|Early June, 1995|
Themes and mechanics
Keywords and/or ability words
(20 basic lands, 121 commons, 121 uncommons, 121 rares)
|Ice Age block sets|
|Ice Age||Alliances||Coldsnap[note 1]|
|Magic: The Gathering chronology|
|4th Edition||Ice Age||Chronicles|
 Set details
Ice Age contained 383 black-bordered cards (121 rare, 121 uncommon, 121 common, and 20 basic lands). It is notable for being the first standalone Magic expansion set; it could be played independently of other Magic products. Because of this, it was the first expansion to reprint all five basic lands, staple cards like Swords to Plowshares and Giant Growth and popular older cards. All in all the set included about 8% reprints of old cards and another 8% of the cards were functional reprints. Ice Age is the first expansion to use the new white mana symbol () that was first introduced in Fourth Edition and is still used today. It was also the first expansion to use the new tap symbol that was introduced in Fourth Edition.  Ice Age is the first expansion to have a cycle of "color hosing cards". The expansion symbol of the set is a snowflake, to symbolize the arctic nature of Dominaria at the time. 
Even though Alpha was released with the name "Magic: The Gathering" it wasn't originally Richard Garfield's intent that that would always be the name. His original idea was that the game would keep reinventing itself and when Ice Age came out, it would be named as "Magic: Ice Age".  The plan was scrapped for legal reasons and recognizability. 
Unlike earlier sets, Ice Age didn't have a fixed printrun, but was only available in a certain time period. It was released in early June 1995 and went out of print in February 1996, although it did not really dwindle in availability until the end of 1996. The print run is estimated at 500 million cards. The cards were sold in 60-card starter decks and 15-card boosters. Ice Age was the last set to have 10 starter decks in a box. It was the first expansion to have boosters with foil wrappers and artwork (Jester's Cap, Dire Wolves, Scaled Wurm, Pygmy Allosaurus, Karplusan Yeti) .
Ice Age was the first Magic expansion that was released in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. It was also the first set to have a prerelease tornament (Toronto, June 2-4, 1995).
 Flavor and storyline
The Ice Age storyline, like the earlier sets that took place on Dominaria, occurred on the continent of Terisiare, where the Brothers' War had taken place. That war ended with the Sylex Blast, which was powerful enough to alter the planet's climate. All the major civilizations of Terisiare had been destroyed by either the war or the ice. New cultures arose on the ice, fighting bitterly for survival, but when the necromancer Lim-Dûl unleashed a horde of undead, old enemies were forced to work together or be overwhelmed.
The setting was based largely off of Norse style mythology and culture. Names were largely Scandinavian in character, and occasional runes  and Norse-style clothing and armor can be seen in the art.
 Design & Development
The "East Coast playtesters", consisting of Skaff Elias, Jim Lin, and Dave Pettey, that had helped Richard Garfield with the original Alpha set of Magic decided that they could create a "more interesting" set. They were quickly asked by Richard Garfield to create a Magic expansion, and Chris Page was assigned to join the team.  At the time designers were given the freedom to either compose their sets entirely out of new cards or to use the commons from Alpha Edition and create only new uncommons and rares. The Ice Age group, who saw themselves as improving on Alpha Edition, chose to reuse many staple cards. The design goals are best described by Skaff Elias himself: "We wanted a set where flying was special, not just an extra word tacked on to every played creature. We wanted a set where the idea that a color was short on creatures meant something. We wanted a set where the 'allied' colors were played more often with each other than enemy colors were. We wanted strategy in simple creature combat as well as flashy enchantments that gave you cards for life. We wanted games to last longer (when we started the design of the set, the Magic environment was too fast due to unlimited card restrictions) and have more turnabouts." After Alpha Edition was published it was quickly realized that the players were ravenous for new cards and would not, at the time, stomach reprints of commons they had already seen. The presence of the reprinted commons would lead to the delayed release, and the redesign, of Ice Age. This was both good and bad for the set. More cards were created, some of which were slated to replace reprints, and more time was available to test those cards. Unfortunately, last-minute untested additions to improve the strength of the expansion's themes added complications to the cards and seemed clunky. Snow-covered lands were added late to improve the environmental theme, which could explain why the snow-covered mechanic was so poorly developed.
While the common reprints delayed the release of Ice Age, the timing for a standalone expansion was probably fortuitous, as it took time for Wizards of the Coast to collect and analyze feedback from the players and develop a plan for the long-term survival of the game. The idea of regularly recreating Magic is fundamental to the survival of the game, for which the Ice Age development team had to argue. The standalone style of this expansion was hotly debated at the time, but in the end proved to be a solid idea and important to the game and proved that players would eventually accept some reprints in an evolving game.
