If you're unfamiliar with vision design handoff documents, the first one I posted was for the release of Throne of Eldraine (Part 1 and Part 2). I write these documents to help explain our vision portion of the design to the Set Design team when it's time to hand it off to them. Throne of Eldraine's articles went over quite well, so I also posted them for Ikoria, Zendikar Rising, and Strixhaven (Part 1 and Part 2). Last fall, I decided it might be fun to show readers some handoff documents from the past and did an article for original Zendikar. Since that went over well, too, I'm digging into the past again today.

Modern Horizon 2 previews start next week, so I thought it would be fun to go back and look at one of the sets that inspired it. I've chosen Future Sight because that's the set from Time Spiral block for which I led the design (and, thus, have the document).

A few caveats before we begin:

  1. How these documents are put together has changed a bunch over time, so this one is a little different than the recent ones I've posted. (For example, no sample cards.) I believe this document was handed over in spring of 2006.
  2. This was back when R&D had the design/development model, so I'd spent more time on the set than I do on vision design (closer to a year in contrast to the four months I get now), which means the set was much further along.
  3. The text below is the actual document as it was turned in. Everything in the boxes consists of my notes, which explain things to help you get some larger context.

"Pop" Design Document

Future Sight's codename was "Pop" because "Snap," "Crackle," and "Pop" are the codenames for the sets from Time Spiral block. Nowadays, I list my design team in the document, but I didn't do this back in 2006. The Future Sight design team was myself (as the lead), Matt Cavotta, Devin Low, Mark Gottlieb, Ryan Miller, and Zvi Mowshowitz (the future Hall-of-Famer was a contractor at the time).

Let's begin this document by facing the biggest question head on. This set is supposed to be the future. Yet the cards exist now. How can the set be about the future when every set introduces new things to the players that they've never seen before? The answer is context. We are not trying to show the actual future as much as we are trying to create something that feels like the future.

The trick to doing this is to play into the core concept of this block: nostalgia. "Pop's" glimpse into the future is a look into an extrapolated future. That is, "Pop's" future is defined by how it advances the past. When a science-fiction film wants to show the future, they like to pepper in futurized versions of known brands, for example. This gives the audience a sense of familiarity, making them feel more anchored in the futuristic setting.

They used this technique in Demolition Man, which portrayed a certain well-known restaurant chain as the only survivor of "The Franchise Wars." We see the logo on the restaurant sign, and though it's future-styled, we recognize it, and we're there. They could have just made up a fictitious brand for the film, but they knew it would resonate more if the name was a known quantity (and, yes, I'm sure they got paid for it, too, but I believe their reasons for doing this went beyond product endorsement).

I'm guessing few of you expected me to reference the movie Demolition Man in a design document. When I can, I like to ground examples in real-world usages, especially within pop culture.

"Pop" is defined by how it takes known quantities and twists them. This is done in several different ways. I'll start with the timeshifted ones (note that a few of these appear in a lesser form in non-timeshifted cards):

Evolutions – These are cards that take an existing mechanic and evolve it. The severity of the evolutions can go from simple (scry 3) to complex (an enchantment with morph). Most of the evolutions show up in the timeshifted cards, but a few of the simpler ones can be found on the non-timeshifted side (scry being the obvious example).

Note that this is before scry was evergreen. Each set in the Time Spiral block had an old mechanic that it focused on to hit "past," "present," or "future," and I chose scry to represent "future." There was a vertical morph cycle with an enchantment (common), land (uncommon), and artifact (rare) with morph.

Keyword Extensions – This is an offshoot of evolutions. Keyword extensions are new keywords that twist an existing keyword. An example from Magic's past would be land cycling, as it's a riff on cycling. The keyword has a new name, but a root of the old mechanic is included to hint to the players that there is some similarity (and help them more easily understand how the new mechanic works). Examples in "Pop" include deathstorm and activation convoke.

Deathstorm became gravestorm, and activation convoke (which is convoke but usable on activations if that's not clear) didn't end up making it to print.

New Keywords – The "Pop" team chose to exclude new keywords from the non-timeshifted cards. We did this to allow us to use all our "new keyword points" toward new keywords on the timeshifted cards.

We also made a conscious choice to help promote the sense that the timeshifted cards are from all over the future to limit ourselves to no more than two uses of any new keyword. The majority of the new keywords actually appear once. The new keywords were selected as they were interesting keywords that fell into the realm of obvious things we might do. Truly innovative keywords that broke into virgin territory that we felt could later be used as an important marketing hook were not included. Later I will walk through the cards and keywords that we intended for use in the future.

Finally, note that not every card we keyworded with a new keyword necessarily needs a keyword. As you'll see below, some new keywords specifically serve a purpose, but for most of the keywords, the development should decide whether it needs to be a keyword.

