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Ferret's Retro Corner #2: Alpha/Beta/Unl Blue
By David McKenzie
Today’s Retro Corner looks at Blue. Back in the early days Blue was about control, counterspells, and flying creatures. Okay, not much has changed – but, at least the other colours had them as well. But, back then they had more of it and these cards could be nasty.

Card Title: Air Elemental
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Elemental
Cost: 3UU
Pow/Tgh: 4/4
Card Text: Flying

Same casting cost, power, and toughness as Sengir Vampire and Serra Angel, but without the bells and whistles. For once, Blue got the shaft on a flying creature. Fortunately, they got more flyers in the set to make up for it.

Card Title: Ancestral Recall
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Draw 3 cards or force opponent to draw 3 cards.

One Blue mana, three cards, no drawbacks. Too powerful. Part of the Power Nine. Moving on.

Card Title: Animate Artifact
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Artifact
Cost: 3U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target artifact is now a creature with both power and
toughness equal to its casting cost; target retains all its
original abilities as well. This will destroy artifacts with 0
casting cost.

A card that can make any artifact into something to hurt people with. Plus, back then “Continuous” artifacts turned off when tapped. Imagine the fun of attacking w/ your Howling Mine and then your opponent can’t use its ability on his turn.

Card Title: Blue Elemental Blast
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: B
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Counters target red spell being cast or destroys a red card in
play.

Back then Red and Blue had a definite rivalry and this card (along w/ Red Elemental Blast) the rivalry was in full force. The card was definitely specialized, but it could do wonders against burn decks.

Card Title: Braingeyser
Color: Blue
Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: XUU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target player must draw X cards.

We all know what this does. We all know how nasty it is in certain decks. Moving on.

Card Title: Clone
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Clone
Cost: 3U
Pow/Tgh: */*
Card Text: Upon summoning, Clone acquires all characteristics,
including color, of any one creature in play on either side;
any creature enchantments on original creature are not
copied. Clone retains these characteristics even after original
creature is destroyed. Clone cannot be summoned if there
are no creatures in play.

Jealous of your opponent’s Shivan Dragon? Want one of your own? Instant copy (well, sorcery speed, but you get the picture).

Card Title: Control Magic
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: 2UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: You control target creature until enchantment is discarded
or game ends. You can't tap target creature this turn, but if
it was already tapped it stays tapped until you can untap it.
If destroyed, target creature is put in its owner's graveyard.

Of course, why copy something when you can just take it for one less mana! Don’t you love how the old text used to describe summoning sickness?

Card Title: Copy Artifact
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Select any artifact in play. This enchantment acts as a
duplicate of that artifact; it is affected by cards that affect
either enchantments or artifacts. The copy remains even if
the original artifact is destroyed. Enchantments on the
original artifact are not copied.

It’s like a Clone – for artifacts!

Card Title: Counterspell
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Counters target spell as it is being cast.

Two Islands are untapped. He’s holding one card and smiling. Guess what that card is.

Card Title: Creature Bond
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: If target creature is destroyed, Creature Bond does an
amount of damage equal to creature's toughness to
creature's controller.

Throw it on a beefy critter and then figure out a way to kill it. Great to splash into Black or Red decks.

Card Title: Drain Power
Color: Blue
Card Type: Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Tap all opponent's land, takin all this mana and all mana in
opponent's mana pool into your mana pool. You can't
tap fewer than all opponent's lands.

Blue is a slow colour, so why not speed it up w/ your opponent’s mana?

Card Title: Feedback
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Card Enchantment
Cost: 2B
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Feedback does 1 damage to controller of target enchantment
during each upkeep.

See Cursed Land from last article.

Card Title: Flight
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target creature is now a flying creature.

An ideal card to splash into other coloured decks. If your playing monoblue and you don’t have mostly flyers in your deck something is terribly wrong.

Card Title: Invisibility
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Creature
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target creature can be blocked only by walls.

Oh boy! More evasion for Blue. Works great on Juggernaughts.

Card Title: Jump
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target creature is a flying creature until end of turn.

See Flight.

Card Title: Lifetap
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: You gain 1 life each time any forest of opponent's becomes
tapped.

One of Blue’s few anti-Green cards. Not a really great one either.

Card Title: Lord of Atlantis
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Lord of Atlantis
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Card Text: All Merfolk in play gain islandwalk and +1/+1 while this
card is in play.

