Shards of Alara
|Shards of Alara|
|Bill Rose (design lead),|
Devin Low (development lead),
|same as Design Team|
|October 3, 2008|
Themes and mechanics
Keywords and/or ability words
|249 (101 Common 60 Uncommon 53 Rare 15 Mythic 20 Lands)|
Development code name
|Alara block sets|
|Shards of Alara||Conflux||Alara Reborn|
|Magic: The Gathering chronology|
|Masters Edition II||Shards of Alara||Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra|
Shards of Alara is the forty-seventh Magic expansion and was released October 2008 as the first set in the Alara block. The prerelease events for this set were held on September 27-28, 2008. Release events were held on October 3, 2008, the same day the set went on sale.
Shards of Alara was the first set to follow a new packaging policy, which amongst other things introduced a new rarity level called mythic rare, as well as the replacement of one of the commons in a booster pack with a basic land (the first time this was done outside of a core set). Initial sets of a block are now 249 cards instead of the approximately 300 cards of previous expansions.
Starting with the Shards of Alara set, each booster pack contains the following: one basic land, ten commons, three uncommons, one rare or mythic rare, and 1 non-game marketing card (which may be a token). If the pack happens to contain a foil premium card, it will do so in place of one of the commons, regardless of that premium card's rarity. (Every game card in the set can appear as a regular card or as a premium card.)
Shards of Alara contains many colored artifacts. These cards were sorted alphabetically into their color when determining collector numbers. For example, the colored artifact Executioner's Capsule (which requires to cast) is placed alphabetically between the black cards Dregscape Zombie and Fleshbag Marauder. Colored artifacts which require multiple colors are alphabetized among the multicolored cards. As usual, the artifacts which have a colorless casting cost are alphabetized together and appear numerically between the multicolored cards and the nonbasic lands.
Though the set as a whole has multicolored cards as an overarching theme, due to the setting being split into five "shards" with no contact with each other, each shard was given its own distinct mechanical theme.
- Bant (primary, secondary): The shard of Bant was given the Exalted ability, which reads, "Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, that creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn."
- Esper (primary, secondary): The shard of Esper was given an emphasis on artifacts, including the first widespread use of artifacts with colored casting costs (Sarcomite Myr and Reaper King were earlier forays into this design space).
- Grixis (primary, secondary): The shard of Grixis was given the Unearth ability, which reads, "X: Return this creature from your graveyard to play. It gains haste. Remove it from the game at end of turn or if it would leave play. Unearth only as a sorcery."
- Jund (primary, secondary): The shard of Jund was given the Devour N ability, which reads, "As this comes into play, you may sacrifice any number of creatures. This creature comes into play with N +1/+1 counters on it for each creature sacrificed in this way."
- Naya (primary, secondary): The shard of Naya was given an emphasis on creatures with power of 5 or greater, "5-power matters".
Like Morningtide and Shadowmoor boosters before them, boosters of Shards of Alara come with a bonus sixteenth card that is either a "flavor/shard card", instead of the usual "rules card", or a creature token from Shards of Alara. One face of the Shards of Alara bonus card has one of five shard flavor cards or is one of ten different creature tokens. The other face has one of six advertisements for organized play programs, Conflux , Duel Decks: Jace vs. Chandra, fat packs, magicthegathering.com, Magic Online, A Planeswalkers Guide to Alara and Ultra Pro products for Magic.
Tips & Tricks
The Shards of Alara tokens are:
- 1/1 Soldier produced by Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Knight-Captain of Eos.
- artifact 0/1 Homunculus produced by Puppet Conjurer.
- artifact 1/1 Thopter with flying produced by Sharding Sphinx.
- 1/1 Skeleton with ": Regenerate this creature." produced by Skeletonize.
- 2/2 Zombie produced by Archdemon of Unx.
- 4/4 Dragon with flying produced by Broodmate Dragon and Sarkhan Vol.
- 1/1 Goblin produced by Dragon Fodder.
- */* Ooze produced by Ooze Garden.
- 1/1 Saproling produced by Jund Battlemage, Mycoloth, Necrogenesis and Sprouting Thrinax.
- 8/8 Beast produced by Godsire.
|“||Five worlds share one fate.||”|
In light of the flavor of the shards, Shards of Alara launch parties (October 3–6, 2008) will be Wizards Play Network events that feature a new format: the Theme Tournament. Designed to highlight the fun and flavorful aspects of the Shards of Alara set, the Theme Tournaments have the same structure as the prerelease tournaments (Sealed Deck format in which each player receives one tournament pack and three boosters), with a few additional rules.
As players build their decks, they must choose one of the five shards (Bant, Esper, Grixis, Jund, or Naya). The mana cost of each card in a player's deck may contain only mana symbols that match the chosen shard's three colors. (Mana symbols in a card's text box are ignored.) Colorless cards may be played in any deck. In addition, a deck may not generate mana outside its shard's colors. Any card which would generate mana of a color that doesn't match the chosen shard generates colorless mana instead.
