Mark hunts for trivia at U.S. Nationals 2003.But that isn't what I wanted to plug. Not exactly. You see, every year at Worlds I carry on a tradition that goes back to my very early days at Wizards of the Coast. In fact, the event in question predates my time at Wizards. It even predates my involvement at Wizards. I am talking about the "Question Mark" Magic Trivia Game Show. I have always been wild about trivia so it made perfect sense when I got into Magic to start running trivia game shows at conventions, which I did for numerous years in Los Angeles before I made the permanent trek up to Washington. These game shows led me to start doing trivia shows at all the Pro Tours (back in the day when I went to every Pro Tour).
Now that I travel less often my trivia shows have been confined to once a year at the World Championships. I've had a trivia show at every Worlds since the third one in 1996. And the tradition goes on this year—check our Worlds page for info on when and how you can participate. The way it works is this: People come in teams of three. Every team gets to participate. The game show is run like a Swiss tournament with an elimination style Top 8. Every team who bothers to stick around until the end will win something and while I can't give away the grand prize just yet, it's going to be something pretty cool.
So what does this have to do with my column? Well, to help people better prepare for the event (or to get a taste of what it will be like if you are unable to attend) I have decided to turn my column today into a trivia quiz. I've only once before ever had a trivia quiz in my column, and that one was dedicated to Soldiers. (Hey, it was Soldier Week.) The questions are of a variety of difficulties and I've tried to pick things where the answers are interesting even if you can't answer the question. This way you can try to see how well you can do or you can just learn some new Magic factoids.
I will ask one question for each Magic set that's been released to date. Because that number has grown kind of large, I've broken down this column into two parts. Part II will appear in two weeks (as next week is a theme week). This way the column appears the week before and the week after the event I am plugging. Less talking; more trivia.
Question #1 (Limited Edition Alpha)
What Alpha card was considered misprinted back in 1993 yet was later errattaed back to its Alpha functionality?
The original card was an interrupt but was mistakenly printed with the card type instant. It later become an instant when Sixth Edition rules eradicated the interrupt card type.
Question #2 (Arabian Nights)
The original Arabian Nights Aladdin's Lamp had two of what?
Colorless mana circles in its cost.
At the time, the colorless mana bubble was too small to hold a ten (modern layouts have since solved this problem) so they put two five-cost mana bubbles instead. And yes, this caused a lot of confusion back in the day, mostly because people thought the extra five was a typo.
Question #3 (Antiquities)
How many cards in Antiquities do not have the word "artifact" or "artifacts" appear anywhere on the card?
If you think sets are heavily themed now, check out the dedication Antiquities had to its theme. All of the cards with the exception of some colorless lands either affected artifacts, were unaffected by artifacts, used artifacts, or were artifacts. What about Urza's Power Plant? (I said some of these questions would be hard.) It has the word "artifact" in its flavor text.Urza's Power Plant
Question #4 (Legends)
What ability appears for the first time in Magic in Legends on one creature, yet there are two other cards in the set that neutralize the ability?
Great Wall is even crazier when you realize that in the history of Magic (thirteen years after the card was printed) there have still only been three more creatures ever printed with plainswalk.
And this is counting a Portal Three Kingdoms card and an Unhinged card with snow-covered plainswalk that's making fun of how infrequently the ability shows up. All right, all right, Greater Morphling and Illusionary Presence can grant themselves plainswalk.
Question #5 (The Dark)
This set includes one of only two cards in existence where the same person designed the card, named the card, wrote the flavor text, and illustrated the card. What is it?
Jesper Myrfors was the lead designer for The Dark as well as being the art director of Magic at the time. The other card?
Okay, that's the last trivia question where I invoke myself in the answer. (Well, at least in Part I.)
Question #6 (Fallen Empires)
How many cards in Fallen Empires either naturally have flying or have the ability to grant a creature flying?
The only creature to have the ability doesn't even have it outright. It needs to be activated. The other is a card that grants flying leading to the death of the creature half the time. Can you tell that the design team (Skaff Elias, Jim Lin, Dave Petty, and Chris Page) didn't like flying? They also created Ice Age, which is equally famous for its limited amount of flying. For the super trivia buffs, there is one other card in Fallen Empires that mentions flying.
