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Ice Age

Ice Age
ICE logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description A snowflake
Design Skaff Elias
Jim Lin
Chris Page
Dave Pettey
Development Skaff Elias
Jim Lin
Chris Page
Dave Pettey
Art direction Sandra Everingham
Release date Early June, 1995
Plane Dominaria (Terisiare)[1]
Themes and mechanics Allied colors,
Keywords/​ability words Cumulative upkeep
Set size 383 cards
(121 commons, 121 uncommons, 121 rares, 20 basic lands)
Expansion code ICE[2]
Ice Age block[note 1]
Ice Age Alliances Coldsnap
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Fourth Edition Ice Age Chronicles
For other uses, see Ice Age (disambiguation).

Ice Age is the first set in the Ice Age block. It is the 6th Magic expansion and was released in early June, 1995.

ICE booster

Ice Age booster

Set details[ | ]

Ice Age contained 383 black-bordered cards (121 rare, 121 uncommon, 121 common, and 20 basic lands). It is notable for being the first standalone Magic expansion set; it could be played independently of other Magic products. Because of this, it was the first expansion to reprint all five basic lands, staple cards like Swords to Plowshares and Giant Growth and popular older cards. All in all the set included about 8% reprints of old cards and another 8% of the cards were functional reprints. Ice Age is the first expansion to use the new white mana symbol ({W}) that was first introduced in Fourth Edition and is still used today.[3][4] It was also the first expansion to use the new tap symbol that was introduced in Fourth Edition.[5] Ice Age is the first expansion to have a cycle of "color hosing cards". The expansion symbol of the set is a snowflake, to symbolize the arctic nature of Dominaria at the time.[6]

The Ice Age non-basic lands have a unique ice-colored text box.

Marketing[ | ]

Even though Alpha was released with the name "Magic: The Gathering" it wasn't originally Richard Garfield's intent that this would always be the name. His original idea was that the game would keep reinventing itself and when Ice Age came out, it would be named as "Magic: Ice Age".[7] The plan was scrapped for legal reasons and recognizability.[8]

Unlike earlier sets, Ice Age didn't have a fixed printrun, but was only available in a certain time period. It was released in early June 1995 and went out of print in February 1996, although it did not really dwindle in availability until the end of 1996. The print run is estimated at 500 million cards. The cards were sold in 60-card starter decks and 15-card boosters. Ice Age was the last set to have 10 starter decks in a box. It was the first expansion to have boosters with foil wrappers and artwork (Jester's Cap, Dire Wolves, Scaled Wurm, Pygmy Allosaurus, Karplusan Yeti).[9]

Ice Age was the first Magic expansion that was released in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. It was also the first set to have a prerelease tournament (Toronto, June 2–4, 1995).

Flavor and storyline[ | ]

The Ice Age storyline, like the earlier sets that took place on Dominaria, occurred on the continent of Terisiare, where the Brothers' War had taken place. That war ended with the Sylex Blast, which was powerful enough to alter the planet's climate; the slow creep of glaciers, the mighty gales of blizzards, and the numbing cold of lumpy winters have all combined to make Dominaria a dark and frigid world.[10] All the major civilizations of Terisiare had been destroyed by either the war or the ice. New cultures arose on the ice, fighting bitterly for survival, but when the necromancer Lim-Dûl unleashed a horde of undead, old enemies were forced to work together or be overwhelmed.

The setting was based largely off of Norse style mythology and culture. Names were largely Scandinavian in character, and occasional runes [11] and Norse-style clothing and armor can be seen in the art.

Design & Development[ | ]

Ice Age advertisement
Ice Age advertisement 2

The "East Coast playtesters", consisting of Skaff Elias, Jim Lin, and Dave Pettey, that had helped Richard Garfield with the original Alpha set of Magic decided that they could create a "more interesting" set. They were quickly asked by Richard Garfield to create a Magic expansion, and Chris Page was assigned to join the team.[12] At the time designers were given the freedom to either compose their sets entirely out of new cards or to use the commons from Alpha Edition and create only new uncommons and rares. The Ice Age group, who saw themselves as improving on Alpha Edition, chose to reuse many staple cards. The design goals are best described by Skaff Elias himself: "We wanted a set where flying was special, not just an extra word tacked on to every played creature. We wanted a set where the idea that a color was short on creatures meant something. We wanted a set where the 'allied' colors were played more often with each other than enemy colors were. We wanted strategy in simple creature combat as well as flashy enchantments that gave you cards for life. We wanted games to last longer (when we started the design of the set, the Magic environment was too fast due to unlimited card restrictions) and have more turnabouts." After Alpha Edition was published it was quickly realized that the players were ravenous for new cards and would not, at the time, stomach reprints of commons they had already seen. The presence of the reprinted commons would lead to the delayed release, and the redesign, of Ice Age. This was both good and bad for the set. More cards were created, some of which were slated to replace reprints, and more time was available to test those cards. Unfortunately, last-minute untested additions to improve the strength of the expansion's themes added complications to the cards and seemed clunky. Snow-covered lands were added late to improve the environmental theme, which could explain why the snow-covered mechanic was so poorly developed.

