Top 10 Magic: The Gathering's most impactful sets

Magic: the Gathering

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Top 10 Magic: The Gathering's most impactful sets

10/08/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Which were the most memorable sets from Magic: The Gathering? In this article, I present the ten most impactful sets ever released on the game so far!

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Introduction

During its nearly 30 years of existence and more than a hundred expansions, there have been many sets that have marked Magic: The Gathering's history and, consequently, ours as well, but which one was the most impactful? It's possible that if you ask each of the people you play with, they'll each say a different name, and here are the ten that I would define as the most impactful. As much as it is a subjective matter, I adopted some criteria to try to mitigate this aspect, they are:

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1st

POWER LEVEL

: Does the set have iconic cards? Does it have multi-format staples? 2nd

RELEVANCE

: Did the set impact the lore? Did it bring stories to the game as a whole? 3rd

MONETARY VALUE

: How much would you like to open a booster pack from this set? I ordered the criteria based on the weight I gave to each one, that is, I first considered the Power Level, then the relevance and finally the set value, this was the result:

10- Throne of Eldraine

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When we discuss the power of a set, we cannot fail to mention Eldraine, Oko, Thief of Crowns has given us a new phobia: The fear of elks!. Broken cards in Eldraine are not restricted to the mythic and rares, Mystic Sanctuary, Cauldron Familiar and its Witch's Oven, in addition to several other cards that have become staples in various formats and strategies! The much-acclaimed return of Garruk Wildspeaker, who hasn't made a lore appearance since Innistrad, was a highlight of this set, as much as his lore left something to be desired. Certainly, the story that will be told the most about Eldraine, will be about a powerful planeswalker who, during a game (in Vintage), turned their own Black Lotus into a 3/3 Elk. As for its monetary value, as it is a new set, naturally there are still many Throne of Eldraine cards in circulation. Added to the various cards from this expansion that were banned from various formats and therefore had their prices cut in half, it currently has a very low estimated value.

9- Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

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What if every format became Commander? That was the question that led Wizards to develop one of the strongest mechanics in the game: Lurrus of the Dream-Den, Yorion, Sky Nomad and their fellow Companions made Ikoria present in virtually every format, even after the rules were changed. Yes, rule change! A rare feat credited to companions who were nerfed by Wizards as soon as they realized how unbalanced they were. For the first time a mechanic was changed intending to make it weaker (there have already been changes in the interaction between mechanics), and for the first time in over a decade, a card was banned before it was even released: Lutri, the Spellchaser got the hammer for literally being an extra free card in the hand of any Commander player who chooses to play with a color identity that contains blue and red. As much as the Companion mechanic was strong, the other cards in the set were not used as much, apart from the Triomes, almost no card in the set was so emblematic, which greatly lowers its price. The companions themselves are not that expensive, as they are normally used only one per deck. And its lore wasn't the most important, either.

8- War of the Spark

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A planeswalker-based set would certainly impact the game as a whole. Teferi, Time Raveler, Karn, the Great Creator, Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Narset, Parter of Veils are some of the cards that have impacted various formats. The addition of static abilities to planeswalkers and the reduction in their costs were certainly notable.

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However, War of the Spark really stands out for being the end of both the Gatewatch cycle and Nicol Bolas. The coming together of all these iconic characters and the set's mechanics are certainly worthy of recognition. In terms of values, it leaves something to be desired as it is still a recent release, the cards tend to rise in price over time and the staples that were created here will certainly be steeper as time goes by.

7- Innistrad

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Now we're talking about a classic. Innistrad is certainly one of the most beloved planes by the Magic community and contains several powerful cards such as Liliana of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage and Delver of Secrets, which appear in various formats since they were released. In addition to containing several iconic cards, Innistrad stands out for its lore, characters, theme and its tribes that are favorites of much of the community. The whole storyline with Sorin and Nahiri that culminates in its ending with Emrakul later, in addition to the line with Liliana and Garruk, which is also very interesting. Its staples also have considerable value, in addition to iconic cards for Commander like Parallel Lives, however, as is natural with any release, not every Innistrad card is so memorable, but certainly the plane as a whole will be always close to the heart of the community.

6-New Phyrexia

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Mirrodin is a community-loved set, so there's no chance we won't comment on its completion. New Phyrexia introduced us to Phyrexian mana, a mechanic which allowed cards like Gitaxian Probe and Mental Misstep, deepened the poison mechanic with Infect - in addition to the Praetors and several other memorable cards. Regarding its lore, the defeat of the Mirrans had a unique event during the trailer: the decision would be made through a vote open to the public. Who would win? Mirrodin? Phyrexia? For lore lovers, it was certainly a remarkable moment. Its average price is good, and its staples are valued, it's not the biggest on this list, but it's decent, it doesn't have extremely expensive staples, but several cards with a medium price.

