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What Magic cards represent big steps in design shift?

Mark Rosewater has talked a few times about the "Five Ages of Design" for Magic, and each of these were a "design shift" where R&D thought very differently about how to design cards, sets, and blocks. If you're interested in his perspective, I would recommend you read this article: Eighteen Years. There has definitely been at least one new “age” since that article was written.I see things a little differently than Mark does, so I'll break down the shifts in design as I see them, as a player.In the BeginningAlpha through AlliancesAt the dawn of Magic, the creators were mostly concerned with creating interesting cards that people would want to play with. The game hadn't really reached its greatest audience yet, so it wasn't widely known which effects would be the most powerful. So, notable cards from this age usually fell in to two interesting categories: cards with interesting but unwieldy top-down designs, and cards that are incredibly broken. The cards stood out on their own, which made for some neat individual cards, but the expansions lacked cohesion and themes were weak.Top-Down Design: Cards that are created by thinking of a card's concept first, then thinking how game mechanics can fit the flavor of the concept. As an example, in a top-down design, you might want to design a werewolf, then figure out how the game's mechanics can represent the transformation. The opposite is Bottom-Up Design, where the card's concept is developed using the mechanics as a starting point.Alpha had a cycle of one-mana-for-three spells. It’s a neat cycle conceptually, but the power level varies wildly among the five. Of those five, only one is still regularly printed. One is too weak for Standard. One is overpowered for Standard, but has seen a Modern printing. One is incredibly overpowered, and has not only not seen a Modern printing, but that effect has now permanently moved to a different color. And the fifth card, shown below, is banned in almost every format and is widely regarded as one of the most powerful spells in Magic.Ancestral Recall (Unlimited Edition)The next two cards are incredibly powerful cards that have very interesting top-down effects. Library of Alexandria, which was printed in Arabian Nights, has a theme of gaining knowledge, represented by drawing cards. Balance is a card that is meant to even the playing field, and does so my making players sacrifice many different kinds of resources until both sides are even. Of course, in practice, this usually unbalances the game, but you can still see the original intent in the card.Library of Alexandria (Arabian Nights), Balance (Unlimited Edition)Those two are fairly elegant early top-down designs, relative to some of the other top-down designs. I'll end this section on two cards that also have some neat top-down flavor, but are otherwise a mess:Ice Cauldron (Ice Age), Illusionary Mask (Unlimited Edition)Dawn of the Block and The Weatherlight SagaMirage through ProphecyOnce Magic had been around for a few years, it became apparent that Magic was no longer just a card game with a few expansions. With expansions coming out on a regular basis, they decided to organize these sets into three-set blocks, with one large set and two small sets. The sets from this era had much stronger themes, and there were many more cards that propped up the themes of the set instead of shining individually. Though sets were divided into blocks, the blocks did not have much cohesion among the sets.Here’s an example of one of Magic’s earliest strong themes: Slivers.Crystalline Sliver (Stronghold)(There are many Slivers similar to this one that give bonuses to all Slivers.)The Weatherlight Saga started in, well, Weatherlight (included in the Mirage block even though Mirage and Visions were mostly unrelated to Weatherlight). This was Magic's attempt at telling a much stronger story, and you could see bits and pieces of it on the cards. This storyline continued until Apocalypse, when pretty much everyone was killed off, with Karn being a notable exception.One really neat thing about the Tempest Block is that a lot of the cards told pieces of the story, and if you arranged them in the proper order, it would tell you a lot of what was going on (though Preconstructed decks at the time also had very interesting little storybooks). Here's an example of several cards illustrating an event that happens near the beginning (and these aren't even all of the cards detailing this battle).Gerrard Capashen prepares the Weatherlight for battle with the Predator: Gerrard's Battle CryGerrard and Greven il-Vec start fighting on the Weatherlight: No Quarter, Sadistic GleeVhati il-Dal bombs the Weatherlight, aiming at both Gerrard and Greven, and sending Gerrard overboard: Sudden ImpactHanna watches Gerrard fall: Abandon HopeGerrard lands safely: Broken FallGreven confronts Vhati about the bombing: Vhati il-Dal, RepentanceVhati faces the consequences: Diabolic EdictUrza's Block