While the common reprints delayed the release of Ice Age, the timing for a standalone expansion was probably fortuitous, as it took time for Wizards of the Coast to collect and analyze feedback from the players and develop a plan for the long-term survival of the game. The idea of regularly recreating Magic is fundamental to the survival of the game, for which the Ice Age development team had to argue. The standalone style of this expansion was hotly debated at the time, but in the end proved to be a solid idea and important to the game and proved that players would eventually accept some reprints in an evolving game.

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

Ice Age introduced cumulative upkeep and snow lands (then called snow-covered lands) to the game. Cumulative upkeep is a cost on permanents that increases with each turn, and was used entirely as a disadvantage on cards with powerful and/or game-changing effects in this expansion. Snow-covered lands are a cycle of basic lands that also have the Snow supertype, which is meaningless by itself, but is referenced by other cards. This feature in the set is not very well developed and considered mostly a failure by the developers of the Alliances expansion, who chose not to expand much on this theme. Snow-covered lands inspired the creation of the Arcane spell type in the Kamigawa block.

Another popular mechanic introduced in Ice Age, but did not use a keyword: cantrips. These are spells that, in addition to a normal small effect, also replaced itself with a card draw. The typical formula for the mana cost of a cantrip was to add 2 to the cost of the effect, which was typically one colored mana for the typically small effect. Additionally, Ice Age set the precedent of such spells drawing a card during the next upkeep. This was done instead of today's simpler "Draw a card" because the developers were not sure if adding card drawing to simple spells would make them overpowered, and they chose to print a more conservative version of the ability. Delayed card drawing would continue on cantrips through the Visions expansion, when the delay was removed for being unnecessary.

Ice Age also further explored legendary permanents, expanding on them from the lands and multicolored creatures in the Legends expansion to now include mono-colored creatures.

Ice Age also had a theme of allied color cooperation, with cards of one color that required or were improved by the use of allied color mana. For example, Freyalise Supplicant is a green creature that requires you to sacrifice a white or red creature, and Word of Undoing is a blue instant that returns a creature to owner's hand, as well as any white Auras you own on that creature.

Ice Age was designed thematically for slow play, with very few creatures with evasion abilities. As a result, Ice Age limited play is often characterized by long games with non-flying creature stalls, as Magic sets were not yet designed specifically to support limited play.

Creature types[ | ]

Ice Age featured the return of various familiar creature types and also introduced numerous novel ones, some subtypes of which were exclusive to, and even shared the name of, the creature cards on which they were printed. This was not, by the standard practices of the time, unusual, as the design and development of Ice Age was prior to Magic: The Gathering's release to the general public. Since then, several of these unique creature types have been supplanted with other, more-appropriate or more-established creature types or been entirely removed in successive iterations of errata and the Grand Creature Type Update.[13][14] Not unusual for those times, creature types — namely Barbarian, Bear, Fox, Dryad, Goblins, Insect, Knight, Mammoth (now Elephant), Mercenary, Orc, Soldier, Zombies, Wolf, Worm — were printed with the plural number (or, informally, "form").

