Codename

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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] 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]

List of codenames[edit | edit source]

Expansion Set Codename Notes
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) [8]
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
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
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"
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 & 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 Rock & Roll 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"
Modern Masters (2013) "Picasso" [9] An Spanish painter and sculptor.
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 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" [10] 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.
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. [11] 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.[12]
Rivals of Ixalan "Eggs"
Unstable "Quicksilver" Unfortunately, this codename gave away what the set was so it was never publicly used.[13]
Dominaria "Soup" A light lunch. Codenames released before the change to the Three-and-One Model, now Dominaria is its own entity, disconnected from Core 2019.
Core 2019 "Salad"
"Spaghetti" An Italian-American dinner [14]
"Meatballs"
"Milk" A midnight snack [15] After the introduction of Three-and-One Model, "Cookies" became a Core Set.[16][17]
Core 2020 "Cookies"
"Archery" Sports, new codenames will be alphabetical themes, currently sports [7][6]
"Baseball"
"Cricket" [18]
Core 2021 "Diving" [19]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (August 12, 2002.) “Codename of the Game”, magicthegathering.com, 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”, magicthegathering.com, 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. Mark Rosewater, Top 10 Expansion Codenames, The Duelist #23 (March, 1998)
  9. Gavin Verhey. (February 22, 2018.) “The Future of Masters”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. 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.
  11. Mark Rosewater. (May 22, 2015.) "New Codenames", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  12. Blake Rasmussen. (December 9, 2016.) “The December 9, 2016 Update”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater. (January 18, 2018.) "What was Unstable's design codename?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  14. Mark Rosewater. (October 15, 2015.) "We Had Our First Exploratory Design Meeting Today…", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  15. Mark Rosewater. (May 31, 2016.) "Do you have code names of the Spring 2019 and Summer 2019 sets yet?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  16. 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.
  17. Mark Rosewater. (January 28, 2018.) "Is "Cookies" Magic 2020?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  18. Mark Rosewater. (December 01, 2017.) "Do we know the codename of the set you worked on today?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  19. Mark Rosewater. (February 10, 2018.) "For frame of reference, the stuff you work on next...", Blogatog, Tumblr.
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