Duelist #4: Origin Stories

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The letter I!'m fascinated by old issues of The Duelist, the print magazine that preceded this site. During the years of The Duelist's run—1994 to 1999—Magic, and trading card games in general, went from an overnight sensation to an established part of the game industry. The magazine, especially in its earliest days when nobody really knew where all this was going, is a weird blend of the familiar and the bizarre.

For example, Duelist #4 contains an article announcing the formation of a new tournament format called "Type II," in which only cards from the last several sets would be allowed. Type II was later renamed Standard, and the article's take on the format's prospects turned out to be entirely accurate: "We think Type II will become a staple of the tournament circuit."

That article's a little too concerned with matters of the time to make gripping reading now, but below are links to three other articles from Duelist #4 that I think make for interesting reads.

First up is "Wizard's Chess" by Tom Hazel, detailing a fun little set of house rules to bring a chess feel to Magic. (For a slightly different take on chess-themed decks, check out the Daily Deck from Monday, October 4.)

Next is "Magic in the Classroom" by Susan Mohn, which charts a few ideas (and pitfalls) for using Magic as an educational tool. I've read lots of letters from people who tell us that they would have missed a particular SAT vocabulary word or never grasped a concept in probability or whatever without Magic helping them along. This idea rings especially true to me now, as many among the first generation of Magic players are (yes, I know, this is crazy to think about) settling down and having kids of their own.

Last up is the reason I picked up this particular issue of the Duelist in the first place: the monthly installment of a recurring feature called "According to Mr. Pling," compiled by Scott Hungerford. "According to Mr. Pling" collected various stories and musings from around the world of Magic. And in this particular case, I believe it served as the basis for a persistent urban legend in the Magic community.

You see, once upon a time there was a card called Chaos Orb. Chaos Orb, along with Falling Star, required actual physical actions to be used, resulting in messy situations that were so difficult to adjudicate that both cards were (and remain) banned from tournament play. One particularly enduring story involves a player who was in the Finals of a major tournament (before Chaos Orb was banned) and realized that he had one way to win: by tearing up his Chaos Orb and sprinkling the pieces on his opponent's cards. Supposedly it was this incident that led to Chaos Orb and Falling Star getting banned, and the story is famous enough that it inspired a card in Unglued, Chaos Confetti.

Well, in addition to the origin of the Iron Man format, some shenanigans with Ring of Ma'Rûf and Jyhad (Wizards' other major TCG at the time), and a truly horrifying story about thirty Black Lotuses and some turpentine, this edition of "According to Mr. Pling" includes a purely hypothetical, just-for-fun compilation of eight silly things you are definite not allowed to do with Chaos Orb ... including, you guessed it, ripping it up and sprinkling it on your opponent's cards.

Now, maybe the urban legend is true. Maybe the person who did that inspired this list, or was inspired by it. Maybe. But rumors in the wider world often begin with "Wouldn't it be neat if ...?" and end up as "I heard about this crazy thing that happened ....", and I find it a lot easier to believe that that's what happened here.

Don't believe everything you read!

Kelly Digges
Daily MTG Editor

Wizard's Chess, by Tom Hazel
Magic in the Classroom, by Susan Mohn
According to Mr. Pling, compiled by Scott Hungerford
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