The development team moved forward with upping the number of a few new keywords. Delve, for example, had three cards. The idea of doing this many new keywords in a single set was pretty crazy back then and seems even crazier now. Sixteen new keywords were introduced in Future Sight. Four of them (deathtouch, lifelink, reach, and shroud) were meant to be their introduction to evergreen, (shroud would later be replaced by hexproof), but still, that's a lot for a single set.

I will note that most of the new keywords were extrapolative, meaning they weren't messing with whole new concepts but rather taking known things and shifting them in some predictable way. Storm works with spells being cast, but what if we did something similar about things being put into the graveyard?

Future Hints (Specific and Vague) – Some of the timeshifted cards were included to hint at areas we plan to take the game. A good example of this would be Scaredy Linx that keywords Spirit Link. I'll explain these below. This category falls into two parts. Cards where we knew specifically where we're hinting from (I'll call these specific), and cards that are doing something we know we want to do but aren't tied to specific future sets (I'll call these vague). I will outline both below as well.

I'd been wanting to keyword a bunch of effects we used in practically every set, and having them show up on futureshifted cards first felt like a cute way to introduce them. At the end of this document, I start spelling out what future we saw with all the futureshifted cards. You'll see what we specifically had planned versus what we thought we'd eventually do. The mechanic based on Spirit Link, by the way, became lifelink.

Red Herrings – There is no way for us to hint at the future without also including some stuff that we specifically plan never to do. A bunch of the timeshifted cards toy with areas that I know we will never revisit. I'll also include these below. Note that the player reaction to these cards may very well change our minds.

Some of the hints were to things we had no plans to ever follow up on. In retrospect, I'm not sure that was a great idea, but it's very hard to come up with a large swath of mechanical space we haven't touched yet, so I think it was more out of necessity than desire.

Things from the Future – There a few cards that reinforce the idea that things are coming from the future. The older Jhoira card is a good example of this. These cards are not actually meant to be real future cards as much as something to play up the theme.

The future theme needed to be supported creatively as much as mechanically, so we thought about that as we made cards. As with any design, we were in constant contact with the Creative team.

Miscellaneous – The last category is the catch-all for cards that feel right but don't quite fit any of the above categories.

And now we turn our attention to the types of cards used on the non-timeshifted cards:

Mix-and-Match – While the timeshifted side makes use of showing where cards can evolve to, the non-timeshifted side makes use of combining known quantities together in ways the game never has before. The poster child for this is mix-and-match. These cards combine two keyword mechanics, always choosing two that have never been combined before (the majority of which come from two different blocks). To prevent keyword overload, the mix-and-match cards (as well as all the evolutions) are limited to keywords that are legal in Standard the day before "Pop" releases. The only exception is that "Pop" adds two old keywords, cycling and scry.

While it might seem generous that I volunteer to only use mechanics in Standard, Time Spiral and Planar Chaos had brought back a whole bunch of mechanics. Scry was added as it was the "future" mechanic, and cycling just comboed too well with too many different mechanics not to use it in the mix-and-match set.

While the "weird and wacky" future cards will define the timeshifted cards, I believe that mix-and-match cards will define the non-timeshifted cards. I believe that mix-and-match delivers on an unspoken desire of players to see different parts of the game interact and allows us to hit design space that we literally can do nowhere else. 25 cards might seem on the high side, but I believe that the cards have enough diversity, will create enough good will, and will define the set to a high enough level that we want to keep them at a significant number. The mix-and-match cards have two cycles that I'll talk about below.

I do love mix-and-match cards, and there just aren't a lot of places you can use them. I included more in the handoff than made it to print.

Future Dictates the Present – Another theme that plays into the future are cards that telegraph what they are going to do at some future known time, which forces players to react before said events happen. Both suspend and vanishing played up this theme in Time Spiral and Planar Chaos. "Pop" tries a few new tricks. We have suspend cards that keep going off every third turn. We have a cycle of common creatures that do nasty things if the opponent cannot deal with them in time. We have vanishing creatures with leaves-play effects. We have enchantments with delayed effects. I'll talk about a number of these in the cycles below.

I had contemplated doing a cycle of cards based off the Double cycle from Unglued (spells that went off now and the start of the next game in the same match) but removed them from the file when I found out it was literally impossible to program into Magic Online.

Peer into the Future – The set has several cards (the largest amount having scry) that allow you to gain knowledge of what cards are coming. A few cards place cards on top or near the top of the library.

Extensions of Time Spiral and/or Planar Chaos Mechanics – "Pop" expands upon many of the themes introduced in the first two sets. We have more of the following mechanics: suspend, vanishing, all the old keyword mechanics, split second, and flash.

