Tuesday, 21 December 2021 08:10

Raging River: The divided combat card that hasn't come back one way or another

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Artwork from the MTG card "Raging River." Artwork from the MTG card "Raging River." WOTC / SANDRA EVERINGHAM

As we've noted in previous articles, the first few years of Magic: The Gathering were full of both thrilling new gameplay and some of the weirdest rules and cards. There was ante (which was just short of gambling), there were cards that you could literally toss in the air and let fate decide, and there was also one that made you and your opponent play a game of Magic while playing Magic.

How much weirder could it get? How about dividing creatures your non-flying creatures up into two groups and forcing your opponent to do so with their defending creatures.

Oh yeah. That totally happened.

Rule of thumb: If it sounds like a crazy card or mechanic, it probably came out sometime in the early-to-mid 1990s.

Meet Raging River, the two red mana enchantment that was only printed in Alpha/Beta Limited and Unlimited. It literally divided all attacking and defending non-flying creatures into two separate groups, with the Raging River in the middle.

As the Oracle text says, "Whenever one or more creatures you control attack, each defending player divides all creatures without flying they control into a "left" pile and a "right" pile. Then, for each attacking creature you control, choose "left" or "right." That creature can't be blocked this combat except by creatures with flying and creatures in a pile with the chosen label."

Yeah, Wizards of the Coast actually printed a card that does this. And, really, it was rather unique as well as surprisingly, non-game-breaking. It's really a one of kind type of gameplay modifier. And, being a Reserved List card, there will never be a card exactly like it ever again.  (Though the Mystery Booster test card Problematic Volcano is an homage of sorts to it.)

Of course, being on the Reserved List, the card holds a bit of value. The Unlimited version is worth "only" about $177, but the original Alpha printing is going for as much as $3,200.  And, for those who do own a copy, the card is still playable in three formats: Vintage, Legacy, and Commander.

While no card has really been equal to this in the decades since, Raging River is still a memorable card to many while being useful to those who can best take advantage of it.