was better known as having cards that were ridiculously broken, such as this card, which is banned in most formats:Tolarian Academy (Urza's Saga)Urza Block was actually meant to be an enchantment-matters block, and you can see that on a lot of the cards in the set, but the artifacts that were available at the time were a much bigger contributor to the broken environment. (I would mark this as the first environment broken primarily by overpowered artifacts.)The Masques block, on the other hand, was underpowered to compensate.The Age of Block Themes and Bottom-Up DesignInvasion to DissensionWith a few blocks behind them, Wizards started to really succeed at building entire blocks around a theme, having each set play with different elements of that theme. Invasion was a multicolor block, with Planeshift adding a bunch of ally-colored spells, and Apocalypse adding enemy-colored spells. Odyssey was a graveyard-centric block. Onslaught was a tribal/creature block, and so on. Top-down design had really been the main way of doing things in the past, but this is where bottom-up design really started to shine.Story-wise, Apocalypse was a bit of a reset button. The Odyssey and Onslaught blocks took place on the same plane, but with new characters and new conflicts. Mirrodin started the newer trend in Magic of setting each block on a different plane, which is now one of the bigger strengths of the Magic storyline.I believe this is also about the time that the Booster Draft format became a popular way to play. The first several blocks weren't built for draft, and they have issues if you try to draft them. Some of the blocks in this era were also odd for draft (especially Odyssey block), but many of these blocks are much more fun to draft than earlier blocks.This card from Apocalypse shows off what a lot of Invasion was about, mechanically.Rakavolver (Apocalypse)I think this card shows off Odyssey block fairly well, and the following is a card that older players will remember. This also came with another design shift: creatures had been underpowered in general until around this time, when cards like Psychatog and several others made creatures worth playing again.Psychatog (Odyssey)Mirrodin brought us a new way to think about artifacts. It wasn’t the first artifact-matters set; that honor goes to Antiquities. It brought us “indestructible”, which would later be used to replace more complex mechanics like regenerate. It brought us the broken affinity mechanic that led to one of the worst Standard environments in Magic’s history. (This is the second environment broken by overpowered artifacts.)One of the better lasting impacts of Mirrodin was the addition of a new type of artifact that allowed you to augment your creatures without being tied to them: Equipment. They were very overpowered at first, but the power level was adjusted, and they’ve been a staple of Magic sets ever since.Sword of Fire and Ice (Darksteel)The Ravnica block stands apart as being a set with great design that finally gave some mechanical identity to each of the ten color pairings. It's included in this age only because of the heavy reliance of bottom-up design. This was a block that a lot of people loved, and it was the follow up they needed after the Kamigawa block failed.If you'd like to see what kind of identity each color pairing has, look no further than the guildmages:Azorius (control and countermagic): Azorius GuildmageOrzhov (life drain): Orzhov GuildmageBoros (fast creatures, combat superiority): Boros GuildmageSelesnya (many creatures, helped by tokens): Selesnya GuildmageDimir (control and card draw): Dimir GuildmageIzzet (instants and sorceries): Izzet GuildmageSimic (creature improvements): Simic GuildmageRakdos (reckless aggression): Rakdos GuildmageGolgari (graveyard, creature growth): Golgari GuildmageGruul (bigger creatures, direct damage): Gruul GuildmageThe Height of ComplexityTime Spiral to Alara RebornThis block definitely stands apart in design, and caused a major design shift starting with the next block.Time Spiral was a "time" block. There were multiple time-altering mechanics, such as split second and suspend. Also notable is that Time Spiral was a set about the past, with many reprints, returning mechanics, and references to old cards, Planar Chaos was a set about an alternate present, switching staple cards to different colors to show an alternate color pie that might make sense, and Future Sight had many "future" cards with unique mechanics that would show where Magic might go in the future.This was a set that was loved by older players that had already seen the older cards and were familiar with the mechanics that were returning, and many people loved seeing a new twist on the older mechanics, such as combining Cycling and Madness on the same card. This set really failed with newer players, however, as they felt all the weight of the extensive, rich history of Magic all at once, and it was overwhelming.It felt like every card in that set, even the commons, had a unique mechanic. I just opened a simulated