Magic has been known to have a menagerie of urban legends and rumors swirling around for years. Bring up ‘purple being the sixth color’ among a group of players and there will be bound to be stories. But one legend seems to trump them all: Throat Wolf.
For over 25 years the legend of Throat Wolf has circulated from the earliest internet chat rooms to the latest tournaments. But it also begs to ask: What is it? And where did it come from?
Back in the mid 1990s when Magic first began skyrocketing in popularity many players were connected over usenet, which was was the grandfather of social media back in the day.
In one usenet group in 1994 users began asking about Throat Wolf. Many didn’t realize it came off a post that was a joke among a few groups that made up the card and acted like it was real. Newer players were especially suckered in.
Throat Wolf even came with the “firstest strike” ability and was said to be ultra-rare.
As it happened, the Legends expansion was being plagued with issues, making many cards hard to get. As few people knew exactly what all the cards were, many players just assumed that Throat Wolf was real and it was just snagged up like many of the other cards.
Despite not coming out in Legends, players just assumed it was then delayed. So for many years it became anticipated at each expansion. Some players said the card was simply deleted, some held onto hope, while others figured it all out or got word directly from Magic and tried to tell others to no avail. In the '90s it was essentially a Magic conspiracy theory.
Magic eventually got in on the fun and adopted ‘Throat Wolf’ for its own uses. Magic Research and Development used the name as a placeholder name for cards. Mark Rosewater personally calls small red or green creatures ‘throat wolves'. When Homelands came out in 1995, they even included a nod to the fake card in the very real card Heart Wolf - going so far as to give it first strike.
While today it’s kept around as a joke for players, Magic did eventually make it real...sorta. When the mystery booster set came out in 2019, Throat Wolf was thrown in as a test card. Coming complete with ‘firstest strike’, Throat Wolf has gone for as much as $18 simply because of its mysterious legacy.
Despite starting out as an internet joke, Throat Wolf and its legacy only continues to keep growing.