Alpha pimp, part 2

A while back I wrote a post about some cards which I prefer in the Alpha version. I felt like writing some more random posts in between the n00bcon decktechs, so today we'll look at some more odd Alpha cards. These are much rarer than the ones from my previous post, but may be interesting even if they are not as affordable. Maybe you've missed them :)

Five cards in Alpha were never playtested. They were designed "top-down" in pretty much the last minute of development in order to make use of some otherwise unused artwork. One rare card of each color were added this way, and some of them have among the strangest art in the set. Word of Command, with arguably the least artistic art in Magic, was the black one. Fay Jones's Stasis, with arguably the most artistic art in Magic, was the blue one. The green card turned out to be one of the most important green creatures of all time; the inconspicuous Birds of Paradise. I do not know why the Alpha version of the Birds have the very odd '//' in the textbox, as other cards with multiple abilities lack the slashes (like Lord of The Pit or Sedge Troll). I do however know that the Alpha version is the coolest version there is.

Alpha to the right.
So why did Wizards have some extra art of a flight of birds? (Is it flight? Maybe flock? Murder? Parliament? Piteousness? Pod? Sownder? Wedge? No idea about the collective noun for Mana Birds). Well, Mark Poole was commissioned to do the artwork for Tropical Island, and handed in the picture that was eventually used for the 0/1, due to the prevalence of the fanciful of birds (sounds right) in the art. Jesper Myrfors, Magic's first art director, then painted new art for Tropical Island. This was done very late in the development process though, and leads us to our next sweet Alpha pimp; Tropical Island. In the first edition, Mark Poole was accidentally given artist credit for the land, as he was originally commissioned for the art (which then ended up on the Birds).

Alpha version to the right. I guess it's still reasonably pimp with Beta Tropicals though.
And when we're talking about duals, let's go deep. Now, the next card is not really a card you can get, this is more of a curiosity. There are probably a few hundred alpha Birds and Tropicals in circulation, and you could get a playset of these to pimp your deck if you have enough money and time. For this last one, I only know about a single copy. It is very possible that there actually only exist one of these, but then again, there could be more out there.

7 cards were left out of Alpha, and are known to first have appeared in Beta. These cards are one version of each basic land, CoP: Black and Volcanic Island. These cards are pretty easy to spot in Beta, due to the "solid black" of their borders, and the fact that they lack the white dots in the corner that are seen on most Beta cards. I'm not really sure how or when in the printing process, but there were some Alpha cards that got mixed into Beta packs (probably the last printings of Alpha, to fill up the first Beta batch). The card on the picture below is quite possibly the single most pimp dual land ever.

Alpha to the right(!). Note the dotted borders.
We'll end today with a sweet decklist from n00bcon. This is a deck I really could see myself playing. Built by Viktor "Oldschool" Peterson, and played by Viktor "Hoben" Lindgren, enjoy the Unstable Skies/ SerendibGeddon/ UWeenie:

WW going big.


  1. Interesting tweak of a WW. How did it perform?


  2. // is a enter key that the printers or whoever was supposed to add it forgot to remove. It is a common way to do enter's where you cant do it (like really old stuff.. ms-dos and what not)

  3. @Axelsson: Hoben went 3-3 with the deck. I don't know how much he had tested before the tournament, but it seems like it worked pretty well :)

    @PK: Thanks, that sounds like a very reasonable explanation.

  4. Have wizards really verified that alpha Volcanics are real? It sounds kinda sketchy that they aren't included in the print sheets but suddenly appears in beta boosters.. To me it seems like a really good altered beta one and/or counterfit from someone working at a printing company.

    1. No, wizards have not come out and officially verified these exists as far as I know. On the other hand, they haven't stated anything about e.g. the holographic Dragon Whelp or metal Fork either; they usually don't talk about these kind of things. Whether or not this was in an alpha or beta pack, I have no idea. I mainly added the mixed pack as a statement regarding that lots of strange things happened at Carta Mundi during the first months of the game.

      Anyway, I really get the scepticism. There have been rumors about these cards since the mid 90's, and it seemed very odd. In 2007 however, a fairly famous german collector, with quite possible one of the absolute most awe-inspiring collections in the world, posted his at the magic librarities site ( The two main theories behind it is either that it was from beta but miscut (which doesn't really explain the borders or colorization), or that it was from some very small "in-between printing" of alpha and beta (kind of like summer magic was between revised and 4th). I do not belive it's fake however, mostly because the owner is a well known collector.

  5. Birds of Paradise <3 cool Volcanic did not know that one existed // Jhovalking


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