|Symbol description||palm tree|
Bill Rose (lead)|
Bill Rose (lead)|
|Art direction||Sue-Ann Harkey|
|Release date||October 8, 1996|
|Themes and mechanics||Flanking, Phasing|
(110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, 20 basic lands)
|Magic: The Gathering Chronology|
The set contains 350 cards (110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, 20 basic lands). Fifth Edition rules were introduced in Mirage, although Fifth Edition wasn't released until March 1997. The Mirage expansion symbol is a palm tree, symbolizing the tropical aspects of Jamuraa.
Mirage non-basic lands have a dull green text box, which they share with Visions non-monocolor lands.
Design & development
Mirage was developed from 1992 through 1995 by a group of playtesters, including Bill Rose, who independently created their own cards and also reused cards from several prior sets. Initially called "The Menagerie", Mirage evolved over the years until it was finalized in October 1995. The African setting was devised by Sue Ann Harkey after the cards had been designed. Mirage was one of the first sets that was developed with Sealed Deck play in mind.
Mirage was released on November 1, 1996. The print run is estimated at 400 million cards. The cards were sold in 60-card starter decks and 15-card boosters. The boosters showcased the art from the cards Polymorph, Taniwha, Maro, Jungle Troll and Grinning Totem. The starter decks showcased the art from Ivory Charm. Each booster box contained 36 sealed packs, and each pack contained 15 cards (11 commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare). Each starter deck box contained 12 sealed decks, and each deck contained 60 cards (26 commons, 9 uncommons, 3 rares, 22 land) and a rule book. Mirage had two significant different printings: one dark print with a rough finish, and one light print with a smooth finish. The dark Mirage was printed in US, the light one in Belgium at Carta Mundi.
This expansion began the first official block - one large expansion followed by two smaller expansions all tied together through card mechanics and setting. This model became the standard for the concept of "block rotation". Mirage introduced reminder text, and some changes to make the cards easier to read including a slightly expanded text box and frame, and more visible power/toughness numbers.
Mirage and Visions (the second set in the block) stand apart from the rest of Magic for their tropical African-themed setting in Jamuraa and its three nations of Femeref, Zhalfir, and Suq'Ata. The storyline begins with the disappearance of the planeswalker Teferi (who would later play a crucial role in the Weatherlight Saga and the Time Spiral block) and the three powerful spellcasters — Mangara, Jolrael, and Kaervek — who come looking for him, setting off the events that would lead to the Mirage War.
Mechanics and themes
Mirage introduces the mechanics Flanking (a combat ability that gives blockers -1/-1 until end of turn) and Phasing (a confusing 'removed from play/Phased out' ability). Flanking was frequently used to make 2/2 creatures for three mana worthwhile. Phasing was most often used as a drawback in this set, but it is now infamous for the complex rulings it inspired, especially when combined with enters-the-battlefield abilities that started appearing on many creatures in Visions.
Mirage includes a large number of creatures with the Knight creature type, all with flanking and an activated ability, such as Cadaverous Knight and Teferi's Honor Guard. The set also includes more multicolored cards than any set between Legends and Invasion, and the first enemy color cards for all pairs except black/green (which had Dark Heart of the Wood in The Dark expansion).
The following creature types were introduced in this expansion: Ancestor (later changed to Cleric), Brushwagg, Cyclops, Griffin, Hyena, Mantis (later changed to Insect), Martyr (later changed to Cleric), Meerkat (later changed to Mongoose), Minion, Nature Spirit (later changed to Elemental), Pirate, Rhino, Scout, Wildcat (later changed to Cat), Viashino, Wyvern (later changed to Drake),
The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Angel, Archer, Atog, Basilisk, Centaur, Cleric, Cobra (later changed to Snake), Crocodile, Dragon, Dryad, Dwarf, Efreet, Elemental, Elephant, Elf, Faerie, Ghost (later changed to Spirit), Goblin, Guardian (later changed to Gargoyle), Griffin, Imp, Knight, Lion (later changed to Cat), Manticore, Merfolk, Minotaur, Nightstalker, Rat, Roc (later changed to Bird), Salamander, Serpent, Shade, Soldier, Specter, Spirit, Swarm (later changed to Insect), Tiger (later changed to Cat), Troll, Unicorn, Vampire, Wall, Wizard, Wraith, Wurm, Zombie.
