One of the great thing about playing limited is that you have to work with what you've got, no matter how bad it is. This means that even some of the worst cards will occasionally see limited play even if they would have zero chance of making it into a competitive constructeddeck. I assume this has had a strong effect on how Wizards of The Coast designs their cards (especially commons), but I'm curious as to how designing a set for limited AND constructed formats as opposed to constructed only has affected their choices.

  1. What sets were the first to be influenced by the rise of limited formats?

  2. How did/do limited formats affect the design of MTG sets and cards?

  • IIRC Mirage block was the first to be designed with limited formats in mind, and that was released in 1997, so it's going to take someone with a good memory to describe in any detail how limited affected the design. (Or good Google-fu, I guess - I'm sure there are some discussions about it on the web)
    – David Z
    Nov 11, 2012 at 6:58
  • @DavidZaslavsky, agreed. I do remember a comment by Maro that the card Rolling Thunder reminded them never to place an X spell (a damage one at that) in the common slot.
    – user1873
    Nov 12, 2012 at 15:24
  • This question would require an essay to answer, and Wizard is really the only one in a position to answer. At best, we could give you a link to something Wizard posted. Since noone has provided, I'm voting to close. Why don't you ask Wizard directly?
    – ikegami
    Nov 17, 2012 at 14:26
  • @ikegami I disagree. Part 1 has already been answered in the comments, and I wouldn't be surprised if a brief essay or article exists that someone could link to and summarize. I'd also imagine someone with a long history of MtG experience could throw some pretty reasonable guesses out there. Nov 18, 2012 at 0:49
  • @shujaa, I wouldn't be surprised either. And like you said, the best we can hope are some guesses that sound reasonable. So what are you disagreeing with?
    – ikegami
    Nov 18, 2012 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


Can't answer number one but there have been a number of articles published regarding number 2. When designing sets Wizards takes a serious look at the rarity of each card and its effect on limited. Its okay for a mythic rare to be completely, off the wall busted in limited (though they do try to avoid it) because the odds of pulling that card will be so low that it won't have much effect on any given limited tournament. Odds are even in a tournament with 16 people and 3 packs per person that card might not show up at all. The odds are even lower that that specific mythic will show up more than once and even lower still that the same person will be able to get it more than once.

Uncommons and especially commons on the other hand are a different animal. Its a common occurrence in drafts for players to have multiple copies of common and an uncommon cards and for multiple players to have copies of those cards thus the power level of these cards in relation to the rest of the limited environment needs to be more closely tested. Similarly because the bulk of all limited decks will be commons and uncommons wizards needs to make sure of a couple of things.

First they need to make sure that certain roles are filled by the commons and uncommons. This is the reason there will always be some form of common creature removal, common mana fixing (espescially true in a multi color oriented set) and likely some form of common draw and common non-creature removal. It is also one of the reasons that every set will contain common red burn, common blue draw, common green creature pump, common white weenie cards, common black discard ect.

If the set has a new theme or mechanic to it, as most sets do (I can't think of any in recent years that don't) Wizards also needs to make sure those themes and mechanics appear in some form or fashion at the lower rarities and that there is synergy among the cards at those rarities.

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