Legends.

Welcome back to June 15, 1994.... 22 years ago today.

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From: gee...@mindspring.com (geena Buxton)
Subject: MTG Legends Packs! (6/15/94)
Message-ID: <gbuxtonCLn417.C9K@mindspring.com>
Organization: Mindspring Enterprises
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1994 19:12:42 GMT
Lines: 725 

I got super lucky today!My local comic book store saved me 10 booster 
packs from their shipment of Legends.It looks like this is going to be 
really tough to find. Again.I got a few cards that I haven't seen in 
the lists yet so I thought I would post them.

Lord Mangus 3WWG

First Strike

Creatures with plainswalk or forestwalk may be blocked as if they 
did not have either ability. 4/3

This is pretty exciting!I think I am going to put this in my green 
and white deck that has 4 Erhnam Djinns!

Takklemaggot 2BB

Enchant creature

At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, 
put a -0/-1 counter on that creature.When enchanted creature is 
put into a graveyard, that creature's controller chooses a creature 
that Takklemaggot could enchant. If he or she does, return Takklemaggot 
to the battlefield under your control attached to that creature. If he 
or she doesn't, return Takklemaggot to the battlefield under your control 
as a non-Aura enchantment.It loses "enchant creature" and gains "At 
the beginning of that player's upkeep, Takklemaggot deals 1 damage to 
him or her."

Everyone I showed this to at the store was pretty unimpressed.It has 
a lot of text on it for sure, but if I am reading it right I think I 
will build a creatureless deck with four of these and see what happens.
Could be good.

In the Eye of Chaos 2U

Enchant World

Whenever a player casts an instant spell, counter it unless that player 
pays X, where X is its converted mana cost.

These Enchant World cards are crazy, and this is the first I have seen 
of this blue one! Thoughts?

Blood Lust 1R

Instant

Target creatures gain +4/-4 until end of turn. If this reduces creature's 
toughness below 1, creature's toughness is 1.

This card was second in the pack so I think it is an uncommon even though 
it seems really overpowered.I'm excited about playing this with Giant 
Growth and Berserk! Tom Wylie posted that it has a printing error and that 
it should read "Target Creature".Still this card is crazy good!

I really love this set!

-- Geena --

So that is what being a Magic fan looked like on the "Internet" in 1994. Screens and screens of mono-spaced text that you pulled down to your local computer and marked as "Read" when you were done. Into this environment, Legends was released to distributors on the 13th of June and to eager magic players shortly thereafter - probably that Wednesday the 15th.

Legends was a paradigm shift for Magic. Most sets introduce "mechanics" but Legends did much more - it introduced core concepts that helped to define the game as we know it. The "Legend supertype" is an obvious example, but this set was so much more. Multi-colored cards made their debut in this set. It may be hard to imagine a modern set releasing without them now, but they were revolutionary in 1994. Other game changing innovations included Pit Scorpion's poison counters and the first appearance of the Elder Dragon Legends - inspiring an entirely new way to play the game.

There can be only one....

There can be only one....

Don't get the idea that the set was perfect. Legends had an incredibly rocky design and development cycle and post-release it was plagued with issues. Many of the cards, though great in concept, were worded poorly and caused numerous rule entanglements (see Blood Lust above). This created games filled with improperly played cards and rules questions that ground games to a halt. It would take several months for Tom Wylie, Wizards of the Coast first rules manager, to untangle and errata the entire set.

"Hey let's give green a conditional counterspell based on card type and fast effect speeds - I'm sure it won't cause any issues" ~ said no one ever.

"Hey let's give green a conditional counterspell based on card type and fast effect speeds - I'm sure it won't cause any issues" ~ said no one ever.

The expansion suffered from printing issues as well. At thirty-five million cards it was the largest print run to date, but because of its larger size there were still significantly less overall sets available to collect.  This was a problem for a product labeled collectible. Even a subsequent release of the product in Italian caused shortages as American stores frantically imported boxes to meet demand after Wizards announced that these cards were indeed tournament legal.

Rare sheet voodoo led to this...

Rare sheet voodoo led to this...

Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad. The legends themselves oozed flavor and were highly sought after. Rumored to be based off of the designers Dungeon & Dragons characters, many had powerful game changing effects while others had none. One thing they all shared was their ability to stir the imagination of players and put a face on the game. In many ways Dakkon Blackblade and Sol'Kanar the Swamp King were the first "Jaces" of Magic. Powerful standalone cards like The Abyss and Moat were born, creating entirely new card archetypes. Many of these cards are still Legacy staples today.

Legendary.

Legendary.

Legends is my favorite set of all time.  Partly because of the time period it was released and partly due to the broad experimentation in card design. Commons can still be found floating in the .25 bins at your local gaming store. Grab them up for your games of Old School or just for your Commander decks. At their best they are powerful mechanics; at worst they are fun and quirky.  Either way, these old cards are amazing and you should take a game night or two to travel back in time and celebrate this set!

It is 2016. Do not buy this. Ever.

It is 2016. Do not buy this. Ever.

One more thing.... I want you to go out and buy Legends cards. They are awesome and many are still affordable. Knock yourself out. Go crazy. Just do yourself a favor though and do not buy unopened booster packs of Legends. Never. Currently unopened packs go for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market for a "chance to pull" one of the most valuable in the set. Unfortunately... it is almost a certainty that you won't get anything but a cheap rare and 14 cards you can get for $10.00 or less. Why? Above is a picture of a Legends booster.  I love the look of old school boosters but they had a huge problem.  See the white area at the top and the bottom? You can see through it.  As in "fan the cards at the top slightly and see the rare". These boosters predate the foil wrappers that were put in place to combat this problem. Also, if you were a wizard and could open a pack from the top without destroying the packaging they were crazy easy to reseal.  ...and now you know.

This article is the third part of an ongoing series of articles revisiting the Golden Age of Magic, 1993-94. If you enjoyed it, check out "Beta. Old School." and "Rabbit Hole." to catch up.