Party of Five

Posted in Feature on February 2, 2009

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

In honor of Conflux's release, I've decided to write a column dedicated to a little mini-theme in the set. Conflux only has five cards that fit into this category but that is more than any other set has ever had. What is the theme?

Click here.



 

Five-color cards. Here's how today's column is going to work. I'm going to talk about each card in this category. I'll start by asking a trivia question whose answer is one of the cards from this subset. You get to guess what card I'm talking about and then I'll tell you a tidbit or two about the creation of each one. Be aware that these cards are in no discernible order other than the whim of my trivia questions. That said, on with the trivia.

Question #1: What was the first card ever created with five colors of mana in its mana cost?

Click here to reveal the answer.



 

I'm guessing the vast majority of you got this one wrong. That's the fun with trivia—you get to be sneaky (yet truthful). This card predates the first released five-color card by over a year. Here's what I had to say about the creation of the card back in my article The Land of the Rising Fun.

1996 World Champion – The 1996 World Championships were going to be held at Wizards of the Coast corporate office. (The one we still work in today.) [UPDATE: Now the one across the street, where we used to work.] One of the members of the Magic team came up with the brilliant idea of making a one-of-a-kind Magic card to give away to the winner (encased in his trophy for those that care—also for those that care, rumor has it Chanpheng sold his trophy years later to a hardcore collector for tens of thousands of dollars). The card was going to be called 1996 World Champion and the art was to be done by Chris Rush. Again (although this time with a little more time [than I was given for the first unique Magic card—see the original article]) I was asked to design the mechanic.

I knew I wanted it to be something we hadn't done before and as there was only going to be one, and that one was going to be encased in a trophy, I didn't have to worry about power level concerns. In fact, as this card was going to be seen by a lot of players (we put a picture in The Duelist) and wasn't going to be played, it begged to be powerful. In addition, I knew the card had to be splashy. The first thing I decided to do was make it a five-color card. Remember that this was before Sliver Queen, so at the time Magic didn't have a five-color card. Next I gave it an ability that was sure to win the game. Its power and toughness were equal to your opponent's life. One hit (provided no shenanigans) and you won the game. Then to make sure that someone didn't zap it away, I gave it untargetability [UPDATE: Shroud].

Finally, I knew I needed a way to get the card into your hand. That's when I came up with the idea of a card that could be activated in your library. I wasn't sure if it would work so I showed it to the Rules Manager (who if memory serves me was Tom Wylie at the time). The conversation went something like this.

Me: What do you think?
Tom: So there's only going to be one of this card ever created?
Me: Yes.
Tom: And that card is going to be embedded in the trophy?
Me: Yes.
Tom: And it's probably not legal in any official format?
Me: Yes. So, is it doable?
Tom: Heavens no! Are you kidding me? An ability that can be activated in the library? Sweet Christmas.
Me: But can I make it?
Tom: Eh, knock yourself out.

I'm told the card is deadly to any rules guru who lays eyes upon it. Luckily, Tom Chanpheng wasn't too much of a rules lawyer. And yes, by the way, I wrote the flavor text.

Since this column is about trivia, I couldn't pass up a chance to revisit what is truly a unique (definition meaning—one of a kind) Magic card. (You can check out the article to see Magic's one other unique card.)

Question #2: What was the first card ever released with five colors of mana in its mana cost?

Click here to reveal the answer.

Sliver Queen

This one was pretty easy if you actually read the clip I posted above, as I gave away the answer. I assume this is the answer most of you gave for Question #1. Sliver Queen is the first and in my opinion the most influential five color card ever made. It was instantly popular and inspired almost a third of the cards in this category. So how did it come about?

Two weeks ago I talked about how I felt Bill Rose was a shoo-in for the "Top Ten Most Influential People for Magic" list. Another shoo-in is Mike Elliott. After me, Mike has designed more cards for Magic than any other person on the planet. He has also led more design teams than anyone else but me. Among his many contributions to the game, Mike is responsible for Slivers. (I'm just going to be talking about the design of Sliver Queen—for a more complete rundown of how Slivers were designed, check out my column Sliver Me Timbers.)

