A look at Winter Sky: Perhaps the Oddest Card in Homelands


Magic: The Gathering's Homelands expansion from 1995 was a bit of an oddity.

Magic: The Gathering's Homelands expansion from 1995 was a bit of an oddity, as we discussed in our Homelands Magic History video from a few years ago.

When coming up with the set, the designers decided to go flavor-first rather than a focus on other things, as well as not coordinate design-wise with other teams. As a result, there were a lot of design problems. And that includes color pie breaks that just wouldn't happen these days.

In fact, Homelands was such a mess that Mark Rosewater said it was a mistake, and Richard Garfield and the R&D team tried to stop it. Even today the set is known as on of the overall worst sets ever released for the game.

"...Homelands taught Wizards of the Coast a crucial lesson about Magic. The game lives and dies on its design," says Rosewater. "Players are attracted to the game for many reasons, but the one factor they all care about is how fun the game is to play. If R&D doesn't do their job to make Magic a fun game, players will stop buying it. While Homelands itself might not have had a huge impact on the game, behind the scenes it changed the way the company thought about design."

No card makes all this more clear than Winter Sky -- never mind the fact that a card with such a name would make one assume it would be a blue and/or black spell (not that there are any multicolored cards in Homelands). After all, Mike Kimble's artwork shows a woman shivering in the cold.

As you can see in the card image, it's a red card. And, while the card doesn't do a whole heck of a lot (even by "back then" standards), it would, at the very least, have a slot in a coin flip EDH deck. At least the concept of coin flipping has stayed largely red even after all these years.

As for the payoff? It's pretty paltry. It deals the lowest damage possible (one point) to each creature and player (and that's only if you win the flip). Otherwise, it acts as a group hug card draw spell -- something that's more of a white card effect than anything else. Nevermind the fact that the card's effect seems to have very little to do with either winter or the sky.

Oh, and would you believe that this oddball card is on MTG's Reserved List? Even then, it's not exactly a bank-breaker at a current market value of $1.29 according to TCGPlayer.

Homelands was a very odd expansion and the card Winter Sky may as well be the kind of the poster child for it (with apologies to Homelands heroes Chandler and Joven).

Evan Symon

Evan Symon is a graduate of The University of Akron and has been a working journalist ever since with works published by Cracked, GeekNifty, the Pasadena Independent, California Globe, and, of course, Magic Untapped.