Throughout Magic's history, expansion sets have been given codenames when under design, well before a set's theme, identity and lore have been solidified. This allows expansion developers and designers to work ahead further than any other section in the company, and still have terminology to refer to the set as a whole. This practice was put into place starting with the Alliances expansion set; codenames for previous sets were simply the name of the set. Codenames are chosen by the head designer, Mark Rosewater. There never is a correlation between the codenames and the mechanical content of a set.
The Masques block was the first instance of all the codenames of the sets in a block being connected; the Onslaught block was the first to have the codenames be assigned in a order, typically referencing something in popular culture. When it was announced there would be a change in the number of sets per block from three to two starting with "Blood", the codenames that had already been released for the unannounced sets became decoupled from their previous block.
To make things easier internally a new codename naming system was introduced in 2017. It follows a single theme (currently sports) alphabetically. That way everyone at Wizards of the Coast will know what comes before and after what.
List of codenames[edit | edit source]
|Alliances||"Quack"||Reference to Macintosh sound file|
|Mirage||"Sosumi"||Reference to Macintosh sound file of the same name. Initial codename was "Menagerie"|
|Visions||"Mirage Jr."||Thought of as Mirage's offspring. Real name was established very close to the start of development|
|Weatherlight||"Mochalatte"||A favorite type of coffee of a friend of the designers|
|Vanguard||"Commando"||Alluding to the concept of heroes joining the battle (the idea for the set at the time) |
|Portal||"Harvey"||After the invisible rabbit in the famous play and movie.|
|Tempest||"Bogavhati"||After a world from Indian mythology|
|Stronghold||"Rachimulot"||Reference to a card in the Dungeons & Dragons Spellfire CCG.|
|Exodus||"Gorgonzola"||Favorite cheese of Bill Rose|
|Mercadian Masques||"Archimedes"||All three codenames were mostly chosen for their difficulty in spelling|
|Odyssey||"Argon"||Codenames chosen for the ABC order and ease of spelling in contrast to previous codenames|
|Onslaught||"Manny"||First set of codenames to use a known pre-set order, these being the names of the Pep Boys mascots.|
|Mirrodin||"Bacon"||Key ingredients in the BLT Sandwich. Selected due to the widespread knowledge of the order.|
|Champions of Kamigawa||"Earth"||American band Earth, Wind & Fire|
|Betrayers of Kamigawa||"Wind"|
|Saviors of Kamigawa||"Fire"|
|Ravnica: City of Guilds||"Control"||Keystroke combination used in Microsoft Windows operating systems.|
|Time Spiral||"Snap"||Rice Krispies cereal mascots and slogan from advertising.|
|Lorwyn||"Peanut"||Reflecting the nature of the two mini-blocks, so too did the codenames overlap in a before & after style.|
|Shards of Alara||"Rock"||Classic hand game of the same name.|
|Zendikar||"Live"||Phrase that normally accompanies the Vulcan salute in the Star Trek franchise.|
|Rise of the Eldrazi||"Prosper"|
|Scars of Mirrodin||"Lights"||Traditional cue to a film crew at the beginning of a take during a television or movie production.|
|Innistrad||"Shake"||Popular phrase derived from the 1954 Rock & Roll Song|
|Return to Ravnica||"Hook"||Popular phrase derived from the three crucial pieces of fishing tackle.|
|Theros||"Friends"||Oft-quoted excerpt from Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare.|
|Born of the Gods||"Romans"|
|Journey into Nyx||"Countrymen"|
|Khans of Tarkir||"Huey"||Popular Disney Characters of the same name.|
|Dragons of Tarkir||"Louie"|
|Battle for Zendikar||"Blood"|| Popular phrase and 1960's American jazz band. |
Codenames were released before the change from three sets per block to two was announced, after which the
codenames were decoupled from their respective blocks.
|Oath of the Gatewatch||"Sweat"|
|Shadows over Innistrad||"Tears"|
|Eternal Masters||"Jitterbug" ||An old-fashioned dance.|
|Eldritch Moon||"Fears"||With the "Tears" overlap, a reference to the English new wave band of the same name.|
|Kaladesh||"Lock"||The sets per block change also disrupted this trio of previously announced codenames, a common figure of speech.|
|Hour of Devastation||"Laughs"|| This used to be "Monkeys", with the "Barrel" overlap a reference to the "barrel of monkeys" idiom.|
It was changed for an internal reason.  Now referencing a "barrel of laughs", something or someone very funny.
|Ixalan||"Ham"||A hearty breakfast. A product survey preceding the announcement of the name "Ixalan" also offered the names Atlazan and Conquest of Power.|
|Rivals of Ixalan||"Eggs"|
|Unstable||"Quicksilver"||Unfortunately, this codename gave away what the set was so it was never publicly used.|
|Dominaria||"Soup"||A light lunch. Codenames released before the change to the Three-and-One Model, now Dominaria is its own block, disconnected from Core 2019.|
|"Spaghetti"||An Italian-American dinner |
|"Milk"||A midnight snack |
|"Archery"||Sports, new codenames will be alphabetical themes, currently sports |
References[edit | edit source]
- Mark Rosewater. (August 12, 2002.) “Codename of the Game”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (September 15, 2017.) "Has there ever been an instance where somethings code/design name got very close to becoming its actual name?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 27, 2017.) "Who chooses the code names for sets?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (August 25, 2014.) “Metamorphosis”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (April 30, 2017.) "New Codenames", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater, Top 10 Expansion Codenames, The Duelist #23 (March, 1998)
- Mark Rosewater. (May 23, 2016.) "Having Eldritch Moon (EMN) and Eternal Masters (EMA) coming out so close to each other was probably not the best idea.", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (May 22, 2015.) "New Codenames", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Blake Rasmussen. (December 9, 2016.) “The December 9, 2016 Update”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (January 18, 2018.) "What was Unstable's design codename?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (October 15, 2015.) "We Had Our First Exploratory Design Meeting Today…", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (May 31, 2016.) "Do you have code names of the Spring 2019 and Summer 2019 sets yet?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (December 01, 2017.) "Do we know the codename of the set you worked on today?", Blogatog, Tumblr.