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Shards of Alara

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Shards of Alara
Shards of Alara
Set symbol
ALA symbol.png
Design team
Bill Rose (design lead),
Devin Low (development lead),
Aaron Forsythe,
Mark Globus,
Mark Gottlieb,
Graeme Hopkins,
Alexis Janson,
Erik Lauer,
Michael Mikaelian,
Kenneth Nagle,
Matt Place,
Mark Rosewater,
Brian Tinsman,
Mike Turian,
Noah Weil
Development team
same as Design Team
Release date
October 3, 2008
Themes and mechanics
Three-color play,
Colored artifacts,
Large creatures
Keywords and/or ability words
Cycling,
Devour,
Exalted,
Unearth
Set size
249 (101 Common 60 Uncommon 53 Rare 15 Mythic 20 Lands)
Expansion code
ALA
Development code name
Rock
Alara block sets
Shards of Alara Conflux Alara Reborn
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Masters Edition II Shards of Alara Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra

Shards of Alara is the forty-seventh Magic expansion and was released October 2008 as the first set in the Alara block. The prerelease events for this set were held on September 27-28, 2008. Release events were held on October 3, 2008, the same day the set went on sale. [1]

Contents

[edit] Set details

Shards of Alara was the first set to follow a new packaging policy, which amongst other things introduced a new rarity level called mythic rare, as well as the replacement of one of the commons in a booster pack with a basic land (the first time this was done outside of a core set). After evaluating the set sizes, Wizards of the Coast decided that card sets would be smaller than they had traditionally been. Initial sets of a block were now 249 cards (101 Common, 60 Uncommon, 53 Rare, 15 Mythic, 20 Basic Lands) instead of the approximately 300 cards of previous expansions. [2] Shards of Alara heralded the return of planeswalker cards, and introduceed the first multicolored planeswalkers.

Shards of Alara design, was anything but typical. Design lead Bill Rose assembled no fewer than fifteen people on five teams, one for each of the five three-color shards. Each of the five shards has its own game play themes, and its own stable of artists. The expansion symbol of the set is a representation of the five shards. [3]

In light of the flavor of the shards, Shards of Alara launch parties (October 3–6, 2008) were Wizards Play Network events that featured a new format: the Theme Tournament. Designed to highlight the fun and flavorful aspects of the set, the Theme Tournaments had the same structure as the prerelease tournaments (Sealed Deck format in which each player receives one tournament pack and three boosters), with a few additional rules. As players build their decks, they had to choose one of the five shards (Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, or Naya). The mana cost of each card in a player's deck could contain only mana symbols that matched the chosen shard's three colors (mana symbols in a card's text box were ignored). Colorless cards could be played in any deck. In addition, a deck could not generate mana outside its shard's colors. Any card which would generate mana of a color that doesn't match the chosen shard generates colorless mana instead. [4]

[edit] Collector numbers

Shards of Alara contains many colored artifacts. These cards were sorted alphabetically into their color when determining collector numbers. For example, the colored artifact Executioner's Capsule (which requires Manab.gif to cast) is placed alphabetically between the black cards Dregscape Zombie and Fleshbag Marauder. Colored artifacts which require multiple colors are alphabetized among the multicolored cards. As usual, the artifacts which have a colorless casting cost are alphabetized together and appear numerically between the multicolored cards and the nonbasic lands.

[edit] Flavor

Five worlds share one fate.

Alara was a single plane once, a massive world rich with mana. However, those same resources led to its downfall, for an unknown planeswalker tore the plane asunder millennia ago, harvesting it of its mana. This disaster broke Alara along color lines into incomplete planes called shards, as light is diffracted by a prism. The shards recovered their mana in time, but only in part. Each shard is vastly different, as the combinations of triple-colored mana have shaped natural and cultural forces on each world in distinctive ways. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Main articles: Alara and Alara Unbroken

[edit] Planes Explorer

Planes Explorer is a Flash object that allows one to explore the flavor of the five shards of Alara.