5- Modern Horizons II

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Controversy! It's impossible to discuss sets that impacted Magic in 2022 and not comment on Modern Horizons II, in addition to the return of fetch lands, this set has so many impactful cards in so many formats that it's hard to even start to name them. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Urza's Saga, Murktide Regent, the Evoke cycle are all very iconic cards that changed the eternal formats, and the list goes on all the way to the commons. The reason this set sinks in this list is the lack of a lore. Since it's a special set, we don't have a story going on behind it, but we can see references on the cards to several other cards and planes that work as a kind of fan service, such as Garth One-Eye being able to create a copy of several classic cards, including the famous Black Lotus.

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When we talk about value, Modern Horizons ranks among the biggest in the top, again due to its special set condition, its starting price is already higher than normal, so its singles will also be steeper.

4-Zendikar

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Almost reaching the podium, we have Zendikar that in addition to bringing the enemy-colored fetch lands, presented us with several other classic cards such as Goblin Guide, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Oracle of Mul Daya and Iona, Shield of Emeria, and its mechanics were very interesting, especially landfall. Zendikar's story is fascinating, going through the union and fall of Ugin, Nahiri and Sorin to the beginning of the Gatwatch and the whole clash with the Eldrazi, going through several emblematic moments along the way. Regarding value, well, its fetch lands cycle certainly guarantees that its price remains high even though its other staples have a more average price.

Honorable Mention

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Before entering the podium, I would like to make an honorable mention that doesn't appear in the top for two reasons: The price of the set is extremely affected not only by the reserved list, but also by collecting, since countless cards from this set are more expensive just because they are from this set. The second reason is the cliché of saying that Alpha is the most impactful release in the game, which is kind of obvious since there was no game to be impacted before Alpha. But the set has dozens of iconic cards, either because they are very strong or nostalgic, even though it doesn't have a lore behind it, the whole story of the game started there.

3- Ravnica: City of Guilds

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Have you played Boros Aggro, Golgari Midrange, Azorius Control? What's your favorite guild? Well, if you've heard those terms, and these questions, you already know the impact Ravnica has on the game. One of the first things you have to do learn when you start playing is "what are these weird words these people say?". Giving characteristics and names to color combinations was a genius idea by Wizards at the time. Having an interesting premise, building the City of Guilds attractively, it was easy to set the stage for that ending I mentioned talking about War of the Spark. Another thing that this city doesn't disappoint are its staples Doubling Season, Dark Confidant, Golgari Grave-Troll, Remand, Farseek in addition to the shock lands, which became one of the most popular and desired land cycles ever, the impact of these cards can still be seen today in various formats. As for its value, its land cycle also supports the expected price tag well, which is below Zendikar in this regard, but above the other two, Ravnica has more iconic cards, but mostly it does a lot for the game with its lore and how it goes beyond its stories to reach tables and bring some of the most famous MTG names with the Guilds.

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2- Mirrodin

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Having already mentioned our last visit to this plane, there is no way not to mention its origin in this list too, Mirrodin is the birthplace of countless iconic cards, iconic stories, after all, who has never heard about how an entire deck was banned during its Standard era? In this set, we have Chrome Mox, Chalice of the Void, Tooth And Nail, Isochron Scepter, Platinum Angel, Lightning Greaves, Solemn Simulacrum and I could quote several more famous cards too. Not satisfied with all these emblematic cards, we still have here the entire Memnarch plot, the Golem who wanted to reach its Planeswalker creator, Karn. History that, like a river, flows into Phyrexia's rebirth and a new war that looms. Mirrodin's entire plane is fascinating, and several of its quirks captivate our attention. As for values, even without a rare land cycle, its numerous staples keep its average price tag high.

1- Urza's Saga

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For anyone who's heard about the story of how Affinity was entirely banned from Standard, you know that usually the answer is "What about Urza's Saga?". We can't talk about Power Level and not talk about this set, Tolarian Academy is certainly one of the strongest cards in the game, and it's not left behind in this set where we have Exploration, Gaea's Cradle, Yawgmoth's Will, Show And Tell and dozens of iconic and powerful cards. Urza and Xantcha's stories are not far behind, referring to the classic times of Magic where our heroes face the father of machines, Yawgmoth, trying to protect their homeland, Dominaria, from the Phyrexian invasion. These are crucial moments for the game's lore, and its impact still exists on the game to this day. As expected from first place, the set price is also one of the highest in the entire game, the reserved list makes cards like Gaea's Cradle alone be steeper than entire sets and here we have several of those cards.

Conclusion

Even using criteria to differentiate a "list of the most impactful sets" from a "list of my favorite sets", I imagine that it is very difficult to take this topic out of subjectivity, since we have no way of measuring how much such a card impacts formats, or which set or plane has the best lore. So, I'm sure you disagree with me, and I'd be happy to see your list in the comments! What do you think is the most impactful set in Magic? Which is your favorite? And thanks for the time!
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Lucas Santana

Amante de TCGs e umas nerdices aleatórias.

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