 Themes and mechanics
Ice Age introduced cumulative upkeep and snow lands (then called snow-covered lands) to the game. Cumulative upkeep is a cost on permanents that increases with each turn, and was used entirely as a disadvantage on cards with powerful and/or game-changing effects in this expansion. Snow-covered lands are a cycle of basic lands that also have the Snow supertype, which is meaningless by itself, but is referenced by other cards. This feature in the set is not very well developed and considered mostly a failure by the developers of the Alliances expansion, who chose not to expand much on this theme. Snow-covered lands inspired the creation of the Arcane spell type in the Kamigawa block.
Another popular mechanic introduced in Ice Age, but did not use a keyword: cantrips. These are spells that, in addition to a normal small effect, also replaced itself with a card draw. The typical formula for the mana cost of a cantrip was to add 2 to the cost of the effect, which was typically one colored mana for the typically small effect. Additionally, Ice Age set the precedent of such spells drawing a card during the next upkeep. This was done instead of today's simpler "Draw a card" because the developers were not sure if adding card drawing to simple spells would make them overpowered, and they chose to print a more conservative version of the ability. Delayed card drawing would continue on cantrips through the Visions expansion, when the delay was removed for being unnecessary.
Ice Age also had a theme of allied color cooperation, with cards of one color that required or were improved by the use of allied color mana. For example, Freyalise Supplicant is a green creature that requires you to sacrifice a white or red creature, and Word of Undoing is a blue instant that returns a creature to owner's hand, as well as any white Auras you control on that creature.
Ice Age was designed thematically for slow play, with very few creatures with evasion abilities. As a result, Ice Age limited play is often characterized by long games with non-flying creature stalls, as Magic sets were not yet designed specifically to support limited play.
 Creature types
Ice Age featured the return of various familiar creature types and also introduced numerous novel ones, some subtypes of which were exclusive to, and even shared the name of, the creature cards on which they were printed. This was not, by the standard practices of the time, unusual, as the design and development of Ice Age was prior to Magic: The Gathering's release to the general public. Since then, several of these unique creature types have been supplanted with other, more-appropriate or more-established creature types or been entirely removed in successive iterations of errata and the Grand Creature Type Update. Not unusual for those times, creature types — namely Barbarian, Bear, Fox, Dryad, Goblins, Insect, Knight, Mammoth (now Elephant), Mercenary, Orc, Soldier, Zombies, Wolf, Worm — were printed with the plural number (or, informally, "form").
The following creature types were introduced in Ice Age:
- Blinking Spirit (superseded by Spirit)
- Brownie (superseded by Ouphe)
- Dead (superseded by Zombie)
- Dinosaur (superseded by Lizard)
- Dog (superseded by Hound)
- Erne (superseded by Bird)
- Fiend (superseded by Horror)
- Frostbeast (superseded)
- Gorilla Pack (superseded by Ape)
- Hipparion (superseded by Horse)
- Infernal Denizen (superseded by Demon)
- Lemure (superseded by Spirit)
- Mage (superseded by Wizard)
- Mistfolk (superseded by Illusion)
- Pyknite (superseded by Ouphe)
- Ranger (deprecated)
- Shyft (superseded by Shapeshifter)
- Tarpan (superseded by Horse)
- Tiger (superseded by Cat)
- Toad (superseded by Frog)
- Wight (superseded by Zombie)
- Wiitigo (superseded by Yeti)
|Cycle name||Description and notes||White card(s)||Blue card(s)||Black card(s)||Red card(s)||Green card(s)|
|Circles of Protection||Each of these uncommon white enchantment cards costs and has an activated ability costing to prevent all of the damage that a source of a given color and of the controller's choice would deal to him or her in a given turn.||Circle of Protection: White||Circle of Protection: Blue||Circle of Protection: Black||Circle of Protection: Red||Circle of Protection: Green|
|Scarabs||Each of these uncommon white aura enchantment cards costs and has "Enchant creature", "Enchanted creature can't be blocked by [given color] creatures.", and "Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 as long as an opponent controls a [given color] permanent.".||White Scarab||Blue Scarab||Black Scarab||Red Scarab||Green Scarab|
