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Portal Second Age

Portal Second Age
PO2 logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Pentagon
Design Bill Rose (lead)
Dan Cervelli
Joel Mick
with contributions from
Mike Elliott
Mark Rosewater
Development Bill Rose (lead)
Dan Cervelli
Joel Mick
with contributions from
Mike Elliott
William Jockusch
Mark Rosewater
Henry Stern
Jonathan Tweet
Art direction Chaz Elliott
Release date June 24, 1998
Plane Dominaria (Caliman)
Set size 165 cards
(70 commons, 45 uncommons, 35 rares, 15 basic lands)
Expansion code P02[1]
Portal trilogy
Portal Portal Second Age Portal Three Kingdoms
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Exodus Portal Second Age Unglued

Portal Second Age is a starter-level set released in June 1998 as a follow-up to Portal.[2] As with its predecessor, Portal Second Age cards were not legal in any officially sanctioned format at the time of their release, but were legalized in Vintage and Legacy on 20 October 2005.[3]

Set details[ | ]

Portal Second Age is the second set designed as a simplified version of Magic: the Gathering. The set contains 165 black-bordered cards (70 commons, 45 uncommons, 35 rares, 15 basic lands).

Marketing[ | ]

Rating system

Portal Second Age and the new rating system

PO2 booster

Portal Second Age booster

Portal Second Age is the first set that was advertised as a starter-level set in Wizards' set rating system. Released in June 1998, the set was sold in 15-card booster packs, five different theme decks, and a 2-Player Starter Set. The boosters feature art from Relentless Assault. Additionally, Demogame boosters, each containing the same 24 Portal Second Age cards and a tip card, were given away free to advertise the game. The Official Guide to Portal Second Age is a complete companion to the set and provides useful tips and details to enhance the gaming experience.

Like Portal, Portal Second Age was specifically designed to ease new players into the game. It features the same simplified rules set that Portal uses, having no artifacts or enchantments, adding sword and shield symbols to creature cards' power and toughness to denote which number was which, and printing rules text in bold type and separating it from the flavor text with a thick line to show that they were separate. The set has no instants or interrupts, instead having a few sorceries that can be played at times which sorceries normally cannot, such as Mystic Denial, which can only be played in response to a creature or sorcery spell, and Just Fate, which can only be played during an opponent's declare attackers step. All such cards have since received errata to make them instants.[4]

There are two significant differences between the Portal Second Age set and the original Portal set. First, Portal Second Age uses the proper Magic terminology of library, graveyard, and blocking, rather than the Portal terms deck, discard pile, and intercepting. This was done to make the transition from Portal Second Age to an advanced or expert-level expansion as easy as possible, as it had been found that players going from Portal upwards were often confused by the use of different terms. Second, the creature cards in Portal Second Age all have creature types, whereas in Portal all creature cards have the type line "Summon Creature." Portal Second Age is particularly notable for being the first with "Creature -" followed by the creature type on the type line instead of Summon, a practice that would later be adopted as standard.

Storyline[ | ]

Unlike Portal, Portal Second Age had its storyline. It was set on the Dominarian island of Caliman and focused on the conflicts between the five different peoples (one for each color) that lived on it: the White-aligned kingdom of Alaborn, the Talas merchant/pirates, the Goblins and other mountain-dwellers, the Elves of Norwood forest and the Dakmor Nightstalkers. The main focus was on the increasing Nightstalker attacks on the Alaborn due to the influence of the sorceress Tojira. The story was told exclusively through the cards and was deliberately open-ended, with the idea being that players could construct decks around the different tribes and play out the story in-game.

The flavor of the set is probably its most controversial aspect. The main point of contention is the Alaborn use of firearms, as seen on cards such as Alaborn Musketeer and Alaborn Zealot.[5][6] This was badly received by players as it was seen as too real-world and grated with the traditional swords-and-sorcery fantasy setting, particularly since the story took place on Dominaria, where guns had not been depicted before. Since the set was released, other cards have shown advanced technology, such as Urza's Titan engines, but it is generally made clear that such devices are magical.