I put Mike onto my very first design team, Tempest, because I had an inkling that he had design potential. And I was right! During Tempest design, Mike turned in a large number of cards that he had created for a set he had made on his own time, a set called "Astral Ways." In it was the following card:

Mind of the Controller
BUGRW
Summon Legend
Gold
7/7
Trample
All Slivers get +1/+1.

The Slivers were in all five colors. Flavorwise, each was assigned a different part of the body. Therefore Mike felt two things were clear about the lord. It had to represent the brain and it had to be five colors.

In his original design, Mike had two other multicolor Slivers, one black-red and the other green-white-blue. The design team liked the gold Slivers but thought they felt more like a design advancement and thus pushed it off until the second set. During Stronghold design we decided to make two-color Slivers and then make the Sliver Queen, the leader of the Slivers, as a rare.



 

Around the same time, we decided that the card should have some ability different than +1/+1 because the Muscle Slivers granted +1/+1. In Mike's original design, the common green Sliver granted trample and only the lord granted +1/+1. Mike then came up with the idea that the Sliver Queen could produce more Slivers. Since every Sliver gained all abilities, this effect could become very powerful if a lot of Slivers were in play, just the kind of thing a lord is supposed to do. And that is how Sliver Queen came to be.

Question #3: What card has the same name as the expansion it appears in?

Click here to see the answer.

Conflux

This is one of those trivia questions that I think is going to become a classic, especially when Conflux isn't the current set on sale. It's also a lot harder when you don't know the answer is a five-color card. As a little sub-trivia question: Do you know what card had the same name as the expansion it was in and then was changed so that it wouldn't share its name with the set? Shimmer from Mirage. During design and much of development it was called Mirage. Why did we finally decide it was okay for cards to share a name with the expansion they're in? I have no idea. But then, I didn't know why we changed Mirage to Shimmer either.

Conflux has an interesting little design/development story. Bill Rose designed the card at a cost of . Bill was trying to make potent spells and wanted something that benefitted from being in a five-color deck. Development lead Mike Turian liked the card but was scared of it, as was Magic Director Aaron Forsythe.

Quick aside—Aaron complained about the card so much the name got changed to Aaron's Tutor for a while. Here's a little thing we do in R&D. A person's name gets put into the title of a spell if one of two things are true: 1) They designed the card; or 2) They complain a lot about it. This ensures that people constantly go up to them and talk about it, normally assuming that they designed the card. From there, let's just say comedy ensues, not for the critic—they get annoyed—but for the rest of us. Just a little insight into how we entertain ourselves.



 

Anyway, Turian tried out the spell at . Then he tried to see if they could do it as a monocolored spell but no color seemed like the right fit. Finally they went back to . Then more playtesting made them push it to . Then we printed it, so that's where it'll stay.

Question #4: What Magic card has each of the five mana symbols show up exactly three times on the card?

Click here to reveal the answer.

Cromat

Let me start this section by actually talking a moment about designing five-color cards. How do we do it? The answer is simple. To design a five-color card you have to come up with an ability that isn't really defined. It's almost impossible to create a card that has a clear-cut white ability and a clear-cut blue ability and a clear-cut black ability and a clear-cut red ability and a clear-cut green ability. The reason you go for something new and grand is that players will accept an undefined thing as being all five colors, but if you create an effect that can just go into one or two colors, the players will ask "Why is this a five-color card?"

That said, like almost every rule in Magic, this rule is occasionally broken—Cromat being a perfect example. We were trying to create an exciting rare card for Apocalypse. It was a gold block, so why not have a giant five-color monster? The problem was this: Apocalypse was the enemy-color set. The marquee creature had to feel enemy-colored. How can a five-colored card have an enemy feel? The answer was to give it enemy-color activations, five to be balanced. Each activation simply had to feel in-color for the enemy-color pairing. So here you have it, a five-color Chinese menu card ("Chinese menu" is an R&D term for a gold card design in which the card has one ability for each color and pairs those abilities together). There's one more Chinese menu card coming up, by the way.