pack of Future Sight. Most of the cards have at least four lines of text. Counting up the non-evergreen mechanics in that pack, I get: morph, vanishing, scry (not evergreen at the time), suspend, absorb, convoke, kicker, and hellbent. There are only three cards in the pack that aren’t complex. It must have been a nightmare drafting this set as a new player. Imagine having only a minute to figure out the best card in a Future Sight pack if you had never seen the cards before!Time Spiral was also notorious for reprinting old cards that don't belong in their respective colors, as well as dredging up a few old cards that no longer belong in their colors. This confused a lot of people as to what each color actually does, and it still occasionally confuses players that say things like "direct damage was printed in blue in Time Spiral, therefore direct damage is a blue effect".Psionic Blast (Time Spiral "Timeshifted")Because Time Spiral was the second largest set in Magic's history (second to Fifth Edition), there was an overwhelming number of cards to choose from in Standard, further complicating the game at this point in time.On the story side, Time Spiral block was another "reset button" that killed off most of the old planeswalkers in preparation for a new crop of planeswalkers that would appear in the next block. (Planeswalkers were originally designed for Time Spiral, but the mechanics weren't fully worked out in time, so they were pushed back.)Magic R&D had learned their lesson from Time Spiral block, but some of the future sets were already too far in development to apply what they learned about complexity. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor, while not as ridiculously complex as the preceding block, still ended up more complex than they should have been.Lorwyn was the set that introduced an interesting new card type: the planeswalker. Planeswalkers had almost never been represented on cards before, with only a small handful of exceptions (Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir).Garruk Wildspeaker (Lorwyn)The Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block was also a new experiment in block structure, and ever since, many of the blocks would be in a structure other than large set/small set/small set. This block was large/small/large/small, consisting of two smaller mini-blocks. The success of this experiment influenced the block structure change many years later.Shards of Alara added the first three-color theme and the Mythic Rare rarity. This card was among the first batch:Godsire (Shards of Alara)Shard of Alara gave an identity to each of the five “shards”, each of which was a combination of three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. Here are some example cards from each shard:Bant (GWU): Rafiq of the ManyEsper (WUB): Thopter FoundryGrixis (UBR): Cruel UltimatumJund (BRG): Broodmate DragonNaya (RGW): Woolly ThoctarNew World Order with Bottom-Up DesignMagic 2010/Zendikar to Rise of the EldraziAfter Time Spiral block made Magic prohibitively complex for a lot of new players, Wizards decided to put a new policy into place: save the complex cards for higher rarities, and keep common cards simple. This policy, referred to as New World Order, did a lot to not only make the game more accessible, but to make designs at lower rarities more elegant. This policy didn't (and doesn't) make the game less interesting to play or make the game less complex as a whole, but it made it so that a new player could understand how to use the majority of the cards in their packs. As a result, when a new mechanic is introduced, you most often see a very basic version at common, a twist on that mechanic at uncommon, and the weirder twists at rare.Magic 2010 came out around this time, and was revolutionary in its own way. It was a new way of thinking about core sets. Core sets have always been the recommended entry point for new players to Magic, but M10 brought two big changes. The first is that previous core sets consisted entirely of reprints, but M10 had several new cards.Doom Blade (Magic 2010)(Like many other cards in M10, Doom Blade was a simpler, better version of its predecessor, Terror.)The second is that many of the cards in M10 were tournament-quality staples. The previous core set, Tenth Edition, had a handful of useful cards, but the cards were generally underpowered. M10 saw a reprint at Common that saw play in many Standard decks until the card was not included in M12:Lightning Bolt (Magic 2010)(The flavor text on this card was a beautiful metaphor for those of us who played with Lightning Bolt years ago, and were excited to see it return. I still say "bolt!" when using cards that deal three damage.)Around this time, there was another design shift: having creatures do many of the things that were once done only by instants and sorceries. This allowed decks that were playing more control-based strategies to still have a few creatures in the deck that could participate in combat, or, if you're lucky, attack for the win.I heard a saying pop up around this time: “every good creature is either a Baneslayer or a Mulldrifter.” Baneslayer Angel was very powerful in its day, and it was powerful because of its abilities as a creature. It only attacked and blocked, but it did those very well. Mulldrifter was also a very powerful creature, not because of its ability to attack and block, but because it provided two cards in addition to being a 2/2 flyer. There had always been a ton of Baneslayers, but I think M10 shows us the rise of the Mulldrifters as a major component of Magic.