|Monocolored hosers||Each of these cards "hoses" opponents for playing lands associated with one of the card's enemy colors and/or for playing spells of one the card's enemy colors by "punishes", or exerting a negative effect on, opponents.Amongst these, the blue-versus-red/red-versus-blue and black-versus-green/green-versus-black hosers are also mirrored pairs.All of these cards, save for Wrath of Marit Lage and Curse of Marit Lage, which are rare, are uncommon.||Drought
|Wrath of Marit Lage
(anti-red)Breath of Dreams
|Stench of Evil
(anti-white)Curse of Marit Lage
|Multicolored hosers||Each of these rare bicolored cards, of an allied color pairing, benefits its controller by directly or indirectly "hosing" opponents for playing lands associated with the card's common enemy color and/or for playing spells of the card's enemy colors by "punishes", or exerting a negative effect on, opponents.The black/red Ghostly Flame, in and of itself, does not "hose" white, the shared enemy color of the card; rather, it may confer an advantage to black and/or red players by changing the "color of damage" from black and/or red sources to "colorless damage".||Glaciers
|Tricolored spells||Each of these rare tricolored spells costs NCDE, where C and E are two colors of mana that are allied with D, a third color of mana.||Storm Spirit
|Merieke Ri Berit
|Talismans||Each of these uncommon artifact cards costing have a triggered ability that allows its controller to pay whenever a spell of a given color is cast to untap a target permanent.||Nacre Talisman||Lapis Lazuli Talisman||Onyx Talisman||Hematite Talisman||Malachite Talisman|
|Depletion lands||Each of these rare dual lands has a mana ability ": Add C or D to your mana pool. [This] doesn't untap during its controller's next untap phase.", where C and D are allied colors of mana.These lands are so named as their "doesn't untap" drawback previously used depletion counters as a reminder of the fact that they could not untap during the next untap phase.||Land Cap
|Pain lands||Each of these rare dual lands has two mana abilities; ": Add to your mana pool." and ": Add C or D to your mana pool. [This] deals 1 damage to you.", where C and D are allied colors of mana.||Adarkar Wastes
 Mirrored pairs
Ice Age has eight mirrored pairs:
- Blasts: These common modal instants, one blue and one red, both have a casting cost of C and can be cast to either counter a spell of the other's color or to destroy a permanent of the other's color — Hydroblast, Pyroblast.
- Counter knights: These rare 2/2 Knight creatures, one white and one black, both have a casting cost of CC and can be tapped to counter a spell of the other's color at the cost of 1 life — Order of the Sacred Torch and Stromgald Cabal.
- Evasion spirits: These uncommon Elemental Spirit creatures, one blue and one red, both have a mana cost of C and an ability that limits an opponent's ability to block it — Wind Spirit and Stone Spirit.
- Green landwalkers: These rare green creatures each have landwalk for one of green's enemy colors — Pale Bears and Pygmy Allosaurus.
- Marit Lage enchantments: These rare enchantments named for the being Marit Lage, one blue and one red, both cost 3CC and inhibit resources associated with the other's color — Wrath of Marit Lage and Curse of Marit Lage
- Order knights: These uncommon 2/1 Knight creatures, one white and one black, both cost CC and have protection from the other's color, "C: [This] gains first strike until end of turn", and "CC: [This] gets +1/+0 until end of turn" — Order of the White Shield and Knight of Stromgald.
- Planeswalker enchantments: These uncommon enchantments, one black and one green, both have a casting cost of CC and an activated ability that confers card advantage at the cost of CC over opponents playing with the other's color and have "CC: Return [this] to its owner's hand." Each is named for one of the planeswalkers who impacted the Ice Age storyline — Leshrac's Sigil and Freyalise's Charm.
- Pump spirits: There uncommon 2/3 Elemental Spirit creatures, one blue and one red, both have a mana cost of C and "C: [This] gets +1/+0 until end of turn" — Sea Spirit, Flame Spirit.
 Notable cards
- Brainstorm was certainly less powerful than Ancestral Recall, but it is still a notably powerful card that continues to see lots of play in the formats it remains legal in.
- Demonic Consultation was initially considered to be too risky, but it eventually proved to be a solid tutoring spell and proved just how valuable tutoring spells really are. It, too, was later banned.
- Fyndhorn Elves adds mana acceleration to a Stompy deck together with Llanowar Elves, of which it is a functional reprint.
- Illusions of Grandeur gained fame when it was combined with Donate to gain 20 life and force an opponent to pay its Cumulative Upkeep until they lost 20 life.
- Incinerate was initially seen as only a weakened version of Lightning Bolt, but it has since also been decided to be too powerful for its cost until its return in Tenth Edition.
