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The Great Magic: Ice Age Renaming Attempt

Image: WOTC

Back in 1995, one expansion tried to give a temporary renaming to Magic: The Gathering.

That set was Ice Age and it was the sixth overall Magic expansion.

As you can probably tell by the name alone, snow/ice/winter aesthetics were a big part of it thanks to it being Norse/Scandinavian themed. Officially, it came out in June of all months as Magic: The Gathering - Ice Age. But it was nearly something different entirely.

Back in the day, Richard Garfield wanted to keep refreshing Magic in new and interesting ways. While new mechanics and creatures and spells and the like were a given, there were some more radical choices too. Naming was one. For each new expansion, he wanted to include the name of the expansion into the official name, as well as differentiate each expansion by more than just a symbol - he wanted the whole card back.

For the first expansion, Arabian Nights, this nearly happened, with card back designs actually being introduced. However, R&D quickly pointed out that this could cause problems with players guessing certain cards due to every expansion having a different back during play, and this was scrapped. But Garfield didn't give up the idea and, by the time of Ice Age, he had another idea.

This time around was changing the name of the game completely for each expansion.

Magic: The Gathering was supposed to cover all cards before Ice Age. Starting with Ice Age, though, the game would be redeveloped as "Magic: Ice Age", with the name changing each subsequent expansion.

While, like the card back idea, this started coming off the drawing board, but then met heavy resistance. It was found that, by doing that, players would get easilly confused as to the name and game itself. It would, as Garfield later said "collapse the game into complexity” and would “strongarm players into buying cards they might not want."

Cooler heads ultimately prevailed, and the name change idea didn't go through. A new expansion name, as well as a nifty new symbol, would ultimately be enough. It's easy to see nowadays, as a sudden frost/ice card game with Magic in the title showing up, would confuse a lot of players. And, like the card backs, who could keep track easily enough of all the changes?

To date, these changes have never been even been so much as suggested again. Although, knowing Wizards, they may just include it as an Easter egg in a future un-series.

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.