Urza's Saga

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Urza's Saga
Urza's Saga
Urzas Saga logo.png
Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Gears
Design Mike Elliott (lead)
Richard Garfield
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Development Mike Elliott (lead)
William Jockusch
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Henry Stern
with contributions from Beth Moursund
Art direction Ron Spears
Release date October 12, 1998
Plane Dominaria
Serra's Realm
Themes and
Free spells, Sleeping and Growing enchantments
Keywords and/
or ability words
Cycling, Echo
Set size 350 (110 Common 110 Uncommon 110 Rare 20 Land)
Expansion code USG[1]
Development codename Armadillo [2]
Urza's block
Urza's Saga Urza's Legacy Urza's Destiny
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Unglued Urza's Saga Anthologies

Urza's Saga is the fifteenth Magic expansion and was released in October 1998 as the first set in the Urza's block.

Set details[edit | edit source]

The rarity break down of the 350 black-bordered set is 110 commons, 110 uncommons, 110 rares, and 20 basic lands. Urza's Saga's expansion symbol is a set of gears, highlighting the artifacts theme of the set, and meant to symbolize Urza’s experiments in finding a means to defeat Phyrexia.[3] R&D originally envisioned Urza's Saga (and the further block) to be centered on the enchantment theme.[4] But the creative team told them that this block was going to be all about Urza, the greatest artificer of all time. By further referring to the block and the companion books as the "Artifacts Cycle", the original idea disappeared from view. It didn't help that that the set contained some very powerful artifacts and artifact-themed cards like Fluctuator and Tolarian Academy. In fact so many broken cards were in the set that the following period became known as Combo Winter. Players believed that too many overpowered cards and combos filled all the tournament formats.[5] This moved the DCI to ban a large amount of cards in December 1998.

Marketing[edit | edit source]

Urza's Saga was the first set to replace 60-card starter decks with 75-card tournament decks. Cards were also sold in 15-card boosters and four preconstructed theme decks. Each booster contained 15 cards: 11 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare. The packs featured artwork from Herald of Serra, Chimeric Staff and Phyrexian Colossus. The design change from 60 card starter decks to 75 card tournament decks was made to make it easier to run Sealed deck tournaments. The prerelease for Urza's Saga (September 26, 1998) gave away foil copies of the card Lightning Dragon as a promotion. This was the first release of a foil card in Magic although the next set in the block, Urza's Legacy, had them inserted randomly into booster packs.[6]

Written by Duelist Executive Editor Will McDermott, the The Official Guide to Urza's Saga takes a card-by-card look at spells, artifacts and specialty lands in set. In addition to the card analysis, the Guide includes images of every card in the expansion and presents a unique look at Urza's story from the explosive end of the Brothers' War to his discovery of the Thran Mana Rig.

Storyline[edit | edit source]

From the perilous domains of Phyrexia and Shiv to the splendor of Serra's Realm, Argoth, and Tolaria, he travels the planes seeking weapons to destroy the dark forces that stalk him.[7] New magic discovered. New power revealed. Urza's Saga has begun.

Hundreds of years have passed since the Brothers' War, but many things that started there are only now coming to fruition. Urza's Saga departs from the story of Gerrard and Volrath in a flashback, showing the origins of the Legacy. The readers meet Teferi in his student days and Serra at the peak of her power.

Mechanics and themes[edit | edit source]

Like many earlier blocks, Urza's Saga did not have an overarching theme, though it did have an emphasis on enchantments and artifacts. The popular cycling keyword, which allowed players to discard unwanted cards to draw new ones, was introduced in this set. Echo, a keyword requiring a second mana payment on a permanent in exchange for higher than usual stats, also debuted in Urza's Saga.[8]

Non-keyworded abilities appearing in Urza's Saga include free spells, growing enchantments and sleeping enchantments.

Misprints[edit | edit source]

Creature types[edit | edit source]

No new creature types were introduced in this expansion.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Ape, Avatar, Beast, Bird, Boar, Cat, Centaur, Cleric, Crab, Djinn, Dragon, Drake, Elemental, Elf, Enchantress (later changed to Druid), Giant, Goblin, Hippo, Horror, Illusion, Imp, Insect, Knight, Lizard, Merfolk, Pegasus, Shade, Shapeshifter, Skeleton, Snake, Soldier, Spirit, Thrull, Treefolk, Troll, Viashino, Wall, Whale, Wizard, Worm, Wurm, Zombie.