The following creature types were introduced in Ice Age:

Counter types[ | ]

Cycles[ | ]

Ice Age has 12 cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Circles of Protection Circle of Protection: White Circle of Protection: Blue Circle of Protection: Black Circle of Protection: Red Circle of Protection: Green
Each of these uncommon white enchantment cards costs {1}{W} and has an activated ability costing {1} to prevent all of the damage that a source of a given color and of the controller's choice would deal to them in a given turn.
Scarabs White Scarab Blue Scarab Black Scarab Red Scarab Green Scarab
Each of these uncommon white aura enchantment cards costs {W} and has "Enchant creature", "Enchanted creature can't be blocked by [given color] creatures.", and "Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 as long as an opponent controls a [given color] permanent.".
Ice Age Boons Sacred Boon Brainstorm Dark Ritual Incinerate Giant Growth
Each of these instants has a mana cost of M or 1M and an effect involving the number 3. This cycle is a rebalanced version of the Boons cycle in Alpha, including two reprints and three new cards. The overpowered Ancestral Recall and the underpowered Healing Salve were replaced, as well as Lightning Bolt.
Monocolored Hoser Enchantments Drought
Wrath of Marit Lage
Breath of Dreams
Stench of Evil
Leshrac's Sigil
Curse of Marit Lage
Freyalise's Charm
Each of these cards, two of each color, "hoses" one or the other of its enemy colors by "punishing" opponents, or exerting a negative effect on them, for playing lands or spells associated with that color. Amongst these are two mirrored pairs: the blue and red cards opposing each other, and the green and black cards opposing each other. The cards are uncommon, save for Wrath of Marit Lage and Curse of Marit Lage, which are rare.
Talismans Nacre Talisman Lapis Lazuli Talisman Onyx Talisman Hematite Talisman Malachite Talisman
Each of these uncommon artifacts cost {2} and have a triggered ability that allows its controller to pay {3} whenever a spell of a given color is cast to untap a target permanent.
Allied-effect Commons Adarkar Unicorn ({U})
Arenson's Aura ({U})
Elvish Healer ({G})
Kelsinko Ranger ({G})
Krovikan Sorcerer ({B})
Zuran Enchanter ({B})
Balduvian Shaman ({W})
Word of Undoing ({W})
Burnt Offering ({R})
Soul Burn ({R})
Brine Shaman ({U})
Norritt ({U})
Battle Frenzy ({G})
Orcish Lumberjack ({G})
Bone Shaman ({B})
Orcish Farmer ({B})
Dire Wolves ({W})
Essence Filter ({W})
Shambling Strider ({R})
Tinder Wall ({R})
Each of these four cycles of common cards consists of monocolored cards with effects that benefit or require one of that color's allies. Two cycles go clockwise around the color wheel and two go counter-clockwise.
Shard-ability Uncommons Snow Hound Dreams of the Dead Krovikan Elementalist Orcish Healer Freyalise Supplicant
Each of these uncommon permanents has either an activated ability that requires a creature of one of its allied colors or two activated abilities corresponding to each of its allied colors.
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
Depletion lands Land Cap River Delta Lava Tubes Timberline Ridge Veldt
Each of these rare dual lands has a mana ability tapping for one of two allied colors of mana, but causing the land to not untap on the player's next turn. These lands are so named for the depletion counters used to prevent them from untapping normally.
Pain lands Adarkar Wastes Underground River Sulfurous Springs Karplusan Forest Brushland
Each of these rare dual lands has two mana abilities; "{T}: Add {C}." and "{T}: Add M or N. [This] deals 1 damage to you.", where M and N are allied colors of mana.
Allied Rares Chromatic Armor Skeleton Ship Mountain Titan Stormbind Altar of Bone
Each of these rare spells costs nMN, where M and N are allied colors of mana.
Multicolored Hoser Enchantments Glaciers Flooded Woodlands Ghostly Flame Monsoon Reclamation
Each of these rare bicolored cards, of an allied color pairing that has one enemy color in common, directly or indirectly "hoses" opponents for playing decks with the enemy color. Four of the cards affect the opponent's lands in some way, including Flooded Woodlands and Reclamation which have mirrored effects. The odd card out is the black/red Ghostly Flame, which costs {2} less and in and of itself does not specifically "hose" its enemy color white; rather, it is designed to bypass white's own protective color hosers by changing the "color of damage" from black and/or red sources to "colorless damage", which prevents the operation of 6 cards from Ice Age (all white) and numerous others from outside the set.[15]
Cycle name {G}{W}{U} {W}{U}{B} {U}{B}{R} {B}{R}{G} {R}{G}{W}
Shard Rares Storm Spirit Merieke Ri Berit Elemental Augury Earthlink Fiery Justice
Each of these rare tricolored spells costs MNO or 3MNO, where M and O are two colors of mana that are allied with N, a third color of mana.

