1993 Pink Playtest Cards

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cataclysm80
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1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by cataclysm80 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:54 am

Info on Alpha Playtest cards can be found at this link.
http://www.magiclibrarities.net/955-rar ... index.html


Towards the end of Alpha playtesting, some playtesters began designing and developing their own card sets. These playtest cards are small and similar to the Alpha Playtest cards. Ice Age, Menagerie, and Spectral Chaos are sets that began playtesting during this time frame. (maybe other unknown sets also?)
Frequently, these Playtest cards reuse the names of Alpha Playtest cards, but the abilities have been changed to create a new card. (eventually, the playtest card would be given a new name before being printed as a real card)
In 1993, Ice Age contained many reprints from Alpha. The set was put on hold because it had too many reprints and players wanted new cards.
Menagerie eventually became the sets Mirage & Visions.
Spectral Chaos was never released, but many of its concepts were used in other sets, particularly Invasion.
Arabian Nights and Antiquities Playtest cards came later, and they are larger, about the size of real cards.
The picture below is a generalization of time frame that each style of playtest card was used.
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Here are some Pink colored Playtest Cards from that mid 1993 timeframe between Alpha and Arabian Nights.
I've compared each card to all of the real Ice Age, Mirage, & Visions cards in an attempt to figure out what each of these Playtest cards eventually became (if anything).
Note: To make these playtest cards easier to read, I have sized these images so that they are similar to actual card size. In reality, they are small like the Alpha playtest cards.
Another Note: I realize that some of these playtest cards look like they're a different color in their picture, but I'm 100% sure that they are actually the same. These cards are all from a single playtester, were in the same deck together, and were made together of the same materials. These images are all grabbed from photos he shared of the cards, and some of the photos have different lighting and were better quality. I've seen some of them in person, and in real life, they all have the same pink color.

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This Playtest card is not like any real cards. It seems to be based on Alpha Siren's Call. Ice Age does have a card named Battle Cry, but it is nothing like this card. The idea stuck around though, as Taunt in Portal sort of resembles this card (or maybe it resembles Siren's Call).

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Brainstorm is a well known card that was printed in Ice Age, but a closer look at this playtest card reveals that it is much more similar to Dream Cache from Mirage.

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Nothing compares to this. This was not made into a real card.

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This is based on Alpha Cursed Land, but was not made in Ice Age, Mirage, or Visions.

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Not a perfect match, but this playtest card resembles Dwarven Miner in Mirage more than any other real card.

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Not a perfect match, but Red direct damage spells with an X casting cost were made in both Ice Age & Mirage. The Fireblast name was used on a Visions card, but that card is nothing like this playtest card.

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This was based on Alpha Firebreathing, which was simply reprinted in Mirage. Ice Age had a card called Stonehands, but it's noticeably different from this playtest card.

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This playtest card was good enough that it seems to have crossed over into another set. Though The Dark had not yet been conceived, Fire Drake was printed there before Ice Age, Mirage, or Visions were released. This playtest card seems to have eventually become Spitting Drake in Visions.

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This playtest card seems to be based on Alpha Gloom, but was not made in Ice Age, Mirage, or Visions.

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This playtest card doesn't match any real card very well, but it's sort of similar to Avalanche in Ice Age. The Hail Storm name was later used in Alliances, but that card is nothing like this playtest card.

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This seems to be based on Alpha Healing Salve. While Healing Salve was reprinted in Mirage, a closer look at this playtest card reveals that it is more similar to Remedy from Visions. There are also some similarities to Mangara's Blessing in Mirage.

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This was based on Alpha Benalish Hero. It became Kjeldoran Warrior in Ice Age.

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This was based on Alpha Plateau. Remember that this playtesting happened while the Alpha cards were being printed, so dual lands hadn't been removed from the core set yet, and could have been printed in Ice Age or Mirage if those sets had been released sooner. As it is, neither Ice Age, Mirage, nor Visions have lands that produce only Red & White mana.

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Not a perfect match, but this playtest card has Flanking, which should be a Menagerie ability. There were several white 2/2 knights with Flanking printed in Mirage & Visions. It's also similar to Riftmarked Knight & Night of the Holy Nimbus, which both came much later.

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This was based on Alpha Holy Strength. It's most similar to Armor of Faith in Ice Age.

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Interestingly, the creature type on the playtest card is an Artifact Spirit. Though the real card was printed as only an Artifact, the Oracle text for this card shows it as an Artifact Spirit.

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This playtest card doesn't match any real card very well, but it's sort of similar to Warping Wurm in Mirage.