Planes Explorer is a Flash object that allows one to explore the flavor of the five shards of Alara.
Shards of Alara has 19 cycles:
- Common one-drops: Each of these common 1/1 creatures costs one mana — Akrasan Squire, Cathartic Adept, Deathgreeter, Goblin Mountaineer, and Wild Nacatl.
- Allied-colored two-drops: Each of these common creatures requires one mana each of two allied colors to cast — Deft Duelist, Tidehollow Strix, Goblin Deathraiders, Rip-Clan Crasher, and Steward of Valeron.
- Battlemages: Each of these uncommon 2/2 human creatures costs C and has two activated abilities corresponding to each of its allied colors — Bant Battlemage, Esper Battlemage, Grixis Battlemage, Jund Battlemage, and Naya Battlemage.
- Common tricolored creatures: Each of these common creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Waveskimmer Aven, Windwright Mage, Kederekt Creeper, Carrion Thrash, and Rakeclaw Gargantuan.
- Uncommon tricolored creatures: Each of these uncommon creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Rhox War Monk, Tower Gargoyle, Fire-Field Ogre, Sprouting Thrinax, and Woolly Thoctar.
- Mythic legends: Each of these mythic rare legendary creatures has a mana cost that includes CDE — Rafiq of the Many, Sharuum the Hegemon, Sedris, the Traitor King, Kresh the Bloodbraided, and Mayael the Anima.
- Heralds: Each of these uncommon 1/1 creatures has a converted mana cost of and has an activated ability with the cost "C, , Sacrifice a creature of this creature's color plus one of each of its allied colors" that allows you to search your library for its corresponding noble creature (see below) and put it into play — Angel's Herald, Sphinx's Herald, Demon's Herald, Dragon's Herald, and Behemoth's Herald.
- Noble creatures: Each of these mythic rare creatures has a mana cost of CDDE — Empyrial Archangel, Sphinx Sovereign, Prince of Thralls, Hellkite Overlord, and Godsire.
- Allied-ability creatures: Two cycles at common, with creatures having an activated ability with an allied-color cost. One goes clockwise around the color wheel, while the other goes counter-clockwise. Shore Snapper, Cloudhearth Drake, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Cavern Thoctar, Viashino Skeleton; Undead Leotau, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Godtoucher, Vectis Silencers.
- Panoramas: Each of these common triple lands can be tapped for or sacrificed to search your library for a basic land of one of three types — Bant Panorama, Esper Panorama, Grixis Panorama, Jund Panorama, and Naya Panorama.
- Shardlands (or Trilands): Each of these uncommon triple lands comes into play tapped and can be tapped for one of three colors of mana — Seaside Citadel, Arcane Sanctum, Crumbling Necropolis, Savage Lands, and Jungle Shrine. These are strictly better than the old taplands.
- Obelisks: Each of these common artifacts can be tapped to add one of three mana to your mana pool — Obelisk of Bant, Obelisk of Esper, Obelisk of Grixis, Obelisk of Jund, and Obelisk of Naya.
- Common allied-colored spells: Each of these common allied-colored spells has two effects — Hindering Light, Agony Warp, Blightning, Branching Bolt, and Sigil Blessing.
- Resounding spells: Each of these common instant or sorcery spells have a base effect and can be cycled for CDE, where CDE are the card's shard colors, for twice the base effect — Resounding Silence, Resounding Wave, Resounding Scream, Resounding Thunder, and Resounding Roar.
- Charms: Each of these uncommon instants costs CDE and has three modes — Bant Charm, Esper Charm, Grixis Charm, Jund Charm, and Naya Charm.
- Uncommon allied-colored spells: Each of these uncommon spells has a mana cost that includes two allied-colored mana — Kiss of the Amesha, Thoughtcutter Agent, Blood Cultist, Sangrite Surge, and Qasali Ambusher.
- Uncommon enemy-colored spells: Each of these uncommon spells has a mana cost that includes two enemy-colored mana — Tidehollow Sculler, Necrogenesis, Jhessian Infiltrator, Swerve, and Bull Cerodon.
- Ultimatums: Each of these rare sorceries costs CCDDDEE and has a powerful effect — Clarion Ultimatum, Brilliant Ultimatum, Cruel Ultimatum, Violent Ultimatum, and Titanic Ultimatum.
- Rare tricolored spells: Each of these rare spells has a mana cost that includes CDE — Stoic Angel, Punish Ignorance, Sedraxis Specter, Broodmate Dragon, and Realm Razer.
Shards of Alara has 5 cycles of three cards, each missing the two colors not associated with its shard:
- Esper capsules: Each of these common artifacts can be sacrificed for an effect common to its color — Dispeller's Capsule, Courier's Capsule, Executioner's Capsule
- Jund scavengers: Each of these uncommon 1/1 creatures has "Whenever another creature is put into a graveyard from play, you may put a +1/+1 counter on this creature" — Scavenger Drake, Rockslide Elemental, and Algae Gharial.
- Naya cycling creatures: Each of these common creatures costs 5CC, has cycling and a power of 5 or more — Ridge Rannet, Jungle Weaver, and Yoked Plowbeast.
