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A cycle is a collection of cards that have one or more relationships with one another, or share a common theme (such as creature type or a particular game mechanic). A cycle can be made of any number of cards; the most common cycles consist of five cards, one for each color or pair of enemy or allied colors, or three cards of different rarities. Cycles are a widely applicable and easy to use design tool, and are very prevalent in practically every set.

Simple and complex cycles[edit | edit source]

Simple cycles consist of cards in the same set. Complex cycles consist of cards which don't belong to a single set. Complex cycles include mega cycles (cards in a single block) and mega-mega cycles (cards in different blocks). Ravnica block cycles, mostly based around Ravnica's guild theme, are typical examples of mega-cycles while Mirrodin blocks' "swords cycle" is an example of a mega-mega-cycle.

Tight and Loose cycles[edit | edit source]

Cycles can be differentiated into tight and loose cycles. A tight cycle tends to have overlap between some of the following: mana cost (with just colored mana swapped), card type, creature type, rules text and power/toughness. Examples are the Return to Ravnica block guildmages and charms.[1]

A loose cycle is a cycle in which all cards have a thematical link but are not bound to mana costs or effects. An example of a loose cycle are the Praetors of New Phyrexia. They're all legendary creatures who provide a beneficial effect to their controller and the opposite effect to his or her opponents, but vary widely in cost, power/toughness, strength and type of effects.

Types of cycles[edit | edit source]

Horizontal cycles[edit | edit source]

The "Command" horizontal cycle.

What characterizes "horizontal cycles" is that the cards range among the different colors of Magic. A horizontal cycle can be made of:

  • one card of each of the five colors (such as the "command cycle" in Lorwyn or the "titan cycle" in Magic 2011);
  • one card of each of the five two-color allied pairs (such as the "XMN uncommon cycle" in Mirage or the "two-color bears" in Invasion);
  • one card of each of the five two-color enemy pairs (such as the "enemy-colored two-drop cycle" from Apocalypse);
  • one card of each of the ten two-color pairs (such as the "guildchampion mega-cycle" from Ravnica block);
  • one card of each of the five three-color enemy (wedge) sets (such as the "commanders" from Commander);
  • one card of each of the five three-color allied (arc) sets (such as the "Elder Dragon Legend cycle" in Legends);
  • one card of each of the ten three-color sets (such as the legendary dragons from Invasion and Planar Chaos, which form a mega-mega-cycle);
  • one card of each of the five four-color sets (such as the "Nephilim cycle" in Guildpact).

Most horizontal cycles consist of cards which are very similar (same rarity, mana cost, types, abilities and eventual power and toughness), but it is not necessary. For example, the "boons" cycle from Alpha is made of four common and a rare and the "familiar cycle" in Planeshift consists of creatures with different creature types, power and toughness.

The "Bloodfire" vertical cycle.

Vertical cycles[edit | edit source]

Main article: Vertical cycle

A "vertical cycle" ranges among rarities instead of colors. The cards of a vertical cycle usually made of three cards that belong to the same color. Examples of such a type of cycle include Apocalypse "Flagbearer" (in white), "Whirlpool" (in blue), "Bloodfire" (in red), "Phyrexian", and "Penumbra" cycles.

Unlike the horizontal cycles, which are made of one card per color (combination), a vertical cycle can have several cards in the same rarity. A typical example is the "ramosian cycle" in Mercadian Masques.

Since the fourth rarity level has been introduced, there are vertical cycles made of three cards, with one of the rarities (usually uncommon or rare) missing, such as the "planeswalker signature spells" cycles in Magic 2011 and Magic 2012, in which for each color there is a mythic rare planeswalker with two related spells.

Other cycles[edit | edit source]

There are several kinds of cycles which do not belong necessarily to one of the previous categories. Typical examples are the following.

  • Tribal cycles, such as the "harbingers" in Lorwyn (for creature/tribal types).
Other color-based cycles[edit | edit source]

Besides horizontal cycles, color-based cycles can be refer to the five colors but do not consist of one card per color.

Two-card cycles[edit | edit source]

Pairs can sometimes refer to as a two-card cycle.

Three-card cycles[edit | edit source]

Besides vertical cycles, three-card cycles (mini-cycles) can also be found.

Four-card cycles[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]