Question #5: What is the only legendary Aura ever printed (as of the writing of this column)?

Click here to reveal the answer.

GENJU OF THE REALM

This card started out as a top-down design:

Soul of the Dragon
2RR
Enchant Mountain
Enchanted mountain becomes a 5/5 flying creature until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn.

It turned a Mountain into a Dragon. The design then shifted as the design team thought that it made more sense if the Mountain just woke up. It wasn't a Dragon, but a living Mountain. It was changed from a 5/5 flier to an 8/12. Why 8/12? It seemed big and impressive, and they were stats we'd never done before. For a while 8/12 turned into 10/10, but it was changed back because 8/12 seemed more mystical, more flavorful.

Along the way, this card had inspired the cycle of five Genju in Betrayers, but the developers still wanted one special Genju. It would be able to enchant any land, and it would be five-color. Finally, trample was added because really, is a dinky 1/1 stopping a living chunk of land?

Question #6: What five-color card's playtest name was Five Scoops of Vanilla?

Click here to reveal the answer.

FUSION ELEMENTAL

In case the playtest name isn't obvious, the card has exactly five mana symbols (the scoops if you will) and is a vanilla card.

This card came about because the Conflux design team felt there should be a five-color card at uncommon. The set was going to have more five-color cards than any other set ever—why not make it so this trickled down to limited. Once they decided to do it, it was obvious that they should just make a huge vanilla creature. The team turned it in as a 9/9. Development pushed it down to a 7/7 but later realized that it was okay as an 8/8.

The other argument was about what rarity the card was supposed to be at. The design team wanted it at uncommon, as they wanted Limited play to have a taste of five-color. Members of the development team felt that an 8/8 for five mana felt more like a rare card. In the end, the designers' intent won out and the card stayed at uncommon.

Question #7: What five-color card's art was commissioned for Unglued II (that is, the original sequel to Unglued that was put on infinite hiatus, not Unhinged)?

Click here to reveal the answer.

ATOGATOG

Here is the card as it appeared in Unglued II:

Atogatog
2RR
Summon – Atog Lord
2/4
Sacrifice an Atog: CARDNAME gains +X/+X, where X is equal to the power of the sacrificed atog. (CARDNAME keeps this bonus as long as it's in play.)

It was red because the original Atog (in Antiquities) was red. Its mana cost and power/toughness were exactly twice of Atog. The card was top down designed as an Atog lord. What would an Atog lord do I thought—why it would eat Atogs. It cared about their power because it allowed the Atogs to fill up on whatever they ate and then transferred it over to the lord. The name was there when I first named the card because the prefix on Atogs always had to do with what it ate. Being that the Odyssey version cost one more mana (and five colors at that) and the effect is temporary, one can assume the power level of my original version was a little above the curve.

During Odyssey design, we decided to put in multicolored Atogs as they allowed a lot of the zone swapping that the set was doing, and well, as an Atog-lover and design lead I saw opportunity. I think it was Randy Buehler (who led the set's development) who asked about making a five-color Atog lord. I said, "I've already designed it and it has art." Seeing that the previous year, Invasion, made use of Unglued II's split cards, the set on hiatus was proving to be valuable design fodder. Atogatog was far from the last card printed designed for that set.

Question #8: What card originally had the line of text, "Sacrifice CARDNAME: Target Sliver Legend gets +13/+13 until end of turn"?

Click here to reveal the answer.

SLIVER OVERLORD

Sliver Overlord started out as Sliver King. Since Onslaught block was bringing back Slivers, why not make a nod to the most popular Sliver of all time. The above text was originally put on the card because the King was meant to be played with his Queen. +13/+13 turned Sliver Queen into a 20/20 creature. Interestingly, the card worked on one other creature at the time. Can you name it? Yes, good old trivia-busting Mistform Ultimus was printed the set before in Legions.