Cycles[edit | edit source]

Urza's Saga has seven cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Cycling lands Drifting Meadow Remote Isle Polluted Mire Smoldering Crater Slippery Karst
These common lands come into play tapped and add one mana of the appropriate color, but can also be cycled. The related uncommon cycling land Blasted Landscape adds only colorless mana, but comes into play untapped.
Embraces Serra's Embrace
(Serra Angel)
Zephid's Embrace
Vampiric Embrace
(Sengir Vampire)
Shiv's Embrace
(Shivan Dragon)
Gaea's Embrace
(Child of Gaea)
In an effort to get more people to play enchant creature Auras, this cycle was made which combined several abilities onto a card with a mana cost of {2}MM. Each card refers to a rare creature from either Alpha or Urza's Saga. Verdant Embrace in Time Spiral referenced this cycle, mimicking Verdant Force.
Legendary lands Serra's Sanctum
Tolarian Academy
Phyrexian Tower Shivan Gorge Gaea's Cradle
Rare legendary lands.
  • Three of the lands provide one colored mana of the listed color for each card you control of the listed type.
  • The other two lands produce {C} instead of colored mana and have a second ability which they can be tapped for.
Perpetual enchantments Brilliant Halo Launch Despondency Fiery Mantle Fortitude
When these common Aura enchantments, each with a converted mana cost of 2, go to the graveyard, they are returned to their owner's hand.
Rare growing enchantments Serra's Liturgy Recantation Discordant Dirge Rumbling Crescendo Midsummer Revel
Each of these rare growing enchantments has a mana cost of {3}MM except for the white one that costs {2}{W}{W}. Each can be sacrificed by paying one mana of the appropriate color for an effect that grows with the number of verse counter on it.
Uncommon growing enchantments Serra's Hymn Lilting Refrain Vile Requiem Torch Song War Dance
Each of these uncommon growing enchantments can be sacrificed for an effect that grows with the number of verse counters on it.
Runes of protection Rune of Protection: White Rune of Protection: Blue Rune of Protection: Black Rune of Protection: Red Rune of Protection: Green
These common enchantments are similar to the Circles of Protection from Alpha, but their activation cost requires {W} rather than {1}, unlike the Circles which allowed for merely splashing white. Their cycling ability, however, gives them extra utility. Two other runes exist complementing the cycle: Rune of Protection: Artifacts (uncommon) costs only one {W} mana to activate, as opposed to Circle of Protection: Artifacts, which costs {2} to activate. Finally, Rune of Protection: Lands, is a rare which prevented damage from lands. All 7 of the runes were illustrated by Scott M. Fischer and featured the same woman in the art.[9]

Mega-mega cycle[edit | edit source]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Voices Voice of Truth (Nemesis) Voice of Reason (Urza's Destiny) Voice of Grace (Urza's Saga) Voice of Law (Urza's Saga) Voice of Duty (Urza's Destiny)
Voice of Grace and Voice of Law are the first and second cards in this mega-mega cycle. These are uncommon white 2/2 Angels that has a mana cost of {3}{W} and have protection from a different color. Voice of All, who has protection from a color chosen as it enters the battlefield, would be released in Planeshift as an homage to the mega-mega cycle.

Preconstructed decks[edit | edit source]

Urza's Saga has four theme decks. The expansion was the first one to feature a three-colored theme deck.[10]

deck name
Colors included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
The Plague W B
Sleeper W
Special Delivery R G
Tombstone W U B

Notable cards[edit | edit source]

Reprinted cards[edit | edit source]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Urza's Saga.

Functional reprints[edit | edit source]

Urza's Saga has seven functional reprints:

Card comparisons[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Magic Arcana (June 21, 2002). "Armadillos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (June 07, 2010). "Disadvantaged". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (November 10, 2003). "Make No Mistake". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Magic Arcana (July 26, 2004). "The first foil prerelease card". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Scott McGough (March 21, 2011). "From the Ground Up". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Wizards of the Coast (1998) "New Features of Urza's Saga"
  9. Magic Arcana (March 22, 2004). "Cycling art mystery". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Urza's Saga Preconstructed Decks — Wizards of the Coast
  11. Mark Rosewater (October 13, 2014). "Team Building". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.

External links[edit | edit source]