The third set in the block is where we experimented most with the mechanics of that block back in the days of us doing blocks.

Deal with the Consequences Later – There are a handful of cards (including a cycle of rare cards) that allow you to get something immediately but not worry about the cost until later. You know, in the future.

I'm referring to the Pact cycle where you get to play the cards for free the turn you cast them but must pay for the spell on the following turn or lose the game. (This cycle was inspired by the Unhinged card Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug.) Future Sight has a close relationship with the Un- sets.

As you can see, "Pop" creates the sense of the future by hitting upon a lot of different things that will read as the future to players.

Because this was a high-concept set, I wanted to spell out all the various ways we'd hit the feeling we were trying to capture.

Next, let's walk through the cycles in the set. Note that a lot of them are soft cycles that shouldn't be very obvious to the players. All the cycles (with a few exceptions) are among the non-timeshifted cards:


Mix-and-Match with Cycling – Each color has a mix-and-match involving cycling:

  • White: cycling and flashback
  • Blue: cycling and recover
  • Black: cycling and madness
  • Red: cycling and echo
  • Green: cycling and dredge

I've said cycling combos well. Some of these mix-and-match combos got used, but the whole cycle didn't make it.

Mix-and-Match Miscellaneous – The second common cycle uses keywords that were not used in the first cycle (although, there are some duplicates among them because there is a shortage of creature abilities to choose from):

  • White: suspend and flanking
  • Blue: suspend and shadow
  • Black: shadow and hellbent
  • Red: bloodthirst and flanking
  • Green: convoke and kicker

The green card, Sprout Swarm, would later change over to convoke and buyback with not-so-great results. Elements of this cycle got used, but the cycle did not stay.

Seers – These are all 2C creatures with an optional but large sacrifice effect at the beginning of each upkeep. The idea is that the opponent has a turn to stop them. The cards are designed such that the effect of some you might occasionally be tempted not to use right away.

These ended up becoming the Augurs.

Scry – There are a cycle of scry cards with different scry numbers (never 2) that have some other effect that interacts nicely with the scry effect.

When scry first showed up in Fifth Dawn, all the cards were scry 2. Future Sight was the first set to use other scry numbers (and only the second set to use scry).

Spellshapers – This cycle of spellshapers finishes off the Time Spiral block common cycles. These spellshapers make token creatures that are copies of famous creatures from Magic's past. Note that the creature types line up with the creature types being used in "Peanut." Also, the white spellshaper, which is the only timeshifted card of the cycle, is making a Kithkin that comes out in "Peanut."

"Peanut" was Lorwyn. Lorwyn was a tribal set. At the point of this handoff, we knew what tribes Lorwyn cared about, so this cycle uses those creature types. The idea of making a token creature of a card not yet in print was planned in design. The problem we had at the time was that we wanted white to make a Kithkin, as that was white's main tribe in Lorwyn, but there wasn't a good Kithkin card from the past to use, so we thought outside the box.


Mix-and-Match with Buyback – Each color has a mix-and-match involving buyback:

  • White: buyback and convoke
  • Blue: buyback and scry
  • Black: buyback and madness
  • Red: buyback and storm
  • Green: buyback and kicker

A few of these mix-and-match combos got used, but this cycle didn't make it.

Mix-and-Match Miscellaneous – The second uncommon cycle consists of a collection of other mix-and-matches:

  • White: shadow and forecast
  • Blue: transmute and flashback
  • Black: vanishing and recover
  • Red: morph and hellbent
  • Green: vanishing and kicker

I had Zvi take all the available mechanics and mix-and-match them, giving each a grade from one to five, with five being best. We included all the four and five combinations in the handoff. Many of those combinations made it to print.

Vanishing – There is a cycle of cards with vanishing, many of which have a leaves-play effect if the card leaves because the last time a counter was removed. Note that black and green's vanishing cards overlap with mix-and-match (one card covers both cycles in those colors).

Some vanishing cards stayed, but this cycle did not.

Pulsing Suspend – This is a cycle of suspend cards that all re-suspend whenever they go off. All currently have a cost of 4CC and a suspend cost of 2C. All are suspend 3.

The numbers were tweaked, but this cycle stayed.

Future Lands – This is a cycle of lands that each produce a color of mana and have a keyword. These cards were designed to match concepting art that Jeremy felt needed to be in the set (showing Dominaria recovering).

This cycle also stayed in the set. The set also had a dual land cycle made up of cards from future unpublished dual land cycles. For some reason, it's not listed in this file, but I know we made it in design.


Mix-and-Match Miscellaneous – This cycle just has cool mix-and-match cards that seemed big enough or confusing enough to want to be rare:

  • White: convoke and flash
  • Blue: morph and vanishing
  • Black: madness and hellbent
  • Red: kicker and split second
  • Green: suspend and vanishing

Most of this cycle's mix-and-match combinations stayed.