Pairs[ | ]

Ice Age has 17 mirrored pairs:

Mirrored Pairs Description
Order of the White Shield
Knight of Stromgald
These uncommon 2/1 Knight creatures, one white and one black, both cost MM and have protection from the other's color, "M: [This] gains first strike until end of turn", and "MM: [This] gets +1/+0 until end of turn".
Order of the Sacred Torch
Stromgald Cabal
These rare 2/2 Knight creatures, one white and one black, both cost {1}MM and can be tapped to counter a spell of the other's color at the cost of 1 life.
These common modal instants, one blue and one red, both cost M and can be cast to either counter a spell of the other's color or to destroy a permanent of the other's color.
Thunder Wall
Wall of Lava ({R}) These uncommon Wall creatures with toughness equal to their power plus two, one blue and one red, both cost {1}MM and have "M: [This] gets +1/+1 until end of turn."
Sea Spirit
Flame Spirit
These uncommon 2/3 Elemental Spirit creatures, one blue and one red, both have a mana cost of {4}M and "M: [This] gets +1/+0 until end of turn".
Wind Spirit
Stone Spirit
These uncommon Elemental Spirit creatures, one blue and one red, both have a mana cost of {4}M and an ability that limits an opponent's ability to block it.
Wrath of Marit Lage
Curse of Marit Lage
These rare enchantments named for the being Marit Lage, one blue and one red, both cost {3}MM and inhibit resources associated with the other's color.
Leshrac's Sigil
Freyalise's Charm
These uncommon enchantments, one black and one green, both cost MM and have "MM: Whenever an opponent casts a [the other color] spell, you may pay MM. If you do, [perform an action conferring card advantage]" and "MM: Return [this] to its owner's hand." Each is named for one of the planeswalkers who impacted the Ice Age storyline.
These uncommon sorceries, one black and one green, both cost {1}MM, destroy a target land and cause a 1 point life swing if that land was snow.
These uncommon white enchantments both cost {2}{W}{W} and have "At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice [this] unless you pay {W}{W}." and an effect that hoses one of white's enemy colors.
Lightning Blow
These rare white instants both cost 1W, cantrip, and grant target creature a keyword (banding or first strike) until end of turn.
Blessed Wine
These common white instants both cantrip and have flavor text quoting Halvor Arenson, and either gain you 1 life or prevent 1 damage - mimicking the classic white spell Healing Salve (albeit and reduced potency).
These common blue instants both cantrip and have flavor text quoting Gustha Ebbasdotter, and either tap or untap a target artifact, creature, or land - mimicking the classic blue spell Twiddle.
Spoils of Evil
Spoils of War
These rare black nonpermanent spells both have effects that scale off the number of artifacts and/or creatures in an opponent's graveyard.
Minion of Leshrac
Minion of Tevesh Szat
These rare black Demon Minion creatures both cost {4}{B}{B}{B}, damage you during your upkeep unless you pay a cost, and have an activated ability. Each is named for a black planeswalker involved in the Ice Age storyline.
Pale Bears
Pygmy Allosaurus
These rare 2/2 green creatures both cost {2}M and have landwalk for one of green's enemy colors.
Flooded Woodlands
These rare enchantments, one blue & black and one green & white, both cost {2}MN and have "No [color] creature can attack unless its controller sacrifices a land whenever that creature attacks", where [color] is green or black, respectively - the single one of the opposing card's colors which is the enemy of both the card's own colors.

Reprinted cards[ | ]

Ice Age is the first expansion to include true reprints. These cards were considered to be the defining cards of their colors, and all of them came from the Core Set.

First seen Last seen Cards
Icy Manipulator

Functional reprints[ | ]

Ice Age has twelve functional reprints:

Ice Age card Functional reprint from
Balduvian Bears Grizzly Bears (4th Edition) and Barbary Apes (Legends) (save for creature type)
Fyndhorn Elves Llanowar Elves (4th Edition)
Hydroblast Blue Elemental Blast (4th Edition) (save for a slight rules side case)
Juniper Order Druid Ley Druid (4th Edition)
Kjeldoran Warrior Benalish Hero (4th Edition)
Knight of Stromgald Order of the Ebon Hand (Fallen Empires) (save for creature type)
Moor Fiend Bog Wraith (4th Edition) (save for creature type)
Orcish Cannoneers Orcish Artillery (4th Edition)
Order of the White Shield Order of Leitbur (Fallen Empires) (save for creature type)
Pyroblast Red Elemental Blast (4th Edition) (save for a slight rules side case)
Tor Giant Hill Giant (4th Edition)
Zuran Spellcaster Prodigal Sorcerer (4th Edition)

