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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.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

This practice was put into place starting with the Alliances expansion set; codenames for previous sets were simply the name of the set.[2] Codenames are chosen by the head designer, Mark Rosewater.[3] The codenames are designed to not have any connection to the mechanics of the set they refer to. They are selected before the designers even know what the set will be about.[4]

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.[5]

To make things easier internally, a new codename naming system was introduced in 2017. It follows a single theme (currently sports) alphabetically, A through Z.[6] That way everyone at Wizards of the Coast will know what comes before and after what.[7]

Codenames for expansions[edit | edit source]

Expansion Codename Notes
Alliances "Quack" Reference to a Macintosh sound file.
Mirage "Sosumi" Reference to a 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.
Tempest "Bogavhati" A different spelling of Bhogavati, a world from Indian mythology. This codename was used as the namesake of Vhati il-Dal.
Stronghold "Rachimulot" Reference to a card in the Dungeons & Dragons Spellfire CCG.
Exodus "Gorgonzola" Favorite cheese of Bill Rose.
Urza's Saga "Armadillo"
Urza's Legacy "Guacamole"
Urza's Destiny "Chimichanga"
Mercadian Masques "Archimedes" All three codenames were mostly chosen for their difficulty in spelling. They are all Ancient Greek Scientists.
Nemesis "Euripides"
Prophecy "Dionysius"
Invasion "Beijing" Chinese cities.
Planeshift "Hong Kong"
Apocalypse "Shanghai"
Odyssey "Argon" Codenames chosen for the ABC order and ease of spelling in contrast to previous codenames.
Torment "Boron"
Judgment "Carbon"
Onslaught "Manny" First set of codenames to use a known pre-set order, these being the names of the Pep Boys mascots.
Legions "Moe"
Scourge "Jack"
Mirrodin "Bacon" Key ingredients in the BLT sandwich. Selected due to the widespread knowledge of the order.
Darksteel "Lettuce"
Fifth Dawn "Tomato"
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.
Guildpact "Alt"
Dissension "Delete"
Coldsnap "Splat"[8]
Time Spiral "Snap" Rice Krispies cereal mascots and slogan from advertising.
Planar Chaos "Crackle"
Future Sight "Pop"
Lorwyn "Peanut" Reflecting the nature of the two mini-blocks, so too did the codenames overlap in a before and after style.
Morningtide "Butter"
Shadowmoor "Jelly"
Eventide "Doughnut"
Shards of Alara "Rock" Classic hand game of the same name.
Conflux "Paper"
Alara Reborn "Scissors"
Zendikar "Live" Phrase that normally accompanies the Vulcan salute in the Star Trek franchise.
Worldwake "Long"
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.
Mirrodin Besieged "Camera"
New Phyrexia "Action"
Innistrad "Shake" Popular phrase derived from the 1954 rhythm and blues song.
Dark Ascension "Rattle"
Avacyn Restored "Roll"
Return to Ravnica "Hook" Popular phrase derived from the three crucial pieces of fishing tackle.
Gatecrash "Line"
Dragon's Maze "Sinker"
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.
Fate Reforged "Dewey"
Dragons of Tarkir "Louie"
Battle for Zendikar "Blood" Popular phrase and 1960s 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"
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.
Aether Revolt "Stock"
Amonkhet "Barrel"
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.[9] 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.[10]
Rivals of Ixalan "Eggs"
Dominaria "Soup" A light lunch. Codenames released before the change to the Three-and-One Model. Later Dominaria became its own entity. The second set was replaced by Core Set 2019.
Cancelled "Salad"
Guilds of Ravnica "Spaghetti" An Italian-American dinner.[11]
Ravnica Allegiance "Meatballs"
War of the Spark "Milk" A midnight snack.[12] After the introduction of Three-and-One Model, "Cookies" was replaced by Core Set 2020.[13][14][15]
Cancelled "Cookies"

From Throne of Eldraine forward alphabetical themes are used, currently sports.[6][7]

Expansion Codename
Throne of Eldraine "Archery"
Theros Beyond Death "Baseball"
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths "Cricket"[16]
Zendikar Rising "Diving"[17]
Kaldheim "Equestrian"[18]
Strixhaven: School of Mages "Fencing"[19]
Innistrad: Werewolves
Innistrad: Vampires
Untitled Winter 2021 Set "Hockey"[21]
Untitled Spring 2022 Set "Ice Skating"[22]
Untitled Fall 2022 Set "Judo"[23]
Untitled Winter 2022 Set "Kayaking"[24]
Untitled Spring 2023 Set "Lacrosse"[25]

Codenames for other sets[edit | edit source]

Some Core Sets, Starter level sets and Supplemental sets also had codenames.

