Welcome back to another installment of Retro Magic. This week we are looking TopDeck Magazine, issue 2. TopDeck was Wizards of the Coast’s new attempt at a card game Magazine. After the Duelist stopped publication in late 1999, TopDeck was introduced in December 1999. I’m not sure what the thought process was but I guess maybe a re branding was desired. Either way, TopDeck suffered the same fate at the Duelist, and publication ended in 2001. Our last article was Magic in 1995, so let’s see how 5 years has changed the game.
The current state of Standard included the Urza’s Block and Mercadian Masques was only a few months old. Here they list the top 5 cards in Standard at the moment. Masticore was indeed a force to be reckoned with, but nowadays is just an old relic of times before the power curve. Gaea’s Cradle was a good choice and can still be seen in some Legacy Maverick decklists today. It is also the most valuable card on the list. I’ve never face any Replenish decks so I’m not sure how powerful the card was, but at the time it was strong enough to make the list. Rancor, which is coming back for M13, is definitely a popular card and will have a welcome return to Standard in a few weeks. Squee, Goblin Nabob finishes the list and is an interesting choice. At the time they called it the best constructed card in Mercadian Masques. Interestingly enough, they never mention Rishadan Port in any of the Mercadian Power lists.
In an article about trading and how to not get ripped off, the magazine also included the Bend Test. As shown in the illustration, this process will allow you to see if a card is real or fake. Although I’ve known about the bend test and how it checks for creasing, I did not know that it would also crack the ink on counterfeit cards. The also warn you to not try this with your foil cards.
Here we see a price guide at the time. To the left are the current prices of cards from Revised; on the right are the prices from Alpha. You will notice on cards like Tropical Island and Tundra, there isn’t much of a price difference, but Underground Sea has a $20 price change from the two sets. Prices were still relatively cheap during this time period as these cards were less than 10 years old. Another thing TopDeck did was at a Trade Rating for each card which can be seen after the Low price. The higher the number, the higher the trade desire is for the card, helping player determine what the hot cards were.
Magic was continuing to grow in popularity and the game was changing towards the better at the time. I have one more image but this one is not from TopDeck Magazine. Instead, this one if from the Wizards product catalog sent to retailers. Below we have an image of Urza’s Saga and what it looked like at the time.
The picture is a bit blurry but you can see what the Tournament and Booster packs look like along with the display. The reason I show this is because I could not find an image that looks like these. The Current Urza’s booster packs look like the image below. It’s not uncommon for Wizards to change the look of the display, but I thought it was interesting to see what it looked like before the change.
Hope you enjoyed this Retro Magic post. This is a holiday week so posting will be light, but keep checking for recaps of Grand Prix Atlanta and thoughts on M13.