was made to translate many of the cards that had only seen an English-language printing, and make a version of Chronicles just for those three markets.
Renaissance was a black-bordered set that was (at the time) highly-coveted by the US market, because the policy from WotC at the time was to not sell to vendors outside of the intended market. That meant no foreign cards unless you were willing to import them.
Pro Tip: If you ever see a Renaissance Draft advertised...run. It will cost you eleventy hundred dollars, and it will be the opposite of fun.
There are 36 different characters that are Planeswalkers in the game
That's right. Turns out the Gatewatch doesn't dominate the newest card type in Magic, but as you open that 12th mediocre Jace variant, your soul will appreciate the news that this isn't all there is.
Curiously, the original two Planeswalkers (Urza and Mishra) are not represented, despite having many cards and even sets named after them. (No, Blind Seer doesn’t count, you unbelievable dickbag!)
However, some of those are Tibalt. Yeah. Maybe Jace isn't so bad...
WotC took a LONG time to acknowledge multiplayer
It’s one of those weird things. You make a game. You tell people the rules, and then people will invariably mess with the formula. This isn’t done out of malice, rather it’s done to squeeze some life out of it, or perhaps adapt it to the style of a particular play group.
However, even as they were embracing Sealed Deck and Booster Draft as alternate play formats invented by outside sources, it took a few years to actually embrace multiplayer.
“But Ian”, I hear you say, “Why do they have to embrace anything? Surely people can just do whatever they like with the cards they own?”
First of all, how dare you speak to me.
Secondly, while that’s true, WotC officially making multiplayer part of their multiverse does some very powerful things:
-It unifies all of the rules. Before, in the Long Long Ago, different venues had different rules about how their multiplayer games worked. For example, where I started playing (LaserZone on Burelli Street in Wollongong), you couldn’t attack multiple people at once. Some groups had targeting restrictions, some said you could only attack the player to your left. Having a central authority dictate the rules made the game more accessible to everyone (and house rules could still exist, so people really lost nothing).
-Card templating and design would now take multiplayer into account. Instead of “Your opponent”, cards would now say “An opponent”. This was pretty big, since it killed 99% of arguments.
-It meant that WotC could now start selling products aimed at multiplayer groups. True, it would take like 15 years for them to do so, but people seemed to like Archenemy (which also wasn’t their idea, but that’s a more salacious story and I won’t betray confidence).
Fat Packs used to come with a Novel
Magic novels took off when the storyline was integrated in Tempest, but it was Mercadian Masques that introduced us to the Fat Pack and the Spindown die.
(Bonus fun fact. The name “Phat Pack” was suggested, but marketing assumed it was a typo and corrected it. I’m kind of glad they did.)
The original Fat Pack came with the die, a Masques starter and three boosters (equivalent of six boosters), a visual spoiler, a couple of foils, and a copy of the Mercadian Masques novel.
No box. No land (except in the starter)
I enjoyed this time, because people bought the Fat Packs to get at boosters if the store supply was low, or they really wanted those foils. (Back in those days, foils were money.) I was usually the one to sell it to them, and I would ask if they wanted the novel. I scored free novels this way.
I didn’t buy a single Magic novel until Dissension, because the story was that good. (Seriously, check out the original Ravnica novels by Cory Herndon. He’s an excellent writer.)
The novel lasted until Shards of Alara, Evidently, it was the least popular piece of the Fat Pack. Magic novels themselves would last a few more years.