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MIR logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description palm tree
Design Bill Rose (lead)
Charlie Cantina
Don Felice
Howard Kahlenberg
Joel Mick
Development Bill Rose (lead)
Mike Elliott
William Jockusch
Mark Rosewater
Art direction Sue-Ann Harkey
Release date October 8, 1996[1]
Plane Dominaria (Jamuraa)[2]
Themes and mechanics Flanking, Phasing
Set size 350 cards
(110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, 20 basic lands)
Expansion code MIR[3]
Development codename Sosumi
Mirage block
Mirage Visions Weatherlight
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Rivals Quick Start Set Mirage Introductory Two-Player Set

Mirage is the ninth Magic expansion. It was released in October 1996 as the first set in the Mirage block.

MIR booster

Mirage booster

Set details[ | ]

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.[4]

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.[5][6] Mirage was one of the first sets that was developed with Sealed Deck play in mind.[7]

Marketing[ | ]

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).[8] 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.[9]

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.

Storyline[ | ]

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.[10] 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.

Magic Online[ | ]

Mirage was retroactively released on Magic Online on December 5, 2005. Release events began on December 7, 2005.[11]

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).[12] 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).

Creature types[ | ]

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.[13]

Cycles[ | ]

Mirage has thirteen cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
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 {2} 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 {T} 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).
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
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 {X}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.

Mega-mega cycle[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Atogs Auratog (Tempest) Chronatog (Visions) Necratog (Weatherlight) Atog (Antiquities) Foratog (Mirage)
Foratog is the second card of this mega-mega cycle of creatures that began in Antiquities with the eponymous Atog and 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.

Pairs[ | ]

Mirage has one matched pair and two mirrored pairs:

Matched Pair
Tranquil Domain({G}) Serene Heart ({G}) Each of these common instants costs {1}{G} . One detroys all non-Aura enchantments and the other destroys all Auras. Both are illustrated by D. Alexander Gregory.
Mirrored Pairs
Burning Palm Efreet
Harmattan Efreet
These uncommon 2/2 Efreet creatures, one blue and one red, both cost {2}MM and have an activated ability for {1}MM that grants or removes flying, respectively, from a target creature.
Burning Shield Askari
Zhalfirin Knight
These common 2/2 Knight creatures, one white and one red, both cost {2}M and have flanking and "MM: [This] gains first strike until end of turn".

Reprinted cards[ | ]

Mirage advertisement

The following cards from previous sets were reprinted in Mirage.

Mirage First Seen Last Seen
Boomerang Legends Chronicles
Dark Banishing Ice Age Ice Age
Dark Ritual Alpha Ice Age
Disenchant Alpha Chronicles
Divine Offering Legends Chronicles
Drain Life Alpha 4th Edition
Firebreathing Alpha 4th Edition
Flare Ice Age Ice Age
Fog Alpha 4th Edition
Healing Salve Alpha 4th Edition
Incinerate Ice Age Ice Age
Memory Lapse Homelands Homelands
Power Sink Alpha Ice Age
Ray of Command Ice Age Ice Age
Regeneration Alpha Ice Age
Sandstorm Arabian Nights 4th Edition
Stone Rain Alpha Ice Age

Functional reprints[ | ]

Functional Reprints
Bay Falcon Zephyr Falcon (4th Edition)[14]
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

Notable cards[ | ]

  • Cadaverous Bloom allowed a player to generate large amounts of mana, frequently used in conjunction with Drain Life and famously as a part of the ProsBloom combo with Prosperity.
  • Celestial Dawn, nicknamed "bleach" by players, could make a muticolored deck into monochrome white. Counterspells, direct damage, and all the other color specialities are then available to the white player.
  • Afiya Grove is the first noncreature permanent to enter with +1/+1 counters.
  • Grinning Totem evolved the Jester's Cap concept one step further, not only letting one look through their 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.
  • Maro was named after designer Mark Rosewater and quickly became a favorite for green creature-based decks.[15] The name came about when Rosewater came up with the design but only put his internal tag (MaRo) as the placeholder name, and the Creative team liked it. 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.[16]
  • Political Trickery was one of the first control exchangers and remains one of the few ways to exchange lands, as most control exchangers exclude them.
  • Teeka's Dragon was based on the artificial dragon made by a character named Teeka in the short story “Better Mousetrap” from the anthology Distant Planes.
  • Kaervek's Torch and Torrent of Lava have unusual stack-based abilities that have yet to see a repeat since. Kaervek's Torch has something akin to "Ward {2} against counterspells", years before Ward was keyworded. Torrent of Lava didn't actually work with templating, as the ability as written would grant the prevention effect after the damage was dealt, a futile response. It needed to be errata'd to grant the ability while on the stack. These two, plus Lightning Storm, are the only spells that refer to themselves being "on the stack" in their plain Oracle text.

Banned and restricted cards[ | ]

  • Lion's Eye Diamond was rebalanced Black Lotus with the ostensibly impossible-to-break secondary cost of discarding one's hand. This cost was actually not as difficult as paying costs was the step after declaring a spell, which let it cast one card, so it was errata'd in August 1999 to be activated at an instant only, preventing any spells in hand to be cast. It still needed to be restricted from Vintage in 2003, before Legacy as a format was separated and allowed it. It began to see more play with Infernal Tutor, and eventually with the expanding list of graveyard mechanics it remains a pivotal combo piece in Storm decks. Commander banned it for three years from 2008 to 2011, and Oathbreaker bans it.
  • Mystical Tutor and Enlightened Tutor are cheap, specific tutors with card disadvantage, but even then were noted to be too powerful, restricted in September 1999 before the division to Legacy in 2004. Enlightened Tutor was unrestricted in June 2009, but Mystical Tutor was banned in Legacy shortly after in June 2010 as spells continued being powerful.
  • Flash was a way to surprise an attacker or control player by putting a creature in at instant speed but kept the same effective mana value, with an additional blue cost. However, the way it phrased its contingency (sacrificing the creature) resulted in easy combo kills with anything that had powerful enter, leave or dies triggers, with Protean Hulk being the biggest offender. It was banned in Legacy shortly after Protean Hulk was printed in June 2007, and restricted the next year. Much later in April 2020, Commander also took the radical step in banning Flash, citing that it trivialised competitive EDH games to the point that players would prefer to play against unprepared Commander players rather than face the inevitable pod of four Flash pilots.[17]

Theme decks[ | ]

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:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Night Terrors B
Burning Sky U R
Ride Like the Wind W R
Jungle Jam W R G

Trivia[ | ]

References[ | ]

  2. Wizards of the Coast. "Dominian FAQ (archived)".
  3. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Bill Rose (April 18, 2003). "A Three-Year Mirage". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (April 14, 2003). "Jamuraa, the Merrier". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mike Elliott (April 18, 2003). "Dawn of Development". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Crystal Keep
  9. Magic Librarities (Mar 05, 2008) Question about different Mirage printings
  10. The Story of Jamuraa
  11. John Liu (December 05, 2005). "Mirage – A New Era for Magic Online". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Magic Arcana (November 12, 2008). "Shauku and Sidar". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Magic Arcana (April 18, 2003). "Something old, something new". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (December 02, 2002). "There's Always Two Maro". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (October 22, 2018). "How Trivial". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. TTC 314 - Commander Bannings with Shivam (Video). YouTube.
  18. Mark Rosewater (August 4, 2023). "How Trivial with Mark Rosewater (Video)". Magic: The Gathering. YouTube.

External links[ | ]