The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Blessed Reversal | Pete Venters

Magical Thinking: Urza’s Legacy

Welcome back to Magical Thinking, the series where we look back at the art and cards of Magic: the Gathering, through the eyes of a casual fan, set by set, from the beginning. Today we continue our look at the Urza block with its second set, Urza’s Legacy.

Released in February 1999, this set continues the story of Urza’s early days as he, his student Jhoira, and Karn the Silver Golem continue their quest for artifacts to take on the Phyrexians. Meanwhile, the Tolarian Academy has to fight off an invasion from Phyrexia.

So let’s see how that works out for everyone. On with the cards.

Apparently, in between hunting down magic artifacts, Urza took time to stop and pose for an album cover. You know, before he became an artificer Urza’s real passion was 90s alternative rock.

Ah yes, the classic DnD bard ability: Countersong. Sadly MTG has never had a bard creature type (Even in the most recent Zendikar set, which is all about dungeon crawling and adventuring parties).

“Did you just try and shock one of my knights? I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER.”

Wow, Urza can kind of be a jerk sometimes. This is the point in the story where he destroys Serra’s realm to create the power core for the Weatherlight. The world was under the authoritative rule of Radiant at this point, but still.

And speak of the devil (Or angel). Yeah, I said this last time, but Radiant really is the first of Magic’s white villains, a tradition that is continued to this day with Heliod in Theros Beyond Death and Nahiri in Zendikar Rising, but more on them later.

See? I told you she was a bad guy. Here she is just mowing down an entire crowd of people. White mana villains don’t mess around.

Wow, White is really depressing this time around. I haven’t seen anything this bleak since I checked out the reader stats for my last King of Games article. We really need something to help lighten the mood.

BUBBLES! FREAKING BUBBLES! I mean, I didn’t think Blue would be the color of levity this time around but here we are.

Okay, for some reason I thought Beebles were just from the Un sets, but here we are. I mean I did say we needed some levity, but we went right from the tragic fall and destruction of Serra’s realm to Beebles. These things are like the Jar Jar Binks of Magic.

I’d make a Donald Trump joke, but that loser wishes he could aspire to being mediocre.

And that’s why you don’t mix soda and pop rocks, kids.

It’s worth mentioning that the Urza block was a bit too powerful, and was part of what was known as the Combo Winter, when powerful combos began to dominate Magic’s tournament scene. That led to a LOT of cards getting banned. Tinker is not one of the worst offenders, but it’s definitely a problem card. I mean, sacrifice an artifact for any other artifact? You could literally drop this, sacrifice an Ornithropter, and get out Darksteel colossus on turn three. Even a relative novice player like me sees the problem.

That does not look like it lives in a pineapple under the sea.

That’s pretty much the face of 2020 in general, isn’t it? Same look of existential terror and everything.

I actually got to play with this card during the Jumpstart event. They’re pretty fun in the right deck. Also, I love the weird messed up Phyrexian monsters.

Not to be confused with Phyrexian Vaping Lord.

I love the little lights on the tops of their heads. Also, I feel bad for that poor Shivan. I guess even in Dominaria they have problems with health insurance.

That looks very uncomfortable. Also, you’d think stone armor would improve toughness. That’s kind of a problem when you associate earth with the color of offense over defense I guess.

Oh I know this joke: I said LUNCH not LAUNCH!

This one’s fun. It’s like a weaker Pacifism that you can keep using. Plus sleepy goblins are the best Goblins.

Now this one is neat because it actually shows the creature using its activated ability and how it works. You don’t get that with a lot of abilities.

Kind of wish we had a card like this in current standard. As someone who plays two-color decks a lot, the struggle is in fact real.

Squirrel girl begins.

You know, for the longest time I though that he had a hood on. But no, that’s his hair. In any case, fear the squirrels. FEAR THEM.

Gangs of Elk, far less well known than gangs of old ladies and Keep left signs.

I was gonna make a joke, but I think the flavor text beat me out. I can’t top that. I’m good but I’m not that good.

I WARNED YOU ABOUT THE SQUIRRELS. I WARNED YOU. BUT YOU DIDN’T BELIEVE ME.

I think that Tree showed up in an episode of Courage, the Cowardly Dog. Also, who are these two lumberjacks? I kind of got the impression Yavimaya was a forest kingdom of elves without human incursion. Did these guys get lost?

I did mention Urza was a jerk right? “Oh hey, Karn. Don’t mind I made this mindless drone that looks exactly like you. I’m definitely not equating you with my soulless luggage carrier.”

I get what they are going for, but it’s not the same without Stuffy Doll in there (Also, I’m more of a Megadeth fan).

This is the most infamous card from the set. The one that was so bad I think it was banned as soon as it was released. I don’t really see what’s so game-breaking about it, but apparently someone thought it was dangerous because it’s still banned in legacy, and restricted in Vintage.

Okay, the Thran had some incredible tech, but they could use some advice on design aesthetics. Big Top Heavy Fat Boy does not scream intimidating to me. It looks kind of goofy to be honest.

And here’s our land cycle for this set: Tap lands that become creatures temporarily. I’ve never been a fan of lands that become creatures because lands are too valuable to risk as creatures (Unless you got something like the Nissa Planeswalker or something). Maybe it’s just me.

In any case, that does it for Urza’s Legacy, Check in with us next time, when Urza meets his destiny. Until then, stay Magical.

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Jessie Staffler

Jessie Staffler

Creative Writer looking to make money writing. Prefers to write stuff based on fantasy, Sci fi and horror