Maguses – This is a cycle to finish off the Time Spiral block cycles. Each magus is a famous enchantment put onto a creature.

This cycle stayed.

Credit Spells – This cycle includes all cards that cost 0 but force you to pay for them next turn (or else you lose the game). The design team talked about making the "pay next turn" optional but liked the fact that the spells forced you to plan your future to use them. Also, we liked a simple "lose the game" negative, as it played up the "you need to pay this" rather than "you need to work around this."

These are the Pacts I talked about above. These stayed in the set.


Morph Vertical Cycle – There is a common morph card that's an enchantment, an uncommon that's a land, and a rare that's an artifact.

This vertical cycle stayed in the set.

Finally, let's walk through the timeshifted cards for an overview of what each one is doing and see what future it is hinting at:

All the futureshifted cards started their numbering at 11 for ease of separating non-futureshifted from futureshifted.


cW11 Trained Pit Bull – Future Hint (Vague); I'm sure we'll reprint the vanilla card; not sure if we'll ever do the layout (the card has no text box; full art).

This card was a vanilla creature (the first time a 3/1 appears for 1W) with a full-art frame. This ended up being turned into a full cycle because the set really needed some simpler futureshifted cards. I'm kind of shocked we haven't done this yet in a premier set.

cW12 Full-Plate Paladin – New Keyword, Future Hint (Vague); I'm sure we'll do the armor mechanic. When we do, we'll use this clean version. I'm not sure exactly when we'll use it, but I predict in the next five blocks.

The armor mechanic was renamed absorb. It was based on a mechanic we'd made for the Star Wars Trading Card Game. It ended up being a little too powerful and stalled the game too much to reuse in greater number.

cW13 Mystic Quarry – Future Hint (Specific); this card is from the "Live," "Long," and "Prosper" block centered around land mechanics; we need to talk about this card, as decisions about it need to reflect a world with a bunch of them.

We knew that Zendikar was coming up a few years down the line, so we were hinting at a "lands matter" set. This card was a land that tapped for white and had a sacrifice ability you could only use the turn you played it. It was an early idea of how to make a card a land or a spell. (Double-faced technology was many years away.)

cW14 Living Castle – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); I have no immediate plans to do noncreature morph, but it's definitely something we'll explore when we do morph again.

"Definitely" proved to be a bit strong. Khans of Tarkir block explored doing noncreature morphs, but we decided against it after we got playtesting data. This card was basically Lumithread Field.

cW15 Hands Off – Red Herring; this is the card of a card that is humorous to do in isolation but would be annoying if too many cards had this many abilities.

This was an Aura that couldn't be countered, granted protection from black and red to the enchanted creature, and itself had protection from green and white. The idea was it had an answer to every threat to it. We didn't end up making it, but it was a very cute Mel design.

uW11 Underhillbilly – Miscellaneous; this card is finishing off the spellshaper cycle. The creature token this card is making is from "Peanut" (check with Aaron to make sure you link the two up). The other four spellshapers are all non-timeshifted and make creatures from the past. Note that all the creatures are supported creature types in "Peanut."

I talked about this up above.

uW12 Rebel Pikeman – Evolution, Possibly Keyword Extension, Future Hint (Vague); we'll probably make this guy someday. Not in the near future, though.

This was a creature that had flanking twice. We definitely didn't make it in the near future.

uW13 Astral Elemental – Evolution, New Keyword, Red Herring; while armor will be supported, I don't think we have plans to do enchantment creatures anytime soon.

This card became Lucent Liminid, the first enchantment creature. The original card had armor 2 and granted armor 2 to your other creatures. Interestingly, enchantment creatures were something we did get to, although not for a number of years.

uW14 Manhandle – Red Herring; I don't think we're planning to do activation convoke, but if it doesn't prove too wordy and the public likes it. . .

Activation convoke didn't even make it to print, so the audience wasn't able to like it.

uW15 Death Defiler – Evolution, Miscellaneous; this card exists to continue the Rebel theme in "Pop"; white is number two in reanimation (although a distant number two).

This card let you return Rebels with mana value 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. We haven't done much more with Rebels, but white has gotten better at reanimating small creatures.

rW11 Meddling Monster – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); we could easily do this guy in the future if players like him.

This was a 4/5 Meddling Mage-like creature for 4WWW that let you choose a card type rather than a specific card. This didn't see print.

rW12 Standing Alone – Future Hint (Vague); we wanted to put this card in Eighth but couldn't. Now we can put it anywhere we like. Also, I like the idea that in the future, we'll rename and re-concept popular Un- cards that can work in black-border Magic.

