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Urza's Saga

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Urzas Saga logo.png
Set symbol
Urzas Saga symbol.png
Symbol description
Gears
Design team
Mike Elliott (lead)
Richard Garfield
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Development team
Mike Elliott (lead)
William Jockusch
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Henry Stern
with contributions from Beth Moursund
Art Director
Ron Spears
Release date
October 1998
Themes and mechanics
Free spells, Growing enchantments and Sleeping enchantments
Keywords and/or ability words
Cycling, Echo
Set size
350 (110 Common 110 Uncommon 110 Rare 20 Land)
Expansion code
USG
Development codename
Armadillo [1]
Urza's block sets
Urza's Saga Urza's Legacy Urza's Destiny
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Unglued Urza's Saga Anthologies

Urza's Saga is the fifteenth Magic expansion and was released in October 1998 as the first set in the Urza's block.

Set details[edit]

The rarity break down of the 350 black-bordered set is 110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, and 20 basic lands. Urza's Saga's expansion symbol is a set of gears, highlighting the artifacts theme of the set, and meant to symbolize Urza’s experiments in finding a means to defeat Phyrexia. [2] R&D originally envisioned Urza's Saga (and the further block) to be centered on the enchantment theme. [3] But the creative team told them that this block was going to be all about Urza, the greatest artificer of all time. By further referring to the block and the companion books as the "Artifacts Cycle", the original idea disappeared from view. It didn't help that that the set contained some very powerful artifacts and artifact-themed cards like Fluctuator and Tolarian Academy. In fact so many broken cards were in the set that the following period became known as Combo Winter. Players believed that too many overpowered cards and combos filled all the tournament formats. [4] This moved the DCI to ban a large amount of cards in December 1998.

Marketing[edit]

Urza's Saga was the first to replace 60-card starter decks with 75-card tournament decks. Cards were also sold in 15-card boosters and four preconstructed theme decks. Each booster contained 15 cards: 11 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare. The packs featured artwork from Herald of Serra, Chimeric Staff and Phyrexian Colossus. The design change from 60 card starter decks to 75 card tournament decks was made to make it easier to run Sealed deck tournaments. The prerelease for Urza's Saga (September 26, 1998) gave away foil copies of the card Lightning Dragon as a promotion. This was the first release of a foil card in Magic although the next set in the block, Urza's Legacy, had them inserted randomly into booster packs.

Written by Duelist Executive Editor Will McDermott, the The Official Guide to Urza's Saga takes a card-by-card look at spells, artifacts and specialty lands in set. In addition to the card analysis, the Guide includes images of every card in the expansion and presents an unique look at Urza's story from the explosive end of the Brothers' War to his discovery of the Thran Mana Rig.

Storyline[edit]

From the perilous domains of Phyrexia and Shiv to the splendor of Serra's Realm, Argoth, and Tolaria, he travels the planes seeking weapons to destroy the dark forces that stalk him. [5] New magic discovered. New power revealed. Urza's Saga has begun.

Hundreds years have passed since the Brothers' War, but many things that started there are only now coming to fruition. Urza's Saga departs from the story of Gerrard and Volrath in a flashback, showing the origins of the Legacy. The readers meet Teferi in his student days and Serra at the peak of her power.

Mechanics and themes[edit]

Like many earlier blocks, Urza's Saga did not have an overarching theme, though it did have an emphasis on enchantments and artifacts. The popular cycling keyword, which allowed players to discard unwanted cards to draw new ones, was introduced in this set. Echo, a keyword requiring a second mana payment on a permanent in exchange for higher than usual stats, also debuted in Urza's Saga. [6]

Non-keyworded abilities appearing in Urza's Saga include free spells, growing enchantments and sleeping enchantments.

Misprints[edit]

Creature types[edit]

No new creature types were introduced in this expansion.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Ape, Avatar, Beast, Bird, Boar, Cat, Centaur, Cleric, Crab, Djinn, Dragon, Drake, Elemental, Elf, Enchantress (later changed to Druid), Giant, Goblin, Hippo, Horror, Illusion, Imp, Insect, Knight, Lizard, Merfolk, Pegasus, Shade, Shapeshifter, Skeleton, Snake, Soldier, Spirit, Thrull, Treefolk, Troll, Viashino, Wall, Whale, Wizard, Worm, Wurm, Zombie.

Cycles[edit]

Urza's Saga has seven cycles:

Mega cycle[edit]

Preconstructed decks[edit]

Urza's Saga has four theme decks. The expansion was the first one to feature a three-colored theme deck.[8]

Theme deck name
Colors included
White Blue Black Red Green
The Plague
Sleeper
Special Delivery
Tombstone

Notable cards[edit]

  • Congregate — Strong in multiplayer-games.
  • Corrupt — Finisher and life-gainer for mono-black decks who used Yawgmoth's Bargain.
  • Duress — For a long time this was the best discard card, now often replaced by Thoughtseize.
  • Fluctuator — A card to take advantage of cycling by reducing cycling costs to nothing.
  • Gaea's Cradle — The green land accelerating elf decks like crazy. Often used in combination with Priest of Titania.
  • Gamble — A strong but risky red tutor.
  • Great Whale — Together with Recurring Nightmare made a strong infinite mana combo-deck.
  • Goblin Lackey — One of the most sought after Goblins.
  • Karn, Silver Golem — The first legendary artifact creature.
  • Morphling — Nicknamed Superman.
  • Phyrexian Processor — Often saw play in artifact-decks. In legitimate play, the most commonly played number was 7, as it pays the least for the highest yield.
  • Priest of Titania — Made big mana in block green control decks.
  • Serra's Sanctum — The white land still being played in the Legacy deck Turbo Enchantress.
  • Sneak Attack — An enchantment that had entire decks build around it. Often used in combination with Serra Avatar and Crater Hellion.
  • Smokestack — Still is the basis of many "Stax"-decks, like the old vintage UbaStax, or Legacy's RedStax (MoonStax), WhiteStax (AngelStax, ArmageddonStax).
  • Stroke of Genius — The finisher of choice for most infinite mana decks.
  • Temporal Aperture — The first card to enable players to shuffle their library without this first being the result of some other effect, especially searching.
  • Time Spiral — A strong variation on Timetwister.
  • Tolarian Academy — Decks were built around the Academy with zero cost artifacts to produce huge amounts of blue mana.
  • Voltaic Key — One-card engine together with mana creating artifacts.
  • Windfall — Very strong draw-spell, restricted in Vintage.
  • Yawgmoth's Will — A staple in many decks, considered by some to be the strongest card ever.

Reprinted cards[edit]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Urza's Saga.

Functional reprints[edit]

Urza's Saga has six functional reprints:

References[edit]

  1. Magic Arcana. (June 21, 2002.) "Armadillos", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Brady Dommermuth. (October 31, 2006.) "Ask Wizards", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (June 07, 2010.) "Disadvantaged", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater. (November 10, 2003.) "Make No Mistake", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Scott McGough. (March 21, 2011.) "From the Ground Up", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Wizards of the Coast. (1998) New Features of Urza's Saga
  7. Magic Arcana. (March 22, 2004.) "Cycling art mystery", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Urza's Saga Preconstructed Decks — Wizards of the Coast
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