Magic: The Gathering


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Wizards of the Coast releases Magic cards in base/core sets and in expansion sets. The different editions of the base set each contain 302-449 cards, which have all been printed before, with the exception of Limited Edition, which was the game's first set. Expansion sets expand the game by adding new cards. Expansion sets beginning with Ice Age have come in sets of three which form a "cycle" or "block" consisting of one large "stand-alone" expansion set of more than 300 cards, followed by two small expansion sets of less than 200 cards, which continue the themes introduced in the large set. Like the base set, stand-alone expansion sets contain basic land cards; other expansion sets do not.

Traditionally, the large set of each cycle has been released every October, with the small expansion sets associated with it being released the following February and June; this practice began with Alliances in June 1996. The block, Lorwyn, broke this pattern. Wizards announced that Lorwyn will consist of one large set and one small set, released in October and February respectively. It was be followed by another "mini block," Shadowmoor, which also consist of one large and one small set.

All expansion sets, and all editions of the base set from 6th Edition onward, are identified by an expansion symbol printed on the right side of cards, below the art and above the text box. Wizards of the Coast also assigns a three-character expansion code to each expansion. In the table below, expansion symbols and expansion codes are listed in parentheses following the name.

Base/core set editionsEdit

Beginning with Alliances in June 1996, expansion sets were released in a regular pattern: the base sets were released in October with the small expansion sets being released in February and June. Thus, beginning with Alliances, only year, not month, of release is given for expansion sets in the table below. Also beginning with Alliances, expansion sets were given codenames while in development; the code names of the three expansions of a cycle usually fit together to form a phrase or common theme. The only block set to break the pattern of months after Ice Age Block is Dissension, which was released a month early, in May instead of June, because of the July release of Coldsnap. Future Sight followed the trend created by the release of Dissension by being released in May 2007.

Set Set Symbol Release Date
Limited Edition Alpha Limited Edition Alpha Common August 1993
Limited Edition Beta Limited Edition Beta Common October 1993
Unlimited Unlimited Edition Common December 1993
Revised Revised Edition Common April 1994
4th Edition Fourth Edition Common May 1995
5th Edition Fifth Edition Common March 1997
6th Edition Exp sym 6th April 1999
7th Edition Exp sym 7th April 2001
8th Edition Exp sym 8th July 2003
9th Edition Exp sym 9th July 2005
10th Edition Exp sym 10th Summer 2007
Magic 2010 Magic 2010 Common July 2009
Magic 2011 Magic2011 common July 2010
Magic 2012 Magic2012 common July 2011
Magic 2013 Magic 2013 Common July 2012
Magic 2014 Magic 2014 Common July 2013

Expansion setsEdit

Block/Cycle Set Set Symbol Code Name Abbreviation Release Date
(none) Arabian Nights Exp sym arabiannights scimitar ARN December 1993
Antiquities Exp sym antiquities anvil ATQ March 1994
Legends Exp sym legends capital of a Doric column LEG June 1994
The Dark Exp sym dark crescent moon DRK August 1994
Fallen Empires Exp sym fallenempires crown FEM November 1994
Chronicles [1] (none)[2] CHR July 1995
Homelands [3] Exp sym homelands globe of Ulgrotha HML October 1995
Ice Age Cycle/Block Ice Age Exp sym iceage snowflake ICE June 1995
Alliances Exp sym alliances banner Quack ALL June 1996
Coldsnap Exp sym coldsnap icicles Splat CLD July 2006
Mirage Cycle/Block Mirage Exp sym mirage palm tree Sosumi MIR October 1996
Visions Exp sym visions Zhalfirin triangle of war Mirage Jr. VIS February 1997
Weatherlight Exp sym weatherlight open book[4] Mochalette WTH June 1997
Rath Cycle or Tempest Block Tempest Exp sym tempest storm cloud Bogavhati TMP October 1997
Stronghold Exp sym stronghold portcullis Rachimulot STH March 1998
Exodus Exp sym exodus bridge Gorgonzola EXO June 1998
Artifacts Cycle or Urza Block Urza's Saga Exp sym urzassaga two gears Armadillo USG October 1998
Urza's Legacy Exp sym urzaslegacy hammer Guacamole ULG February 1999
Urza's Destiny Exp sym urzasdestiny flask Chimichanga UDS June 1999
Masquerade Cycle or Masques Block Mercadian Masques Exp sym masques mask Archimedes MMQ September 1999
Nemesis Exp sym nemesis battleaxe Euripides NMS February 2000
Prophecy Exp sym prophecy crystals Dionysus PCY June 2000
Invasion Cycle/Block Invasion Exp sym invasion symbol of the Coalition[5] Beijing INV September 2000
Planeshift Exp sym planeshift portal swirl Hong Kong PLS February 2001
Apocalypse Exp sym apocalypse crying mask[6]) Shanghai APC June 2001
Odyssey Cycle/Block Odyssey Exp sym odyssey the Mirari, a metal orb on a helix Argon ODY September 2001
Torment Exp sym torment ouroboros Boron TOR February 2002
Judgment Exp sym judgment balancing scale Carbon JUD May 2002
Onslaught Cycle/Block Onslaught (set) Exp sym onslaught morphed[7] creature Manny ONS October 2002
Legions Exp sym legions two crossing spears on a shield Moe LGN January 2003
Scourge Exp sym scourge dragon mask Jack SCG May 2003
Mirrodin Cycle/Block Mirrodin Exp sym mirrodin Sword of Kaldra Bacon MRD October 2003
Darksteel Exp sym darksteel Shield of Kaldra Lettuce DST February 2004
Fifth Dawn Exp sym fifthdawn Helm of Kaldra Tomato 5DN May 2004
Kamigawa Cycle/Block Champions of Kamigawa Exp sym champions torii gate Earth CHK October 2004
Betrayers of Kamigawa Exp sym betrayers shuriken Wind BOK February 2005
Saviors of Kamigawa Exp sym saviors lantern Fire SOK June 2005
Ravnica Cycle/Block Ravnica: City of Guilds Exp sym ravnica tower Control RAV October 2005
Guildpact Exp sym guildpact seal of the Guildpact Alt GPT February 2006
Dissension Exp sym dissension broken seal of the Guildpact Delete DIS May 2006
Time Spiral Block