Æther Adept (Magic 2011)The Return of Top-Down DesignScars of Mirrodin to Magic OriginsPrevious blocks had creative themes that ran through them, but the themes didn't always hit their mark. Kamigawa had a very interesting, authentic Japanese theme, but it proved to be very alien and off-putting to people not familiar with it. Lorwyn had a very Celtic feel to it, but that feel didn't really match the mechanics, and the world wasn't something that was familiar to players.Innistrad and Theros were both worlds that were based on something American players were already familiar with, and instead of worrying about making something that was 100% percent true to the roots of horror or Greek myth, the designers worried more about incorporating the elements that players already knew and expected to see. Innistrad had many of the classical horror tropes (unlucky 13, enemies that don't seem to die, zombies that are slow but numerous) and monsters (werewolves, vampires, zombies, ghosts) that players were hoping to see. Theros, similarly, had gods that were pieced together from ancient Greek deities and had direct references to Greek myths.In previous blocks, mechanics were the theme. In these blocks, mechanics were used to build and emphasize the creative theme they were working with. As an example, previous werewolves in Magic had mechanics that were unrelated to what werewolves are known to do. Werewolves in Innistrad would transform into a beast when the conditions were right.Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha (Innistrad)Not all of the blocks designed in this time period were top-down, but this era saw the first top-down block designs in a very long time. As an exception, the Return to Ravnica block was definitely a bottom-up block with a two-color theme.In Theros Block, the stories of Orpheus and King Midas had their own cards, and many cards had flavor text from "The Theriad", a reference to The Iliad and The Odyssey.Rescue from the Underworld (Theros), Gild (Born of the Gods)Unlike some of the earliest top-down cards, these were mechanics that not only evoked the theme, but were elegantly done and were fun to play. Rescue from the Underworld was a pretty simple Resurrection-style card mechanically, but it was one where a creature drags another out from your graveyard. Gild was fairly simple creature removal mechanically, similar to the earlier card Sever the Bloodline combined with an Eldrazi-Spawn-like effect, but it was also a card where you use the Midas touch on an opponent's creature, then pawn it off. (Of course, King Macar, the Gold-Cursed was a stronger tie to King Midas, but I believe that Gild was the more elegant card.)M15 had a very different design in a few ways, but I think there's one aspect that stands out in particular: the cards designed by outside game designers. Some of these cards have pretty interesting concepts, even if not all of them are particularly powerful. Here's the card designed by Markus "Notch" Persson, with card art that resembles the game he's best known for:Aggressive Mining (Magic 2015)The Tarkir block was a bottom-up set designed around its unique draft structure (more on that later). I think the most notable thing about the Tarkir block wasn't due to changes in the cards themselves. For me, the Tarkir block will be remembered as the set where Magic storytelling took a radical change for the better.Over the history of Magic, Wizards tried to tell the Magic story in a number of ways. There were always Magic novels, but those didn't always reach a wide audience. The Weatherlight Saga was an attempt to tell the story on the cards, but that plan was pretty short-lived (Tempest and Stronghold did this very well, but it started dropping off around Exodus). They tried including the novels in Fat Packs. They tried telling the stories of their planeswalkers in awesome webcomics. They tried e-books for Scars of Mirrodin and Theros. The problem is that Magic players weren't really buying the books, and as a result, nobody really knew what was going on in the story.By the time Khans of Tarkir came out, the column Uncharted Realms had been running for a while, telling official Magic side-stories. For Tarkir block, however, Uncharted Realms would become the official source of the Magic story. This meant the the story was free and easily accessible. For the first time, I saw people become really invested in the Magic story. People now knew which characters are involved, the main story of the block, and even some