Shards of Alara
|Shards of Alara|
|Bill Rose (design lead),|
Devin Low (development lead),
|same as Design Team|
|October 3, 2008|
Themes and mechanics
Keywords and/or ability words
|249 (101 Common 60 Uncommon 53 Rare 15 Mythic 20 Lands)|
|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. 
 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.  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. 
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. 
 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 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.
|“||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.    
 Planes Explorer
Planes Explorer is a Flash object that allows one to explore the flavor of the five shards of Alara.
Shards of Alara was sold in 75-card tournament decks, 16-card boosters, five intro packs and a fat pack.  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.
Starting with the Shards of Alara set, each booster pack contained the following: one basic land , 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).  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).  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. 
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.
 Tips & Tricks
The tips & tricks cards are:
- "Bant - Keyword: Exalted"
- "Esper - Theme: Colored Artifacts"
- "Grixis - Keyword: Unearth"
- "Jund - Keyword: Devour"
- "Naya - Theme: Power 5 or Greater".
The Shards of Alara tokens are: 
- 1/1 Soldier produced by Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Knight-Captain of Eos.
- artifact 0/1 Homunculus produced by Puppet Conjurer.
- artifact 1/1 Thopter with flying produced by Sharding Sphinx.
- 1/1 Skeleton with ": Regenerate this creature." produced by Skeletonize.
- 2/2 Zombie produced by Archdemon of Unx.
- 4/4 Dragon with flying produced by Broodmate Dragon and Sarkhan Vol.
- 1/1 Goblin produced by Dragon Fodder.
- */* Ooze produced by Ooze Garden.
- 1/1 Saproling produced by Jund Battlemage, Mycoloth, Necrogenesis and Sprouting Thrinax.
- 8/8 Beast produced by Godsire.
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 (primary, secondary): 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." 
- Esper (primary, secondary): The shard of Esper was given an emphasis on artifacts, including the first widespread use of artifacts with colored casting costs (Sarcomite Myr and Reaper King were earlier forays into this design space).
- Grixis (primary, secondary): 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." 
- Jund (primary, secondary): 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."  
- Naya (primary, secondary): The shard of Naya was given an emphasis on creatures with power of 5 or greater, "5-power matters".
Shards of Alara has 19 cycles:
- Common one-drops: Each of these common 1/1 creatures costs one mana — Akrasan Squire, Cathartic Adept, Deathgreeter, Goblin Mountaineer, and Wild Nacatl.
- Allied-colored two-drops: Each of these common creatures requires one mana each of two allied colors to cast — Deft Duelist, Tidehollow Strix, Goblin Deathraiders, Rip-Clan Crasher, and Steward of Valeron.
- Battlemages: Each of these uncommon 2/2 human creatures costs C and has two activated abilities corresponding to each of its allied colors — Bant Battlemage, Esper Battlemage, Grixis Battlemage, Jund Battlemage, and Naya Battlemage.
- Common tricolored creatures: Each of these common creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Waveskimmer Aven, Windwright Mage, Kederekt Creeper, Carrion Thrash, and Rakeclaw Gargantuan.
- Uncommon tricolored creatures: Each of these uncommon creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Rhox War Monk, Tower Gargoyle, Fire-Field Ogre, Sprouting Thrinax, and Woolly Thoctar.
- Mythic legends: Each of these mythic rare legendary creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Rafiq of the Many, Sharuum the Hegemon, Sedris, the Traitor King, Kresh the Bloodbraided, and Mayael the Anima.
- Heralds: Each of these uncommon 1/1 creatures has a converted mana cost of and has an activated ability with the cost "C, , Sacrifice a creature of this creature's color plus one of each of its allied colors" that allows you to search your library for its corresponding noble creature (see below) and put it into play — Angel's Herald, Sphinx's Herald, Demon's Herald, Dragon's Herald, and Behemoth's Herald.
- Noble creatures: Each of these mythic rare creatures has a mana cost of CDDE — Empyrial Archangel, Sphinx Sovereign, Prince of Thralls, Hellkite Overlord, and Godsire.
- Allied-ability creatures: Two cycles at common, with creatures having an activated ability with an allied-color cost. One goes clockwise around the color wheel, while the other goes counter-clockwise. Shore Snapper, Cloudheath Drake, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Cavern Thoctar, Viashino Skeleton; Undead Leotau, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Godtoucher, Vectis Silencers.
- Panoramas: Each of these common triple lands can be tapped for or sacrificed to search your library for a basic land of one of three types — Bant Panorama, Esper Panorama, Grixis Panorama, Jund Panorama, and Naya Panorama.
- Shardlands (or Trilands): Each of these uncommon triple lands comes into play tapped and can be tapped for one of three colors of mana — Seaside Citadel, Arcane Sanctum, Crumbling Necropolis, Savage Lands, and Jungle Shrine. These are strictly better than the old taplands.
- Obelisks: Each of these common artifacts can be tapped to add one of three mana to your mana pool — Obelisk of Bant, Obelisk of Esper, Obelisk of Grixis, Obelisk of Jund, and Obelisk of Naya.
- Common allied-colored spells: Each of these common allied-colored spells has two effects — Hindering Light, Agony Warp, Blightning, Branching Bolt, and Sigil Blessing.
- Resounding spells: Each of these common instant or sorcery spells have a base effect and can be cycled for CDE, where CDE are the card's shard colors, for twice the base effect — Resounding Silence, Resounding Wave, Resounding Scream, Resounding Thunder,  and Resounding Roar.