[edit] Marketing

Shards of Alara was sold in 75-card tournament decks, 16-card boosters, five intro packs and a fat pack. [9] It was the last set to feature tournament decks; in these, any number of the usual rares could have been replaced with mythic rares. The intro packs replaced the traditional preconstructed theme decks and the 2-Player Starter Set. The fat pack's content was changed replacing the novel with a brief introduction of the expansion's respective novel or Planeswalker's Guide. The Pro Tour Player Cards were discontinued. The Alara block was accompanied by only one novel: Alara Unbroken, written by by Doug Beyer and the Planeswalker's Guide to Alara, written by written by Doug Beyer and Jenna Helland.

The promotional card given to participants at both the Prerelease and Release events was Ajani Vengeant, one of the mythic rare planeswalkers, with alternate artwork. [10]

Starting with the Shards of Alara set, each booster pack contained the following: one basic land [11], ten commons, three uncommons, one rare or mythic rare, and 1 non-game marketing card. If the pack happened to contain a foil premium card, it would do so in place of one of the commons, regardless of that premium card's rarity. (Every game card in the set can appear as a regular card or as a premium card). [12] The boosters featured artwork from Steward of Valeron (with white background), Sphinx Sovereign (with blue background), Sedris, the Traitor King (with black background), Hellkite Overlord (with red background) and Godsire (with green background). [13] An all-foil booster pack containing cards from Shards of Alara and the other two sets of the block was released on January 8th, 2010. [14]

The sixteenth card in the boosters is either a "flavor/shard card", instead of the usual "rules card", or a creature token. One face has one of five shard flavor cards or is one of ten different creature tokens. The other face has one of six advertisements for organized play programs, Conflux , Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra, fat packs, magicthegathering.com, Magic Online, A Planeswalker's Guide to Alara and Ultra Pro products for Magic.

[edit] Tips & Tricks

The tips & tricks cards are:

[edit] Tokens

The Shards of Alara tokens are: [15]

[edit] Mechanics

Though the set as a whole has multicolored cards as an overarching theme, due to the setting being split into five "shards" with no contact with each other, each shard was given its own distinct mechanical theme.

  • Bant (primaryManaw.gif, secondaryManag.gifManau.gif): The shard of Bant was given the Exalted ability, which reads, "Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, that creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn." [16]
  • Esper (primaryManau.gif, secondaryManaw.gifManab.gif): The shard of Esper was given an emphasis on artifacts, including the first widespread use of artifacts with colored casting costs (Sarcomite Myr[17] and Reaper King were earlier forays into this design space).
  • Grixis (primaryManab.gif, secondaryManau.gifManar.gif): The shard of Grixis was given the Unearth ability, which reads, "X: Return this creature from your graveyard to play. It gains haste. Remove it from the game at end of turn or if it would leave play. Unearth only as a sorcery." [18]
  • Jund (primaryManar.gif, secondaryManab.gifManag.gif): The shard of Jund was given the Devour N ability, which reads, "As this comes into play, you may sacrifice any number of creatures. This creature comes into play with N +1/+1 counters on it for each creature sacrificed in this way." [19] [20]
  • Naya (primaryManag.gif, secondaryManar.gifManaw.gif): The shard of Naya was given an emphasis on creatures with power of 5 or greater, "5-power matters".

Shards of Alara also featured the return of cycling for the third time (or fourth, including Future Sight) since the Urza block.

[edit] Cycles

Shards of Alara has 19 cycles:

Creature Cycles

Other Cycles

[edit] Mini-cycles

Shards of Alara has 5 cycles of three cards, each missing the two colors not associated with its shard:

[edit] Mirrored pairs

Shards of Alara has two mirrored pairs.

  • Marble Chalice and Onyx Goblet are both common artifacts that cost 2C, and have a tap ability. The former causes you to gain one life, whilst the latter causes a player to lose 1 life.

