Magic Arcana has been a mainstay of magicthegathering.com's content landscape since the site debuted on January 2, 2002. Concepted as a feature that would share sneak peeks of future products and reveal little-known factoids about the game's past, it has provided a new daily tidbit about the game for over four years running. (It has gone into reruns during holidays, so there haven't been one thousand distinct Arcanas quite yet, but we're celebrating today anyway.) What have been some of Magic Arcana's recurring attractions and individual highlights during these first nine hundred ninety-nine?
The popular Sketches, a regular feature of Magic Arcana, looks behind the scenes of the creation of Magic art. It debuted in February of 2002 with this look at Mark Tedin's Vengeful Dreams. Sketches has peeked at tourney staples and obscure oddities, beloved reprints and true originals, 5-card cycles and legendary heroes. Sketches has taken over Magic Arcana almost 100 times throughout its career, and looks to add a few more notches to its metaphorical, black-and-white belt with the recent release of Guildpact.
Back in 2002, the Lexicon debuted as an independent feature of magicthegathering.com, meant to help players bone up on the sometimes-obscure vocabulary used in Magic card names. The Lexicon dropped away for a year and a half as the site's content offerings changed around, but it was resurrected at the end of 2003 as a semi-regular feature of Magic Arcana.
The first Magic Dossier (of R&D developer Henry Stern) went up in July of 2003, providing to Magic Arcana readers an FBI-style intelligence file about the people who make Magic go. (Aaron Forsythe spent hours hunched over his computer creating the Photoshop template for Magic Dossier's manila folder graphic. Dig the font on "CLASSIFIED", will you? And that coffee stain? Classic!)
A set of desktop wallpapers featuring Stalking Bloodsucker ushered in a new Friday tradition for Magic Arcana in August, 2003. To date we've handed over 100 wallpapers. The readers' favorite to date, judging by site traffic? Our April Fools' special for 2005: Silhouette. (Second most popular? The double-wide B.F.M.! Maybe we try too hard to find cool fantasy art...)
Debuting in June of 2004, this semi-regular sub-feature showcases and celebrates the ever-changing list of creature types embodied by that Legions legend, Mistform Ultimus. Ever want to know what creature types are legal to name with Engineered Plague or similar cards? Keep track of Mistform Ultimus Watch!
Magic Arcana often serves as a showcase for upcoming Magic products. You've seen set announcements, product shots, that new fat pack, previews of those textless promo cards, and holy crap the Temple Garden thing.
Art and Flavor
Magic Arcana has also shown off the flavor behind the game and its gorgeous art. You've seen obscure art connections, uncropped angel art, bizarre peeks into style guides, glossaries of Japanese terms, amazing land art, art "Easter eggs", vignettes about the legendary characters of Kamigawa, and more style guide information than you could shake a colored pencil at.
Flashes of History
The term "Arcana" surely fits when we reveal arcane snippets of Magic's past. There's been misprint lore, complex Legendary cycles, the first prerelease foil promo, classic Duelist articles and Magic commercials, scans of old Magic comics, looks at the older days of Wizards.com, behind-the-scenes peeks at R&D's playtest cards.
Other Odds and Ends
You've also come to know Magic Arcana as a source for that slightly less categorizable Magic content -- birth announcements, job openings, April Fools' jokes, guessing games, whiteboards of wisdom, neato web tools, and, uh, Tijuana Nights...
We Look Forward to #2000
We hope you enjoyed this stroll through the history of this feature of magicthegathering.com. We'll review Arcana's history again sometime around 2010. See you tomorrow!