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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Axe
Design Mike Elliott (lead)
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Development Mike Elliott (lead)
Charlie Catena
Paul Peterson
Teeuwynn Woodruff
Art direction Dana Knutson & Ron Spears
Release date February 14, 2000
Plane Rath
Themes and mechanics Spellshapers, Alternative Costs, Laccoliths, Seals, Rebels and Mercenaries
Keywords/​ability words Fading
Set size 143 cards
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code NEM (formerly NE)[1]
Development codename Euripides
Masques block
Mercadian Masques Nemesis Prophecy
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Battle Royale Nemesis Starter 2000
For other uses, see Nemesis (disambiguation).

Nemesis is the nineteenth Magic expansion and was released in February 2000 as the second set and first small expansion in the Masques block.

Set details[ | ]

Nemesis featured 143 cards (55 commons, 44 uncommons and 44 rares). Nemesis's expansion symbol is the axe of Crovax, the main antagonist of the story’s Rath component.[2] The set continued Mercadian Masques's themes of spellshapers, rebels and mercenaries, and cards with alternative casting costs. Nemesis is generally considered to be the most powerful set of the Masques block. A card of note is Ascendant Evincar. It was the first card to represent the same legendary permanent as a previous card following a major change in the character's storyline. The card was not named "Crovax, Ascendant Evincar", in order to avoid confusion over whether the "legend rule" came into effect when the Evincar and Crovax The Cursed were both in play. This policy was later dropped with the printing of Ertai, the Corrupted in Planeshift. The set featured Rootwater Thief, Mike Long's invitational card. Nemesis was the final booster set to feature premium foil cards with the original, larger version of the foil shooting star, with a new smaller design debuting on several promos including Starter 2000's Rhox, and in boosters with the release of Prophecy four months later.

Marketing[ | ]

The cards were sold in 15-card boosters which had artwork from Sliptide Serpent, in four preconstructed theme decks and a fat pack. Nemesis prerelease events were held on February 5, 2000. At these events the prerelease card, a foil Rathi Assassin, was handed out. The set was accompanied by the novel of the same name.

Storyline[ | ]

The Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria is nearing; the Dark Lord's plans are almost complete. Only the Planeswalker Urza stands in his way. Rath's Evincar Volrath has abandoned his post, sparking a brutal contest among his would-be successors. Phyrexia has chosen Crovax to take Volrath's place, bestowing terrible new powers on the bloodthirsty noble. Crovax must still prove his worth, however, before he can claim the position. Meanwhile, Rath's rebels have united in the name of Eladamri, Lord of Leaves, in order to break free of Phyrexia's tyranny once and for all.

Tournament impact[ | ]

Several cards from the set have made marks on the tournament scene, including Blastoderm, Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, Parallax Wave, Accumulated Knowledge, Daze, Submerge, Tangle Wire and the five seals (for example, Seal of Fire).

Keywords and mechanics[ | ]

Nemesis introduced the only keyword mechanic of the Masques block, Fading. This keyword ability limits the number of turns a permanent can be on the battlefield for. During each of a permanent with fading's controller's upkeeps, that player must remove one fade counter from that permanent. If they can't, they must sacrifice it.

Because the cards with the ability only remained in play for a few turns, they were typically heavily discounted as a result. Many cards with fading also had activated abilities that traded the card's fade counters for various effects. Since fading is a "quick and dirty" form of summoning creatures, the creatures had to be shown as unstable in the art.[3]

Creature types[ | ]

No new creature types were introduced in this expansion.

Cycles[ | ]

Nemesis has nine cycles and 6 vertical cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Common Spellshapers Netter en-Dal
(Change of Heart)
Trickster Mage
Plague Witch
Bola Warrior
Harvest Mage
(Pulse of Llanowar)
Each of these 1/1 creatures have a one-mana activated spellshaper ability (pay mana, {T}, discard a card: get an effect).
Spellshapers Avenger en-Dal
(a mix between Exile and Swords to Plowshares)
Stronghold Biologist
(Remove Soul)
Stronghold Machinist
Divining Witch
(Demonic Consultation)

Arc Mage (weak Arc Lightning)
Stampede Driver
(weak Overrun)

A cycle of rare and uncommons spellshapers. Blue stands out by having a matched pair in this cycle.

Fading Activated Ability Creatures Defender en-Vec Jolting Merfolk Phyrexian Prowler Ancient Hydra Woodripper

Each of this creature with Fading have an activated ability that requires to remove a fade counter from them. White stands out as the only common creature of an otherwise uncommon cycle.

Tribal Recruiters Seahunter
Skyshroud Poacher

Mirroring the Rebel and Mercenary mechanics in white and black, the other colors are given cards which are either Mercenaries or Rebels and have the ability to recruit specific tribe from the library.

Seals Seal of Cleansing
Seal of Removal
Seal of Doom
(Dark Banishing)
Seal of Fire
Seal of Strength
(Giant Growth)

Each of these common enchantments can be sacrificed to mimic the effect of a certain common instant.

Parallax Enchantment Parallax Wave
Parallax Tide
Parallax Nexus
(cards in hand)

Each of these rare global enchantment has Fading 5, and the ability to exile a ressource from the game until it itself leaves the game. Parallax Wave is particularly notable for seeing considerable amount of play as a four-of in the Counter-Rebel standard deck of the time.