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This seems to be based on Alpha Phantasmal Terrain. Of the cards in Ice Age, Mirage, & Visions, it's most similar to Illusionary Terrain from Ice Age.

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This playtest card doesn't match any real card very well at all. It's rules text is basically meaningless. I can only imagine that it would somehow provide mana or make spell casting easier. The closest match is probably Jeweled Amulet from Ice Age, for having Amulet in the card name. Ventifact Bottle in Mirage & Helm of Awakening in Visions also have sort of similar effects.

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This was based on Alpha Prodigal Sorcerer. A closer look at this playtest card reveals the 0/1 power/toughness, making this card most similar to Suq'Ata Firewalker from Mirage. It's also similar to Zuran Spellcaster in Ice Age, but that card is 1/1 like Prodigal Sorcerer.

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This seems to be based on Alpha Natural Selection, but a closer look at this playtest card reveals that it is much more similar to Preferred Selection from Mirage. It's also sort of similar to Sylvan Library in Legends.

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This seems to be based on Alpha War Mammoth. Not a perfect match, but this playtest card resembles Wild Elephant in Mirage more than any other real card. Woolly Mammoths in Ice Age is also sort of similar, but doesn't match as well as Wild Elephant.

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This card is most similar to Seizures in Ice Age. It's also similar to Mind Whip in Ice Age.

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This was based on Alpha Power Sink, which was simply reprinted in both Ice Age and Mirage.

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This playtest card is not like any real cards. The most similar card is Stampede from Ice Age.

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This was based on Alpha Regeneration, which was simply reprinted in both Ice Age and Mirage.

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This card was not made. It's most similar to Phyrexian Vault in Mirage.

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This was based on Alpha Frozen Shade. It's most similar to Hoar Shade in Ice Age and Fetid Horror in Mirage.

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This was based on Alpha Soul Net, but was not made in Ice Age, Mirage, or Visions.

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This card was not made. It's most similar to Mundungu in Visions.
I'm pretty sure the playtest card name was intended to be Spellblaster, but there's a typo. Spellbaster is funny. I can just imagine Phil & Kaja Foglio artwork for a card named Spellbaster.

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This playtest card doesn't match any real card very well, but it's sort of similar to Wall of Pine Needles in Ice Age.

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Not a perfect match, but this playtest card has Flanking, which should be a Menagerie ability. It's most similar to Cadaverous Knight in Mirage.

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This card is similar to Dire Wolves in Ice Age, and also reminds me of Master of the Hunt in Legends.

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This was based on Alpha Unsummon. It's similar to Word of Undoing in Ice Age, and also Boomerang in Legends & Mirage. It's also sort of similar to Undo in Visions.

cataclysm80
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Re: 1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by cataclysm80 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:52 am

The cards shown in this thread all came from a single deck that was given to a playtester.
I believe that no trading was done because they told me it was only played about 3 times as they were busy handling other important tasks for the company.
This is a glimpse at what the decks provided to playtesters looked like before the playtesters tinkered with them. (+ it had lands, which I don't think are shown here)

As mentioned, this playtester didn't get to play these cards much, but they were under the impression that the cards were for the Ice Age set.
My own study of the cards shows that they have more in common with finished Mirage cards than with finished Ice Age cards, which caused me to doubt that it was Ice Age, and suspect that it was for Menagerie.
I created this thread of comparison images, and have been tracking down playtesters ever since to get their thoughts on what set these cards might have been for.
I've found that a majority of playtesters are very confident these cards were for Menagerie. That includes the creator of Menagerie.
One of the main identifying features is a card here named Holy Knight, which has Flanking. The playtesters are saying that Flanking wasn't tested in any other sets.

This means that these pink playtest cards with blank backs can finally be positively identified as belonging to Menagerie, just like the other pink playtest cards.

Yay, mystery solved! :-D

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BillBo
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Re: 1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by BillBo » Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:32 pm

cataclysm80 wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:52 am
Yay, mystery solved! :-D
Congrats, Tav!

When I joined these boards, I went through all the old post to catch me up on all things Magic. I don't remember any of this thread, though. So I learned that there is another land card that won't be in collection, ever: HIghlands. So, for my records: Were there more functional reprints of Limited duals?

