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Some points of interest on Alpha cards:

  • Each color, except red, has two local enchantment (Auras) with enchant land.
  • Ankh of Mishra uses the real-world ankh symbol in its artwork.
  • Basalt Monolith had errata for a while to prevent the mana it generated from being usable with itself because of an infinite mana combo with Power Artifact and an infinite damage-to-player combo with the original wording of Relic Bind, which also received errata to prevent this combo.
  • Birds of Paradise was created because the bird in the artwork commissioned for Volcanic Island was too prominent.[1] It was legal in Standard permanently from its original printing until Tenth Edition rotated out, except for a brief time after Eighth Edition rotated out and before the Ravnica expansion rotated in. It returned to Standard when it was re-printed in Magic 2010, but once again left the format when Magic 2012 rotated out.
  • Camouflage turned attacking creatures face-down, but when the Morph mechanic defined the characteristics of a face-down card the wording of Camouflage was changed to create a random assignment of blockers, which effectively emulated the original intent of the card.
  • Castle is one of a few early cards that were later functionally changed, making it both better and easier to understand. The removed text prevented attacking creatures from gaining the bonus because of Vigilance.
  • Chaos Orb was removed from the core set with the intention of it or a card like it returning one day. Richard Garfield said of its absence from Revised: "No, we didn't can the concept. There will always be weirdo cards like this floating around, but the same old one gets passé." The card was later added to the Banned list for being a dexterity card, removing it from tournament play and from future sets. This was also helped by the fact that its use made it optimal to place cards in ridiculous and confusing places, mixed with opponent's permanents. Chaos Orb was also the focus of an urban legend that said an early tournament was won by a player who tore his card into small pieces and scattered them over his opponent's cards. This legend inspired the Unglued card Chaos Confetti.
  • Circle of Protection: Black was left out of the Alpha set in part due to confusion surrounding its artwork. The contracted artist bailed at the last moment so the original Art Director, Jesper Myrfors, created its original artwork quickly on the computer.
  • Circle of Protection: Red is the only Circle of Protection to appear in every core set (and even a few large expansions) until Tenth Edition.
  • Clockwork Beast was originally worded to remove a +1/+0 counter when declared as an attacker or blocker, although this was unclear. It was functionally changed in Fourth Edition to reflect how most players played the card. It also has the greatest combined power and toughness among artifact creatures in Alpha and was played early on for having power greater than its converted mana cost and for the advantages of it being an artifact creature.
  • Cockatrice was ironically generally worse than its uncommon comrade, Thicket Basilisk because having flying somewhat negated the Venom ability.
  • Consecrate Land is the first card to use indestructibility, although that keyword would not be created until 2003.
  • Contract from Below, Darkpact and Demonic Attorney, like all other ante cards, have been on the Banned List from its inception.
  • Copy Artifact is unusual for its ability to be both an enchantment and an artifact when in play.
  • Craw Wurm excites many players initially because it is usually the first creature of its size that new players come across. This makes it a good Timmy card.
  • Dingus Egg was actually on the original Restricted List for its combo with Armageddon, Balance and other powerful land destruction spells.
  • Disrupting Scepter was considered a good card initially, as discard was a powerful strategy then.
  • Dragon Whelp is one of only a few "actually good" cards in the original Sligh deck.
  • Drain Life plays an important role in many Necropotence decks to recoup life lost to the Skull.
  • Firebreathing and Jade Statue are the only non-creature cards in Alpha with flavor text.
    • Although Jade Statue was not an creature in its normal state, it was printed with a Power/Toughness to represent its ability.[2]
  • Force of Nature has the greatest combined power and toughness among green creatures in Alpha.
  • Lord of the Pit has the greatest combined power and toughness among black creatures in Alpha. Its art description simply was "Balrog".[3]
  • Mahamoti Djinn has the greatest combined power and toughness among blue creatures in Alpha.
  • Personal Incarnation has the greatest combined power and toughness among white creatures in Alpha.
  • Shivan Dragon has the greatest combined power and toughness among red creatures in Alpha.
  • The art for Twiddle was originally commissioned for a land.[4]
  • If every card in Alpha was worded using modern templating, the only two cards that would remain unchanged would be Stream of Life and Time Walk.[5]


  1. Mark Rosewater (October 22, 2018). "How Trivial". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Magic Arcana (February 12, 2004). "The first "creature artifact"". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Wizards of the Coast (January 1, 2007). "Ask Wizards - January, 2007". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Wizards of the Coast (January 1, 2007). "Ask Wizards - January, 2007". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Magic Arcana (June 26, 2002). "Current wordings". Wizards of the Coast.