You see, it is powerless against an activated Knights or a creature who's been tossed in the air by the Kites.
Question #7 (Ice Age)
There were five different Ice Age booster pack images, one of which pictured a creature in the art that isn't the creature represented by the card it comes from. What is the card?
Look in the background. See that creature behind the couple. That's the Yeti. Somehow he wasn't good enough to make the flow wrap.
Question #8 (Homelands)
Who are the planeswalker lovers of the Homelands story? (Hint: Both their names appear in card titles in the set.)
Serra (yes, of Serra Angel fame) and Feroz.
Can you tell who got more of the limelight? It's also interesting to note that "Serra Angel" also shows up in this card:
This isn't as unconnected as it seems, as Richard Garfield got the name Serra Angel from the word "serrated" as he was trying to evoke a sense of toughness for the angel.
Question #9 (Alliances)
What Alliances card was nicknamed "Good Buddy"?
For those that might not know the expression. A way to say goodbye in CB slang (CBs were a type of radio used by truckers back in the 70s) was "10-4, good buddy." "10-4" was a way to say "okay" that you heard the other speaker. "Good buddy," at the time, was a term for a friend. The card was actually designed as a 9/4 but the development team (my first as a fresh young developer) changed it to 10/4 because we specifically thought it would be funny to refer to him as Good Buddy.
Question #10 (Mirage)
Waiting in the Weeds had the creature type of its tokens changed when the art came back showing different creatures in the art than were referenced in the rules text. What creature type was supposed to be premiered in Magic on this card?
Called Unseen Wildlife in design, the card was given the following art description: (the bolding is mine)
"Dozens of small hungry critters scurry in the low undergrowth of the jungle. In this picture, we cannot tell what the critters are. We can only see the eyes."
The art director at the time didn't understand that having the creature represented in the art would functionally change what the card did and thus didn't have the artist change it. Squirrels would have to wait for another day. For the full squirrel story, check out my column on the subject, Squirrel Of My Dreams.
Question #11 (Visions)
What staple design convention started in Visions (on four cards)?
Creatures with "comes-into-play" effects.
While there were creatures that had effects that happen when they came into play (such as Clone or Kjeldoran Dead or Pyknite), they were always related directly to the creature (or the card advantage of the card). With Visions, Magic started having spells that were essentially grafted onto creatures. Man-o'-War was an Unsummon that came with a 2/2 body. The two were completely unconnected mechanically.
If you ever want to win a Magic-themed bet, by the way, ask someone to name all the "comes-into-play" creatures in Visions. Man-o'-War, Nekrataal, and Uktabi Orangutan are a famous trio. Everyone seems to forget poor Knight of the Mists.
Question #12 (Portal)
What was blocking called in Portal?
Intercepting. It was thought at the time that it was an easier word to help beginners grasp the concept. It became quickly apparent, though, that having different terms for basic actions really got in the way of a smooth transition from the introductory game to the real one. The term was changed back for Portal Second Age.
Question #13 (Weatherlight)
Weatherlight's name was what first for a Magic expansion?
It was the first Magic expansion name that was not an English word. (Okay, it was a made-up compound word of two English words.) The reason the decision was made was that this was the starting point of the Weatherlight Saga and it was decided that the name should reflect the big push towards story. For a lot more on this topic join me next week.
Question #14 (Tempest)
Tempest's Dirtcowl Wurm is a famous first. What was it the first card to ever do?
Be a Prerelease card.
While Prereleases started in full force during Mirage block (Ice Age, Homelands, and Alliances each had one Prerelease), it wasn't until Tempest that the idea of a Prerelease card was introduced.
Question #15 (Stronghold)
For the first time ever during Stronghold, the flavor text of one card got carried over onto the flavor text of a second card. (One word—"Charge!"—was repeated between the two pieces of flavor text.) What were the two cards?
The scene showed Eladamri leading his people on an attack on Volrath's Stronghold. It didn't end well.
Question #16 (Exodus)
What did the Exodus expansion symbol do that had never been done before?
It came in three colors denoting rarity. Exodus was also the beginning of collector numbers. These steps were taken by the brand team at the time to make collecting the cards easier.