- Jester's Cap was, at the time, the most valuable card in the expansion for its ability to interfere with an opponent's strategy. It has since been overshadowed and is now seldom played.
- Necropotence was originally dismissed as a bad rare and even called the worst rare of the set by InQuest Magazine. It later became the centerpiece of the powerful, mono-black deck of the same name. The deck was so powerful that its reign is often called "Black Summer" or "The Summer of Necro." Several cards from the deck were later banned, but Necropotence appeared again later in several other decks, and was finally banned itself. 
- Pox had a powerful tournament deck built around it.
- Pyroclasm is a powerful, inexpensive board-clearing effect that continues to see play today.
- Stormbind is a recurring source of damage from a time when they were much harder to come by. It was a powerful tournament card at the time, comboing well with Whiteout for added effect.
- Urza's Bauble is one of only two cantrips in existence, without any costs attached. Although it does next to nothing, the card would be very good if it wouldn't be a slowtrip.
- Zuran Orb is a powerful and zero cost artifact that gives any deck life-gain, and was notorious for prolonging games. It eventually was banned or restricted in every sanctioned format it could have been played in as a result.
 Reprinted cards
- Ice Age is the first expansion to include true reprints. These cards were considered to be the defining cards of their colors, and all of them came from the Core Set in print at the time.
- Circle of Protection: Black — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Circle of Protection: Blue — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Circle of Protection: Green — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Circle of Protection: Red — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Circle of Protection: White — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Counterspell — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Dark Ritual — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Death Ward — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Disenchant — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Fear — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Giant Growth — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Howl From Beyond — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Hurricane — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Icy Manipulator — was last seen in Unlimited.
- Lure — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Power Sink — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Regeneration — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Shatter — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Sleight of Mind — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Stone Rain — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Swords to Plowshares — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- Wild Growth — was last seen in 4th Edition.
- the Basic lands.
 Functional reprints
Ice Age has ten functional reprints:
- Balduvian Bears is a functional reprint of Grizzly Bears from 4th Edition and Barbary Apes from Legends (save for creature type).
- Fyndhorn Elves is a functional reprint of Llanowar Elves from 4th Edition.
- Hydroblast is a functional reprint of Blue Elemental Blast from 4th Edition (save for a slight rules side case)
- Juniper Order Druid is a functional reprint of Ley Druid from 4th Edition.
- Kjeldoran Warrior is a functional reprint of Benalish Hero from 4th Edition, save for creature type.
- Knight of Stromgald is a functional reprint of Order of the Ebon Hand from Fallen Empires, save for creature type.
- Moor Fiend is a functional reprint of Bog Wraith from 4th Edition, save for creature type.
- Orcish Cannoneers is a functional reprint of Orcish Artillery from 4th Edition.
- Order of the White Shield is a functional reprint of Order of Leitbur from Fallen Empires, save for creature type.
- Pyroblast is a functional reprint of Red Elemental Blast from 4th Edition (save for a slight rules side case)
- Tor Giant is a functional reprint of Hill Giant from 4th Edition.
- Zuran Spellcaster is a functional reprint of Prodical Sorcerer from 4th Edition.
- Balduvian Shaman - The first word in the text box is spelled Permanantly instead of Permanently.
- Johtull Wurm - In the text box of the card, it refers to itself as Johtull Worm instead of Wurm.
- Jokulhaups is a type of mudslide that occurs when a volcano erupts beneath a glacier. It is actually misspelled and should be Jökulhlaup.
- Previously Homelands.
- Magic Arcana. (February 6, 2003.) "White mana symbol", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (July 12, 2004.) "The Changing Tap Symbol", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth. (October 31, 2006.) "Ask Wizards", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Richard Garfield. (August 17, 2009.) "The Expanding Worlds of Magic", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (February 16, 2009.) "25 Random Things About Magic", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (July 18, 2005.) "Hiding In Plain Sight", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (February 15, 2002.) "Norse runes", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (July 6, 2003.) "Of Ice and Men", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Gottlieb. (August 29, 2007.) "Masters Edition Update Bulletin", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Gottlieb. (September 26, 2007.) "The Grand Creature Type Update", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 02, 2004.) "Ice Guys Finish First", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Ice Age product information page — Wizards of the Coast
- Skaff Elias. (August 2, 2004.) "The Dawn of Magic's Ice Age", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana. (August 02, 2004.) "Duelist Flashback: "In Control" by Jim Lin", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. (August 4, 2004.) "Ice Age Factoids and Statistics", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast. (2004.) "Ice Age faq", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.