Today's article is a trivia column about card names. For each question, I will ask about how a card was named and then give you four cards to choose from. I will then give the answer (which you must click to reveal).

Question #1 – Which of the following cards was named after someone who would go on to become head designer?

  1. Emmessi Tome
  2. Jalum Tome
  3. Jayemdae Tome
  4. Mangara's Tome

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Answer: b. Jalum Tome

When Richard was making Alpha, he named several cards after friends of his. One such card was Jayemdae Tome or J.M.D. Tome. The J.M.D. stood for James Michael Davis. Mike Davis was the person who accompanied Richard to the very first meeting they had with Wizards of the Coast, at the time trying to sell Richard's game Roborally. Peter Adkison, the CEO of Wizards, informed them that the game had too many components for a company their size to produce, but said they did have the ability to print cards with art on them. This story has a happy ending.

The tradition of naming Tomes after the initials of designers continued. Jalum Tome or J.L.M. Tome was named after Joel L. Mick, one of the designers of Antiquities. Joel would later become the first head designer for Magic (followed by Bill Rose, followed by me).

Emmessi Tome or M.S.E. Tome was named after Mike Scott Elliott, a designer on Tempest. Mike would go on to be a very prolific Magic designer, leading more set designs than anyone save myself.

Mangara's Tome is the only one not named after a designer. Mangara is an anagram of the word "anagram." The designers who named it (back then, the designers did most of the naming for their own set) thought it was a funny poke at how often we used anagrams for card names back in the day. (You'll get a sense of this today as anagrams come up a lot.)


Question #2 – Which of the following characters got their name through the following process: We took an English word starting with C, changed the C to a K, and removed an "i" from the word to make the name? (The word is loosely thematically relevant to the character.)

  1. Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer
  2. Kambal, Consul of Allocation
  3. Karn, Silver Golem
  4. Karona, False God

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Answer: c. Karn, Silver Golem

Karn is named after the word "cairn." It is defined as a "heap of stones piled as a memorial or a landmark." Karn was a golem that held the Legacy, a collection of important artifacts, so we thought it was neat to name him after a landmark made of stones. He was named, interestingly, before we had decided what material he was made from.


Question #3 – Which of the following Antiquities cards was named after a card from Alpha?

  1. Amulet of Kroog
  2. Coral Helm
  3. Onulet
  4. Rakalite

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Answer: c. Onulet

Onulet was originally Onulets, and it was an anagram of the Alpha card Soul Net, which also gives you life when a creature dies. When the art came back for Onulets, there was only one creature pictured in the art, so they had to change the name. They thought about giving it a brand-new name, but they'd grown to like the name Onulet, so they just made it singular, thus ruining the anagram.


Question #4 – Which legendary creature from Mirage has a name that was somewhat inspired by a football player? (I am referring to American football.)

  1. Asmira, Holy Avenger
  2. Purraj of Urborg
  3. Shauku, Endbringer
  4. Telim'Tor

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Answer: d. Telim'Tor

The design team of Mirage consisted of six people who had all been Alpha playtesters who Richard met through a bridge club (Bill Rose, Charlie Catino, Don Felice, Elliott Segal, Howard Kahlenberg, and Joel Mick). That group would go on to design Mirage and Visions. One day while the group was playtesting, Elliott talked about how he thought it was cool that Chicago Bears player William Perry had the nickname of "the Refrigerator." He suggested it might be cool if the members of the design team each got a nickname, to which Bill Rose replied, "Okay, Mr. Toilet." Telim'Tor is an anagram of "Mr. Toilet."


Question #5 – Which of the following Unglued cards has a named inspired by another game?

  1. Bureaucracy
  2. Charm School
  3. Flock of Rabid Sheep
  4. Spark Fiend

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Answer: d. Spark Fiend

The mechanics of Spark Fiend are based on the dice game Craps. Spark is Kraps spelled backwards. The very first name was actually Sparc Elemental, but all it did was create notes in the database that we misspelled it, so we changed it to Spark.


Question #6 – Which card from Odyssey has a name that is the combination of the names of two older cards?

  1. Cantivore
  2. Mudhole
  3. Painbringer
  4. Syncopate

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Answer: d. Syncopate

One of the big challenges in naming Magic cards is coming up with cool new words for counterspells. Because every set has multiples, we long ago chewed through all the obvious low-hanging names. Syncopate is a musical term that means "to displace the beats or accents in music so that strong beats become weak and weak beats become strong," so it was a cool counterspell name as it implies the messing with how something works.