interesting facts about some of the side characters that appeared as legendary creatures on the cards.These two characters in particular seem to have really resonated with people. I'd recommend reading The Truth of Names (this one’s especially relevant for me) and The Great Teacher's Student if you're interested in finding out why.Alesha, Who Smiles at Death (Fate Reforged), Narset Transcendent (Dragons of Tarkir)Tarkir also gave some color identity to the five “wedges”, the three color combinations consisting of two adjacent colors and the color opposite both of them. Most of the Ascendancy enchantments didn’t see much play in Standard, but they were great at reinforcing the mechanical themes.Abzan Ascendancy (WBG)Jeskai Ascendancy (URW)Sultai Ascendancy (BGU)Mardu Ascendancy (RWB)Temur Ascendancy (GUR)Magic Origins was the next set, and because they thought it would be the final core set, they used this opportunity to give some background information on the recurring characters that we would see in the coming blocks. Previous core sets didn't really have a story at all, but Magic Origins gave us origin stories for five different planeswalkers, as well as looking at where they were in the present.Another important change around this time, which started around Journey into Nyx, was adding important story elements to the cards themselves. Previously, they didn’t want to spoil the story by featuring the climax on a card that every player would see, but the greater problem was that players often didn’t know what happened in the story at all. So, in Journey into Nyx, they designed a card to represent the climax of the entire Theros block: the moment that Elspeth killed Xenagos, a planeswalker that forced himself into the pantheon of Theran gods as the God of Revels.Deicide (Journey into Nyx)In later blocks, more of the key story moments would be shown on cards. The following cards are the climactic moments in the two following blocks (Tarkir and Battle for Zendikar). Also note that the mechanics on these cards are very evocative of what happened in the actual story.Tarkir block: Crux of FateThe turning point of the Tarkir story was Sarkhan rewriting history to “destroy all non-Dragon creatures” instead of “destroy all Dragon creatures” during the Crux of Fate.Battle for Zendikar block: Fall of the TitansWhen combined with Bonds of Mortality and sufficient mana, Fall of the Titans could kill both Ulamog and Kozilek in one shot, as it did in the Battle for Zendikar story.Shadows over Innistrad block: Imprisoned in the MoonIt’s a fine way of dealing with Emrakul, the Promised End, even if it doesn’t kill her. You do have to survive long enough to use it, though. It also works on characters that were imprisoned earlier in the story, including Nahiri, Avacyn, and Griselbrand.Starting with Kaladesh, these story cards were given special text to indicate their status as “Story Spotlight” cards, and they increased the number of story cards from one to five.The Beginning of Two-Set Blocks and Dawn of The GatewatchBattle for Zendikar to Rivals of IxalanMark Rosewater wrote an article, Metamorphosis, that detailed the new structure of Magic: the Tarkir block would be the final three-set block, Magic Origins would be the final core set (or so they thought), and the block structure moving forward would be two small blocks per year, similar to Lorwyn-Shadowmoor.Magic had been having a problem for a long time that they called the "third set problem". There were always three sets per block, and it was proving to be very difficult to come up with a way to make all three sets interesting. The first set usually introduced us to a new place with new mechanics, so it was usually fine. The second set would usually be some kind of spin on the first, and the third set would usually be a slightly different spin. There were a few times where they managed to make all three sets compelling, but it was usually due to a complete mechanical and creative reboot of the block, which was fine for players, but would require a lot of extra work from the developers. Mark Rosewater wrote about this problem in detail in one of his articles (Third Time's the Charm) in anticipation of Dragon's Maze... too bad that set didn't turn out to be the answer to his problem either. (They would later find that the problem wasn’t with the third set, but with all small sets.)Another problem that this new structure hoped to correct was the "core set problem". The idea was that new players would hopefully use the core set as an introduction to the game, because it had simpler cards with simpler mechanics. However, with the success of the Duels of the Planeswalkers games for PC and consoles, it became apparent that most players weren't using the core sets to learn how to play. They instead would play the video games, which provided a low-pressure setting in which to learn, then delve into whichever set was most current. So, if new players aren't using the core sets, then who exactly is the core set for? So, instead of reworking the core set again, they