Certain Mirage cards had additional creature types in Italian, Spanish, and German. Shauku, Endbringer was also a vampire, Sidar Jabari was also a knight. This situation was corrected by successive Oracle announcements and Grand Creature Type Updates.
Mirage has thirteen cycles:
|Charms||Ivory Charm||Sapphire Charm||Ebony Charm||Chaos Charm||Seedling Charm|
|Common instants that cost M and let you choose one of three possible effects.|
|Diamonds||Marble Diamond||Sky Diamond||Charcoal Diamond||Fire Diamond||Moss Diamond|
|Uncommon artifacts that cost to cast, enter the battlefield tapped, and produce one mana of the appropriate color when tapped. This cycle was later reprinted in 6th Edition, 7th Edition, Commander 2014, and Commander Legends.|
|Dragons||Pearl Dragon||Mist Dragon||Catacomb Dragon||Volcanic Dragon||Canopy Dragon|
|Rare 4/4 Dragon creatures that have a mana cost of 4MM.|
|Guildmages||Civic Guildmage||Shaper Guildmage||Shadow Guildmage||Armorer Guildmage||Granger Guildmage|
|Common 1/1 Wizard creatures that cost M and have two activated abilities, each with the cost of and an allied mana.|
|Instantments||Ward of Lights||Soar||Grave Servitude||Lightning Reflexes||Armor of Thorns|
|Common Aura enchantments that have a converted mana cost of 2 and flash, but are sacrificed at the beginning of the next cleanup step if cast any time a sorcery couldn't have been cast.|
|Mirage Boons||Healing Salve||Dream Cache||Dark Ritual||Incinerate||Afiya Grove|
|Each of these cards has a small mana value and an effect involving the number 3. This cycle is loosely linked to the Boons cycle in Alpha (and Ice Age), including two reprints and three new cards. Lightning Bolt, Giant Growth, and the overpowered Ancestral Recall were replaced.|
|Enemy-color hosers||Mangara's Equity||Mind Harness||Reign of Terror||Reign of Chaos||Roots of Life|
|Uncommon spells that hamper both enemy colors.|
|Counter-clockwise color hosers||Unyaro Griffin||Cerulean Wyvern||Soul Rend||Sirocco||Decomposition|
|Uncommon spells that hamper one enemy color (white > red > blue > green > black > white).|
|Clockwise enemy boosters||Shadowbane||Ether Well||Kaervek's Hex||Cinder Cloud||Tropical Storm|
|Uncommon spells with a basic effect that is boosted if the target(s) has an enemy color (white > black > green > blue > red > white).|
|Clockwise protection creatures||Melesse Spirit||Suq'Ata Firewalker||Barbed-Back Wurm||Wildfire Emissary||Karoo Meerkat|
|Uncommon creatures with either Protection or an ability that protects them from one enemy color (white > black > green > blue > red > white).|
|Multicolored hosers||Hazerider Drake||Haunting Apparition||Shauku's Minion||Windreaper Falcon||Radiant Essence|
|Uncommon multicolored spells that gain an advantage from their mutual enemy color.|
|Allied-color X-spells||Prismatic Boon||Sealed Fate||Kaervek's Purge||Savage Twister||Vitalizing Cascade|
|Uncommon nonpermanents that cost MN, where MN are an allied pair of colors.|
|Fetch lands||Flood Plain||Bad River||Rocky Tar Pit||Mountain Valley||Grasslands|
|Uncommon lands that enter the battlefield tapped and can be tapped and sacrificed to fetch a land with one of two basic land types associated with allied colors from your library.|
|Atogs||Auratog (Tempest)||Chronatog (Visions)||Necratog (Weatherlight)||Atog (Antiquities)||Foratog (Mirage)|
|Foratog is the second card of this mega-mega cycle of creatures that begain in Antiquities with the eponymous Atogand continued through Tempest.|
|Legendary lands||Kor Haven (Nemesis)||Teferi's Isle (Mirage)||Volrath's Stronghold (Stronghold)||Keldon Necropolis (Invasion)||Yavimaya Hollow (Urza's Destiny)|
|Teferi's Isle is the first card of this mega-mega cycle of lands representing notable locations from the Weatherlight Saga storyline.|
|Tranquil Domain()||Serene Heart ()||Each of these common instants costs . One detroys all non-Aura enchantments and the other destroys all Auras. Both are illustrated by D. Alexander Gregory.|
|Burning Palm Efreet
|These uncommon 2/2 Efreet creatures, one blue and one red, both cost MM and have an activated ability for MM that grants or removes flying, respectively, from a target creature.|
|Burning Shield Askari
|These common 2/2 Knight creatures, one white and one red, both cost M and have flanking and "MM: [This] gains first strike until end of turn".|
The following cards from previous sets were reprinted in Mirage.
