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Magic: The Gathering

4th Edition

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Set Specifications
Exp sym FourthEdition

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English

Set Information

The Fourth Edition of Magic: The Gathering was the tenth set released for the game, and the fourth base set (or "core set"). The set was released in May 1995 and contained 378 cards. It was the first set to reprint cards from the expansions Legends and The Dark with white borders.

Fourth Edition was also the first Magic set to be printed in Asian languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, as well as Portuguese, which was printed primarily for the Brazilian market. The Japanese edition was particularly successful and contributed to the burgeoning of Magic's popularity in Japan.


Physical attributes
Fourth Edition included the beveled border missing from the previous core set, Revised. The colors were also much brighter and crisper than Revised, in contrast to that set's wash-out appearance. This set was also the first core set to include a Wizards of the Coast copyright notice at the bottom of the card, in addition to the standard illustration credit.

Booster packs, for the first time in a core set, came in packs with cropped card art on the packaging. Up to this point, Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, and Revised all had a common-looking booster pack packaging. The cards Brass Man, Hurloon Minotaur, Mana Vault, Mesa Pegasus, and Spirit Link were shown on the booster packs. Starter packs were also improved, with mana symbols replacing the simple pentagram pattern present on the card back. Finally, an overall red theme was given to the packaging, which would persist for 5th Edition before changing to green in 6th.

Fourth Edition was the first set to offload its land printings to a dedicated land sheet. This freed up room on the other card sheets to include more spells. As a result, booster packs could now be produced without any lands, which Wizards decided to do. Fourth Edition lands were only available in starter decks. The change was mostly seen as a positive, since by this time lands were ubiquitous and players were unhappy to find a land in place of a "real" card.

Starter decks in this set included an additional rare, bringing the total to three. However, the starter decks contained fewer uncommons, going down to 9 from the previous 13.

Fourth Edition introduced the modern turned arrow tapped symbol, replacing the rotated "T" that had been introduced in Revised. This symbol was first used in an expansion with Ice Age, which was released in the following month. Current cards still use the turned arrow, albeit with a slightly different illustration.


Cards removed
Like the previous core set and all core sets since, several cards were removed and new ones were added from Fourth Edition.

Among those cards removed were those that had attracted controversy from those outside the game. Most of the cards whose art depicted nude or near-nude humanoid forms (including Earthbind and Guardian Angel (create)) were excised, as were many that had overtly religious themes (including Resurrection and Demonic Hordes (create)), though one demon, Lord of the Pit, remained. One card, Unholy Strength had its artwork altered to remove a flaming inverted pentagram in the background.

Also removed were the original ten "dual lands" (one for each pair of Magic's five colors). With the ability to tap for one mana of either of two colors, they were deemed too powerful. Other cards pruned from the set for being too potent included Fork, Regrowth, and Sol Ring, while a few, such as Vesuvan Doppelganger or Kudzu, were considered too complicated (and the cause of too many headaches) to warrant their inclusion. One card dropped for being too complex, Clone, would return to Magic in the tribally themed Onslaught and to the core set in 9th Edition after the rules dealing with cards of its kind had been streamlined.


Famous cards
Like other basic sets, Fourth Edition introduced no cards that had not yet been printed. However, it did make some older cards newly available, supplementing the often limited printings of early sets. Cards appearing in the basic set for the first time included:

  • Strip Mine: For more than a year after Fourth Edition came out, the Mine was automatically included in almost every deck in the Standard (then called "Type II") tournament format. The omnipresence of Strip Mine led to its being restricted by the DCI in mid-1996 to one per deck, and its removal from 5th Edition.
  • Mishra's Factory: The Factory, a land that could easily turn into a creature, was also used in a broad range of Standard tournament decks. Although it was never reprinted, the mechanic of a land turning into a creature has been revisited numerous times since.
  • Sylvan Library: Being able to look at the top three cards of one's library each turn, and select the best to draw (or pay life to draw multiples) made this a powerful addition to many control decks.
  • Ball Lightning: This extremely aggressive and short-lived creature eventually proved to be too powerful. It was removed from Sixth Edition, although variants appeared in Invasion and Onslaught.
  • Land Tax: Initially dismissed as a bad card, Land Tax's ability to draw multiple land cards from a player's deck each turn proved to be a decisive source of card advantage. It formed the basis for many powerful combinations with other cards, and was restricted to one per deck along with Strip Mine.


Alternate Fourth Edition
Wizards has used Cartamundi as their card printer since Alpha. For some undocumented reason, during the production of Fourth Edition, the company experimented with using other vendors. It is possible that this was because the company was looking for a way to lower costs and gain more control over printing as Magic's playerbase grew larger and more international. Some cards were printed by the United States Playing Card Corporation, and were overall slick and glossier. While these cards were not intended to be released, some starter packs were leaked out into public circulation. The cards do not glow under blacklight, unlike normal cards.[1]


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