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How to Make Your Own Magic: The Gathering Set Part 2: Staples June 6, 2012

Posted by James in : all, random, design , trackback

You can go here to see How to Make Your Own Magic: The Gathering Set Part 1

There’s a secret reason that making your own Magic set isn’t necessarily as hard as you think — The majority of every Magic set is a variety of normal creatures and spells, and that’s the easiest part of making your own Magic set. The cards (or variation of cards) that appear in just about every set or block are called “staples.” There are two main kinds of staples: (1) Reprints, such as Naturalize and Cancel. (2) Variations of reprints, such as Doom Blade, Treachery, and Defang. It’s not entirely clear how often a card or knock-off must be printed to be considered to be a “staple.” Some cards are “absolute staples” that have been printed in every block for several years and others aren’t.

This article will provide a list of staples that should be considered for inclusion in any set. I will often refer to various card names, even if the card is rarely if ever reprinted because variants are so common. I will not list generic creatures as staples and will only focus on unique spells and creatures.

  1. Cancel — Counter target spell.
  2. Boomerang/Unsummon — Return target permanent to its owner’s hand./Return target creature to its owner’s hand.
  3. Divination — Draw 2 cards.
  4. Frost Breath — Tap up to two target creatures. They don’t untap during their controller’s next untap step.
  5. Ice Cage — Enchanted creature can’t attack or block, and its activated abilities can’t be activated. When enchanted creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, destroy Ice Cage.
  6. Harbor Serpent — Large creature that can’t attack unless there are five or more Islands on the battlefield.
  7. Merfolk Looter — Creature with “T: Draw a card, discard a card.”
  8. Mind Control — You control enchanted creature.
  9. Negate — Counter target noncreature spell.
  10. Phantom Warrior — Unblockable creature.
  11. Naturalize — Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
  12. Giant Growth — Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
  13. Giant Spider — 2/4 creature with reach.
  14. Creeping Mold — Destroy target artifact, enchantment, or land.
  15. Llanowar Elves — Small creature with “T: Add G to your mana pool.”
  16. Birchlore Rangers — Creature that tutors a basic land when it enters the battlefield.
  17. Overrun — Your creatures get +3/+3 and trample until end of turn.
  18. Plummet — Destroy target creature with flying.
  19. Rampant Growth — Search your library for a land and put it onto the battlefield tapped.
  20. Reclaim — Put target card from your graveyard on top of your library.
  21. Doom Blade — Destroy target nonblack creature (or nonartifact creature).
  22. Raise Dead — Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
  23. Last Gasp — Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn.
  24. Weakness — Enchanted creature gets -2/-1.
  25. Drain Life — Deals X damage, you gain X life.
  26. Mind Rot — Target player discards 2 cards.
  27. Coercion — Look at target player’s hand and choose a card from it. That card is discarded.
  28. Diabolic Edict — Target player sacrifices a creature.
  29. Diabolic Tutor — Search your library for a card and put it into your hand.
  30. Infest — Creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.
  31. Shatter — Destroy target artifact.
  32. Shock — Deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
  33. Prodigal Pyromancer — Creature with “T: Deal 1 damage to target creature or player.”
  34. Treachery — Target creature gets haste, is untapped, and you gain control of it until end of turn.
  35. Stone Rain — Destroy target land.
  36. Fireball — Deals X damage.
  37. Fling — Sacrifice a creature. Fling deals damage equal to its power.
  38. Slaughter Cry — Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn. (In red.)
  39. Seething Song — Add RRRRR to your mana pool for 2R.
  40. Pyroclasm — Deals 2 damage to all creatures.
  41. Pacifism — Enchante creature can’t attack or block.
  42. Demystify — Destroy target enchantment.
  43. Day of Judgment — Destroy all creatures.
  44. Master Decoy — Creature that taps other creatures.
  45. Mighty Leap — Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. (In white.)
  46. Flicker — Exile target nontoken permanent, then return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control.
  47. Neck Snap — Destroy target attacking or blocking creature.
  48. Morale — Attacking creatures get +1/+1 until end of turn. (In white or red.)
  49. D’Avenant Archer — Creature with “T: Deal 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
  50. “Righteous Blow — Deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
  51. Darksteel Ingot — An artifact with “T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”
  52. Wayfarer’s Bauble — An artifact that you sacrifice to tutor for a basic land and put it into your hand.
  53. Mana Cylix — An artifact with “1, T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”
  54. Terramorphic Expanse — A land that you sacrifice to fetch a basic land from your library and put it onto the battlefield.
  55. Shimmering Grotto — A land with “1, T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”
  56. Dual lands — Lands that produce two different colors of mana.

Edit (6/13/11): It was brought to my attention that the list is missing Fog, Frozen Shade, and a vanilla life gain card.

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[…] Making a Magic set doesn’t require you to think of one card at a time. A lot of the cards are going to be predictable reprints (staples), nearly identical to some predictable reprint, or it will be some fairly generic yet vitally important card (such as card similar to Grizzly Bears). The skeleton of a Magic set is a general list of what’s needed (so many creatures, so many nonflying creatures, various other creatures, and certain spell effects). This list can not only tell you what reprints your Magic set can include, but it also gives you a very good idea about what the majority of the cards should be like. However, it is important to keep in mind that the set skeleton is mainly about the commons and uncommons because it is mostly useful as a guide to know what each set needs. The skeleton of every large Magic set is very similar, but it can be important to deviate from it in various ways. […]