Time Spiral Exp sym timespiral hourglass Snap TSP October 2006
Planar Chaos Exp sym planarchaos Overlapping P and C Crackle PLC February 2007
Future Sight Exp sym futuresight Eye Pop FST May 2007
Lorwyn Block Lorwyn Exp sym lorwyn Elf Ear/Leaf Peanut LRW October 2007
Morningtide Exp sym morningtide Sun/Fire Butter MOR February 2008[9]
Shadowmoor Block


Shadowmoor Exp sym shadowmoor Crown of the Reaper King Jelly SHM May 2008
Eventide Exp sym eventide Inverted Sun/Crescent Moon with Rays Doughnut EVE July 2008
Alara Block


Shards of Alara Shards of Alara Five pieces to a gem Rock ALA October 2008
Conflux Conflux Common Five-shard shield Paper CON February 2009
Alara Reborn Alara Reborn Common Five-branched gem Scissors ARB April 2009
Zendikar Block


Zendikar Zendikar Common A hedron[13] Live ZEN October 2009
Worldwake Worldwake Common A hedron opening[14] Long WWK February 2010
Rise of the Eldrazi [15] RoE Common A hedron opened Prosper ROE April 2010
Scars of Mirrodin Block Scars of Mirrodin [16] SOM Common Hexagon in circled hexagon Lights SOM October 2010
Mirrodin Besieged Besieged Mirran and Phyrexian symbols combined Camera MBS February 2011
New Phyrexia New Phyrexia Common Phyrexian symbol Action NPH May 2011
Innistrad Block Innistrad Innistrad Common Two styilized moon herons back-to back. Shake[17] ISD September 2011
Dark Ascension Dark Ascension Common Innistrad symbol turned inward Rattle[17] DKA February 2012
Avacyn Restored Avacyn Restored Common Avacyn's Collar Roll[17] AVR

May 2012

Return to Ravnica Block Return to Ravnica Return to Ravnica Common Stylized mitre Hook RTR October 2012
Gatecrash Gatecrash Common Pointed arch Line GTC January 2013
Dragon's Maze Dragons Maze Rare Both symbols combined Sinker DGM May 2013
Theros Block Theros
Symbol of an Alter(Column and Arch
Friends THS September 2013
Born of the Gods
BNG Symbol
Split flame
Romans BNG February 2014
Journey into Nyx unrevealed Countrymen unreleased May 2014

Compilations/reprint setsEdit

Reprint sets are sets of certain cards from previous sets that were rereleased for different reasons. Some reasons include the cards were fan favorites and popular demand brought them back or in some cases, reprints were to commemorate certain events such as widely known matches or anniversary sets. Some reprint sets revolved around a certain theme such as the Beatdown set, its main purpose being to bring back old heavy hitters.

Sets not legal for DCI-sanctioned tournament playEdit

  • Un-sets[18]
    • Unglued (Exp sym unglued cracked-open egg) (UGL) (August 1998)
    • Unhinged (Exp sym unhinged horseshoe or U) (UNH) (November 2004)

Starter setsEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Chronicles, an expansion-sized set released in 1995 between Ice Age and Homelands, reprinted many previous cards, drawn from the Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, and The Dark sets, that were becoming difficult to obtain but added no new cards to the game. Despite being published between Ice Age and Homelands, it is not considered part of the Ice Age Block; for purposes of tournament-legality, it was instead treated as an extension of Fourth Edition. The cards in Chronicles were reprinted with white borders, as opposed to their original black borders.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The cards in Chronicles retained the expansion symbol of the original expansion in which the card was printed. However, Gatherer, the official Magic: The Gathering card database, identifies cards reprinted in Chronicles with a symbol of a capital letter C superimposed on a globe set in a semi-meridian.
  3. Homelands was not designed as part of the Ice Age cycle and has no thematic or story-based link to the other sets in it. Wizards of the Coast retroactively declared it part of the Ice Age cycle in 1997 to fit with the then-emerging standard cycle structure. In 2006, Coldsnap, which complements Ice Age's storyline and design themes, was at last be released. Coldsnap now completes the Ice Age block, and Homelands has reverted back to a standalone set.
  4. The open book was the Thran Tome, part of Urza’s Legacy artifacts.
  5. The Coalition was a group assembled by Urza to defend Dominaria against the invasion of the Phyrexians. For more information about this expansion symbol, see [1].
  6. The crying mask was the mask of Yawgmoth.
  7. Many creatures in the Onslaught Block had the ability to morph. Morphed creatures looked like "clay spiders"; for an explanation, look under the "January 10, 2003" heading of this link: [2].
  8. [3] (2006-2007)
  9. [4]
  10. [5] [6]
  11. [7] [8]
  12. [9]
  13. Announcing: Zendikar
  14. Announcing: Worldwake
  15. Announcing: Rise of the Eldrazi
  16. Announcing: Scars of Mirrodin
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 [10]
  18. Unglued and Unhinged are satirical expansion sets published by Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Portal was a series of sets featuring simplified rules intended to introduce novice players of Magic: The Gathering to the game. Since October 2005 onwards they are legal in the Vintage and Legacy Formats[11].
  20. The expansion symbol for Portal: Three Kingdoms was the Chinese character for the number three.

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