Hmm lets see here, these are the sets I was around for:
Fallen Empires: much maligned because of lousy commons structure (4 Thallids - gotta catch `em all!) but actually a power set for tourneys because of how much it helped weenie decks.
Ice Age: Mixed bag. Most of it was junk, but then occasionally you`d pull a gift like Stormbind or Jokulhaups. And of course the painlands were seen here first.
Homelands: Oh...My...God! They actually succeeded in printing a set without a single good card - okay, Autumn Willow made the grade, and Serrated Arrows got used. But this set stunk.
Alliances: A very popular set at the time, and even in retrospect it makes a good impression. Good, but too slow to be fun to play with.
Mirage: Poor. Probably justified in being compared to Masques - slow and balanced (AKA dull and boring). Hammer says otherwise.
Visions: WooHoo! Now we are talking! Fireblast! Impulse! Vampiric Tutor! Sewer Rats! Tithe! Squandered Resources! Frenetic Efreet!
This set was incredible - simply the inclusion of Fireblast changed the game immeasurably. The art was suspect - a bit soulless if you ask me - but by golly the cards were a revelation.
Weatherlight: A fun set - perhaps the first to really satisfyingly follow through a design theme and make a coherent whole. Contains a mixture of powerful cards like Firestorm, Ophidian and Gaea`s Blessing but notice how few vanilla cards there were, which made it superb in sealed - the first modern expansion IMHO and a very strong contender for best set.
Tempest: Shadow! Hoo-boy, was shadow some good for tournaments - a total kick up the ass for beatdown decks. Buyback - the best ability EVER! Definitely a contender for best set - Living Death, Tradewind Rider, Whispers, Humility, Soltari - something for everybody.
Stronghold: Slivers + Spikes - woah! Wall of Blossoms as well. Another top notch set that gave something to everybody. Unfortunately outshadowed by the next set...
Exodus: A personal favorite because of the inclusion of so many of my all time favorite cards. Survival, Recurring Nightmare, Spike Weaver, Spellshock... but its the RecSur combo that clinches it for me - 5cDeath was for 18 months the best and most enjoyable deck to play thanks to these two cards. There is very little junk in Exodus, but I think it needs to be seen alongside it`s Rath Cycle brothers.
In my opinion Rath Block is THE PERFECT magic environment - perfectly balanced in every single way and I could play it for ever.
Urza`s Saga: A much maligned set, but on balance it did okay I guess. Problem was we spent so long clearing up the various problems with Academy and Time Spiral that by the time we had them finsihed it was just about time for...
Urza`s Legacy: And Memory Jar. Joy. Legacy is a superb set because it reintroduced the staple ability of 187 effects to T2 magic. That alone means I can forgive it for Memory Jar. Oh, I nearly forgot Rancor.
Urza`s Destiny: WOW! The power bar just goes off the scale! Almost every deck currently played in T2 is based around Destiny cards - Masticore, Keg, Treachery, Rector, Bargain, Negator... This is the set that defines T2 right now, because it is the set that has Masticore in.
Mercadian Masques: After Destiny it was always going to be a disappointment, but Masques has done alright for itself on balance. Pretty good set.
Nemesis: Hmm, maybe it will grow on me. It certainly has few cards that break the curve of power cards, but a nice number are bubbling under so it`s probably a little early to say.
Notice a trend? I hold that the last set of each block always has better cards than the earlier expansions and I was right to predict that when Destiny arrived. I`m willing to put money, right here right now, on Prophecy being an extremely good set - bringing whole new decktypes to the environment in time for Urza`s block to rotate out.
I liked the game best when the cards didn't do everything you wanted and make you a sandwich on the side. I like my cards simple, because I think it makes the game require more thought. Nowadays the game is much more complex, but it has changed so much that certain aspects have gone the way of the dodo.
Take healing salve, back then it was a good card, nowadays there are several similar cards, some of wich are definitely better.
And Craw Wurm, this was my favorite card back then, now it has been replaced by yavimaya wurm and better.
Countermagic too. In revised there were 3 forms of countermagic, 2 of wich were not gauranteed to be usable in any situation. It made deckbuilding much more challenging.
As for recent sets, I liked Mirage a lot, and the Urza block had some nice cards. But the power level of many cards is too high for me and games don't last long enough for decent development.
Which isn't to say that I dislike the recent sets, I just preferred the older ones.
As the wind rages against the blueberry- stained mouth of The ORGG and his stringy, carrion-smelling wrinkles of flesh that act as hair blow, He bellows from the bottom of his bosom: <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>FALLEN EMPIRES!