The even cooler part, though, is the design that combines taxing (for X) with an exiling of the countered card. The original spell that taxed the opponent (for X) and then countered the spell if they couldn't pay the tax was Power Sink in Alpha. The first counterspell that exiled a spell it countered was Dissipate from Mirage. This card was originally designed because we realized that we could take the "Sink" from Power Sink and combine it with the "pate" from Dissipate to make the word Syncopate. The whole package was so awesome, it went into Odyssey in early design and stayed to print.


Question #7 – Which of the following black legendary creatures had to have its name shortened because the original name didn't fit on the card?

  1. Cabal Patriarch
  2. Commander Greven il-Vec
  3. Grandmother Sengir
  4. Spirit of the Night

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Answer: d. Spirit of the Night

The card's original name was Spirit of the Nightstalker, but it didn't fit, so they cut it down.


Question #8 – Which of the following cards is not named for Richard Garfield or a member of his family?

  1. Ernham Djinn
  2. Ifh-Biff Efreet
  3. Mijae Djinn
  4. Phelddagrif

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Answer: c. Mijae Djinn

Ernham Djinn was named after Herman, Richard's brother-in-law. Ernham is an anagram of Herman. Ifh-Biff Efreet was named after Elizabeth, Richard's sister. Richard couldn't say "Elizabeth" when he was little, so he called her "Ifh-Biff" and the name stuck as a nickname.

Phelddagrif is an anagram of "Garfield Ph.D." The name was an inside joke in R&D because they liked to tease him that the PR always referred to him as that in interviews.

Mijae Djinn was named after a friend of Richard's named Jamie, who had gotten married to another friend Wendy, around the time of Arabian Nights. Richard was the best man at the wedding. Mijae is an anagram of Jamie. Ydwen, of Ydwen Efreet, is anagram of Wendy. Jamie is not related to Richard.


Question #9 – Which of the following Legends cards is named after a D&D character played by Wizards founder and first CEO Peter Adkison?

  1. Al-abra's Carpet
  2. Alchor's Tomb
  3. Boris Devilboon
  4. Gosta Dirk

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Answer: b. Alchor's Tomb

Peter played a powerful wizard named Alchor. As a tribute to him, the Legends design team made a card called Alchor's Tome to reference an artifact for a wizard. The artist unfortunately misheard what was being asked and instead of drawing a tome, he drew a tomb. There was a tight enough turnaround that they couldn't get new art, so the card name changed. Peter's playful response was "This is how you honor my character, by killing him?"


Question #10 – Which Unfinity card name is a tweak on the name of a famous short story (one, by the way, that I had to read three times in high school)?

  1. Exchange of Words
  2. A Good Day to Pie
  3. Knife and Death
  4. The Most Dangerous Gamer

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Answer: d. The Most Dangerous Gamer

A person (or persons) finds themself hunted by a rich hunter who's looking for a new thrill. You've seen this plot in numerous movies and television shows. It comes from the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell.


Question #11 – Which Innistrad card name was inspired by a song?

  1. Cellar Door
  2. Creepy Doll
  3. One-Eyed Scarecrow
  4. Wooden Stake

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Answer: b. Creepy Doll

"Creepy Doll" is a song by singer Jonathan Coulton. I'm a fan of his and felt Creepy Doll would be an excellent addition to the gothic horror set.


Question #12 – Which legendary creature from Kaladesh has a name that is an anagram of another Magic character?

  1. Depala, Pilot Exemplar
  2. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
  3. Padeem, Consul of Innovation
  4. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

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Answer: d. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

Rashmi is the inventor of the Planar Bridge, an item that has played a big role in the story. Her name is an anagram of Mishra, another famous Magic inventor.


Question #13 – Which of the following blue spell names comes from a word that means "to use sleight of hand, most often with cards or coins."

  1. Bamboozle
  2. Expropriate
  3. Hoodwink
  4. Legerdemain

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Answer: d. Legerdemain

Bamboozle means "to fool or cheat." Expropriate means "taking away property from its owner (often by the state)." Hoodwink means "to deceive or trick."


Question #14 – Which Tempest card's name references the set's codename?

  1. Fylamarid
  2. Pallimud
  3. Scragnoth
  4. Vhati il-Dal

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Answer: d. Vhati il-Dal

Vhati was short for "Bogavhati," the codename for Tempest. Bogavhati is a misspelling of Bhogavati (we didn't realize this at the time), which is the land of the Nagas in Hindu mythology. In design, Tempest had a strong poison theme that this was referencing. Note, we now try to make codenames not have any mechanical tie to the set.


Question #15 – Which of the following cards was named after the initial planned name for the plane of Eldraine?