Cheers, Bernd
I collect land cards, just that.
My want list: http://www.magiclibrarities.net/forum/v ... php?t=9128

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thulnanth
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Re: 1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by thulnanth » Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:09 pm

Wow, that was fascinating... thanks for sharing!!! =D>

Take it easy,
Jared
Ray Thiel (1964-2007) - the man who showed me more wonderful games & gaming sessions than I ever dreamed possible... you ran out of hit points too young, my friend.

cataclysm80
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Re: 1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by cataclysm80 » Sat May 11, 2019 6:52 am

BillBo wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:32 pm
So I learned that there is another land card that won't be in collection, ever: HIghlands. So, for my records: Were there more functional reprints of Limited duals?
"Functional Reprint" might not be the best phrase to describe these. Here's why...

Alpha playtesting had three generations of playtesting. They were called Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
None of them contained dual lands.

During Gamma playtesting, Menagerie was created by a subset of playtesters.
This pink cards are not the first generation of Menagerie, there is an older version.
Menagerie was created with draft and sealed deck in mind, which required mana fixing, so various dual lands were invented.

Richard liked the dual lands that were being playtested in Menagerie, and added them to the final card file (named Delta) to be presented to WotC for printing into real cards.
Menagerie is the original source for dual lands, and Highlands is the original playtest name for Plateau.
Even though these pink cards aren't the first generation of Menagerie, it's still the first set that had dual lands, and using their original names, so it's not exactly a functional reprint.

Back when these were made, the plan was for Menagerie to be a stand alone Deckmaster game that used the same rules as Magic but had a different card back design.
There wasn't a plan to change the card name, it was thought to be ok if both games had some of the same cards. That would make the transition from one game to the next easier.
Magic was basically released at Gen Con 1993. WotC thought they had printed enough Limited Edition cards to last about a year. :-D (there's more details that could be told here, but this statement gives the general idea)
Around Gen Con 1994 (or whenever Limited Edition Magic sold out) there would be an Unlimited Edition of Magic released for people who were more interested in playing than collecting. This Unlimited set was going to be printed into oblivion, for as long as people were willing to buy it, hence the "Unlimited" name. This amount of printing was expected to make the Unlimited version cheap and not collectible, while the Limited Edition remained desirable and hopefully valuable.
Also at Gen Con 1994, the Ice Age game was going to be released as a limited edition black border set with a different card back. This would provide a different play environment for people who were getting bored with Magic.
Again, it was expected to be available for about a year, and then if it sold out and players were still interested, an Unlimited Ice Age would be made.
Menagerie was planned to be the next set released after Ice Age, which was going to happen at Gen Con 1995, also with a different card back.
Again, it was expected to be available for about a year, and then if it sold out and players were still interested, an Unlimited Menagerie would be made.
As you know, this plan isn't what actually ended up happening. Extremely high demand for new cards that could be played with the existing Magic game, caused them to release expansion sets instead of stand alone games, and fueled a much faster release schedule than once per year.
This change in plans actually caused the Ice Age set to be shelved for later while the designers worked on newer ideas.
The problem with Ice Age was that it had too many reprints, which would have been fine for a stand alone game, but as an expansion, there was a lot of concern that people wouldn't buy the packs if they contained 14 cards you already owned and the only new card was the 1 rare.
When Ice Age was picked up again as a project is the point at which functional reprints were invented. One of the solutions to the reprint problem in Ice Age, was to change the cards names without changing their abilities. This way it would feel like a different card. Even if the card name wasn't changed, it was required that the card be given new artwork.
If dual lands hadn't stopped being printed after Revised, they probably would be reprints in Mirage, or maybe functional reprints with a different card name, but that didn't happen. Instead, we received less powerful versions of lands that could produce two colors of mana.

I may be rambling a bit... :-D

Anyway, yes I've seen a Tundra & Savannah in addition to the Highlands, and I think I've seen others also.
I haven't seen all 10 yet, but it's likely that they exist(ed).

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BillBo
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Re: 1993 Pink Playtest Cards

Post by BillBo » Wed May 15, 2019 10:38 pm

cataclysm80 wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 6:52 am
"Functional Reprint" might not be the best phrase to describe these. Here's why...
<SNIP>
I may be rambling a bit... :-D
<SNIP>
I haven't seen all 10 yet, but it's likely that they exist(ed).
Well, Tav, I hope you'll keep on "rambling" as your time permits. I found your post highly informative — thx for sharing!

While I decided long ago not to spend insane amounts on rare items, I'm still happy to include scans as place holders to my collection. So if you ever run across more playtest duals (or playtest lands, for that matter), I'd be grateful for pics or scans.

Be we!l!
– Bernd
I collect land cards, just that.
My want list: http://www.magiclibrarities.net/forum/v ... php?t=9128

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