LONG LIVE SARPADIA!!!!!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
yes. I love fallen empires. balanced cards, fun cards, and just about every one of them were pretty #uc#in' good. unless you had to do with tide counters.
for some of the same reasons like strong themes for the creatures and colors, I like the world of Urgrothia, too.
heh. Fallen Empires II.
and I'm likeing Homlands II: the return of the fallen empires that was relesed recently, too.
Well, to take a moment to be nostalgic.
I loved Legends. It was a big set that truely had cards for everyone. It had the power cards like Mana Drain and Moat and Mirror Universe but it also had alot of cards that were just fun to play with. Like almost any of the old gold legends. They were huge or wierd but always fun. It was a terrific set to play with casually or competitivly. It also made you think. I can't stand most of the new sets cause they basically just hand you everything on a platter. Like Slivers, thats hardly a difficult thing to make a deck out of. Just take cards mix with land and tada! Instant good deck, no thinking required. The same goes for alot of the newer stuff. Maybe its just me, but I liked it when you had to think and try to make a good deck rather than pull out the newest creature theme or series of high power combo cards.
Nostalgia is the reason why 'Tempest' is my fav set. I really came around to tourney play during that set. I remember the first time I ran into Tradewind Rider (sniff), I HATED IT!!!!! Then, I learned to liked it and I've been a fan ever since. The slivers are still a fav of mine and then there is the 'Buyback' ability, perhaps the best ability to date.
So, I ask you, what and why is your favorite set.
I know we've covered this before but new folks around and they can give their answer to this age old question.
I probably liked Revised too for the same reasons as GryphonClaw:
It had the last of the original "broken" cards from Alpha and Beta, yet some weren't realized as such (Balance). There still weren't too many sets out, the tournament Types and formats hadn't been set yet, and information was slow to spread so all sorts of decks were being played. Basically anything could go and win somewhere... no matter what the setting.
Revised and 4th were great, of course. I think I'd give the nod to Revised though, strictly on the basis of the Dual Lands.
Expansions though. That's where it gets tougher. Hmmm...
As a good set for sealed/draft, I think I'd go with Mirage because of the balance in the set. True, there's a real lack of power cards, but aren't power cards the thing that makes a set luck-based in sealed? I'd rate Masques a close second on that basis.
Defining them as being a set that's good in constructed is tougher, since the line between good and broken in constructed is so fine. Urza'a Saga is, in my opinion, a horrible set due to the huge number of broken cards in it. I'd call it a virtual toss up between Alliances, Visions, and Destiny, and give the nod to Alliances because of the way the wealth was spread among almost all the colors.
But then, Legacy's got some real good cards in it too, and then there's the Original Broken Rare set, Arabian Nights.
Well, if the question was best set, then probably Urza's Saga (Sneak attack, tolarian academy,time spiral), Exodus (recurring nightmare, survival of the fittest, spike weaver), or Legacy (Palinchron, might of oaks)
But I love Chronicles. God I love chronicles. I have no good reason, no excuse, except that I got in booster packs every single elder dragon legend. God, I love Chronicles.
I'd have to vote for Tempest, because I bought the Flames of Rath precon, and played it right out of the box to a 3rd place finish in some tournament with like 25 people. Actually, I liked it because I kinda stunk back then and playing with that precon taught me that bigger isn't always better, and weenies can win the day. I think I learned more and improved the most as a player because of the cards in that set. Plus, a red deck based loosely on Flames of Rath won me a Mox so I might be slightly biased.
I have to completely agree with Ura on this one...
Legends - nothing can surpass it. When you touch those cards now, they have this feeling of true magic. I bought a pack of Revised 2 months ago and I didn't get this feeling - I dunno why, maybe because there's no storyline behind Revised? In any case, Legends has a huge story that you just want to dive in. Remember when you just started playing magic and you chose what color to play not because you felt that color was stronger, but because of "roleplaying" motives? Like when you felt pretty evil, you played Black.... Well that's how I started anyways. Every card in Legend has a meaning, and that's what I love. Talking about the cards though, there are power cards, almost Power 9, that cost now $40-80: Moat, Eureka, Underworld Dreams, Mirror Universe.. There are BIG creatures: Acron Legionnaire, Elder Dragons, Dakkon Backblade... And almost all of them are characters in some great story. ALL of the cards are playable. I love this set!!
And of course, above all of it is Almighty Cyclopean Mummy.
I don't think I can pick a favorite set, but I think that the sets between visions and stronghold really were the 'golden time' of magic. Great sets, lots of variety, and not much that could be horribly abused (TW rider excluded). My very favorite set is Tempest. I am still looking for new ways to abuse verdant force. And I agree with yellowjacket, buyback is the best card ability.