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Urza's Legacy

Urza's Legacy
Urzas Legacy logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Hammer
Design Mike Elliott (lead)
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Development Henry Stern (lead)
Mike Elliott
William Jockusch
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Art direction Ron Spears
Release date February 15, 1999
Plane Dominaria
Themes and mechanics Free spells, Sleeping and Growing enchantments
Keywords/​ability words Cycling, Echo
Set size 143 cards
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code ULG[1]
Development codename Guacamole
Urza's block
Urza's Saga Urza's Legacy Urza's Destiny
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Anthologies Urza's Legacy Sixth Edition

Urza's Legacy is the sixteenth Magic expansion and was released in February 1999 as the second set and first small expansion in the Urza's block.

Set details[ | ]

Urza's Legacy contains 143 black-bordered cards (44 rare, 44 uncommon, and 55 commons). Its expansion symbol is an machinist's hammer, meant to symbolize Urza's continued experiments in finding a means to defeat Phyrexia.[2] This set was the first expansion to feature randomly inserted foil cards. Like its predecessor the set had many powerful cards, which strengthened the Combo Winter. After many powerful cards from Urza's Saga and a few preceding sets had to be banned, the DCI was wary of more such combo cards. As Randy Buehler stated, "players began leaving the game in droves".[3] Memory Jar was expected to herald new combo decks and mere days after Urza's Legacy became tournament legal an extremely fast combo deck built around the Jar was showing up.[4] Because of that, the DCI decided to ban the card outside the usual schedule in what has been the first "emergency banning" in the history of the game.

Urza's Legacy was the first set to feature appropriately colored text box frames for monocolored non-basic lands. Before this, these text boxes had featured bronze colored frames.

Marketing[ | ]

The cards were sold in 15-card boosters which had artwork from Beast of Burden and in four preconstructed theme decks. Prerelease events were held February 6, 1999; the prerelease card was a foil, also Beast of Burden.

Storyline[ | ]

Urza continues to build a collection of artifacts and a skyship that will defeat the Phyrexian invasion. With the assistance of his student Jhoira and Karn, the silver golem, Urza surveys the Thran Mana Rig in Shiv and uncovers its primary purpose. While he is away, the people of his Tolarian Academy have to battle a Phyrexian infestation on the island itself. The story of this set is recounted in the book Time Streams.

Mechanics & themes[ | ]

The two Urza's Saga mechanics echo and cycling are both present in Urza's Legacy as well. In the earlier set, echo was solely a creature ability, but Urza's Legacy expanded this by including artifacts with echo. Additionally, while in Urza's Saga echo was used mainly to get larger-than-usual creatures out at a discount, in Urza's Legacy most creatures with echo had average power and toughness for their cost but came with a comes-into-play ability, effectively making them two spells for the price of one.

This expansion also continued the themes of "sleeping" and "eternal" enchantments, adding a handful of new cards of each type. It also included a set of enchantments that function like the sleepers but sacrifice themselves to produce some effect when the condition is met rather than turning into a creature (i.e. Brink of Madness). They're essentially "sleeping instants." This was not an entirely new concept, since a few isolated cards like this had appeared in the past, but here it's a significant subtheme.

The other significant Urza's Legacy card cycle was its lands (aka "Manlands") . For each color, there was a land that could tap for that color of mana or temporarily turn itself into a creature.

Creature types[ | ]

The following creature types are introduced in this expansion: Beeble, Carrier, Sponge. Beebles were not seen again in a premier after this block, thought to be too silly, and have since only been in Acorn products.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Angel, Ape, Beast, Bird, Cleric, Crab, Drake, Elf, Faerie, Goblin, Horror, Hydra, Illusion, Imp, Insect, Knight, Lizard, Minion, Nomad, Phoenix, Shapeshifter, Soldier, Spirit, Toad (later changed to Frog), Townsfolk (later changed to Human), Treefolk, Viashino, Wizard, Wolf, Wurm, Zombie.