decided to remove it in favor of more "expert-level" sets. (This change would also be revisited in the near future.)An interesting change that came out of the Battle for Zendikar block was the addition of the Zendikar Expeditions. These were incredibly rare and special lands that were inserted into Battle for Zendikar block packs, with a rarity similar to finding a foil Mythic Rare (about 1 in four 36-pack boxes), and they quickly became very expensive. These printings were not necessarily legal in Standard, meaning that you could buy a new pack of cards and get one of the old, powerful lands you might need for older formats. The “Masterpiece Series” was added to Kaladesh as Kaladesh Inventions, and later to Amonkhet as Amonkhet Invocations, and it was announced that the Masterpiece Series would be a permanent addition. (It was not very permanent.)Polluted Delta (Zendikar Expeditions)Oath of the Gatewatch introduced us to the “Gatewatch”, which is basically a super-team of planeswalkers. We can see this teaming up represented in several of the cards, but I especially want to highlight the Oaths, which each represent a different planeswalker joining the Gatewatch.Oath of Nissa (Oath of the Gatewatch)Kaladesh brought us two very interesting new mechanics. The first is energy, a resource similar to mana, except that it’s harder to acquire and it doesn’t drain automatically. What’s interesting about energy is that most cards that use energy both generate and use energy, but you could also save the generated energy to use with other cards.Aetherworks Marvel (Kaladesh)The other unique mechanic to come out of Kaladesh is the addition of vehicles. While artifacts that turn into creatures under the right circumstances are nothing new for Magic, vehicles were definitely a victory of Magic as a storytelling medium, because vehicles in Magic never had a consistent or compelling set of mechanics, which means that it will be much easier to create cards in the future that represent vehicles that come up during the story, especially major ones like the Weatherlight or the Predator.As unique as Kaladesh was, both vehicles and energy would come to dominate Standard at different points. Just like with Equipment, Wizards misjudged the power level of vehicles when they were first released, and Smuggler’s Copter was banned in Standard after only a few months. Aetherworks Marvel was the first energy card to be banned, followed by Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner a while after. (This is the third environment broken by overpowered artifacts.)Smuggler's Copter (Kaladesh)The Gatewatch had provided some planeswalker protagonists, but it got to be a little overkill, due to their constant time in the spotlight and the fact that they hadn’t lost a major battle. Hour of Devastation not only provided their first major defeat, but also (for unrelated reasons) marked a change where the Gatewatch would not be featured as prominently on planeswalker cards, leaving much more room to feature other characters. As of Hour of Devastation, there were five Nissa planeswalker cards in Standard, so it was time to share the spotlight a little bit.Gideon's Defeat (Hour of Devastation)The End of the Block StructureDominaria and other future setsIn another big update article from Mark Rosewater called Metamorphosis 2.0, he showed us another set of large changes, similar to the last major change.The Three-and-One Model: As it turns out, the “third-set problem” identified years prior was misidentified. The problem was actually with all small sets, and not exclusive to blocks with two small sets. So, instead of trying to build blocks that would work well together in Limited play, they decided to just make every set independent, even though it would take more resources to do so. There could still be consecutive sets on the same plane or in the same story arc, but they no longer needed to be constrained by the block model. There would still be four sets per year, and three would be independent, large sets. The “-and-One” refers to the next change.Return of the Core Set: The core set provided a few things that were sorely missing, and they decided the best solution was to simply bring core sets back, with stronger focus toward newer players. The main problem was that it added a gap in the learning curve for newer players, for players who were ready to buy boosters, but perhaps not ready for the complexity of an “expert-level” set. The other large problem is that, without core sets, there often wasn’t a set where they could insert reprints to tweak Standard as needed, because they didn’t fit in the other sets for a mechanical or flavor reason.Around this time, we got Unstable. It wasn’t one of Magic’s normal sets, but since the silver-border on those cards makes them unusable in tournament play, they were able to push the envelope a lot more and figure out which things might be plausible in the future. The biggest development we saw right away was the improvement of collating technology, used to put cards in sets. They