Second Urza Block
The Urza's Saga Block is Infamous for being one of the most, if not the most broken set ever created, so bad that the CEO of Wizards called design up and threatened that doing it again will make you fired. It's know for containing many broken artifacts (even though the theme was meant to be enchantments)
Oh boy, you're in for a ride. This block has tons of cheese.
Seemingly innocuous, Donate is a sorcery that costs 2U and gives control of one of your permanents to your opponent. A spell that did nothing except give your opponent card advantage couldn’t possibly be broken, right? Right?
Unfortunately, Ice Age was still legal in Extended at the time, and contained Illusions of Grandeur, an enchantment that was built around cumulative upkeep - when you played it, you gained twenty life, and when you lost it because you couldn’t pay the upkeep anymore, you lost twenty life. By Donating Illusions of Grandeur, you could gain twenty life and then saddle your opponent with a ticking time bomb. The combo, known as Trix, is widely considered to have been one of the most powerful decks in Extended’s history.
Notable not for its power but because of its hilarious art. Fog Bank: confusing dinosaurs since 1993.
This card pretty much gives you a brand new hand for 5 mana. This was during a period in Magic's history with a disgusting amount of 1-turn-wonder combo fodder (not just from Urza's Saga but from Tempest block as well) and ways to rapid fire cards onto the table, plus enough cheap non-land mana sources that getting 5 colorless on your first turn wasn't hard at all. The result was that Memory Jar became the first and (so far) only card to be banned from Standard before it was ever legal. Wizards offered you replacement packs if you opened an Urza's Legacy booster with a Memory Jar, it was such an embarrassment at the time.
Morphling wasn’t broken, per se, but it was still arguably the most powerful creature ever printed at the time. Nicknamed “Superman”, it’s a 3/3 for 5 that can, for a price of one mana each, untap itself, give itself flying until end of turn, give itself shroud until end of turn, give itself +1/-1 until end of turn, or give itself -1/+1 until end of turn. The last two abilities were especially powerful under Sixth Edition rules, as Morphling could use its abilities while combat damage was on the stack, effectively making it a 5/6 flyer with shroud and vigilance for most purposes. Morphling is probably the most fondly remembered card from Urza's Block, and inspired a bunch of other cards, including the parody Greater Morphling from Unhinged, the creature enchantment Pemmin's Aura (an anagram of "I Am Superman", which gave the enchanted creature Morphling's abilities) from Scourge, and numerous other -lings with similar abilities.
The best/worst of the “free mechanic”, Time Spiral is a sorcery that allegedly costs six mana, but untaps six of your lands after you cast it. Its actual effect is similar to Timetwister, hence the name. Needless to say, a card that duplicated the effect of one of the Power Nine, for free, was a wee bit broken. The card was so infamous that an entire block was eventually named after it.
A fairly straightforward spell: pay three mana, sacrifice an artifact, then search your deck for another artifact and put it into play.
Yes, you read that right. No, nothing was left out. The artifact you find goes directly into play, and its casting cost is completely ignored. Tinker lets you play any artifact in your entire deck for the price of three mana and an Ornithopter.
The most overpowered land ever printed, Tolarian Academy gives you one blue mana for each artifact you control. A lot of artifacts cost zero mana. Several cards in Urza’s Block were “free”, in that they untapped the lands used to cast them, on the assumption that each land only generated one mana.
Necropotence lets you pay one life to draw a card at the end of the turn. Since one card is worth a lot more than one life, Necropotence is pretty good. This is true even though you don’t get to see what cards you’re drawing until the end of the turn - you have to decide how much life you’re willing to spend in the hopes of drawing something useful. Yawgmoth’s Bargain is exactly like Necropotence, except that you get the card immediately, so you can just dig until you find the card you want and then stop. It costs twice as much as Necropotence, and is still format-warping in Vintage.
Yawgmoth’s Will is a black sorcery that costs three mana and lets you play cards in your graveyard for the rest of the turn. Dark Ritual was reprinted in Urza’s Block. In theory, with a swamp, four Dark Rituals, and a Yawgmoth's Will, you could generate thirteen mana on turn one. In practice, of course, you wouldn't get that high, but it still enabled some truly spectacular degenerate combos.
Many cards had a free mechanic: pay more mana than usual for a spell, but you get to untap lands equal to the amount of mana paid. That is already pretty powerful, but then is boosted by the fact that there's lands that tap for more than one mana, and the fact that two creatures had the free mechanic but didn’t bother to check if you’d actually paid the cost you were getting refunded for. It's considered one of the Mechanics you can't balance as well: Making it cost more mana makes it better.
|Settings of Magic: The Gathering|
|Pre-revisionist:|| First Magic Sets - First Urza Block - Arabian Nights |
Legends - Homelands - Ice Age - Mirage
|Weatherlight Saga:|| Portal Starter Sets - Second Urza Block |
Tempest Block - Masques Block - Invasion Block
|Post-Weatherlight:||Otaria Block - Mirrodin - Kamigawa - Ravnica - Time Spiral|
|After the Mending:|| Lorwyn - Alara - Zendikar - New Phyrexia |
Innistrad - Return to Ravnica - Theros - Tarkir
|Two-Block Paradigm:||Kaladesh - Amonkhet - Ixalan|
|Never in a standard set:||Fiora (Where the Conspiracy sets take place)|