For a while the card read:

All Slivers get [white ability].
All Slivers get [blue ability].
All Slivers get [black ability]
All Slivers get [red ability]
All Slivers get [green ability]

The card was changed because Development felt the card was too close to Akroma, Angel of Wrath, which had just come out the set before. For a while, the card made 3/3 Slivers but it was decided it was just too close to Sliver Queen. In the end, the card was changed to its tutoring ability. The second ability was added to help in mirror matches. (A lot of people were playing Sliver on Sliver matches at the time.) In the end, the creative team nixed "King" (I don't know why) and the card became an "Overlord."

Question #9: What card has the same number appear more times in its mana cost than any other card?

Click here to reveal the answer.

REAPER KING

When we began the design of Shadowmoor, I stressed that we weren't supposed to do any tribal cards. The reason being that Shadowmoor was supposed to be a companion mini-block to Lorwyn and it was crucial that it play completely differently. Lorwyn was all about tribal meaning that Shadowmoor, as its opposite, was not about tribal. Meanwhile, the creative team had come up with this cool concept they wanted to use for Shadowmoor: Scarecrows. We had talked about putting them into Lorwyn but the set was too tight to fit in yet another creature type, so I promised them the scarecrows would appear in Shadowmoor. Once we had a whole bunch of Scarecrows, the issue came up—aren't we going to have a Scarecrow lord?

At first I balked, but then I realized that every set has a few tribal cards and the Scarecrows were only going to be in Shadowmoor and Eventide, so if they were going to get a lord, now was the time. Reaper King, as you know him, didn't show up in design. We had a completely different Scarecrow lord. But design's version wasn't exciting anyone. Then in development, Alexis Janson (winner of the Great Designer Search and then an R&D design intern) and the rest of the development team cobbled Reaper King together from four different hole-filling submissions (you can read more in Alexis's article Shadowmoor – The Hole Story). The mana cost came from fellow Great Designer Ken Nagle's submission, notching hybrid up to the next level. I actually fought to push Reaper King back to Eventide, not because I didn't think he was cool, but because I thought he felt too much like an evolution that needed to wait a set. Obviously, I lost that fight.

One of the other tidbits about Reaper King is that it has about as long a type line as can fit on a Magic card. The font size was dropped below our normal minimum to make it fit.

Question #10: Only two cards in the history of Magic have all five mana symbols appear on the cards and mention all five basic land types. One is Naked Singularity from Ice Age. What is the other?

Click here to reveal the answer.

LAST STAND

For starters this is the other five-color Chinese menu card that I mentioned earlier. This card came about as a super-domain card. (Domain is an ability word found on cards that get more powerful the more basic land types you have in play. When the ability first appeared in Invasion block it did not yet have an ability word—domain was at the time an official nickname.) During Invasion block, the domain deck was proving very popular in playtest and we thought it would be fun to add a super-domain card in the last set. Since domain decks traditionally play all five colors, a five-color card seemed appropriate.

The card ended up close to how it was turned in with one major change. The original card allowed you to draw cards equal to the number of Islands you control rather than filtering through that many cards.

Question #11: This five-color card is capable of getting Unhinged's Gleemax into play (hint: Gleemax costs ,,—no, honest it does). What is the card?

Click here to reveal the answer.

Maelstrom Archangel

This card drifted a great deal since its design. Here's how it first appeared:

Maelstrom Archangel [I couldn't find its original playtest name]
2WUBRG
Legendary Creature – Angel
7/6
Flying
Whenever CARDNAME deals damage to an opponent, that player discards a card. CARDNAME gets +4/+4 and has trample as long as [Pollux Dragon] is in play.