This card became Barren Glory, but it was moved from futureshifted to non-futureshifted. The idea that Un- cards can be re-concepted and become black border was deemed not "future-y" enough.

rW13 Gravetalk Sliver – Evolution, Miscellaneous; this card is here to fill out and twist the block's Sliver theme.

This was a Sliver that had the abilities of all dead Slivers. It didn't make it to print, but the futureshifted cards did have a cycle of Slivers with new abilities on them.


cU11 Mystic Summoner – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); we'll definitely do ____ cycling in the future.

This was the creature with Wizards cycling that became Vedalken Æthermage. I'm again using "definitely" way too aggressively. R&D moved away from doing tutoring mechanics, which is probably why we never explored __________cycling.

cU12 Herald of the Future – Miscellaneous; this card is gray as to whether it even belongs as a timeshifted card; here to help block time counter theme.

This creature got +1/+1 for every card in play or in exile with a time counter on it. It never made it to print and probably wasn't worthy of being futureshifted.

cU13 Mill Man – Miscellaneous; included as a scry (and milling) helper. Might do the mill half one day.

This is the early version of the card that would later become Narcomoeba. It got removed from the file, and I riffed on the idea when making cards last minute to fill some holes.

cU14 Hidden Information – New Mechanic, Future Hint (Specific); this is a mechanic we are planning to include in "Peanut" block.

This was a card that, when revealed by any other card, let you spend 1U to draw a card. Lorwyn did mess around with revealing as a cost but didn't do much with revealing triggers. This is definitely playing in a loosey-goosey rules area.

cU15 Exchange Flight – Red Herring; this mechanic probably won't work as a fleshed-out mechanic. If it somehow worked out rules-wise, and people liked it, obviously we'd revisit it.

This is Arcanum Wings. We haven't revisited the Aura-swap mechanic. It's dangerous in that it lets you circumvent mana costs.

cU16 Belittle – Future Hint (Vague); "Peanut" is playing around with revealing as a cost, but this card is probably the kind of card we'd see when we revisit the mechanic.

Lorwyn did mess around with revealing as a cost, but we haven't done much else with it.

uU11 Bad Mojo – Evolution, Red Herring; I don't see a future for evil scry.

This card became Spin into Myth. We have not reused fateseal as a keyword. It's just kind of mean.

uU12 Speedy Looter – Future Hint (Vague); we're planning to start using haste on white and blue utility creatures.

This was us exploring the idea of putting haste on blue creatures (usually with 0 power) where the haste was about using the activated ability right away rather than attacking. This isn't something we've explored since.

uU13 Twiddlywinker – Evolution; this is a tweak on the scry mechanic, which gets reintroduced in the set.

This is Cryptic Annelid. Scry is a mechanic that we've explored a lot, so much so, that we made it evergreen.

uU14 Imaginarion – Future Hint (Vague); this is the goofy one that we'll reprint one day (unless it proves horribly broken).

This was a 1UU 2/1 artifact creature with a mana value of 0. It didn't make it to print.

uU15 Butterfly – Future Hint (Vague); one day we'll bring back morph during a multicolor year.

This was a blue creature with a white morph cost. We did mess around with using morph in a multicolor set in Khans of Tarkir, but we've never messed in this space. This card didn't make it to print.

rU11 Gimp Flipper – Evolution, Red Herring; I don't plan on revisiting flip cards again.

This card didn't make it to print. It was a flip creature (like in Champions of Kamigawa). The card had vanishing and kept flipping back and forth from Human to Wolf. Weirdly kind of hints at Innistrad.

rU12 Veiled Clone – Future Hint (Vague); if the rules don't kill this card, I assume we'll see it again.

This was an enchantment that becomes a copy of the next permanent that enters the battlefield. It didn't make it to print, and I'm not sure why it's futureshifted.

rU13 Jhoira, Wizened Matriarch – Things from the Future; just here to contrast with her non-bonus present-day card.

This was a version of Jhoira as an old lady. She had vanishing 7 and could tap to tutor for an instant with the mana value equal to the number of counters on her. The card never made it to print, but we did do a cycle of legendary futureshifted creatures with grandeur. Interestingly, Jhoira stopped aging, so the idea of old Jhoira is quirky.


cB11 Cockroaches Unending – New Keyword, Future Hint (Vague); endless is a keyword we might use one day, nothing planned in the immediate future.

Endless was a keyword that made the creature return to your hand whenever it went to the graveyard from the battlefield. It never made it to print.

cB12 Mean Imp – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); this card is playing around with non-mana echo costs; we will definitely explore this when we do echo next.