Common Alternate casting Cost Spells Lashknife
(tapping an untapped creature)
(bouncing islands back to your hand)
Mind Swords
(sacrificing creatures)
Downhill Charge
(sacrificing mountains)
Skyshroud Cutter
(having an opponent gain life)

These common spells can be cast with a non-mana cost if you control a basic land of the corresponding type. The alternate costs vary between colors. Green stands out by having a creature. This cycle and the one bellow are thematically tied to a similar cycle from Mercadian Masques.

Uncommon Alternate casting Cost Spells Angelic Favor
(tapping an untapped creature)
(bouncing islands back to your hand)
Dark Triumph
(sacrificing creatures)
Mogg Alarm
(sacrificing mountains)
Reverent Silence
(having an opponent gain life)

These uncommon spells can be cast with a non-mana cost if you control a basic land of the corresponding type. The alternate costs vary between colors. Green stands out by having its spell be common. White stand out by having an additional rare spell, Sivvi's Valor . This cycle and the one above are thematically tied to a similar cycle from Mercadian Masques.

Free spells Sivvi's Ruse
(you control a plain, your opponent controls a mountain)
(you control an island, your opponent controls a forest)
(you control a swamp, your opponent controls a plain)
Mogg Salvage
(you control a mountain, your opponent controls an island)
Refreshing Rain (you control a forest, your opponent controls a swamp)

If you control a land corresponding to the spell's color and your opponent controls a land corresponding to the spell's enemy color, you may play each of these spells without paying their mana cost.

Vertical cycles[ | ]

Cycle name
Defiant Rebel recruiters Defiant Falcon Defiant Vanguard Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero

Each of these white rebel has the ability to recruit rebels from the library.

Silkenfist creatures Silkenfist Fighter Silkenfist Order

Whenever one of these white creatures becomes blocked, they become untapped. Notably missing a rare creature to complete the cycle.

Rathi Mercenary recruiters Rathi Intimidator Rathi Fiend Rathi Assassin

Each of these black mercenary has the ability to recruit mercenaries from the library.

Laccoliths Laccolith Whelp (1/1)
Laccolith Grunt (2/2)
Laccolith Warrior (3/3) Laccolith Titan (6/6)

When one of these red beasts becomes blocked, you may have it deal damage equal to its power to target creature; if you do so, the creature deals no combat damage that turn. The aura Laccolith Rig complete the cycle by granting this ability to the enchanted creature.

Flowstone spells Flowstone Strike
(+1/-1 instant)
Flowstone Surge
(+1/-1 global enchantment)
Flowstone Slide
(+X/-X sorcery)

Each of these red spells grant the "flowstone abilty" (+1/-1) to creature you control in an increasingly efficient manner.

Calling creatures Skyshroud Sentinel Nesting Wurm Pack Hunt

Each of these green spells allows you to search your library for up to three cards with the same name as a creature you control, representing the creature calling its fellows. These cards were heralded by Howling Wolf in Mercadian Masques.

Mega-mega cycles[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Legendary lands Kor Haven (Nemesis) Teferi's Isle (Mirage) Volrath's Stronghold (Stronghold) Keldon Necropolis (Invasion) Yavimaya Hollow (Urza's Destiny)
Kor Haven is the fourth card in this mega-mega cycle of lands representing notable locations from the Weatherlight Saga storyline.
Voices Voice of Truth (Nemesis) Voice of Reason (Urza's Destiny) Voice of Grace (Urza's Saga) Voice of Law (Urza's Saga) Voice of Duty (Urza's Destiny)
Voice of Truth is the final card in this mega-mega cycle. These are uncommon white 2/2 Angels that has a mana cost of {3}{W} and have protection from a different color. Voice of All, who has protection from a color chosen as it enters the battlefield, would be released in Planeshift as an homage to the mega-mega cycle.

Pairs[ | ]

Nemesis has three matching pairs and two mirrored pairs:

Matching pairs[ | ]

Matching Pairs Description
2/2 Kor Rebels having a mana cost of {2}{W} with the ability of {T} and sacrificing themselves to exile a target red (Lawbringer) / black (Lightbringer) creature from the game.
Stronghold Biologist
Stronghold Machinist
Spellshapers having a mana cost of {2}{U} with an activated ability (costing {U}{U}) to counter either creature spells or non-creature spells. Their flavor texts also parallel to each other, as well as the card art being a single image divided between the two cards.
2/2 artifact creatures having a mana cost of {4} that deal damage to your opponents based on whether they have less than 3 or more than 4 cards in their hand (respectively), which echoes the old artifacts The Rack and Black Vise. Their flavor texts also parallel to each other.

Mirrored pairs[ | ]

Mirrored Pairs Description
Netter en-Dal
Bola Warrior
Common 1/1 spellshapers whose activated abilities cost "M, {T}, discard a card from your hand" and cause a target creature to either be unable to attack ({W}) or block ({R}).
Death Pit Offering
Overlaid Terrain
Enchantments for {2}MM who boost a permanent type by 2 ({B} gives creatures +2/+2 and {G} cause lands to tap for 2 mana) but require you to sacrifice all permanent of that type when they come into play ({B} sacrifices all creatures you control, {G} sacrifices all lands you control).

Functional reprints[ | ]

Nemesis has one functional reprint:

Theme decks[ | ]

The pre-constructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Mercenaries B
Replicator B G
Eruption W R
Breakdown U G

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Magic Arcana (November 27, 2002). "Fading artwork". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]