- Naya druids: Each of these uncommon 2/2 human druid creatures has a triggered ability that activates at the end of your turn as long as you control a creature with power 5 or greater and ": Add to your mana pool" — Exuberant Firestoker, Drumhunter, and Sunseed Nurturer.
- Naya "soul spells": Each of these common instants or sorceries has an effect based on the power of the creature it targets — Soul's Fire, Soul's Might, and Soul's Grace.
Shards of Alara has two mirrored pairs.
- Marble Chalice and Onyx Goblet are both common artifacts that cost 2C, and have a tap ability. The former causes you to gain one life, whilst the latter causes a player to lose 1 life.
The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Shards of Alara:
- Cancel — first printed in Time Spiral, was last seen in 10th Edition.
- Goblin Mountaineer — first printed in Portal Second Age, was last seen in 9th Edition.
- Hellkite Overlord — was last printed in From the Vault: Dragons.
- Infest — was last seen in Onslaught.
- Naturalize — first printed in Onslaught, was last seen in 10th Edition.
- Oblivion Ring — was last seen in Lorwyn.
- Cylian Elf is a functional reprint of Grizzly Bears from 10th Edition, Forest Bear from Portal Three Kingdoms, Balduvian Bears from Ice Age, Bear Cub from Portal Second Age, and Barbary Apes from Legends, save for creature types.
- Jhessian Lookout is a functional reprint of Coral Eel from 9th Edition, Coral Merfolk from 7th Edition, and Wu Infantry from Portal Three Kingdoms, save for creature types.
- Incurable Ogre is a colorshifted functional reprint of Dross Crocodile from 10th Edition.
- Banewasp Affliction is practically a colorshifted functional reprint of Creature Bond.
- Mighty Emergence lists collector number #137, should be #138.
- Manaplasm lists collector number #138, should be #137.
- Ad Nauseam — main engine powering the Legacy ANT deck.
- Blightning — one of the key Jund cards in Standard, also splashed in Red decks.
- Cruel Ultimatum — important card in Grixis and 5-color Control decks in Standard.
- Ethersworn Canonist — popular hate card against various decks, especially combo decks which rely on casting multiple spells in one turn.
- Hellkite Overlord — Was first released in From the Vault: Dragons, a special set predating Shards of Alara.
- Knight of the White Orchid — A popular Tithe variant, especially in combination with the Borderposts cycle from Alara Reborn.
- Ranger of Eos — Antoine Ruel's prize card for winning the 2006 Magic Invitational.
- Wild Nacatl — key creature in aggro decks such as Naya or Zoo. Wild Nacatl was later banned in Modern in December 2011.
Previous to Shards of Alara, there were theme decks. Intro packs premiered in Shards of Alara. All of the intro packs are 3 colors based on their shard.
The preconstructed intro packs are:
|Intro pack name||Foil rare|
|Bant Exalted||□||■||■||Battlegrace Angel|
|Esper Artifice||□||■||■||Master of Etherium|
|Grixis Undead||■||■||■||Vein Drinker|
|Primordial Jund||■||■||■||Flameblast Dragon|
|Naya Behemoths||□||■||■||Spearbreaker Behemoth|
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (June 2, 2008.) "The Year of Living Changerously", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Wizards of the Coast. (Tuesday, March 18, 2008.) "Announcing Shards of Alara", Magic Arcana, MTG.com.
- ↑ "Wizards of the Coast. (June 2, 2008.) "Changes as of Shards of Alara", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ "Shards of Alara Prerelease Card", by "Magic Arcana", MTG.com
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (September 8, 2008.) "Between a Rock and a Shard Place", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (September 22, 2008.) "Shard Tricks", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Wizards of the Coast. (Wednesday, October 1, 2008.) "More Shards of Alara Tokens", Magic Arcana, MTG.com.
- ↑ Shards of Alara FAQ
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (Wednesday, September 24, 2008.) "Alive and Unwell", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Kelly Digges. (September 9, 2008.) "The Riddle of the Sphinx", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Jacob Van Lunen. (September 11, 2008.) "Show Your True Colors", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Tim Willoughby. (September 22, 2008.) "Shards of Alara Prerelease Primer", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mike Turian. (September 19, 2008.) "The Charm Peddler", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Kelly Digges. (September 23, 2008.) "Building a Better Overrun", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Brian David-Marshall. (September 19, 2008.) "Drink Up", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (Wednesday, September 17, 2008.) "Time for Esper", MTG.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Shards of Alara product information page — Wizards of the Coast
- "Magic Arcana". (Tuesday, March 18, 2008.) "Announcing Shards of Alara", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
|Expansions: Shards of Alara | Conflux | Alara Reborn|
|Shards: Bant | Esper | Grixis | Jund | Naya|
|Characters: Ajani | Elspeth Tirel | Nicol Bolas | Sarkhan Vol | Tezzeret|
|Others: Etherium | Jazal | Kathari | Leotau | Maelstrom|
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