were no longer forced to put certain cards in certain “slots”, such as the “double-faced slot” in Innistrad boosters. To show off one of the new capabilities, they made a bunch of different cards with the same name, such as Very Cryptic Command.Very Cryptic Command (variation c) (Unstable)Dominaria was able to use that technology shortly after. There was a guaranteed legendary creature in every pack, but unlike previous sets which might have had a “legendary creature slot”, the legendary creature replaced a card of the same rarity.Dominaria proved to be a great way to celebrate the history of Magic, without repeating the mistakes of the Time Spiral block, and it remains one of my favorite draft environments to date.War of the Spark was pretty special in a few ways. Since it was the culmination of a major storyline that had been in the works for a very long time, they pulled out all the stops for this set. This set contained 36 Planeswalkers, and for the first time, Planeswalkers could be rare or even uncommon, and every planeswalker had a static ability, which hadn’t been done before (not counting the Commander planeswalkers).Jaya, Venerated Firemage (War of the Spark)And, because there was such a huge focus on the story, for the first time in a long time, we saw a very large number of story events unfold on the cards themselves, similar to how it was done in the earlier parts of The Weatherlight Saga. You can once again line up a bunch of cards and see a whole scene unfold.Gideon and his pegasus prepare to attack Nicol Bolas: Trusted PegasusThe poor pegasus is shot down by an arrow from God-Eternal Oketra: Divine ArrowGideon continues his aerial charge on a much more formidable mount: Unlikely AidGideon attacks Bolas with a flying lunge, Blackblade in hand: Desperate LungeBut despite all of the hopes everyone had put into that plan, the attack is completely ineffective: Tyrant's ScornThey changed the way the story was delivered in Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, and War of the Spark. The War of the Spark story was a set of novels, and the story of the two blocks before was hinted at on cards, but not released until after War of the Spark. I’m guessing this change is why nobody seems to really know what happened in these sets.Another neat little point is that War of the Spark has a lot of callbacks to Hour of Devastation, but instead showing the Gatewatch’s victory in War of the Spark. The five “hours” are replaced with five “finales”, and “defeat” cycle was turned into a cycle of “triumphs”.And that brings us to where the game is today.That was a long answer, and it took forever to write, but it was fun combing through all these old cards. I hope this serves to illustrate a lot of the changes in Magic over time, and that people can see what kinds of cards they may have missed out on.Update: I've made several revisions to this post to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of Magic, and to add more information as I learn it. This answer was last edited between War of the Spark and Magic 2020.

I have 3 questions. Is a camera from 2011 still good (I.e. Sony A7 I)? Should I get a compact, DSLR, or CSC? Is a Sony HX-80 good?

If you have three questions, ask them separately. That way you’re likely to get more answers.Yes.If by “CSC” you mean mirrorless, yes. Compact cameras (point and shoot) are effectively dead. And DSLRs are going away.I don’t know the HX-80, but it wouldn’t be my choice. For that price you can get a good mirrorless camera such as the Olympus OM-D E-M10.

Did m4 Sherman tanks fight at Kursk?

I'm going to say No - web references were rare - here is one definitive statement - on an opinion blogRe: US tanks at KurskApril 22 2011, 2:37 AM only M3 Lee tanks were used at Kursk.No M4 Sherman tanks were used there.The using of M3 Stuart tanks at Kursk is doubtful. The rumours are exists about the participation of Russian 230th Separate Tank Regiment in Kursk battle. That regiment has 32 of M3 Lee and 7 of M3 Stuart tanks, and had fightings against German SS 2nd Tank Corps. Exact places of those fightings are unknown.The M10 Wolverine SPG were supplied in the USSR in 52 examples only. Those SPG were not used in any combat, and stood in reserve.Kursk was a massive operations - I like the word 'campaign' rather than battle - but I would suggest that the m4 wasn't at Kursk - and probably wasn't a lead tank for the Soviets in any case. Soviet Union's nickname for the M4 medium tank was Emcha because the open-topped figure 4 resembled the Cyrillic letter che or cha (Ч). The (diesel engined M4A2) "emchas" used by the Red Army were considered to be much less prone to burn and explode than Russian tanks.[11]A total of 4,102 M4A2 medium tanks were sent to the U.S.S.R. under Lend-Lease. Of these 2,007 were equipped with the 75 mm gun, and 2,095 carried the 76 mm gun. The total number of Sherman tanks sent to the U.S.S.R. under Lend-Lease represented 18.6% of all Lend-Lease Shermans.[12]-

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Justin Miller