In addition to the main story, four cards together tell a small story of their own:

  • Four little goblins, trapped by the sea. One teased a serpent, and then there were three. (Tidal Surge)
  • Three little goblins, enjoying their brew. One bumped an ogre, and then there were two. (Ogre Taskmaster)
  • Two little goblins, out in the sun. Down came a griffin, and then there was one. (Wild Griffin)
  • One little goblin shook up the ground. When the dust cleared, no one was found. (Tremor)

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

Like its predecessor, Portal Second Age introduces no new themes or mechanics to Magic, and was essentially a basic set without instants, enchantments, or artifacts.

Creature types[ | ]

The following creature types are introduced in this set: Merchant (later changed to Pirate), Monkey, Ox.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Angel, Basilisk, Bat, Bear, Cat, Dragon, Drake, Elemental, Elf, Giant, Goblin, Griffin, Horror, Knight, Nightstalker, Ogre, Rat, Scorpion, Ship (later changed to Pirate), Serpent, Soldier, Spirit, Wall, Wizard, Wolf, Wurm, Yeti.

Notable cards[ | ]

Although Portal Second Age was designed to be simple and included many reprints from Portal, it also produced several noteworthy cards:

  • Angel of Mercy was first printed in the set. It has since been reprinted in Invasion and in two core sets.
  • Bee Sting is one of very few Green direct-damage spells. It is also a functional reprint of Unyaro Bee Sting. Its high cost reflects how bad Green is at dealing direct damage.
  • Brimstone Dragon is one of the most valuable cards in the set as it has only ever been printed in Portal Second Age. It was in contention for reprint in Tenth Edition, but lost out to Shivan Hellkite in a public vote, placing tenth out of eleven cards.
  • Dakmor Sorceress is another very popular card in the set. As there are no legendary cards in the set, the sorceress probably represents Tojira, the Swamp Queen, from the story.
  • Portal Second Age has a theme of Goblin tribal cards, as is seen on Goblin Matron, Goblin General and Goblin War Strike. This was probably included to teach new players about the significance of the creature types on cards.
  • Goblin Raider, a core set staple, was first printed in the set.
  • Lone Wolf and Deathcoil Wurm are the first cards with the ability colloquially known as super trample, which was designed as a way of bringing a trample-like effect into the set without using the keyword.
  • Ogre Taskmaster was first printed in the set and has since been reprinted four times.
  • Prowling Nightstalker's ability mimics fear, but it has not received errata to give it the keyword ability. The reason it can only be blocked by black creatures rather than by black and/or artifact creatures is that there were no artifacts in the set, so the proper text for fear would not have made sense to a new player.
  • Ravenous Rats, a classic black card, was first printed in the set.
  • Wildfire was first printed in Portal Second Age and was quickly reprinted in Urza's Saga. It has since seen play in vore decks after being reprinted in Ninth Edition.

Reprints[ | ]

The following cards were reprinted from previous sets:

Functional reprints[ | ]

Portal Second Age has 22 functional reprints:

There are no instants in Portal Second Age, but several cards were printed as sorcery equivalents of existing instants:

Theme decks[ | ]

For the contents of the decks in the 2 Player Starter Set, see Portal Second Age 2 Player Starter Set.

Each of the five theme decks contains 3 rares. The preconstructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Goblin Fire R
Martial Law W
Nature's Assault G
Nightstalkers B
Spellweaver U

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (August 30, 2010). "Thank You Sir, May I Have Another". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Aaron Forsythe (Friday, March 11, 2005). "More About March 1st". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Magic Arcana (April 15, 2004). "Portal instants". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Magic Arcana (November 14, 2002). "Gun control". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Doug Beyer (December 12, 2007). "Goodies from the Mailbag". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]