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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Triangle of War with V
Design Bill Rose (lead)
Charlie Catino
Don Felice
Howard Kahlenberg
Joel Mick
Development Bill Rose (lead)
Mike Elliott
William Jockusch
Mark Rosewater
Henry Stern
Art direction Sue-Ann Harkey
Release date February 3, 1997
Plane Dominaria (Jamuraa)[1]
Keywords/​ability words Cumulative upkeep, Flanking, Phasing
Set size 167 cards
(62 commons, 55 uncommons, 50 rares)
Expansion code VIS[2]
Development codename Mirage Jr.
Mirage block
Mirage Visions Weatherlight
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Introductory Two-Player Set Visions Fifth Edition

Visions is the tenth Magic expansion and was released on February 3, 1997 as the second set and first small expansion in the Mirage block.

VIS booster

Visions booster

Set details[ | ]

Visions contains 167 black-bordered cards (50 rare, 55 uncommon, and 62 commons). Its expansion symbol is the "Triangle of War", a Zhalfirin symbol, inset with a “V” for Visions.[3][4][5]

At the time of its release, Visions was a "first" in the release of quality cards at the common level; examples include Uktabi Orangutan and River Boa. River Boa (at that time) was considered "very good", with two abilities (islandwalk and regeneration), and a 2/1 at only {1}{G}.

Visions was the start of increasing the speed of red decks. Red decks began to get faster due to a card from Visions: Fireblast. In the late game, players could now sacrifice two Mountains to deal four damage to opponents. This proved to be essential as burn decks became all the rage. Decks were sporting "pure burn", essentially: four Lightning Bolt, four Incinerate, four Fireblast, which made it very easy for the red player to deal twenty damage to their opponents, or in today's colloquial, it "increased the reach" of the red player. Fireblast was also common rarity.

The Visions set was the first set to introduce the color-appropriate text boxes to non-basic lands capable of producing single colors of mana, such as Karoo, Everglades, and Jungle Basin, that had been used for basic lands since the launch of Magic the Gathering. Non-basic lands capable of producing more than one color of mana did not receive color-appropriate text boxes until Invasion (excepting the early Dual Lands which had their own unique box-in-box color design). The Visions non-monocolor lands share the same dull green text box color that Mirage has, and the monocolored lands still had text box frames of that same color. From Fifth Edition on, land text box color was standardized.

Marketing[ | ]

Visions was advertised as an expansion to the stand-alone Mirage set as well as to the basic set. The set was released in February 1997. The cards were sold in 15-card boosters which had artwork from Teferi's Puzzle Box. Each booster box contained 36 sealed packs. Visions was the first set to have a wide dispersal of pre-releases.

Storyline[ | ]

The story continues the struggle between the nations of Jamuraa against the evil Kaervek, only now Femeref has been destroyed and Suq'Ata and Zhalfir begin to have internal problems as well.[6] There is hope, however, when Kaervek's ally Jolrael betrays him at the urging of the planeswalker Teferi. Jamuraa's leaders, led by Jolrael's visions, free Mangara from the Amber Prison and begin to fight against Kaervek.

Magic online[ | ]

Wizards of the Coast started selling Visions cards and preconstructed theme decks for Magic Online on April 10, 2006. The cards became legal to use in several formats as they went on sale. Official release events were held on April 13, 2006.[7]

Mechanics and themes[ | ]

Visions introduced no new mechanics, but used the following previously used mechanics: Cumulative upkeep, flanking, phasing, poison counters, slowtrips, substance, and world enchantments.

Visions included many creatures that had abilities that triggered upon entering the battlefield. This meant that some creatures could now do things normally reserved for instants, sorceries, or costly activated abilities. These "enters-the-battlefield" creatures could also combo well with cards that returned creatures to a player's hand.

Creature types[ | ]

The following creature types are introduced in this expansion: Caterpillar (later changed to Insect), Chimera, Hippopotamus (later changed to Hippo), Jellyfish, Lichenthrope (later changed to Plant Fungus), Necrosavant (later changed to Zombie Giant), Nekrataal (later changed to Assassin), Python (later changed to Snake), Sorcerer (later changed to Wizard), Warthog (later changed to Boar), Wildebeests (later changed to Antelope Beast).