Set Codename Notes
Fourth Edition "Francesca" Also shortened as "Franny".[26]
Vanguard "Commando" Alluding to the concept of heroes joining the battle (the idea for the set at the time).[27]
Portal "Harvey" After the invisible rabbit in the famous play and movie.
Planechase "Hopscotch"[28] A children's game in which each child by turn hops into and over squares marked on the ground.
Commander "Bedlam" [28] A scene of uproar and confusion.
Duel Decks: Mirrodin Pure vs. New Phyrexia "Mac 'n' Cheese"[29] A dish of cooked macaroni pasta and a cheese sauce.
Modern Masters "Picasso"[30] A Spanish painter and sculptor.
Conspiracy "Hydra"[28] A fictional terrorist organization appearing in American comic books.
Eternal Masters "Jitterbug"[31] An old-fashioned dance.
Unstable "Quicksilver" Unfortunately, this codename gave away what the set was, so it was never publicly used.[32]
Battlebond "Slingshot"[33] The effect of the gravitational pull of a celestial object in accelerating and changing the course of another object.
Modern Horizons "Contemporary"[34] Something occurring at the same time.
Mystery Booster "Whirlpool"[35] A quickly rotating mass of water.
Secret Lair Drop Series "Raindrop"[36] A single drop of rain.
Unsanctioned "Parachute"[37] A ready to go set, that could be employed when needed.[38]
Commander Legends "Chevron"[28] A V-shaped line or stripe, especially one on the sleeve of a uniform indicating rank or length of service.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Handlebar was used to refer to the "Bolas arc" of the story, running through ten sets from Kaladesh through War of the Spark.[39]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater (August 12, 2002). "Codename of the Game". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. 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.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2017). "Who chooses the code names for sets?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (January 28, 2018). "Do set codes have any vague connection to what the actual set is?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater (August 25, 2014). "Metamorphosis". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. a b Mark Rosewater (January 28, 2018). "Are codenames gonna skip letters?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. a b Mark Rosewater (April 30, 2017). "New Codenames". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Wizards of the Coast (July, 2006). "Ask Wizards - July, 2006". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (May 22, 2015). "New Codenames". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Blake Rasmussen (December 9, 2016). "The December 9, 2016 Update". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater (October 15, 2015). "We Had Our First Exploratory Design Meeting Today…". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (May 31, 2016). "Do you have code names of the Spring 2019 and Summer 2019 sets yet?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Mark Rosewater (June 14, 2017). "Salad (M19) and Cookies (M20) got code names to hide the news that core sets were coming back, but will M21 and forward get code names?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Mark Rosewater (January 28, 2018). "Is "Cookies" Magic 2020?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater (September 30, 2018). "Now that Core Sets are a thing again, is "Cookies" confirmed to be Core Set 2020?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  16. Mark Rosewater (December 1, 2017). "Do we know the codename of the set you worked on today?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. Mark Rosewater (February 10, 2018). "For frame of reference, the stuff you work on next...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  18. Mark Rosewater (April 29, 2018). "Mark. I turn 30 today. I want something juicy...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  19. Mark Rosewater (August 1, 2018). "Could you tell us about something you made recently but without spoiling it to tease us all?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  20. Mark Rosewater (February 12, 2019). "Let’s say I start work today designing Magic. What set would I be working on?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  21. Mark Rosewater (May 20, 2019). "What stage are you at with Hockey?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  22. Mark Rosewater (September 26, 2019). "We had a lot of fun making this blackboard.". Twitter.
  23. Mark Rosewater (February 5, 2020). "How many more sets have their sport code names already?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  24. Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2020). "#745 - Matt Tabak". Drive to Work.
  25. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2020). "I'm working on L - Lacrosse". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  26. Wizards of the Coast (May, 2007). "Ask Wizards - May, 2008". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater, Top 10 Expansion Codenames, The Duelist #23 (March, 1998)
  28. a b c d Gavin Verhey (April 22, 2020). "Can you match these 12 Magic products correctly with the codename?". Twitter.
  29. Five Strange Magic Oddities You've Never Seen (Video). Good Morning Magic. YouTube (July 8, 2020).
  30. Gavin Verhey (February 22, 2018). "The Future of Masters". Wizards of the Coast.
  31. 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.
  32. Mark Rosewater (January 18, 2018). "What was Unstable's design codename?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  33. Gavin Verhey (May 21, 2018). "A New Challenger Apporaches". Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Mark Rosewater (March 11, 2019). "Can you tell us now what was the Modern Horizons set codename?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  35. Gavin Verhey (November 14, 2019). "Unraveling the Mystery Booster". Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Mark Rosewater (December 07, 2019). "Hey Mark, what was the behind-the-scenes codename for Secret Lair?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  37. Mark Rosewater (February 10, 2019). "what is Parachute?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  38. Mark Rosewater (February 10, 2020). "Un-Boxing, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  39. Ethan Fleischer (April 20, 2019). "This has been "Codename: Handlebar""