What's your favorite Magic call-back?
Kelly Digges: Magic has a long history, and its history of calling back to earlier cards and characters goes back nearly as far. Arabian Nights was kind of its own thing, but as early as Magic's second expansion, Antiquities, the game's creators were looking back and fleshing out people and places that had been referenced in the game's first set. Urza always had Glasses of Urza, but it was Antiquities that told his back story and debuted his famous Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Urza's Power Plant.
Since then, various call-backs and winks have popped up all over the place, from the Urza's Saga Embraces to M11's Time Reversal. But they hit their greatest density in Time Spiral, a set dedicated to celebrating Magic's long and illustrious past (and one of my favorite draft formats of all time).
As a grizzled Magic veteran, there was plenty for me to love in Time Spiral. But my single favorite callback, as a callback, is the Fallen Empires–inspired Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder (with Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII as a very close second).
Fallen Empires was the first non-core-set Magic I ever really sunk my teeth into, and I took to the storyline with a vengeance. In the story—as told in part in the Sarpadian Empires, a multi-volume history of the continent of Sarpadia—the breeders of the Ebon Hand, led by Master Breeder Endrek Sahr, use necromantic magic to create the thrulls, an artificial slave race. But in breeding intelligent thrulls to Thrull Champion and Thrull Wizard, Sahr and his fellow breeders inadvertently set the stage for the Thrull Rebellion, and ultimately the demise of the Ebon Hand at the hands of its own creations.
The mechanics of Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder tell his story perfectly. If you don't know the original story, you can piece it together. And if you do, you get to feel very smart as you tell others all about it, just like ... I'm doing ... now .....
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