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Ape, Archer, Angel, Atog, cat warrior, Cheetah (later changed to Cat), Cyclops, Djinn, Dragon, Drake, Druid, Dwarf, Efreet, Elemental, Elephant, Elf, Enchantress (later changed to Druid), Falcon (later changed to Bird), Goblin, Gorilla (later changed to Ape), Griffin, Insect, Knight, Lion (later changed to Cat), Minotaur, Ogre, Phoenix, Rat, Snake, Soldier, Vulture (later changed to Bird).

Visions also introduced Enters the battlefield effects, at that moment known as CIP effects.[8]

Design and development[ | ]

The Visions expansion originated as a split from “Menagerie” (the original name for Mirage), which had grown too large for a single set. For a brief time during its development, Visions was known by the codename “Mirage Jr.” It received its final name shortly later.[9] Mark Rosewater was instrumental in determining the power level of Visions in the last development meeting.[10]

Cycles[ | ]

Visions has five cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Charms Hope Charm Vision Charm Funeral Charm Hearth Charm Emerald Charm
Each of these common instants has a cost of M and lets you choose one of three possible effects.
Color-Hoser Enchantments Honorable Passage Dream Tides Desolation Heat Wave Elephant Grass
Each of these uncommon enchantments has an additional or a greater effect against enemy colors.
Karoo lands Karoo Coral Atoll Everglades Dormant Volcano Jungle Basin
Each of these uncommon lands is sacrificed when it enters the battlefield unless you return an untapped basic land of a given type to your hand and adds {C}M.
Cycle name {W}{B} {U}{R} {B}{G} {R}{W} {G}{U}
Opposing-Color Rares Righteous War Firestorm Hellkite Squandered Resources Suleiman's Legacy Pygmy Hippo
The cost of each of these rares included mana of two opposing colors.[11]

Four-card cycle[ | ]

Cycle name
Chimeras Brass-Talon Chimera Iron-Heart Chimera Lead-Belly Chimera Tin-Wing Chimera
Four uncommon 2/2 artifact creatures costing {4} that has a combat ability and a sacrifice ability to give any chimera a +2/+2 counter and that chimera's combat ability. They are all illustrated by Mike Dringenberg.[12]

Mega-mega cycle[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Atogs Auratog (Tempest) Chronatog (Visions) Necratog (Weatherlight) Atog (Antiquities) Foratog (Mirage)
Chronatog is the third card of this mega-mega cycle of creatures that was started in Antiquities with the eponymous Atog. A new number of this cycle would be printed in each of the following three sets (Visions, Weatherlight, and Tempest).

Card comparisons[ | ]

Notable cards[ | ]

  • Chronatog is a curious creature that looks bad at first: skipping your next turn for a temporary boost in size seems like a terrible deal. However, this ability was found to have benefits in a deck that established a "lock" (a situation from which the opponent cannot win) and proceeded to win the game by running the opponent out of cards. By never having another turn a player did not have to worry about "decking" themselves after the lock was established. A deck that exploited this fact was "Stasis", a lock that balanced itself through an upkeep cost, which is never paid when played with Chronatog.
  • Nekrataal was a "187" creature that kills a non-artifact non-black creature (Terror, effectively) when it enters the battlefield.
  • Man-o'-War was another "enters the battlefield" creature, Man-o'-War allowed blue players a measure of board-control, by returning a creature onto the battlefield to its owner's hand. Even now, it lives in the "acceptably good" range of commons or uncommons.
  • Quirion Ranger saw play in various green decks running fewer lands than usual. In Pauper Stompy, it allows the player to "cheat" on mana by tapping a land, returning it to their hand, and playing it again. In Elves, it's also used to untap creatures to produce more mana; it's especially useful with Elves that produce more than one mana, such as Priest of Titania.
  • Relentless Assault is the first spell that gives the player another (combat) phase in turn, which leads to a variety of opportunities.
  • Uktabi Orangutan was the poster "enters-the-battlefield" creature of the set that gave green players a way to destroy artifacts (which was out of green's flavor at the time) on a creature card. The card art also had what looked like two yellow monkeys in the background mating, which was poked fun at in the card Uktabi Kong from the humor set Unhinged that shows the same two monkeys in the background, one of which is seemingly pregnant, followed by the birth of Kibo, Uktabi Prince. The Mirrodin card Viridian Shaman is a functional reprint of this card.
  • Undiscovered Paradise can produce five colors of mana but returns to its owner's hand the turn after it is used. It was instrumental in allowing four- and five-color decks to dominate in 1997 and 1998.
  • The incomplete cycle of Necromancy, Mystic Veil, Relic Ward, Spider Climb and Parapet gained a templating and timing problem after a rules cleanup in 2005 that the designers attempted to solve by adding the keyword substance. It was later removed by simply referring to the cleanup step; while it led to some irregularities, for most purposes it was functional.
  • The Chimera cycle is the functional first instance of keyword counters, long before the official usage in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths.
  • Fireblast gives burn decks a significant amount of reach, likely being the main reason such decks are still viable now in Eternal formats.