Question #17 (Portal Second Age)
What real-world item appears in numerous Portal Second Age illustrations but never in the art of another Magic expansion?
Guns. Rifles to be exact. It was decided after this product that firearms were a poor fit for the Magic multiverse, and they've never returned. (Yes, Urza block did feature mechs—same creative team for both sets, by the way.)
Question #18 (Unglued)
What is the converted mana cost of B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster)?
Why fifteen? Because that's how many black mana symbols could fit on the right side of the card. I thought it would be cooler to have the name on one half and the mana cost on the other. One other bit of trivia about the card. In design, the card was a 100/100. Bill Rose, then the Head Designer, forced me, as lead designer of Unglued, to change it to a 99/99 to save the specialness of a three-digit power / toughness. No, really. We haven't yet found the right place to use it.
Question #19 (Urza's Saga)
In Urza's Saga, R&D tried to repeat a popular old card but was unable to find a workable template (or workable rules; you say potato, I say potahto). Because this happened last-minute during templating, we were forced to create a new design that matched the existing art. This went on to be one of the many powerful cards from Urza's Saga. What card did we try to print and what card got made in its stead?
Wait, didn't we reprint clone in Onslaught? Yeah, we did. The copying rules got cleaned up making templating rather easy.
Question #20 (Urza's Legacy)
The woman pictured in the art of Tinker would many years later get her own legendary creature card. Who is it?
It's the artificer Jhoira.
She was a student at the Tolarian Academy during the Urza's Legacy story, before the explosion of the academy I believe.
Question #21 (Urza's Destiny)
Masticore was an attempt to make an improved version of what card?
Mishras War Machine from Antiquities.
Mission accomplished. It turns out discarding a card a turn isn't too costly an upkeep if the card in question will win the game for you.
Question #22 (Portal Three Kingdoms)
Portal Three Kingdoms has the record for the largest number to ever appear in a Magic title. What is the number?
100,000 from the card Borrowing 100,000 Arrows.
Del, Magic Senior Editor, tells me that under current editing rules the name would have to be written out and thus would never fit on the card. Don't look for this one coming to a base set anytime soon. Of course, the card does also exist as Theft of Dreams.
Question #23 (Mercadian Masques)
In the art of Unmask, we learn that archvillain Volrath, a shapeshifter, has been aboard the Weatherlight disguised as whom?
Takara, Starke's daughter. If you look at the art you can see that Volrath's features have been pulled away to show Takara. Yeah, a little backwards, I know.
Gerrard and company rescued "Takara" from Volrath's Stronghold when they rescued Sisay, Tahngarth and Karn. In the original version of the story, Volrath was going to be disguised as Tahngarth. (But more of this story another time.)
Question #24 (Nemesis)
What Nemesis creature would later go on to star in a Magic: The Gathering commercial? (Hint: He hates focus groups.)
After the one with "Bob from Accounting" this is my second favorite ever Magic ad.
Question #25 (Prophecy)
The Mirage story involved four Wizards, none of which ended up as legendary creature cards in the block. Three—Teferi, Kaervek, and Mangara—later ended up with legendary creature cards during the Time Spiral block. The fourth had her legendary card in Prophecy. Who is it?
Why did they take so long? I honestly don't know.
Question #26 (Invasion)
Fires of Yavimaya was part of a five-card cycle. Name the other four.
The cycle was all allied-color gold enchantments each with a static ability and a sacrifice effect. The two were designed to be synergistic with one another. It's interesting how cycles like this can be rather tight yet overlooked by the majority of the player base.
Question #27 (Planeshift)
What was the official nickname for the largest new mechanic in Planeshift?
Gating. These were the permanents that required bouncing a permanent of the same type that shared a color with the card. The idea was that you were using a new way to summon the creatures. Gating is a term for teleporting items magically. Examples of gating cards below:
We're halfway there so I guess it's time to say goodbye for this week. Remember that Part II will be in two weeks when I'll finish going through the second half of Magic expansions. I am curious if you all are enjoying a trivia column and whether you'd like to see more in the future. (Well, more than the one two weeks from now.)
Join me next week, when we go aboard a mighty ship.