MTG's Lace Cycle: The Color Changing Type Of Card That Didn't Last Too Long


Early Magic: The Gathering didn't have much leather, but it did have a lot of lace!

Over the years, Magic: The Gathering has had odd periods of trying something out, then tapering it off for a few expansions when they find out that the new thing isn't working or that players simply hate it. A lot of creatures, artifacts, and concepts have simply died off through this trial-and-error by fire.

Early on in Magic, "laces" was this odd concept thing they tried. One of the game's first cycles, laces (PurelaceThoughtlaceDeathlaceChaoslace, and Lifelace) were originally derived from another WotC game called The Primal Order. The cards' concept was that they essentially used energy to change the color of a spell being cast or a permanent in play with the concept being that players could do something like playing Thoughtlace on an opponent's spell to turn it blue so they can counter it with a Red Elemental Blast, or do a surprise change of color to a permanent for "protection from" purposes.    

So how were they received? Well, despite the fact that they were printed in Alpha/Beta Limited, Unlimited, Revised, and Fourth Edition, the fact that they haven't been around since is a big hint.

Essentially, they showed up here and there in early MTG decks as a sort of spoiler card, but then generally grew less and less popular. No matter - the next year they were tried again in Legends with the cards Dwarven SongSylvan ParadiseSea Kings' BlessingHeaven's Gate, and Touch of Darkness. These cards only affected creatures and, according to Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater, they were even less popular. 

"Laces weren’t popular when they first came out in Alpha. They were less popular the second time we tried them in Legends. I’m skeptical we’d do another cycle of them. We do occasionally do a blue card that can change colors (although we haven’t even made one of those in a while)," said Rosewater in 2019.

Now here is where the tapering out comes. Legends was in 1994. Two years later, in Mirage, a single lace card was printed: Prismatic Lace. The card let the player change the color to any they wanted. No dice, though, as it was still not liked.

The last time WotC tried printing a lace was in 2006 in Time Spiral. That's when Moonlace came out, this time allowing a spell or permanent to become colorless (something every previous lace card couldn't do). Again, the end result was the same as nobody really cared to much for the card (although it was included in MTG's The List).

The verdict is out: People just don't care all that much for lace cards.

And, with that in mind, it's highly unlikely WotC will print any new ones anytime soon. 

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.