I impulsively bought an early issue of the Duelist on Ebay over the summer. I flipped through it when I got it but quickly forgot about it. It’s been in the back of my mind to do a post about it for a couple months now so I’m finally doing it. I never read, or even saw, a Duelist back in the day, but I knew about them. They were advertised on the back of the little booklets that came in starter decks in ’95 and ’96. Buying the issue was an impulse buy for sure, but I also wanted to fulfill that curiosity I had when I was a kid.
As a kid my parents paid for a subscription for one magazine for me but they wouldn’t do two. I went with Nintendo Power over The Duelist and it was probably the better choice. I always wondered what kind of sorcery was hidden within the pages of The Duelist though.
The Duelist was first issued sometime in the winter of 1993 or 1994 and ran for 41 issues finally ending in September of 1999. For the majority of the time it was printed, issues were released every two months.
This issue is technically considered a “supplement” and not part of the normal issues. It came out in between the first and second issues in May of 1994. So here we go. I’m going to open it up and go through it.
It starts off with a preview of the Legends expansion and talks about some new features to be introduced in the set. Some of this is pretty funny. It says, “[Legends] was designed to function either as an expansion or as a stand-alone set, but playtesting indicates that the Legends cards work best when mixed with cards from the original Magic set.” It’s funny to think that anyone would consider playing just Legends cards. Though in 1994 doing so might sound like a good idea. No matter what though basic land from the original set would still have to be used. There wasn’t and full stand-alone set until Ice Age. Also notice how the card previews have no text in the text boxes. They didn’t want to reveal too much! Very different from today where you know every card in a set before it gets released.
The next section talks about changes in Revised. The next few pages just go through each card that got a change in text. For example it says, “Dark Ritual – Mana symbols replaced the text ‘3 black mana.'” You can zoom in on the picture to see it.
This section of card substitutions is pretty funny. It states that for each Arabian Nights and Antiquities cards put into Revised, they removed a card from the original set. It lists each card removed and why and what it was replaced with. If a card was removed, it was because it was considered to be one of three things: mystifier, spoiler, or retiree. A card labeled as a “mystifier” meant that it was too confusing. Spoilers were cards that were seen as too powerful, i.e. all of the Power 9. Retirees were cards that were to be phased out. It makes sense that Psionic Blast is labeled as “retiree” since it’s so out of character for blue. It’s interesting that both Ice Storm and Sinkhole were considered spoilers and therefore not reprinted yet Stone Rain was reprinted. I think it’s probably because land destruction fits more with red rather than black or green.
This next section tells the story of Antiquities and the war between Urza and Mishra. The second paragraph somewhat sums up the whole story. It says, “…two brothers, each with phenomenal magical skills, each trained by the great Tocasia, each specializing in the creation of magical devices. Their rivalry grew to immense proportions until an entire continent was plunged into war, and another continent was completely destroyed.” One thing that can be added is that the destruction was so huge that it changed the climate which brought about Ice Age. The rest of the story is a set up sort of like a dialogue between two professors, Ildria Caldos from Epityr College of Mages and Farsa Tashiir from Argivian University. The story illustrates them disagreeing with each other on the true history of Antiquities and you get both points of view. I’m really not that into the lore of Magic so I got bored pretty quick. It continues on the next two pages. I’ll post it so if you’re into the lore you can zoom in and read it.
The next section is pretty cool but the background is terrible! It’s pretty hard to read without looking closely. It’s called Magic Conundrums: Answers to some frequently asked questions about Arabian Nights and Antiquities. It explains how to use Mishra’s Factory and also explains that “special lands” or what we now call “non-basic land” can be “destroyed by Stone Rain, turned into swamps by Evil Presence or the Cyclopean Tomb, kept tapped by Winter Orb, and so forth.” It goes into further detail about non-basic lands. Some of the stuff that we just know wasn’t exactly so obvious when first encountered.
This section is a card list for both Arabian Nights and Antiquities. It may be the actual first published card list. I know that card lists intentionally weren’t released right away. I’ve never seen the first issue of The Duelist so that one may have had a card list. Funny to see that Arabian Nights has no rare cards when in reality there are a handful of rare and expansive cards from the set.
The inside of the back cover is a puzzle. Try it out if you’d like. Notice how the creatures and land are set up. The land is in front of the creatures. I’ve seen people play that way and it seems backwards to me. I always play with my land behind and the creatures and enchantments up front.
So there you have it, you’ve seen the whole issue.
I have some plans for the next few posts which I’m pretty excited about. We’ve officially entered the Christmas season and the festivities are already beginning and it already looks like I’ll be pretty swamped with Christmas parties, eggnog, and all-around holiday cheer, so the next few posts might be on the short side. We’ll see how things work out. I’m hoping to get out and play some Old School once before the holiday to try out a mono U deck I’ve been working on and made some recent changes to. It’s nowhere near as powerful as UR aggro/burn, but I think it’s pretty fun. I put a couple of Glasses of Urza in it just for the good looks. Lastly, by now you’ve probably noticed that it is snowing at The Wizard’s Tower!