  1. Castle Ardenvale
  2. Caste Embereth
  3. Castle Locthwain
  4. Castle Vantress

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Answer: a. Castle Ardenvale

Ardenvale was the name the Creative team originally pitched for the plane of Eldraine, but it didn't end up making it through the gauntlet that all names must work their way through (as it was part of the set's name). The plane's name was changed to Eldraine, but the Creative team really liked the name Ardenvale, so they made it the name of the white kingdom.


Question #16 – Which of the legendary creatures from Time Spiral does not have a name that matched how they were credited the first time they appeared in flavor text years earlier?

  1. Dralnu, Lich Lord
  2. Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
  3. Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
  4. Jaya Ballard, Task Mage

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Answer: a. Dralnu, Lich Lord

Dralnu first appeared in the flavor text of a Planeshift card. He was accredited as Lord Dralnu. The others (Endrek in Fallen Empires, Ib Halfheart and Jaya Ballard in Ice Age) all used the attribute in their name originally in flavor text. Jaya Ballard got her last name, interestingly from editor Darla Kennerud, after a city in greater Seattle.


Question #17 – Which of the following cards from Apocalypse had to have their name changed at the absolute last minute before printing because it implied an ability the creature didn't have?

  1. Angelfire Crusader
  2. Fungal Shambler
  3. Glade Gnarr
  4. Spectral Lynx

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Answer: d. Spectral Lynx

Here's the story. When the set Apocalypse was close to being finished, the last member of the Creative team quit (it was a much smaller team back then). Bill Rose came to me and asked if I would be willing to take charge of names and flavor text until they hired some new people to be on the Creative team. I'd overseen the names and flavor text for Unglued (and had done a lot of name/flavor text writing), so I was the one person in R&D who had done the job before. My first task in this role was to look at the Apocalypse names before the set went to print. Only one name seemed problematic to me.

Spectral Lynx was at the time called Spirit Lynx. This was before Future Sight where we introduced the keyword lifelink. Before that, it was colloquially referred to as "spirit link" as that was the card, from Legends, that had made the ability popular (although, for the record, the effect on Spirit Link isn't exactly lifelink). I said a creature couldn't be called Spirt Lynx if it didn't have the ability players referred to, at the time, as "spirit link," so it had to change. Because it was so late in the process, the collector numbers had already been locked in, so we had to come up with a name in between Shield of Duty and Reason and Standard Bearer. Spectral Lynx was our best answer.


Question #18 – Which Ice Age artifact's name has an anagram involving its art?

  1. Arcum's Weathervane
  2. Elkin Bottle
  3. Fyndhorn Bow
  4. Nacre Talisman

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Answer: b. Elkin Bottle

The bottle pictured in the art is what is known as a Klein bottle. A Klein bottle is an example of a non-orientable surface studied in topology (a branch of mathematics). It's named after the mathematician Felix Klein who first described it. Another non-orientable object, a Möbius strip, got a similar treatment on the card Bosium Strip in Weatherlight.


Question #19 – Which creature enchantment's card name refers to the nickname of a popular creature from that time?

  1. Pemmin's Aura
  2. Greel's Caress
  3. Latulla's Orders
  4. Farrel's Mantle

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Answer: a. Pemmin's Aura

Pemmin's Aura is an anagram of "I am Superman." It refers to the card Morphling from Urza's Saga which had the nickname of Superman. The enchantment grants the enchanted creature the ability of Morphling.


Question #20 – Which of the following holiday cards does not have a name that is a play on a pre-existing Magic card?

  1. Gifts Given
  2. Snow Mercy
  3. Stocking Tiger
  4. Yule Ooze

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Answer: d. Yule Ooze

Gifts Given is a reference to Gifts Ungiven from Champions of Kamigawa. Snow Mercy is a reference to No Mercy from Urza's Legacy. Stocking Tiger is a reference to Stalking Tiger from Mirage. Yule Ooze got its name from sounding like the expression "you'll lose."


"Pencils Down"

Now it's time to add up your correct answers and see how you did:

  • 1–9 Correct: You have a lot to learn about Magic trivia.
  • 10–11 Correct: You've obviously been paying some attention.
  • 12–13 Correct: You're starting to show some Magic trivia potential.
  • 14–15 Correct: Decent. You've got Magic trivia chops.
  • 16–17 Correct: Very good. I'm impressed.
  • 18–19 Correct: You have mad Magic trivia skills.
  • 20 Correct: I bow down to you.

I hope you enjoyed today's trivia questions. As always, I'm eager to hear your thoughts on today's column or Magic trivia in general. You can email me or contact me through my social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok).

Join me next week when previews begin for Phyrexia: All Will Be One.

Until then, may many card names have meaning to you.