Thursday, October 29, 2015

Clearing the confusion - understanding the differences between certain MtG sets

Can you tell the difference between Revised and Summer Magic? What about Fourth and alternate Fourth? Do you know what makes Chronicles stand out and why it gets confusing? Let’s take a look!

Revised versus Summer Magic versus Fourth versus Alternate Fourth

With Revised Edition on the shelves and players happily cracking packs, trouble started rolling in for Wizards of the Coast in the summer of 1994. Revised was full of mistakes (wrong pictures on cards, cards given the wrong colors, artists not given the appropriate credit, etc.) and the company was facing more concern about images that were considered “Satanic” on some of the more popular cards (Unholy Strength and Demonic Tutor).

Their answer? Summer Magic - appropriately named because the set was printed in the summer.

Summer Magic, code named Edgar, was implemented to fix the mistakes of Revised. Did it work? No, not really.

The print job on the Summer Magic cards is far darker than their Revised counterparts (the color tends to be washed out on Revised cards). Plus, unlike the cards from Revised, Summer Magic cards had a copyright stamped on them. Incidentally, this can be the easiest way to tell the difference between these print runs.

Further, the set still had mistakes. On the card Plateau, Drew Tucker is incorrectly identified as the artist (this was done in Revised, too). The new art for Plateau was done by Cornelius Brudi.  The card Serendib Efreet was credited to Jesper Myrfors when, in truth, it should have been Anson Maddock.

The most sought after Summer Magic card is Hurricane. This green card was printed as a blue card by mistake.

Because of the multitude of mistakes, WotC decided it was best to destroy this print run but, a few cases did survive and made it into circulation. If you have a Revised card, make sure to check for a copyright symbol on it. You may be sitting on a gold mine.

The story of confusion for Revised and Summer magic doesn’t end here though. That’s because in the summer of 1995 WotC produced an alternate to their recently released Fourth Edition. Which, by the way, looks a lot like Revised.

Before we get into Alternate Fourth, let’s chat about Fourth Edition.

What’s the difference between Revised and Fourth? Well, the biggest indicator is the copyright line under the artist’s name. Plus, the tap symbol was changed from the tilted T to the curved arrow that we are all used to seeing today.

When it comes to Alternate Fourth, things get interesting.

It is long been believed that WotC printed Alternate Fourth in effort to find a US based printer. So, they contracted the United States Playing Card Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, to do a print run. This agreement came to an end in 1996 and the cards were slated for destruction; however, a large number of unopened Starters hit the streets.

The Alternate Fourth Edition cards look a lot like their Fourth Edition counterparts. The biggest difference is the alternate Fourth Cards feel more like your average playing card with a high gloss feel to them.

Aside from the gloss look and feel, another dead giveaway is these cards do not glow under black lights like a typical Magic does (discovered by former Pro Player, Dan Bock). These cards also tend to whiten on the edges more than normal cards.

Although the back of the card looks like any other Magic card, the blue at the top of the letter A in the word Magic is dark. Cards not printed by USPCC do not have that color discrepancy.

Originally released in the summer of 1995, Chronicles was printed in effort to placate player demand for out-of-print cards. Chronicles was a reprint set with more than half of the cards hailing from Legends. It also saw reprints from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and The Dark. All the cards kept their original art.

Wizards of the Coast also chose to leave the individual set symbols on each card. This means, for example, the reprint of Blood Moon (originally printed in The Dark) looks just like its first printing with one exception – the border. All cards printed in Chronicles are a white bordered version of their original printing.
Blood Moon
from Chronicles

Today, with many players learning the game long after Chronicles, they may not be able to tell the difference between a Chronicles card and its original printing.
Blood Moon
from The Dark

So how do you know the difference? Well, quite simply it’s the white border. So, if your Blood Moon has The Dark symbol but, it is bordered in white, you are indeed holding a Chronicles card. There is another difference, too – the Copyright. All cards printed in Chronicles will have the copyright dated 1995.

So there you have hit. Hopefully, with this guide, you will be able to take a look at cards from these sets and have a better understanding at what you are holding.