|Bay Falcon||Zephyr Falcon (4th Edition)|
|Dwarven Nomad||Dwarven Warriors (4th Edition)|
|Femeref Healer||Samite Healer (4th Edition)|
|Fetid Horror||Hoar Shade (Ice Age)|
|Giant Mantis||Giant Spider (4th Edition), save for creature type|
|Noble Elephant||War Elephant (Arabian Nights)|
|Restless Dead||Drudge Skeletons (4th Edition) |
Walking Dead (Legends)
|Wild Elephant||War Mammoth (4th Edition), save for creature type|
- Cadaverous Bloom — This card allowed a player to generate large amounts of mana, frequently used in conjunction with Drain Life and famously as a part of the Prosperous Bloom combo.
- Celestial Dawn — Nicknamed "bleach" by players, this enchantment made a muticolored deck into monochrome white. Counterspells, direct damage, and all the other color specialities are then available to the white player.
- Grinning Totem — Taking the Jester's Cap concept one step further, the Totem not only lets you look through your opponent's library and remove a card, but then, adding injury to insult, allows you to play that card as if it were in your own hand, possibly turning your opponent's most powerful spell against them.
- Hammer of Bogardan — Before the Hammer, decks based on direct damage tended to run into late-game problems of plenty of mana but no spells to spend it on. Enter the Hammer, an infinitely-reusable damage spell.
- Maro — named after designer Mark Rosewater and quickly became a favorite for green creature-based decks. Its concept would be revisited with Multani, Maro-Sorcerer in Urza's Legacy and Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer in Invasion. In 2005's Saviors of Kamigawa, a rare cycle of creatures based on hand size were printed with "Maro" in their names, such as Kagemaro, First to Suffer. The art was an original piece of art, depicting the so-called Green Man, which was acquired by art director Sue Ann Harkey.
- Political Trickery — a weapon for blue control decks against specialized lands.
- Teeka's Dragon — Based on the artificial dragon made by a character named Teeka in the short story “Better Mousetrap” from the anthology Distant Planes.
- Tombstone Stairwell — This enchantment makes the 1/1 creatures typical of a weenie deck more valuable in the graveyard than out. Decks built around the Stairwell are designed to swarm the opponent: first with regular creatures, and then, once the graveyard is nicely stocked, with Tombstone Zombies.
- Lion's Eye Diamond — Though originally considered to be of little competitive use, this 'fixed' Mox-like mana producer became well known in the Legacy format, due partly to its interaction with Infernal Tutor, which can be cast and responded to with the activation of LED. It sees play in combo decks such as Dredge and Ad Nauseum Tendrils.
Paper versions of Mirage block theme decks (also known as precons) do not exist because the concept of theme decks was not implemented until the next block (Tempest block) was released. Mirage block precons were designed retroactively for the MTGO release of the Mirage block sets in 2005, nearly a decade after the set was released in paper.
The preconstructed theme decks are:
|Ride Like the Wind||W||R|
- Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Bill Rose (April 18, 2003). "A Three-Year Mirage". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (April 14, 2003). "Jamuraa, the Merrier". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mike Elliott (April 18, 2003). "Dawn of Development". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Crystal Keep
- Magic Librarities (Mar 05, 2008) Question about different Mirage printings
- The Story of Jamuraa
- John Liu (December 05, 2005). "Mirage – A New Era for Magic Online". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana (November 12, 2008). "Shauku and Sidar". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana (April 18, 2003). "Something old, something new". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (December 02, 2002). "There's Always Two Maro". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (October 22, 2018). "How Trivial". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.