For a short while Bant had a theme of creatures banding together to make more powerful creatures, so this design was first created during that small window. I think Pollux Dragon was another five-colored card. The idea was that together they each became super-giant monsters.

The card was dropped down to because Mike Turian felt strongly that aesthetically most five-color cards should just be exactly . (Conflux is the only exception in Conflux and that is because it couldn't have the effect it wanted and cost five mana). The current ability was first entered as a tap ability, but was disliked because we have found large creatures with tap abilities are annoying. You want to attack with a giant monster, not sit back and tap it. By making it a damage-based trigger, you encourage players to do what they want to do: attack. (The Invasion tri-colored Dragons went through the same thing.)

Originally the ability referred to "damage," but playtest shenanigans showed that it needed to be "combat damage." It says "nonland," by the way, not for power reasons but to make it a cleaner template.

Question #12: What five-color card's name wouldn't fit on the card if it was one letter longer?

Click here to reveal the answer.

SCION OF THE UR-DRAGON

This card started as:

The Ur-Dragon
1WUBRG
Legendary Creature – Dragon
6/5
Flying
2: Search your library for a dragon card, remove it from the game, and CARDNAME becomes a copy of that creature until end of turn.

And here is what the art description asked for:

Color: All five colors (white, blue, black, red, green)
Location: Your choice (should probably be shown in flight)
Action: This is a godlike avatar of the Ideal Dragon spoke of in religious tones by ancient, sentient dragons. It embodies dragon perfection.
Focus: the perfect dragon
Mood: the height of badass

The idea essentially was to make a card that went into a Dragon deck. This represented the dragon ideal and was beloved by all dragons. As I explained above, we try to keep five-color cards at if we can. As was, the card was a little overpowered, so development dropped the card down to five mana and shrunk it from a 6/5 to a 4/4. The only other change was allowing the cards to go into your discard pile rather than getting removed from the game. I think this was done because Time Spiral had suspend and wanted to lessen the number of non-suspend cards that were removed from the game to lower confusion.

Question #13: What five-color legendary creature is, according to the story, a combination of two other legendary creatures?

Click here to reveal the answer.

KARONA, FALSE GOD

In my column Angels Among Us, I publicly apologized for the design of this card:

A quick aside—let me publicly apologize for Karona, False God. That card is an embarrassment to card design. I actually had zero to do with the card and I'm still embarrassed. We took two iconic beloved cool legends and combined them into a pile of, well a word I'm not allowed to use on this site. Of all the balls dropped with the design of legendary characters, this is one near the top of the list. My humblest apologies.

I got some mail after I trashed Karona, mostly from people defending her. Looking back I think I was too harsh and didn't do a good enough job of explaining why I was so disappointed. I have no problem with this card in isolation. I've heard some great things about it in multiplayer play. My unhappiness was not with the design unto itself. What I was unhappy with was that we had done such a good job of taking the two central characters from the story, Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Phage the Untouchable, and made them in to compelling and beloved cards. The card combining them should have been something worthy of combining two such favorite cards. I wanted the new card to at least be worth the sum of its parts, and it was there that I felt we fell down in the design.



 

The actual design came about because Brian Tinsman, the head designer for Scourge, was trying to come up for interesting cards for the end of the tribal block. Karona was made to be a fun, chaotic card to throw into your tribal deck. The design ended up on Karona because Brian felt it wanted to be a legend and Karona was one of the few options available.

The most interesting thing I discovered while doing research for this article (yes, I actually do research) was the following line from Karona's Multiverse file. RB stands for Randy Buehler, who was then Magic Director (what Aaron Forsythe is now). The "Paul" mentioned was Paul Barclay, then Rules Manager (a post now held by my arch-nemesis Mark Gottlieb).

RB 6/12: is this the spot for us to use "Protection from everything"? (Paul has sanctioned its use, btw.)

This note comes from 2001 so you can see that we are more than willing to take a good idea and wait until the right time to use. (In addition—hint for an upcoming trivia answer.)