This card is Deepcavern Imp. I guess technically it's not yet a lie that the next time we do echo we'll do non-mana costs. Man, I love using the word "definitely."

cB13 Scaredy Linx – New Keyword (kind of), Future Hint (Specific); if we keyword Spirit Link here, we need to follow up with it in "Peanut"; essentially, we'd be making the switch here, but it would only be on one card, whereas in "Peanut," it would be on multiple cards.

Originally, lifelink was going to be introduced on this black creature. It ended up getting moved to white's Mistmeadow Skulk.

cB14 Sluggish Zombie – New Keyword, Future Hint (Vague); this keyword might prove valuable for development (as it allows a mechanic that is good against noncreature decks and worse against creature decks).

Sluggish Zombie is the introduction of last strike. Designer Mark Gottlieb created this card, then rules manager Mark Gottlieb said black border couldn't do it. This card did see the light of day as Extremely Slow Zombie in Unstable.

cB15 Dark Surrender – New Keyword, Future Hint (Specific); I'm saving this mechanic for a gothic horror world that's planned five or six years out.

This card became Death Rattle and had a mechanic called gravecast that would get renamed to delve. That gothic horror world would be Innistrad, and we did look into using delve there, but decided against it. Delve worked better in a set where just one portion cared about the graveyard, so it found a home in the Sultai clan in Khans of Tarkir.

uB11 Flesh Eater – New Mechanic, Keyword Extension, Red Herring; I don't think this mechanic would work out in large numbers.

This card would become Fleshwrither. I was correct that we weren't going to make use of transfigure. Tutor mechanics have just gone out of vogue because they create too much repetition in gameplay.

uB12 Forgetful Necromancer – Miscellaneous, Future Hint (Vague); we'll bring this guy back in an environment that we feel needs him (or more likely the set after).

This card would become Yixilid Jailer. It's yet to be brought back to a premier set.

uB13 Poisoned Fangs – New Keyword, Future Hint (Specific); poison will be coming back in "Lights," "Camera," and "Action" (my codenames for the sets after "Live," "Long," and "Prosper") where we return to Phyrexia. Venom is a keyword we plan on using.

This card became Snake Cult Initiate. Its ability, called venom, would be renamed as poisonous. Poison did come back in "Lights," "Camera," and "Action" (aka Scars of Mirrodin block), but poisonous would be replaced with infect.

uB14 Wound Infection – Red Herring; we do not plan to have enchantments tap as we need to keep a separation between enchantments and artifacts.

This was an enchantment with a tap ability. This would get moved to red and become Flowstone Embrace. We had no plans, and continue to have no plans, to put tapping onto enchantments. It's one of the few differences still existing between artifacts and enchantments.

uB15 Dauthi Rogue – Future Hint (Vague); both pieces will see play in the future, but I don't know when or if they'll line up in the same block.

This creature had shadow and a required discarding cost as the card entered the battlefield. This card never saw print.

rB11 Dredge Sliver – Miscellaneous; this card was just us extending the Sliver theme. If dredge and Slivers ever return at the same time, maybe we'd reprint this.

This was a Sliver that granted dredge 3. In development, it was decided to have the futureshifted cycle of Slivers all grant brand-new abilities.

rB12 Tomb Stalker – New Mechanic, Future Hint (Specific); this mechanic is from the gothic horror block.

Surprise, surprise—this card was printed as Tombstalker.

rB13 Mind Churn – Keyword Extension, Future Hint (Vague); I have no immediate plans for this mechanic, but if the players like it, I see no reason it can't come back (okay, other than power issues).

This would become Bitter Ordeal and introduce gravestorm. We've yet to reuse that ability. And yes, we're wary of storm variants.

rB14 Rotting Carcass – Future Hint (Vague); the game seems to be moving toward more triggers that happen as things change zones.

This card never saw print. This was a Zombie that made the opponent lose life every time it changed zones.


cR11 Sneaky Goblin – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); as we like cycling, I know we'll go down paths like this in the future.

This was a 1RR 2/2 mountainwalking Goblin with cycling 0. It dealt 2 damage to you when cycled. It never saw print. We have experimented with cycling costs, but never 0.

cR12 Wide Receiver Kavu – New Keyword, Future Hint (Vague); I'm not sure when, but frenzy will be used in a future set, probably in the next five years.

This creature had frenzy. The ability was moved to the black Sliver. I really had high hopes for frenzy, but play design is not a fan, so every time I've tried to put it into a set, I've been advised to remove it.

CR13 Spear Tosser – Future Hint (Specific); we're going to be playing around with creatures that affect things sharing a creature type in "Peanut" block, most likely starting in "Butter."

We figured out we were going to do Tribal as a card type in Lorwyn, so we made use of it here. It ended up getting moved to the white card Bound in Silence and referenced in the reminder text on Tarmogoyf.

cR14 Viashino Seether – Red Herring; I don't plan to make use of negative power in the future.

