Magic: The Gathering
A Historical Perspective

Digging through old archive files, I ran across the .lha file containing my old Wizards of the Coast stuff. Now, it’s quite possible that I am the only human being left alive who finds this stuff interesting. However, I suspect not. Tales of “the good old days” still draw the occasional interested ear at game conventions now and then.

To the best of my knowledge, material I post here was either written by me, or posted to a public forum. It is all stupendously out of date, so don’t try to actually play Magic this way! Well, maybe if you’re trying for a historical re-enactment. If you have a question or comment, send email to “magic” @ this domain.

Notable Contributions

Some of the terms and design decisions that are all my fault.

The Arabian Night-mare

Do you people have any idea what I went through to make the Magic cards you all wanted so badly? Well, you’re about to find out. Plus, some follow up information about the set.

The Regathering

Revised had both Arabian Nights and Antiquities cards sprinkled in. But that was the second version of the revision, not the one originally planned...

The Colors of Magic

What qualities were ascribed to the colors of the Magic rainbow? This file, timestamped two months before the release of the game itself, lays it out.


The true story of the rarely-seen, near mythical Proposal magic card.

Theatre Alchemy

Wherein my secret identity as a necromancer comes to light.

The Patent

A translation from Legalingo into English of the key components of Wizards of the Coast’s patent on trading card games.

Frequently Asked Questions: November 1993

What were the burning issues back before Arabian Nights?

Tricky Spells

Advice on Twiddle, Illusionary Mask, Jade Statue, and the like.

The Balrog of Happiness

A never-produced (and never illustrated) little card that existed just to make sure the typesetting system was working correctly.

Alpha Cards in Beta Packages?

A collector asks me about something I apparently said back in 1993.

News From the Snark

Various bulletins and news items I sent out as part of my job as Cyberspace Liaison.

Collector’s Checklists

Once upon a time, finding out what cards were in a set was part of the fun. None of this numbering right on the card nonsense, no sirree! But we were releasing card lists even that very first year. Just a lot more after the fact.

The First Collector’s Checklist

Everything you needed to know to get a complete set of Magic cards. Well, so we thought at the time.

Arabian Nights Collector’s Checklist

Our first expansion.

Antiquities Collector’s Checklist

Our second expansion.

Magic Personalities

I’ll put interesting tidbits related to well-known people in the Magic community here.

Stephen D’Angelo

So one day I got this email message . . .


Magic Card Identification Flow Chart

A friend of mine complained one day to me that she had all these old cards, but had no idea which sets they might have come from, or what vintage they were. I had, a few years before, seen a brilliant card identification flow chart, but it had apparently vanished from the web. So, I constructed a replacement, which you can see by downloading the pdf file that contains it. FAQ

I’ve taken the liberty of copying this version of the FAQ from the first newsgroup dedicated to MtG (after having completely swamped poor from David Bedno’s web site, just in case his copy (or the site it’s on) disappears. (Update: and indeed, that’s exactly what happened.) Note that this is an FAQ for the newsgroup, not for Magic itself.

Belated Trip Report for Rudicon, 1994

What I remember, fifteen years later, from my weekend in Rochester, NY.