Our recent "Selecting Eighth Edition" activities have a lot of people thinking about base set rotations and why certain cards are added or taken away.
On that note, we've unearthed a little gem that explains some of the rationale behind the first base set rotation, which happened between Unlimited and Revised. The following article snippet (everything below the line) is from a rare Duelist Supplement that was published in May of 1994. It lists the Unlimited/Revised substitutions, and some explanations as to a few of the changes specifically.
It's interesting to look back at how certain cards' power levels were viewed nine years ago.
Think of this list every time you stumble across a Revised Island Fish Jasconius in your collection…
Some cards that appeared in the Limited and Unlimited editions have been replaced in the Revised Edition with cards from Arabian Nights and Antiquities, the first two Magic: The Gathering expansion sets. There are several reasons for these substitutions. According to Magic's creator, Richard Garfield, and the original design team, cards being replaced fall into three broad categories: There are the "mystifiers"--cards that were too confusing for most players, or led to too many paradoxes, or defied too many of the basic Magic rules. Then there are the "spoilers", the cards whose effects were out of proportion. These cards had a tendency to throw entire games out of whack, and were only fun when they were on your side. It is no coincidence that many of these cards appear on the Duelists' Convocation Restricted or Banned list. Finally there are the "retirees", cards which are simply being phased out. Richard always intended for the card set to be fluid and for some of the old cards to be replaced by new ones. So some of the cards were selected for "retirement." This is not to say they will never be back, or similar cards won't show up in future expansions.
What do you MEAN you took it out?
Berserk. Says Richard Garfield: "Anything which multiplies is potentially abusive. Failure to have a Fog should not warrant 80 damage."
Chaos Orb. "No, we didn't can the concept," says Garfield. "There will always be weirdo cards like this floating around, but the same old one gets passé."
Illusionary Mask. According to Garfield, "This one will probably resurface in a slightly more clarified form sometime."
Four "rare" Islands. "Are you kidding?" says Garfield. "Actually it is worth noting people were never meant to know they had rare islands. We were under the impression your rares would appear randomly in the deck and in random numbers. Had we known, they would have been something else; this is just the soonest we could really correct the mistake."
Time Vault. "Not in and of itself," explains Dave Pettey. "It just limits what you can do without creating 'spoiler' combinations from 'non-spoiler' cards. It's different from the 'real spoilers' like Ancestral Recall."
Twiddle. "Twiddle was badly miscorrected after Alpha, were it wasn't really well written anyway," says Garfield. "Rather than recorrect it when it was pretty confusing anyway we decided to drop it. Eventually, you can expect it back again."
Word of Command. According to Garfield, "This one is buggier than a high school FORTRAN class."