This is Char-Rumbler. I was correct that we wouldn't use negative power much in the future.

cR15 Land Trap – Future Hint (Vague); this card is barely timeshifted material and can easily come back.

This is us experimenting with other ways of doing land destruction without it actually destroying the land. We did try some land freezing (it doesn't untap), but it didn't stick.

cR16 Hurry Up – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); we'll be exploring this vein of design space when next we bring back flashback.

This card was a sorcery that granted haste for R with flashback 0. It didn't see print and we haven't done any flashback 0 cards.

uR11 Replay Goblin – New Keyword, Red Herring; the design space for this mechanic is much tighter than it might appear.

This card was a 1/1 Goblin with an "enters the battlefield" effect (it made 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens). It had the ability replay which allowed you to cast it from the battlefield as well as from your hand. It didn't make it to print, I think because it made the rules manager's eye twitch too much.

uR12 Arrogant War Trainer – Future Hint (Specific); "Peanut" will be playing around with "classes matter," but we must decide if we're willing to create a new class for flavor purposes.

This card didn't make it. It was just us hinting at a new possible class. Kind of boring.

uR13 Goblin Swarm – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); I know echo will come back, and non-mana echo costs will be something we explore.

This card was messing around with non-mana echo costs. It got cut. I was a little too confident about echo returning.

uR14 Timebreather – Miscellaneous; this card is here to play up the time counter theme of the block.

This card got moved to the non-timeshifted portion of the set and became Rift Elemental.

uR15 Triplestrike – New keyword, Keyword Extension, Future Hint (Vague); if last strike works out, I guarantee triple strike will return.

Like last strike, this card got killed by the rules manager and came out as an Un- card in Unstable (Three-Headed Goblin).

rR11 Brainstorm Elemental – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); more exploration of non-mana echo costs.

This card became Shah of Naar Isle with an echo cost of 0. Echo has yet to return, so there has been no further experimentation with it.

rR12 Goblin Splorg – Cards from the Future, Future Hint (Vague); we will one day make "Splorgs."

This was the slot that would eventually become Steamflogger Boss. It started as a card that referenced a creature type that did not yet exist. Aaron wanted it to push further into the unknown, and eventually, it erected monuments, and then, finally, assembled contraptions (with Riggers). Contraptions was one of the major mechanics of Unstable. You can see why I joked that Future Sight was, at the time, the third Un- set.

rR13 Traveler from Beyond – Red Herring; I do not want to make the "removed from game zone" a revolving door.

This was a card that got things back from exile (then "removed from the game"). I came to my senses and had the card pulled from development.

rR14 Gimme, Gimme – Red Herring; this is a card touching on stuff we're probably not going to bother with again.

This card did not make it to print. It was playing around with stealing phases. Clocknapper in Unstable would revisit this.


cG11 Card-Loving Thallid – Miscellaneous; this is here to expand upon the block's Thallid theme.

This card was experimenting with Thallids that got counters based on a trigger other than the start of the turn. This card triggered when you drew a card. It still made a 1/1 Saproling for removing three spore counters. This card didn't make it to print.

cG12 Spellwild Dog – Future Hint (Vague); this card (and cards like it) are fair game for any upcoming set.

This was a 2/2 Dog for 1G that made spells that target it cost 2 less mana. It didn't make it to print.

cG13 Creature Loving Thallid – Miscellaneous; this is here to expand upon the block's Thallid theme.

This was a Thallid that triggered off non-Funguses entering the battlefield. This card also did not make it to print.

cG14 Runeweb Spider – New Keyword (kind of), Future Hint (Specific); like Spirit Link, choosing to keyword "can block fliers" means we need to probably change it in "Peanut."

This card became Thornweald Archer and introduced reach.

cG15 Elf-walla – Future Hint (Specific); "Peanut" is playing around with revealing as a cost.

This was a Rootwalla variant that required you to reveal an elf as part of a cheaper activation cost. This card didn't make it to print.

cG16 Whittling Bloom – New Keyword, Red Herring; this keyword is not exciting on all that many cards.

This card had the whittle mechanic that let you exile other copies of this card from your library when you cast it. The mechanic didn't play great and was cut. You can see green had a higher miss ratio than the other colors.

uG11 Poison Sliver – New Keyword, Future Hint (Vague); poison is coming back in "Lights," "Camera," and "Action," so I doubt it will also have Slivers.

This card would become Virulent Sliver. I was correct in predicting that Scars of Mirrodin wouldn't have Slivers.

uG12 Brother Nature – Future Hint (Vague); if this card works out, it could come back whenever.

