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My hundred favorite Magic cards, number 100: Legacy Weapon

Seriously, if you look at this card hard enough, you'll be able to hear me, at age eight, screaming.
Seriously, if you look at this card hard enough, you'll be able to hear me, at age eight, screaming.

I love Magic, of course - that's the major reason why I've written about it for as long as I have - and probably most of my readers do too. There are a lot of reasons to love this game, and everyone has their own, but Magic is principally dependent on its cards, so a fondness for individual cards in fact underpins most of our feelings. I have been playing Magic a long time, and, well, I've seen a lot of cards come and go. This means I have a lot of favorites. So I've decided to recount my one hundred favorite Magic cards of all time, tell the stories behind them as best as I can, and hopefully articulate some kind of greater lesson about each of them.

There is no one reason to love or hate a Magic card - there's the flavor, the elegance of the design or its power, the uniqueness of it, how impressive and awe-inspiring it is, or entirely different and personal ones. As nobody fits any of the player psychographic profiles perfectly well, I'll probably talk like a Timmy, Johnny, Spike, Melvin, and Vorthos at different times and in different combinations about these cards.

First off, a card that does obviously appeal to two of those psychographics: Legacy Weapon, one of the great Timmy/Vorthos cards of all time.

I got into Magic with Nemesis, which, all things considered, was a bad first set to jump in with; but thankfully, my first full block was Invasion, which I am definitely not alone in calling one of the best of all time. Invasion was the first mechanical theme block in earnest, and boy did they pick a cool theme to start off this age of design with: Multicolor, which hadn't been seen since Tempest block but was now back in full force, with literally hundreds of gold cards and even more with off-color mana stuff like kicker and different-color activated abilities.

It was a giddy moment. Our proverbial cups ran over after the mechanical drought of Masques block. For all of its great story and flavor, Mercadian Masques was underpowered and generally couldn't figure out what the heck it was supposed to be about - and it and the other two sets in the block were literally themed around drawbacks. Imagine how hearts thrilled when things like the Primeval Dragons (those tricolor legends) and kicker were shown off.

Storywise too, this was big. The long story arc that had begun some four years earlier with Mirage block was coming to a close. This was the Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria, the war to end all wars, and things were looking bleak for our heroes, until they finally shot off, with great effort, one of the biggest Chekhov's guns in all fiction. The Legacy was a group of objects and people that Urza brought together as a stratagem against his enemy Yawgmoth. As the Lord of the Wastes entered Dominaria in physical form, on the cusp of victory and unharmed by the Weatherlight crew's earlier attempt to kill him with massive amounts of white mana, Urza and Gerrard made the ultimate sacrifice, awakening the Legacy aboard the Weatherlight and releasing a sentient light that reduced Urza, Yawgmoth, Gerrard, and Karn (who was aboard as one of the Legacy pieces) to nothingness.

Legacy Weapon represented The End. As a naive kid I was deeply distressed about this at first, because I thought the end of the Weatherlight saga meant the end of Magic. And just when I had gotten into it, too! Fortunately, it was not so, and I got rather engrossed by the card design regardless.

Legacy Weapon rides its flavor for miles. The mystical living light is made of all colors of mana, and it can banish anything to a place of no return. The Legacy also cannot truly be destroyed, and it will come back together someday if separated, of its own accord. Hence the exile activated ability for WUBRG, and the shuffle-from-graveyard triggered ability. It is a rather blunt way to do this design, but boy was it effective. John Avon did gorgeous art for this card (not that I dislike Terese Nielsen's Tenth Edition version - she always draws great artifacts and artifact-related cards, and the fact that she included the art for all the Legacy pieces themselves is a stunning achievement), and the WUBRG symbols just look great in the old artifact frame text box.

I guess the lesson to be gleaned here is: Make the conclusion satisfying. Even if it's strange, even if you have to resort to some BS plotting, make it all feel worth it. Make it matter. And make it cool.

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