Thursday, 28 November 2019 10:52

Magic History: Taking a look back at 'Visions'

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Magic History: Taking a look back at 'Visions' WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Sometimes it's nice to look back and see just how far things have come since the early days of Magic: The Gathering.  To that end, we're bringing you a series of short videos that highlight Magic: The Gathering expansions throughout the years.

Previously, we looked at Mirage.  This time around we're checking out Visions, the second half of a Magic: The Gathering "super set" that was once known as Menagerie.

You can check it all out in our retrospective video (below).

Video transcript:

Initially known under the code name "Nick Junior"... Wait a minute.  That isn't right.

Initially known under the code name "Mirage Junior" because Mirage (originally Menagerie) had to be split into two due to its sheer size, Visions -- the second set in the Mirage block -- saw print in February of 1997.

Consisting of 167 cards, it was the first set in Magic history to share a name with an already-existing card (something that would happen from time to time with future Magic sets).  It was also the first set to have a wide proliferation of pre-release tournaments rather than large, regional or country-wide events.  Additionally, it was the last new Magic set to have a creature that creates poison counters until Time Spiral's reprinting of Swamp Mosquito a decade later.

Carrying over from Mirage much more cohesively than did Alliances from Ice Age, both phasing and flanking return in Visions.  Back then, new mechanics were introduced in the first set of a block, then expanded upon in the block's second and third set.  This is very much the case with Visions with cards like Time and Tide, Teferi's Realm, Teferi's Honor Guard, and Knight of Valor.  Visions even had its on cycle of charms, riding on the coattails of Mirage's cycle.

The set also put an emphasis on creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects such as Nekrataal, considered among the set's best, and introduced Magic: The Gathering's first bounce lands.

Visions even had an artifact creature tribal theme with the horrendously under-powered and under-designed chimeras, but we can forgive Wizards for that one.

Starting where Mirage left off in terms of power level, Vision featured a handful of cards that (even today) garner respect such as River Boa, Crypt Rats, Infernal Harvest, Man-o'-War, Impulse, Undo, Rock Slide, Fireblast, and Quirion Ranger.  And those are just the commons!  Oi!

And let's not forget the Monty Python-esque Ovinomancer -- a wizard that turns creatures into sheep!  IT'S HILARIOUS!!

Throw in a handful of better-than-expected uncommons and rares like Vampiric Tutor, Three Wishes, and Natural Order, and you have some pretty solid singles to choose from.

It's the first time the dirty phrase "power creep" begins to get mentioned with the game and it served as a good lesson that there is such a thing between cards that are good and cards that are a bit "too good."  of course, the relative power level of Visions will be thrown out the window in a couple of years when the Urza sets become a thing, but that's neither here nor there.

In terms of art quality, Visions is right up there with its predecessor with card art like Michael Danza's Corrosion and Richard Kane-Ferguson's Desertion leading the pack.  The set also features what's widely considered to be one of the worst-illustrated cards in the game: Craig Hooper's Dragon Mask.  Interesting enough, there's an entire story behind how Dragon Mask even came to be.  If you'd like to learn more about it, let us know in the comments below.

So, is Visions among your favorite Magic: The Gathering sets?  If so, let us know in the comments below.

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