[edit] Reprinted cards

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Shards of Alara:

[edit] Functional reprints

This is the first expansion set to have functional reprints since Lorwyn. Shards of Alara has three functional reprints:

[edit] Colorshifted

[edit] Misprints

[edit] Notable cards

[edit] Intro packs

Previous to Shards of Alara, there were theme decks. Intro packs premiered in Shards of Alara. All of the intro packs are 3 colors based on their shard. [28] [29]

Intro pack contents included:

  • a 41-card preconstructed deck, which included 1 premium foil rare and one non-premium rare
  • a booster pack of the current set
  • a set-specific insert explaining the new mechanics in the set and info on the preconstructed decks included in the intro packs
  • a learn-to-play insert for new players that includes game rules, deck building tips, and storyline information

The preconstructed intro packs are:

Intro pack name
Colors included
Foil rare
White Blue Black Red Green
Bant Exalted Battlegrace Angel [30]
Esper Artifice Master of Etherium [30] [31]
Grixis Undead Vein Drinker [30]
Primordial Jund Flameblast Dragon
Naya Behemoths Spearbreaker Behemoth [30]

[edit] References

  1. Wizards of the Coast. (March 18, 2008.) "Announcing Shards of Alara", Magic Arcana, MTG.com.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (June 2, 2008.) "The Year of Living Changerously", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. magicthegathering.com Staff. (October 13, 2008.) "Five Teams Share One Fate", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Shards of Alara FAQ
  5. Doug Beyer. (September 08, 2008.) "Alara, a World Broken", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Wizards of the Coast. (September, 2008.) "Explore Shards of Alara", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Richard Whitters. (September 15, 2008.) "Ripping a World Apart", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Rei Nakazawa. (October 20, 2008.) "A Shards Day's Night", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana. (September 01, 2008.) "Shards of Alara Fat Pack", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Magic Arcana. (August 21, 2008.) "Shards of Alara Prerelease Card", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Wizards of the Coast. (June 2, 2008.) "Changes as of Shards of Alara", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater. (August 05, 2013.) "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Magic Arcana. (August 26, 2008.) "Shards of Alara Boosters", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Magic Arcana. (September 29, 2009.) "The All-Foil Booster", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Wizards of the Coast. (October 1, 2008.) "More Shards of Alara Tokens", Magic Arcana, MTG.com.
  16. Mark Rosewater. (September 8, 2008.) "Between a Rock and a Shard Place", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Rosewater. (September 22, 2008.) "Shard Tricks", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mike Turian. (September 12, 2008.) "The Specter of the Present", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater. (September 15, 2008.) "Shard Candy", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Matt Place. (December 05, 2008.) "Predator and Prey", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Doug Beyer. (September 24, 2008.) "Alive and Unwell", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Kelly Digges. (September 9, 2008.) "The Riddle of the Sphinx", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Jacob Van Lunen. (September 11, 2008.) "Show Your True Colors", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Tim Willoughby. (September 22, 2008.) "Shards of Alara Prerelease Primer", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Mike Turian. (September 19, 2008.) "The Charm Peddler", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Kelly Digges. (September 23, 2008.) "Building a Better Overrun", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater. (September 29, 2008.) "Cards of Alara", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Magic Arcana. (September 22, 2008.) "Intro Packs of Alara", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Magic Arcana. (September 23, 2008.) "More intro Packs of Alara", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Brian David-Marshall. (September 19, 2008.) "Drink Up", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Doug Beyer. (September 17, 2008.) "Time for Esper", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.

[edit] External links

Alara block
Expansions: Shards of Alara | Conflux | Alara Reborn
Alara storyline
Shards: Bant Manag.gifManaw.gifManau.gif | Esper Manaw.gifManau.gifManab.gif | Grixis Manau.gifManab.gifManar.gif | Jund Manab.gifManar.gifManag.gif | Naya Manar.gifManag.gifManaw.gif
Characters: Ajani | Elspeth Tirel | Nicol Bolas | Sarkhan Vol | Tezzeret
Others: Etherium | Jazal | Kathari | Leotau | Maelstrom

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