Gaerrymandering: The Card That Was brought Back From The Dead In The Unlikeliest Place

Some Magic: The Gathering cards are playtested out to never again see the light of day. One made it back, though in a roundabout way.

While every new expansion starts off with playtesting to whittle away cards that can work, the early playtesting for Alpha remains the most mysterious. So many were thought up of and quickly discarded, with the ones that we do know about only coming from the first creators themselves. While a few were later reused, one managed to be reused five years later. As a complete joke.

The card in question was, when playtested in Alpha, known as "Ecoshift." Basically, we know it was worded as thus:

"Exile all lands. Give each player a number of those cards chosen at random equal to the number of those cards the player controlled."

Under the card, the change of control would then be made permanent

While seemingly a cool card, it just didn't fit in with the initial Magic game, and was removed before things like card art could be made for it. It was too sudden a shift for many players and could lead to some really odd games. But no matter. It was out, and it was to never be seen again.

For five years.

In 1998, Unglued came out as a standalone fun set, making fun of the first five years of Magic, and capitalizing on all of the myth and lore that the game had already generated. Usually it took decades to make a set like this. Magic made it happen in less than a Senate term. 

While many cards made fun of previous Magic cards or creatures or mythos, the creators also wanted to inject at least some of the past into the game. But then they remembered Ecoshift and how crazy it could be. Giving it the joke name of Gerrymandering, they changed the card to a three mana sorcery:

Ecoshift/Gerrymandering became the first playtested card that was worked out of an earlier version, only to be brought back in a parody set. The thing is, it worked.

While the card hasn't made an appearance since, it stands out as an odd relic of a card and a little bit of what Magic could have been way back in Alpha. A little too real for Unglued and a little too crazy for Alpha.  

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.