Banned and restricted cards[ | ]

  • Vampiric Tutor can grab any card from their library at any time for a minimal amount of life and mana. It enabled decks that required a specific combination of cards for victory to gain a foothold in tournament play, and also made "toolbox" decks (containing just one copy each of certain situational cards) possible. The fact that only 2 life is lost when the card is 'tutored', and that it can be played during the opponent's turn makes it almost as good, if not better than Demonic Tutor. It remains banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.
  • Goblin Recruiter was, like most Goblin cards, overlooked until Onslaught was released and the goblin deck archetype began to dominate Extended and Legacy. The card was banned in Extended until 6th Edition rotated out and is still banned in Legacy.
  • Squandered Resources lets its controller sacrifice lands in play for a quick mana boost, becoming the linchpin of the "ProsBloom" decks that used a combination of cards from Mirage and Visions to draw cards, make mana, and repeat until the player could cast a Drain Life large enough to kill the opponent. While manageable in the greater formats, it was banned in Mirage block constructed in July 1997.
  • Summer Bloom gives players three more land drops to play, which at the time wasn't particularly interesting as they player needed three lands in hand to do so. However, Amulet of Vigor powered up Bounce lands, turning Summer Bloom from a weak ramp spell into a six-mana ritual. This combination with Primeval Titan, which still exists as a deck in Modern as Amulet Titan, led to it being banned in January 2016.

Theme decks[ | ]

Paper versions of Visions 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. Visions 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 pre-constructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Legion of Glory W
Wild-Eyed Frenzy R
Unnatural Forces U B
Savage Stompdown R G

Trivia[ | ]

  • Visions was the first set to have the same name as a Magic card printed earlier: Visions, the card, was first printed in Legends and Fourth Edition. Though it began life as Mirage Jr., the set quickly went through a series of name changes: early names included Lion's Eye (to tie in with the Lion's Eye Diamond from Mirage), and Jungle's Edge (to complement the African feel of the set).[13] Initially Visions was discarded because it was a cardname; this same argument led to the card Mirage being renamed Shimmer, but Asmira's prophecies were central enough to the backstory to make the name work.
  • Nekrataal originally was named Sheitan (Satan), but this was deemed offensive.[13]
  • Kyscu Drake is an anagram for "Sucky Drake", though it was better than it should have been for green.[13]
  • Ovinomancer was inspired by many of R&D playing Warcraft II on the LAN at Wizards. Warcraft II specifically has a creature that turns other creatures into sheep. Bill Rose loved doing that so he made a card that did it.[14]
  • A green legend named Rothello was originally planned for this set.[13]
  • Visions was the last set to feature a new creature that creates poison counters (Suq'Ata Assassin) for over 10 years until this mechanic reappeared as the poisonous keyword on two futureshifted cards from Future Sight (Snake Cult Initiation, Virulent Sliver).
  • Visions is the last non-Starter expansion set to date not to include any legendary permanents.
  • Due to the unusual number of commons in the set, the following commons appear on the rare print sheet instead of the commons print sheet: Keeper of Kookus, King Cheetah (Visions), Man-o'-War, Phyrexian Walker, Resistance Fighter, Sisay's Ring, Urborg Mindsucker

Gallery[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast. "Dominian FAQ (archived)".
  2. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Magic Arcana (September 21, 2005). "Visions' Triangle of War". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (July 25, 2022). "Magic Design A to Z, Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Visions: The Backstory
  7. Wizards of the Coast (March 28, 2006). "Visions Release Events". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Brady Dommermuth (June 01, 2009). "Mechanically Inclined". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (August 12, 2002). "Codename of the Game". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (February 22, 2016). "Untold Tales". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Ben Bleiweiss (December 25, 2002). "Sets of Five". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Wizards of the Coast (November 10, 2008). "Card of the Day". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. a b c d Visions of Glory (Michael G. Ryan), The Duelist #15, p. 62
  14. Mark Rosewater (December 17, 2022). "Ovinomancer is my favorite card ever". Blogatog. Tumblr.

External links[ | ]