Ummm…how many Merfolk were printed back then? One? Fortunately, more were printed – for at least a while.

Card Title: Magical Hack
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Change the text of any card being played or already in play
by replacing one basic land type with another. For example,
you can change "swampwalk" to "plainswalk."

Aside from affecting cards like Flashfires and Swampwalk, this card used to also affect Dual Lands.

Card Title: Mahamoti Djinn
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Djinn
Cost: 4UU
Pow/Tgh: 5/6
Card Text: Flying

Big Beefy Vanilla Flyer. It can block Shivan Dragons and kill them.

Card Title: Mana Short
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: 2U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: (Beta/Unlimited) All opponent's lands are tapped, and
opponent's mana pool is emptied. Opponent takes no
damage from unspent mana.
Alpha) All opponent's lands are tapped, and opponent's
mana pool is emptied.

Okay. Your turns done.

Card Title: Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Merfolk
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Card Text: n/a

The first Fish ever printed. The reason you put that Lord of Atlantis in your deck.

Card Title: Phantasmal Forces
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Phantasm
Cost: 3U
Pow/Tgh: 4/1
Card Text: Flying
Controller must spend U during upkeep to maintain or
Phantasmal Forces are destroyed.
(Alpha) Controller must spend U during upkeep to
maintain or Phantasmal Forces are destroyed.

For what you’re getting this card was extremely overcosted. Another case where Blue actually got shafted on a flyer.

Card Title: Phantasmal Terrain
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Land
Cost: UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target land changes to any basic land type of caster's choice.
Land type is set when cast and may not be further altered
by this enchantment.

Just the perfect thing when you have your Merfolk of the Pearl Trident out w/ your Lord of Atlantis and you want to give your opponent an Island so your fish can attack unblocked. Brilliant!

Card Title: Phantom Monster
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Phantasm
Cost: 3U
Pow/Tgh: 3/3
Card Text: Flying

Medium sized Blue Vanilla Flyer.

Card Title: Pirate Ship
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Ship
Cost: 4U
Pow/Tgh: 4/3
Card Text: Tap to do 1 damage to any target.
Cannot attack unless opponent has islands in play, though
controller may still tap. Pirate Ship is destroyed immediately
if at any time controller has no islands in play.

It’s a Beefy Tim w/ Islandhome (remember that term?).

Card Title: Power Leak
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Enchantment
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target enchantment costs 2 extra mana during upkeep.
If target enchantment's controller cannot or will not pay this
extra mana, Power Leak does 1 damage to him or her for
each unpaid mana.

Nice way to deal w/ enchantments that you don’t like – or just to annoy people.

Card Title: Power Sink
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: XU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target spell is countered unless its caster spends X more
mana; caster of target spell can't choose to let it be countered.
If caster of target spell doesn't have enough mana, all
available mana from lands and mana pool must be paid but
target spell will still be countered.

One of the most annoying spells ever. The card that asks the question “How much land do you have untapped?” Horrible card. Useless under today’s timing rules.

Card Title: Prodigal Sorcerer
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Wizard
Cost: 2U
Pow/Tgh: 1/1
Card Text: Tap to do 1 damage to any target.

It’s Tim! You know him, you love him.

Card Title: Psionic Blast
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: 2U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Psionic Blast does 4 damage to any target, but it does 2
damage to you as well.

Blue’s only direct damage. Sure, it has backfire, but it hurts them more than it hurts you.

Card Title: Psychic Venom
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Land
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Whenever target land becomes tapped, Psychic Venom
does 2 damage to target land's controller.

So your opponent cast three Wild Growths on his Forest? Give him an extra enchantment! He’ll love it!

Card Title: Sea Serpent
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Serpent
Cost: 5U
Pow/Tgh: 5/5
Card Text: Serpent cannot attack unless opponent has islands in play.
Serpent is destroyed immediately if at any time controller
has no islands in play.

Amazing how they later turned that whole paragraph into the word “Islandhome.”

Card Title: Siren's Call
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: All of opponent's creatures that can attack must do so. Any
non-wall creatures that cannot attack are destroyed at end
of turn. Play only during opponent's turn, before opponent's
attack. Creatures summoned this turn are unaffected by
Siren's Call.


The reason you never cast creatures before your combat phase.

