Worzel's rules

"Worzel felt the telltale prickling at the back of her neck; her domain was being challenged!"

Magic rules used to be fairly fluid. The idea was that players would find their own interpretations on how to play. Many cards were intentionally worded ambiguously to force players to make their own conclusions. The rulebooks noted that you should discuss your interpretation of the rules whenever you played with someone outside your local playgroup to "make sure that you play the same game". When I started, we e.g. though that "X" represented the roman numeral 10. In hindsight, that may not the brightest of interpretations. I still played with Word of Binding in my deck though, as the Ron Spencer art was far to sweet to pass on.
You decide if this gives all Goblins flying or only itself.
It was expected that most players would buy a starter and maybe a few boosters to build their decks. Not surprisingly, the playtesters realized that the blue "boon" was a pretty powerful card. To fix this, rather than nerfing the power level, the rarity of Ancestral Recall was changed from common to rare. Arguably, if there only existed one Ancestral in every other playgroup or so, the impact of the card would be acceptable. In that same vein, it got clear that taking extra turns was very powerful, so the playtesters scrapped the red and black versions. Starburst and Paralysis would never see the light of day, and only Time Walk was left at a high rarity.

So in this wild west of Magic, the expectations were that players would play locally and without knowledge about all of the cards. The old golden rule states that "Whenever a card's text directly contradicts the rules, the card takes precedence". For many cards in Alpha though, it can be taxing to understand what precedence to take.
So if I steal the Hordes with Control Magic, should I be more worried about what "pay BBB" means, or that my Control Magic could be "CARD ed"?
It's not crystal clear. It's pretty funny though :) A few weeks back, I finally got my hands on an Alpha rulebook, and in some ways it makes me wonder how people ever learned how to play the game with strangers. Now, the Beta rule book is a remarkable work, but reading that in order to learn how to play modern Magic is only slightly more useful than reading The Merchant of Venice to learn how to build a bridge. The Alpha rule book is actually even more confusing. Like an Icy Manipulator or Channel from Alpha, the rulebook itself was updated for the Beta and Unlimited releases.
Alpha to the left, Beta/Unl to the right.
Not having an appendix in the Alpha rule book is harsh, but I guess that it was simply overlooked. The Beta rulebook also added a "Clarifications to rules" section, among other things.
Like anyone would need clarifications on Banding.
All in all, six new pages were added to the Beta rules. The main reason I wanted to get my hands on the Alpha book was the two pages that were removed though; Worzel's Story.

Magic was developed by role players, and it was marketed towards gamers. The flavor "drew on the milieu of Dungeons and Dragons". Hence, the first thing you see when you open the first ever Magic rule book, is a short fantasy story written by Garfield. The story doesn't make a lot of sense as to how the card game works, so I guess I can understand why it was cut. It does however hint at the mechanics of sweet cards like Sea Serpent and Glasses of Urza.
If you don't control any Islands, opposing Serpents can't attack you. Subtle hints on the rules ;)
I'm usually not that interested in lore, but I find this story interesting as it was the first introduction the earliest players had to the game. Worzel's story was continued in Roreca's Tale from the 1994 Pocket Player's Guide, but I don't think we've heard anything about her in the last 20 years. Looks like she's been outdated by the Jaces and Lilianas of today. 

This weekend there was another tournament at Playoteket in Scania btw, looking forward to hear some stories from that event :) November 30th there will also be tournament in Gothenburg, at Vasa Gaming. Planning to test out some new tech, hope to see you there!


  1. Might want to link to the storys for those of us who had never heard of them and was intrigued to read them :)

    Worzel's can be read here:


    And Rorece's Tale is available here:


    1. Thanks for the links. I looked them up as I wrote the post, but missed to actually link them ;)

      Note that the first link shows the Beta rulebook, with the two pages from the Alpha book pasted in at the beginning (that's why pages with number 4 and 5 are shown twice).

  2. I've always liked those stories. They did a good job at suggesting the infinite mysteries of Dominia. High information and complete expansion contents being released two weeks ahead of time are all well and good for the twenty-teens, but I like the mystery :)

    House rules are a big thing in many games. Every Monopoly player I know has a different way to handle the Free Parking square! And I'm told their rules also used to have something in them about "make sure you know what the people you're playing with do" or something to that effect.


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