This was a 1GG 0/5 Elemental that tapped for G that was a forest while in your library, allowing you to grab it with things like land-fetching spells. It didn't make it to print.

uG13 Breath of Air – Future Hint (Specific); "Jelly" is playing around with using mana symbols as a costing mechanism.

This card became Phosphorescent Feast and introduced chroma, although it wasn't named. I was correct in that it would show up in Shadowmoor block a year later. Chroma didn't go over great but got redesigned as devotion in original Theros to much greater fanfare.

uG14 Have Enough Land? – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); this card can come back when we next explore cycling.

This card became Edge of Autumn. We haven't really messed with too many non-mana cycling costs since then.

uG15 Elf Biologist – Future Hint (Vague); this card can come back in an environment that can make use of it.

This was a 3/3 Elf for 3G that made creatures the turn after this creature entered the battlefield cheaper to cast. It didn't make it to print.

rG11 Thallid Sliver – Miscellaneous; this is here to cross the block's Sliver and Thallid themes.

This turned all Slivers into Thallids, getting a spore counter every turn and then being able to turn three spore counters into a 1/1 Saproling. All the Slivers were changed to have new keywords, so this went away.

rG12 Boss Scragnoth – Future Hint (Vague); it's more likely that pieces of this card come back than this card in its entirety.

This was a 5G 4/4 Beast that could not be countered, discarded, sacrificed, or the target of spells. It didn't make it to print.

rG13 Lint Elemental – Future Hint (Vague); this card can easily come back if people like it.

This card became Force of Savagery, the 8/0 creature. We haven't explored many more 0 toughness creatures.

rG14 Type Lhurgoyf – Future Hint (Vague); we will probably explore the design space of caring about card types in the future.

This card became Tarmogoyf. We knew both Tribal and planeswalkers were coming out soon (both ended up premiering in Lorwyn).

rG15 Love of Vanilla – Red Herring; probably an area we don't want to delve too much into.

This card became Muraganda Petroglyphs. We've done a few "vanilla matters" cards, but it's a difficult theme to do in volume.


rZ11 Puma Warrior – Future Hint (Specific); "Sandwich" will be exploring advanced hybrid costs.

This was a 4/1 Cat Soldier with a mana cost of (r/b)(r/b)(g/w)(g/w) that had abilities that worked with any combination of colors paid. Shadowmoor block would experiment with hybrid mana costs, but this card didn't see print.


RX01 Venser – New Card Type, Future Hint (Specific); it looks as if "Rock" is going to introduce planeswalkers.

This was actually the precursor to Jace Beleren, who premiered in Lorwyn. At the time of the handoff, we expected that the planeswalker card type was going to premiere in Future Sight, but we eventually realized we needed more time to work on them and pushed them back. We hinted at their upcoming existence on Tarmogoyf.


uA11 Luna Ring – Miscellaneous; this card is more to play into "Pop's" themes than anything else.

This was a mana rock that gave you two colorless mana on your next turn. We didn't end up making it.

uA12 Thunderdome – New Subtype, Future Hint (Specific); "Live," "Long," and "Prosper" as the land block will probably want to explore Equipment for land.

This card became Darksteel Garrison and introduced Fortifications. We looked at them for Zendikar but didn't end up using them there. It turns out there just aren't a lot of effects you want to equip to a land.

rA11 Morphin' Miller – Evolution, Future Hint (Vague); when morph returns next, we'll probably explore noncreature morph.

This became Whetwheel. As I said above, Khans of Tarkir block did explore noncreature morph (and one could argue manifest did it a little) but passed.

rA12 Akroma's Monument – Cards from the Future; this card is the third piece of our Akroma cycle that runs through the block.

This became Akroma's Memorial and moved to non-futureshifted.

rA13 Amulet of Chaos – Future Hint (Vague); during a future artifact block (and note that "Lights," "Camera," and "Action" are in one such block), we'll explore alternate-color mana costs.

This was an artifact that could be cast for 6 or UUU (kind of a precursor to hybrid mana) and let you exchange three of your permanents for three permanents that shared a card type. This card didn't make it to print.

And that in a mere eight pages is the "Pop" design philosophy in a nutshell. Let me know if you have any more specific questions.

Mark Rosewater

As you can see, we had some idea where the future was heading and made a lot of hints toward those things. We also made some more open-ended guesses as to where the game could go even though we hadn't yet planned on going there. Looking back with fifteen years of hindsight, this set did a pretty good job of giving players a glimpse at Magic's future.

I hope you enjoyed looking back at Future Sight. As always, I'm eager to hear your feedback on any of the things I talked about today. You can email me or contact me through any of my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok).

Join me next week as Modern Horizons 2 previews begin (with preview cards that I'm very excited to share with you).

Until then, may you have fun going back to the Future.