Question #14: What five-color card has a converted mana cost of less than five?

Click here to reveal the answer.

TRANSGUILD COURIER

While I was writing this column I was going back on forth on whether or not this card fits into the subset I wanted to do. I say five-color cards and it's in. I say cards with all five mana symbols in their mana cost and it's out. This card came about because it was created in a block that had a bunch of cards that cared about color. It's a perfect example of a card design being the simplest version to get the card done. The card is an artifact because we wanted any deck to be able to play it, and we wanted it to cost three mana. Lastly, (there really is all that much to say on this card) if we ever reprint this card, we would need to change its text box. At the time we decided to put it in a gold text box but since then have changed our answer about what to do with a colored artifact. See Reaper King for how the frame would look nowadays.

Question #15: What creature destroys all permanents in play (except land) when a second copy of it comes into play?

Click here to reveal the answer.

CHILD OF ALARA

One of the truisms in design is that no drawback is always a drawback. Nothing can be truer than the legendary supertype and Child of Alara. The card needs to get into the graveyard to do its thing. In this particular case, that makes its legendary status a bonus as a second copy gets the card (both cards actually) into the graveyard where it can do its board sweeping thing.

The design story behind this is pretty simple. Mark Gottlieb made the card during a top-down hole filling in development. Development spent many months arguing about what to change. They talked about it costing more. They talked about it not hosing regeneration. They talked about moving the card whole cloth to Progenitus. But in the end, they printed the card as it was created.

Question #16: What was the first card to have the words "win the game" in its text box?

Click here to reveal the answer.

COALITION VICTORY

I love poison. I love milling. Why? Because I love alternate win conditions. Coalition Victory was my first success in getting one (that is a singular win condition on a singular card) into the game. In fact, with the sole exception of Helix Pinnacle (which was put into the set by me as I was leading the set, the card was designed by Kenneth Nagle), I have designed ever alt win card in Magic (Barren Glory, Battle of Wits, Chance Encounter, The Cheese Stands Alone, Coalition Victory, Darksteel Reactor, Epic Struggle, Mortal Combat, Now I Know My ABC's, and Test of Endurance).

Bill Rose (the design lead of Invasion) was unsure of this card when I pitched it, but I swore that alternative win conditions would go over well with the audience (which they have). I feel in many ways the popularity of this card paved the way for the many alternate win cards that followed.

Question #17: What card has the most mana symbols in its mana cost?

Click here to reveal the answer.

PROGENITUS

As I explained earlier, we've had "protection of everything" in our pocket for years. We knew it worked. The real question was where to deploy it. It was a very special ability that had to go on a very special card.

Interestingly, this card started far away from where it ended up. Here was the card put in during design for this slot:

Anti Mage
WUBRG
Legendary Creature – Avatar
4/4
Flying
Whenever CARDNAME attacks, you may pay {WUBRG}. If you do, defending player draws all mana from lands he or she controls. CARDNAME deals damage to that player equal to the amount of mana in his or her mana pool. Then that player empties his or her mana pool.

I believe this incarnation was based on a character from DOTA (Defense of the Ancients—a War Craft III mod), a popular game in R&D. The original design, while cute if you knew the reference, didn't play particularly well. While developing the card, Mike Turian changed it from to . The question became what could you get for that much mana. After trying a lot of things the team decided to make use of protection from everything. They then decided that it could be a 10/10 creature. Turian called it "an exercise in excess."

While this was all going on, there was a tug of war over what card this was supposed to be. Was Progenitus supposed to be the awesome over-the-top card or was Child of Alara? The two cards swapped places a few times. That is, until the art came in.



 

Now use your R&D skills. Which one is the daunting creature with protection from everything?

The card was switched down to 9/9 for a while, to avoid a two hit kill but eventually development decided that if you could play you deserved to kill in two hits. The development team also played around with adding "cannot be countered" as they were annoyed that protection from everything didn't protect from counterspells. In the end, they decided that the card needed some chinks in its armor and the anti-counterspell clause was removed. The second line was added to prevent problems with reanimation.