- Charms: Each of these uncommon instants costs CDE and has three modes — Bant Charm, Esper Charm, Grixis Charm, Jund Charm, and Naya Charm.
- Uncommon allied-colored spells: Each of these uncommon spells has a mana cost that includes two allied-colored mana — Kiss of the Amesha, Thoughtcutter Agent, Blood Cultist, Sangrite Surge, and Qasali Ambusher.
- Uncommon enemy-colored spells: Each of these uncommon spells has a mana cost that includes two enemy-colored mana — Tidehollow Sculler, Necrogenesis, Jhessian Infiltrator, Swerve, and Bull Cerodon.
- Ultimatums: Each of these rare sorceries costs CCDDDEE and has a powerful effect — Clarion Ultimatum, Brilliant Ultimatum, Cruel Ultimatum, Violent Ultimatum, and Titanic Ultimatum. 
- Rare tricolored spells: Each of these rare spells has a mana cost that includes CDE — Stoic Angel, Punish Ignorance, Sedraxis Specter, Broodmate Dragon, and Realm Razer.
Shards of Alara has 5 cycles of three cards, each missing the two colors not associated with its shard:
- Esper capsules: Each of these common artifacts can be sacrificed for an effect common to its color — Dispeller's Capsule, Courier's Capsule, Executioner's Capsule
- Jund scavengers: Each of these uncommon 1/1 creatures has "Whenever another creature is put into a graveyard from play, you may put a +1/+1 counter on this creature" — Scavenger Drake, Rockslide Elemental, and Algae Gharial.
- Naya cycling creatures: Each of these common creatures costs 5CC, has cycling and a power of 5 or more — Ridge Rannet, Jungle Weaver, and Yoked Plowbeast.
- Naya druids: Each of these uncommon 2/2 human druid creatures has a triggered ability that activates at the end of your turn as long as you control a creature with power 5 or greater and ": Add to your mana pool" — Exuberant Firestoker, Drumhunter, and Sunseed Nurturer.
- Naya "soul spells": Each of these common instants or sorceries has an effect based on the power of the creature it targets — Soul's Fire, Soul's Might, and Soul's Grace.
 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.
 Reprinted cards
The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Shards of Alara:
- Cancel — first printed in Time Spiral, was last seen in 10th Edition.
- Goblin Mountaineer — first printed in Portal Second Age, was last seen in 9th Edition.
- Hellkite Overlord — was previewed in From the Vault: Dragons.
- Infest — was last seen in Onslaught.
- Naturalize — first printed in Onslaught, was last seen in 10th Edition.
- Oblivion Ring — was last seen in Lorwyn.
 Functional reprints
- Cylian Elf is a functional reprint of Grizzly Bears from 10th Edition, Forest Bear from Portal Three Kingdoms, Balduvian Bears from Ice Age, Bear Cub from Portal Second Age, and Barbary Apes from Legends, save for creature types.
- Jhessian Lookout is a functional reprint of Coral Eel from 9th Edition, Coral Merfolk from 7th Edition, and Wu Infantry from Portal Three Kingdoms, save for creature types.
- Incurable Ogre is a colorshifted functional reprint of Dross Crocodile from 10th Edition.
- Banewasp Affliction is practically a colorshifted functional reprint of Creature Bond.
- Angelsong is a colorshifted functional reprint of Lull.
- Mighty Emergence lists collector number #137, should be #138.
- Manaplasm lists collector number #138, should be #137.
 Notable cards
- Ad Nauseam — main engine powering the Legacy ANT deck. 
- Blightning — one of the key Jund cards in Standard, also splashed in Red decks.
- Cruel Ultimatum — important card in Grixis and 5-color Control decks in Standard.
- Ethersworn Canonist — popular hate card against various decks, especially combo decks which rely on casting multiple spells in one turn.
- Hellkite Overlord — Was first released in From the Vault: Dragons, a special set predating Shards of Alara.
- Knight of the White Orchid — A popular Tithe variant, especially in combination with the Borderposts cycle from Alara Reborn.
- Ranger of Eos — Antoine Ruel's prize card for winning the 2006 Magic Invitational.
- Wild Nacatl — key creature in aggro decks such as Naya or Zoo. Wild Nacatl was later banned in Modern in December 2011. It was then unbanned in Modern in February 2014
 Intro packs
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||Foil rare|
|Bant Exalted||□||■||■||Battlegrace Angel |
|Esper Artifice||□||■||■||Master of Etherium  |
|Grixis Undead||■||■||■||Vein Drinker |
|Primordial Jund||■||■||■||Flameblast Dragon|
|Naya Behemoths||□||■||■||Spearbreaker Behemoth |
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- Mike Turian. (September 19, 2008.) "The Charm Peddler", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Kelly Digges. (September 23, 2008.) "Building a Better Overrun", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
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- Brian David-Marshall. (September 19, 2008.) "Drink Up", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (September 17, 2008.) "Time for Esper", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
|Expansions: Shards of Alara | Conflux | Alara Reborn|
|Shards: Bant | Esper | Grixis | Jund | Naya|
|Characters: Ajani | Elspeth Tirel | Nicol Bolas | Rafiq | Sarkhan Vol | Tezzeret|
|Others: Etherium | Jazal | Kathari | Leotau | Maelstrom|