A few months back, Raging River, aka Micah of the NY Sisters of the Flame, announced that he’d created cards for an unreleased Magic set, and wanted to treat it like a normal WotC spoiler season. Several different community members were sent Booster Packs to open and spoil in whatever manner they saw fit. Well, it’s winding down and we were lucky enough to be one of the groups with the honor of spoiling some cards. But first, a bit about my relationship to Spectral Chaos.
Early into my Old School journey, I recall reading a story about the set that went something like this.
A collector reached out to various early play testers about trying to get older, stranger pieces of Magic/WotC history. Barry said he had some stuff but it was in his garage/basement/storage (some place like that that was alluded to being a mess) and that he'd get around to it, or some such thing. Some correspondences happened, and somehow, the collector got the opportunity to go over and help Barry tidy things up. During this work, some cards were found and Spectral Chaos came to light. The collector got the playtest cards for Spectral Chaos, released their text online, and here we are.
Now, this is all from my memory and I haven’t had any luck digging up that story anywhere, so take it with some grains of salt. But, Barry Reich was indeed an early play tester, he did create the set, and it was created around the time Alpha was released, so before Legends, which could explain why a lot of the cards seem like they should be Legendary but aren’t. I had bookmarked the complete list from Reddit as I enjoy looking it over and imagining what MtG would be like had this happened. I mean, gold cards before Legends would have been really cool because then Legendary creatures would have been a smaller addition to the game than they originally were, and it would have made the time before Legends more focused on multicolored decks. I don’t know about you, but for me, getting in at the end of Unlimited, basically everyone played monocolor because duals were difficult to come by and they weren’t fatties, so who wanted lands in their Rare slot?
Anyhow, enough speculation, let’s get on with the new content. I originally recorded myself cracking the booster on a stream with some local players, however that experience resulted in missing audio about a third of the way into it, so I re-recorded it solo. Honestly bummed that the original take didn’t work out because it’s way more fun to spoil cards with friends present, but technology said no to that.
For those of you who might not want to watch me blather on for eleven minutes, I’ll include a gallery at the bottom for you to see all of the cards from my pack. First though, I want to discuss a few of them.
My favorite card in the pack, without question, is Swarm. It’s got so much going for it! I mean, I’m a huge fan of GW decks in general, and weenie strategies, and cards that are useful whenever you draw them. Early on, you get a 1/1 flyer for two CMC, which is basically on curve for early sets, with the exceptions of Flying Men and Scryb Sprites, so it can come in early and hopefully do a little damage before eating a Bolt. Draw it mid to late game and you can crank out a bigger body, granted at a high cost, but still gives something to do with spare mana. Since it’s in GW, the decks have access to Giant Growth, Berserk, Crusades, Jihad, Army of Allah, and such to further buff this critter. Absolutely love this card.
One thing that sets Old School apart from other formats is that it seriously lacks color fixing. Yes, we have access to Duals and Moxes, some Elves and Mana Birds, Initiates/Priests (outside of Sweden, at least), and a Prism that I’ve never seen anyone play, but once you add in Factories, a Strip Mine or four, Maze, Library, you’re suddenly running 25+ lands. What is someone to do? Well, if you are building out a Palladia-Mors deck, then this four drop might be just what you need pay that upkeep a little easier.
Now this one, it’s certainly an odd one. The first bit seems awesome because you can tap out for all the mana, then cast this, and then… Oh wait, nope, mana pool is emptied so now you can’t cast all the spells you wanted to. There are some extreme edge cases where you could hold up Lotus and Twister/Wheel, and then reset the board state entirely with this, but otherwise, it’s a lot of mana for not a lot of benefit. Maybe some of you deep blue mages out there can come up with ways to bust this open, as it’s eluding me.
Next up are two rather strange cards that I like. Updraft is like the opposite of Gravity Sphere, but without being a World Enchantment, and being super efficient to cast at just a single blue. Could be some spicy anti-Moat tech, or just a way to ensure that your creatures can always block everything, while also avoiding Earthquake. Gets wrecked by Hurricane and Island of Wak-wak though. And then there’s Blue Whale.
Fire-water-breathing on a blue creature? Then it’s other ability of basically swallowing anything that it blocks or that blocks it? This creature is very cool.
OK, so, I’m gonna wind this down now, but please click through the above gallery of the other ten cards in the pack, check out #SpectralChaos, watch the video, and most importantly thank Micah for this absolutely Herculean project he’s given us.