The one other funny story of this card was that for a while its design name was Bob. The reason? A longer name wouldn't fit on the playtest sticker along with the ten mana symbols. The problem though was that there's an actual Magic card with the nickname of Bob. Can you name it? Yes, Dark Confidant, the card Bob Maher designed as his prize for winning the Magic Invitational.

Question #18: What is the only five-color card not printed in a black border?

Click here to reveal the answer.

Who

Ah, yes, Unhinged's split split card. When Unhinged was first given its green light, this was one of the first cards I knew I wanted in the set. I didn't know exactly what the card was going to do but I knew I wanted a split card that was made up of split cards. I then decide to split once more to allow me to get all five colors on the card.

In the end, I decided to do basic effects making the card very functional. I felt the layout was silly enough that what the card did should be very straightforward. Note that the card deals with what was then all the permanent types. The hardest part about the card was actually naming it. The naming convention of split cards meant that all the individual names had to go together. With five cards that meant I needed something that had five parts to it. Plus, none of the five words could ever have been a Magic card name before. And all the names had to make some kind of sense on its mini-card. The day I figured out the answer I was very happy. By the way, if you ever draft Unhinged, take this card high. It's very good in Limited.

Question #19: What five-color card has this flavor text?

Hidden within the clicking, chittering swarm is a unique mind, still young, but growing more aware as time passes.

Click here to reveal the answer.

SLIVER LEGION

This card, believe or not, came into the set very late. For most of the set, this slot was being used for a planeswalker. Yes, the planeswalkers were originally set to appear in Future Sight. Instead they ended up as a tease in the reminder text of Tarmogoyf. Once they were pushed off (we needed more time to get them right—we didn't want to release a new card type before it was working perfectly), the development team started looking for cards to fill the holes.

It was at this point that someone noted that each block with Slivers had a five-color Sliver lord in it. Why should Time Spiral block be any different? My suggestion was a Coat of Arms for Slivers. Coat of Arms was a card I had made many moons ago as a card to help boost tribal decks (then just something random players did for fun—we hadn't yet built any block themes around it). The popularity of Coat of Arms, by the way, was one of the key things I used to convince Bill to let us make a tribal block.



 

Players liked Slivers and players liked Coat of Arms, so I mixed them together. Hey, it worked for peanut butter and chocolate. The only development issue after that was whether or not to have Sliver Legion affect itself. The argument "of course it should, all Slivers affect themselves" won the day and the card was printed as you know it.

Question #20: There are twenty five-color cards currently existing in Magic. I've showed you nineteen. What is the final one?

Click here to reveal the answer.

HORDE OF NOTIONS

This card started design as a completely different card:

Steam, Elemental Mage
1UR
2/2
Legendary Creature - Elemental
When CARDNAME comes into play and at the beginning of each turn, all elementals gain activated abilities of all other elementals in play until end of turn.

The impetus was straightforward: we wanted a legendary Elemental lord. At the time, Elementals were blue and red so the card was blue-red. The Elementals had an activation theme so the lord allowed Elementals to share activated abilities. While it sounded cool in theory, it just didn't play all that well. Many of the Elemental abilities could already target other creatures so sharing them didn't have a lot of impact.

Along the way, the Elementals went from being a blue and red tribe to being a five-color tribe and so the lord followed suit. The reanimation effect came about because we were trying to find some positive way for the Elemental lord to help out its followers. The three keywords were added to help the feel that all the colors were part of the card.

Bottom of the Fifth

And with that, we end our trivia fest for today. I'm curious if you guys like this trivia format and want to see more columns like it. (I used it once before many years ago in a column during Soldier Week.) Also, was the trivia to easy, too hard or just right? Inquiring minds want to know.

Join me next week when I learn to count to five (but unfortunately not six).

Until then, may you have fun playing with all the colors.

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