Card Title: Sleight of Mind
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Change the text of any card being played or already in play
by replacing one color word with another. For example,
you can change "Counters red spells" to "Counters black
spells." Cannot change mana symbols.

Such a nifty card. A dozen and one uses.

Card Title: Spell Blast
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: XU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Target spell is countered; X is cost of target spell.

Since there were only three counterspells in print, this card actually was useful back then. It’s been rendered by the fifty or sixty counters that have been printed since then.

Card Title: Stasis
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchantment
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Players do not get an untap phase. Pay U during your
upkeep or Stasis is destroyed.

A card that everyone build sick decks around. Throw Instill Energy on a Birds of Paradise and put out a Kismet and you’ve got a pretty little lock.

Card Title: Steal Artifact
Color: Blue
Card Type: Enchant Artifact
Cost: 2UU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: You control target artifact until enchantment is discarded
or game ends. If target artifact was tapped when stolen, it
stays tapped until you can untap it. If destroyed, target
artifact is put in its owner's graveyard.

Remember what I said about Clone and Control Magic? Remix that w/ this and Copy Artifact.

Card Title: Thoughtlace
Color: Blue
Card Type: Interrupt
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Changes the color of one card either being played or already
in play to blue. Cost to cast, tap, maintain, or use a special
ability of target card remains entirely unchanged.

This is just the perfect card if you’re using Red Elemental Blasts! You can get rid of any card in the game! Seriously…of course, there are better ways that take less cards…

Card Title: Time Walk
Color: Blue
Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: 1U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Take an extra turn after this one.

It’s a shame they didn’t print the original text of this card “Opponent loses next turn.” Think about that for a second…

Card Title: Timetwister
Color: Blue
Card Type: Sorcery
Cost: 2U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Set Timetwister aside in a new graveyard pile. Shuffle your
hand, library, and graveyard together into a new library and
draw a new hand of seven cards, leaving all cards in play
where they are; opponent must do the same.

I love this card. It was like a big reset button in the middle of a game.

Card Title: Twiddle
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: (Beta/Unlimited) Caster may tap or untap any one land,
creature, or artifact in play. No effects are generated by the
target card.
(Alpha) Caster may tap or untap any one land, creature,
or artifact in play.

Handy card. We’ve all come up w/ lots and lots of uses for it. It’s great.

Card Title: Unsummon
Color: Blue
Card Type: Instant
Cost: U
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Return creature to owner's hand; enchantments on
creature are discarded. Unsummon cannot be played during
the damage-dealing phase of an attack.

Perfect thing to use on creatures w/ too many enchantments, creatures attacking you, or creatures of yours that are about to die. And cheap too!

Card Title: Vesuvan Doppelganger
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Doppelganger
Cost: 3UU
Pow/Tgh: */*
Card Text: Upon summoning, Doppelganger acquires all characteristics
except color of any one creature in play on either side; any
creature enchantments on the original creature are not copied
During controller's upkeep, Doppelganger may take on the
characteristics of a different creature in play instead.
Doppelganger may continue to copy a creature even after
that creature leaves play, but if it switches it won't be able
to switch back.

It’s like a Clone that has identity issues every turn.

Card Title: Volcanic Eruption
Color: Blue
Card Type: Card Sorcery
Cost: XUUU
Pow/Tgh: n/a
Card Text: Destroys X mountains of your choice, and does X damage
to each player and each creature in play.

Blue’s only land destruction. Sure it’s expensive to play, but look at the results!

Card Title: Wall of Air
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Wall
Cost: 1UU
Pow/Tgh: 1/5
Card Text: Flying

Big Vanilla Flying Blocker

Card Title: Wall of Water
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Wall
Cost: 1UU
Pow/Tgh: 0/5
Card Text: U: +1/+0 until end of turn.

Now, here’s a blocker. It’s big enough to soak all but the largest attackers, but it can also dish out the damage if you have the mana!

Card Title: Water Elemental
Color: Blue
Card Type: Summon Elemental
Cost: 3UU
Pow/Tgh: 5/4

How much vanilla can one colour get?


As you can see, back then Blue’s power came from being able to take extra turns, draw lots of cards, and generally cause annoyance to other players. Like I said, things haven’t changed much since then, they just added to the casting cost.

Next Episode: Green. Big Beefy creatures, cool enchantments, and FLYERS!

Read More Articles by David McKenzie!

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