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Predicting Alara Reborn Part 4 March 20, 2009

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, design, speculation , trackback

We know that Alara Reborn will be all gold (multicolor). It appears confirmed that every card in the whole set will be gold, so there won’t be any colorless lands or artifacts. One problem remains: What will the one drops look like? Gold cards require you to pay at least two mana, so one drops probably won’t have one mana in the casting cost.I have already discussed two ideas people have come up with for one drops here. There are many other ideas people have come up with, but I find many of them to be very unsatisfying. In order to make a satisfying gold one-drop, I would like to see the following:

  1. It should be able to be played on the first turn.
  2. It should not use a cheap gimmick to make it gold.
  3. It should be about as powerful as one drops should be. (Most of them should be 1/1 creatures.)

The following one-drop ideas are ones that are especially unsatisfying:

Cylian Drake cheapens the fact that this is an all-multicolor set by saying, “I don’t require you to play two colors, but I’m gold just ‘cuz.”

Viscera Wyvern can’t be played as a one drop until turn 2. This is not the “first turn drop” that we want. However, the ability is still interesting and could have a purpose. It just can’t fulfill the one-drop spot that I want Alara Reborn to fulfill. However, this idea helped inspire some of my own ideas.

Now for ideas that I thought of myself:

Akrasan Unicorn is my favorite idea for a one drop. It can be played on the first turn and it is about as powerful as we expect one drops to be. Its ability is also powerful enough to be worth playing with two mana if necessary.

Akrasan Unicorn is a mix between Viscera Wyvern and Pterodactyl.

Vithian Drake can be useful on the first turn, but it isn’t the 1/1 creature we expect to get for one mana. It’s not fully satisfying, but it has an interesting ability (summon) that could serve a purpose.

Akrasan Faerie can also be useful on the first turn, and it is here to remind us that Evoke can be a great way to have one-drops. It doesn’t necessarily give us the 1/1 creature we expect, but it can serve a purpose similar to Viscera Drake.

Many people think Evoke is simply not an option because it’s “too soon” to see it again.

Viscera Drake serves the same purpose as Akrasan Faerie, but it has channel (a discard ability) instead of evoke. Why? If we probably won’t get evoke, we can just as easily get a card with the channel ability.

Cylian Cat exists to feature the ambush ability, which is a mix between unearth, evoke, and summon. This ability can serve the same purpose of both Akrasan Faerie and Viscera Drake.

Drake Hatchling can be played for only one mana with the “Conjure” mechanic, but it is more powerful if you pay full price for it. It is a first-turn drop, and it is about as powerful as we expect first turn drops to be.

Will there be one-drops in Alara Reborn?

Yes. The fact is that one drops tend to be some of the best cards: Wild Nacatl, Path to Exile, Akrasan Squire, and Noble Hierarch to name a few. One-drops play an important role in the game, even if they can’t be played on the first turn. However, the opportunity to play something on the first turn is “fun” and there’s no reason not to do it.

Gold one-drops offers us a wonderful opportunity to explore some fun ideas. The fact that it is possible to make good gold one-drops is in itself evidence that it will happen.

All of the images used by the cards are by Misti Hope under a creative commons agreement.

My next article will be posted on Tuesday 3-24-2009.


1. michael - March 20, 2009

Viscera Wyvern could be a 1 drop if your first turn land is both a swamp and an island.

cylian drake should be white and blue. green is not a flying color.

What is with all the drakes?

2. James - March 20, 2009

OK, one element I require to be satisfying: It should be a first-turn play within Alara Reborn itself. Alara Reborn could be a great small set to draft. I disagree with people who don’t like to draft small sets. Drafting small sets in recent history has been a lot better than draft was for the first 12 years of magic. 4th edition was pretty bad, but I didn’t mind drafting 4th edition at the time because I didn’t know it could get a lot better. (Actually I might like drafting 4th Edition more than Shards of Alara because I don’t like that set much.)

Some of the Drakes could be Wyverns, but I couldn’t think of good names for Wyvern cards. Also, I wanted to use art exclusively from one artist who did a lot of dragonish creatures. I guess I could have called one a dragon, but I wasn’t sure what kind of name to give a Dragon Hatchling. (”Dragon Hatchling” hasn’t been used yet I guess, but we won’t see a “Dragon Hatchling” right after a “Hellkite Hatchling.”)

3. Hellen CLARK - March 21, 2009

Hey, I justed wanted to give you a compliment on your blog, keep up the great work. I will be back to check it out in the near future.

4. Stephen - March 25, 2009

What if we had creature lands to serve the role of first turn drops? Put a land into play that happens to be able to attack as a creature… then make all the “real” creatures have actual gold color casting costs.

5. Stephen - March 25, 2009

Another possibility… remember the split casting cost mana symbols from the previous block? Suppose they split the mana symbol and have 0 colorless or a colored mana… you could get casting costs like this:

0/R 0/W

If R was used to cast this creature, it comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it.

If W was used to cast this creature, it comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it.

Creature’s power/toughness = 0/0

6. James - March 25, 2009


Colored lands would have the same problem as Cylian Drake. They would basically be gold despite not really being gold. We won’t see hybrid spells for the same reason.

Your second idea, hybrid colorless mana is more likely.

7. michael - March 31, 2009

They are doing regular Hybrid. Look at the partial spoiler.

They have a card with a cost G(r/w) in it. Fills the GW decks, GR decks, and GWR decks. It also means they could have regular hybrid 1 drops.


8. James - March 31, 2009

I don’t agree that they could have regular hybrid because the whole set is gold. The 3 color hybrid cards are still gold.

9. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Alara Reborn: First Impressions - April 21, 2009

[…] I want there to be more one drops in Alara Reborn. That would help us from getting mana screwed. I already listed several ways this could be done here. […]