Cycles[ | ]

Urza's Legacy has three cycles and a vertical cycle:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Manlands Forbidding Watchtower Faerie Conclave Spawning Pool Ghitu Encampment Treetop Village
Each of these uncommon lands comes into play tapped, can be tapped for one mana of a given color, and has an activated ability that can turn it into a creature until end of turn. This cycle was reprinted in 10th Edition.
Recurring Auras Cessation Slow Motion Sleeper's Guile Sluggishness Rancor
Each of these common Aura enchantments returns to its owner's hand when put into a graveyard from play.
Sleeping enchantments Planar Collapse Second Chance Brink of Madness Impending Disaster Defense of the Heart
Each of these rare enchantments sacrifices itself for a big effect if a certain requirement is met during your upkeep.

Vertical cycle[ | ]

Cycle name
Phyrexian Carriers Phyrexian Denouncer
Phyrexian Debaser
Phyrexian Defiler Phyrexian Plaguelord
Each of these black Carrier creatures can be sacrificed to give another creature -X/-X until end of turn, where X is its power and toughness.

Pairs[ | ]

Urza's Legacy has three mirrored pairs:

Mirrored Pairs Description
Defender of Chaos
Defender of Law
These knights, one red and one white, both have flash and protection from the mirrored color. Each is a common 2/1 creature with mana cost 2C and artwork designed by Carl Critchlow.
Rack and Ruin
Peace and Quiet
Uncommon instants with destroy two enchantments. Based on Rain of Salt ({R}) from Urza's Saga
Sick and Tired
Hope and Glory
Uncommon instants that target two creatures. Based on Symbiosis ({G}) from Urza's Saga

Notable cards[ | ]

  • Avalanche Riders was the first card designed by a Magic Invitational winner, Darwin Kastle.
  • Deranged Hermit provides a lot of power at cost and formed part of the "Squirrel-prison" deck alongside Opposition and "The Rock" with Phyrexian Plaguelord.
  • Defense Grid taxes opponents on your turn and remains a combo protection piece to this day.
  • Goblin Welder was once a staple in Vintage and Legacy as an artifact reanimator, but superior removal and better options than a fragile creature pushed it into the background. Notably, the original wording using exchange needed to be errata'd as control-changing effects change the intent of the ability.
  • Mother of Runes's protection effect made it a famous one-drop and a bomb in limited and constructed. It would inspire many other one-mana protective creatures.
  • Rancor stands up as one of the best Auras ever printed, being cheap, aggressive, and persistent. The casting cost was a mistake by R&D, intended to be {1}{G}.[5]
  • Karmic Guide is a combo piece as its unconditional reanimator effect is easier to cheat by using low-creature-power reanimator effects.
  • Thran Weaponry is one of four global pump effects and one of two that add toughness.

Banned and Restricted cards[ | ]

  • The "free spell" mechanic proved to be easy to exploit, with Palinchron powering the High Tide decks and often used for Storm combos. Cloud of Faeries is banned in Pauper, and Frantic Search is banned there and also in Legacy.
  • Tinker could get any artifact in your deck ensured its restriction in Vintage, ban in Legacy, and was later banned in Commander in March 2009.
  • Crop Rotation is used to find uniquely powerful non-basic lands, like Tolarian Academy and Dark Depths. It started banned but was unrestricted in Vintage in September 2009.
  • Grim Monolith is a variation on Basalt Monolith, costing one less to cast in exchange for one mana more to untap, but netting mana immediately made it significantly stronger. Banned to start with, it was released in June 2009 (Vintage) and 2010 (Legacy).
  • Memory Jar was the first card to be banned from tournament play by the DCI players' organization before it had been proven to be broken in tournament use, and the first to be emergency banned. Many players contacted the DCI after the set was released, showing how Memory Jar made first-turn wins possible and second to third-turn wins common in the standard environment. It remains banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.

Misprints[ | ]

  • A portion of Urza's Legacy prerelease Beast of Burden cards were printed without the foil datestamp and expansion symbol.

Reprinted cards[ | ]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Urza's Legacy.

Card comparisons[ | ]

Preconstructed decks[ | ]

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Radiant's Revenge W U
Phyrexian Assault B R
Crusher W G
Time Drain 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. Randy Buehler (November 14, 2003). "Extended Thoughts". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Daily Deck List (May 22, 2009). "Memory Jar". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (June 20, 2016). "25 More Random Things About Magic". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]