Card comparisons[ | ]

Misprints[ | ]

  • Aurochs - Ken Meyer, Jr.'s name is spelled without a comma on this card (Ken Meyer Jr.), unlike the other six instances of this artist's name in the Ice Age set, where it is spelled with a comma (Ken Meyer, Jr).
  • Balduvian Shaman - The first word in the text box is spelled Permanantly instead of Permanently.
  • Johtull Wurm - In the text box of the card, it refers to itself as Johtull Worm instead of Wurm. It was corrected in later printings: Johtull Wurm (Fifth Edition)
  • Jokulhaups is a type of mudslide that occurs when a volcano erupts beneath a glacier. It is actually misspelled and should be Jökulhlaup.
  • Mountain Goat - The word "Folklore" is misspelled "Folkore" in the flavor text.

Trivia[ | ]

Main article: Ice Age/Trivia

Notable cards[ | ]

  • Brainstorm was certainly less powerful than Ancestral Recall, but it is still a notably powerful card that continues to see lots of play in the formats it remains legal in.
  • Demonic Consultation was initially considered to be too risky, but it eventually proved to be a solid tutoring spell and proved just how valuable tutoring spells really are. It, too, was later banned.
  • Fyndhorn Elves adds mana acceleration to a Stompy deck together with Llanowar Elves, of which it is a functional reprint.
  • Illusions of Grandeur gained fame when it was combined with Donate to gain 20 life and force an opponent to pay its Cumulative Upkeep until they lost 20 life.
  • Incinerate was initially seen as only a weakened version of Lightning Bolt, but it has since also been decided to be too powerful for its cost until its return in Tenth Edition.
  • Jester's Cap was, at the time, the most valuable card in the expansion for its ability to interfere with an opponent's strategy. It has since been overshadowed and is now seldom played.
  • Necropotence was originally dismissed as a bad rare and even called the worst rare of the set by InQuest Magazine. It later became the centerpiece of the powerful, mono-black deck of the same name. The deck was so powerful that its reign is often called "Black Summer" or "The Summer of Necro." Several cards from the deck were later banned, but Necropotence appeared again later in several other decks, and was finally banned itself.[16]
  • Pox had a powerful tournament deck built around it.
  • Prismatic Ward was chosen as the preview promo and has therefore the unique quality of being printed with both the old and the new white mana symbols.[17]
  • Pyroclasm is a powerful, inexpensive board-clearing effect that continues to see play today.
  • Stormbind is a recurring source of damage from a time when they were much harder to come by. It was a powerful tournament card at the time, comboing well with Whiteout for added effect.
  • Urza's Bauble is one of only two cantrips in existence without any costs attached. Although it does next to nothing, the card would be very good if it wasn’t a slowtrip.
  • Zuran Orb is a powerful and zero cost artifact that gives any deck life-gain, and was notorious for prolonging games. It eventually was banned or restricted in every sanctioned format it could have been played in as a result.

Notes[ | ]

  1. Coldsnap replaced Homelands.

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast. "Dominian FAQ (archived)".
  2. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Magic Arcana (February 6, 2003). "White mana symbol". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Monty Ashley (May 26, 2011). "The History of Mana Symbols". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Magic Arcana (July 12, 2004). "The Changing Tap Symbol". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Richard Garfield (August 17, 2009). "The Expanding Worlds of Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (February 16, 2009). "25 Random Things About Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Magic Arcana (July 18, 2005). "Hiding In Plain Sight". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Ice Age promotional video.
  11. Magic Arcana (February 15, 2002). "Norse runes". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (July 3, 2006). "Of Ice and Men". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Gottlieb (August 29, 2007). "Masters Edition Update Bulletin". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Gottlieb (September 26, 2007). "The Grand Creature Type Update". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. The six Ice Age cards affected by Ghostly Flame are Chromatic Armor, Circle of Protection: Black, Circle of Protection: Red, Justice, Order of the White Shield, and Prismatic Ward. In the case of multicolor damage sources, Circle of Protection: Blue and Circle of Protection: Green could also be affected.
  16. Mark Rosewater (August 02, 2004). "Ice Guys Finish First". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Mark Rosewater (October 22, 2018). "How Trivial". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]