Magic The Gathering Logo
Magic The Gathering Logo

Magic: The Gathering, often known as MTG, is a collectible card game with a rich history dating back to 1993. Over the years, the game has grown to encompass a multitude of card sets that each contribute to the game’s complex strategy and expansive lore. Arranging these sets in order can help players understand the game’s evolution and navigate its expansive library.

Cataloging the sets chronologically is an effective way to appreciate the growth and impact of the game on its community. It highlights key expansions that have introduced new mechanics, themes, and storylines. With each set, players gain access to new cards that can be used to build and refine their decks, ensuring that the game remains fresh and competitive.

A Historical Guide to Magic: The Gathering Expansions

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) has captivated players worldwide since its debut in 1993. With an extensive history of card sets, it offers a vast and ever-evolving world for fans to explore. Let’s dive into the release order of these expansions.

Foundations (1993 – 1995)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
Limited Edition AlphaAugust 1993Core Set
Limited Edition BetaOctober 1993Core Set
Arabian NightsDecember 1993Expansion Set
AntiquitiesMarch 1994Expansion Set
Revised EditionApril 1994Core Set
LegendsJune 1994Expansion Set
The DarkAugust 1994Expansion Set
Fallen EmpiresNovember 1994Expansion Set

Notes: This era established the groundwork for Magic. Early sets introduced iconic cards, explored basic themes of fantasy, and were still working out a consistent balance of power levels.

Exploration and Refinement (1995 – 2003)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
Ice AgeJune 1995Expansion Set
Fourth EditionApril 1995Core Set
ChroniclesJuly 1995Compilation Set
HomelandsOctober 1995Expansion Set
AlliancesJune 1996Expansion Set
MirageOctober 1996Expansion Set
VisionsFebruary 1997Expansion Set
Fifth EditionMarch 1997Core Set
WeatherlightJune 1997Expansion Set
TempestOctober 1997Expansion Set
StrongholdMarch 1998Expansion Set
ExodusJune 1998Expansion Set
Urza’s SagaOctober 1998Expansion Set
Urza’s LegacyFebruary 1999Expansion Set
Sixth EditionApril 1999Core Set
Urza’s DestinyJune 1999Expansion Set
Mercadian MasquesOctober 1999Expansion Set
NemesisFebruary 2000Expansion Set
ProphecyJune 2000Expansion Set
InvasionOctober 2000Expansion Set
PlaneshiftMay 2001Expansion Set
ApocalypseJune 2001Expansion Set
OdysseyOctober 2001Expansion Set
TormentFebruary 2002Expansion Set
JudgmentMay 2002Expansion Set
OnslaughtOctober 2002Expansion Set
LegionsMay 2003Expansion Set
ScourgeJune 2003Expansion Set

Notes: This era was about experimentation. Sets visited diverse planes, mechanics became more complex, and power levels pushed boundaries. Key developments include the introduction of the modern color pie and a significant increase in story-driven sets.

Blocks and New Structures (2003 – 2006)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
MirrodinOctober 2003Expansion Set
DarksteelFebruary 2004Expansion Set
Fifth DawnJune 2004Expansion Set
Champions of KamigawaOctober 2004Expansion Set
Betrayers of KamigawaFebruary 2005Expansion Set
Saviors of KamigawaJune 2005Expansion Set
Ravnica: City of GuildsOctober 2005Expansion Set
GuildpactFebruary 2006Expansion Set
DissensionMay 2006Expansion Set

Notes: This era saw significant shifts in set design. The introduction of blocks (sets connected by story and mechanics) created longer narratives. Tournament-level play became more prominent, increasing the focus on balance and power levels.

Planeswalkers and Refinement (2007 – 2015)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
Tenth EditionJuly 2007Core Set
LorwynOctober 2007Expansion Set
MorningtideFebruary 2008Expansion Set
ShadowmoorMay 2008Expansion Set
EventideJuly 2008Expansion Set
Shards of AlaraOctober 2008Expansion Set
ConfluxFebruary 2009Expansion Set
Alara RebornApril 2009Expansion Set
Magic 2010July 2009Core Set
ZendikarOctober 2009Expansion Set
WorldwakeFebruary 2010Expansion Set
Rise of the EldraziApril 2010Expansion Set
Magic 2011July 2010Core Set
Scars of MirrodinOctober 2010Expansion Set
Mirrodin BesiegedFebruary 2011Expansion Set
New PhyrexiaMay 2011Expansion Set
Magic 2012July 2011Core Set
InnistradSeptember 2011Expansion Set
Dark AscensionFebruary 2012Expansion Set
Avacyn RestoredMay 2012Expansion Set
Magic 2013July 2012Core Set
Return to RavnicaOctober 2012Expansion Set
GatecrashFebruary 2013Expansion Set
Dragon’s MazeMay 2013Expansion Set
Magic 2014July 2013Core Set
TherosSeptember 2013Expansion Set
Born of the GodsJanuary 2014Expansion Set
Journey into NyxApril 2014Expansion Set
Magic 2015July 2014Core Set
Khans of TarkirSeptember 2014Expansion Set
Fate ReforgedJanuary 2015Expansion Set
Dragons of TarkirApril 2015Expansion Set

Notes: Planeswalkers became central to the lore, with sets often featuring a specific Planeswalker’s journey. This era continued refining card design and competitive play, while experimenting with mechanics like transform and double-faced cards.

Two-Set Blocks and Experimentation (2015 – 2018)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
Magic OriginsJuly 2015Core Set
Battle for ZendikarOctober 2015Expansion Set
Oath of the GatewatchJanuary 2016Expansion Set
Shadows over InnistradApril 2016Expansion Set
Eldritch MoonJuly 2016Expansion Set
KaladeshSeptember 2016Expansion Set
Aether RevoltJanuary 2017Expansion Set
AmonkhetApril 2017Expansion Set
Hour of DevastationJuly 2017Expansion Set
IxalanSeptember 2017Expansion Set
Rivals of IxalanJanuary 2018Expansion Set
DominariaApril 2018Expansion Set
Core Set 2019July 2018Core Set

Notes: This era saw a major structural change as core sets were discontinued and replaced by a two-set block model for standard play. It also featured a return to popular planes like Dominaria and showcased innovative design with sets like Amonkhet and Kaladesh.

Expanding Horizons (2018 – Present)

Set NameRelease DateSet Type
Guilds of RavnicaOctober 2018Expansion Set
Ravnica AllegianceJanuary 2019Expansion Set
War of the SparkMay 2019Expansion Set
Core Set 2020July 2019Core Set
Throne of EldraineOctober 2019Expansion Set
Theros Beyond DeathJanuary 2020Expansion Set
Ikoria: Lair of BehemothsApril 2020Expansion Set
Core Set 2021July 2020Core Set
Zendikar RisingSeptember 2020Expansion Set
KaldheimFebruary 2021Expansion Set
Strixhaven: School of MagesApril 2021Expansion Set
Adventures in the Forgotten RealmsJuly 2021Expansion Set
Innistrad: Midnight HuntSeptember 2021Expansion Set
Innistrad: Crimson VowNovember 2021Expansion Set
Kamigawa: Neon DynastyFebruary 2022Expansion Set
Streets of New CapennaApril 2022Expansion Set
Dominaria UnitedSeptember 2022Expansion Set
The Brothers’ WarNovember 2022Expansion Set
Phyrexia: All Will Be OneFebruary 2023Expansion Set
March of the MachineApril 2023Expansion Set
March of the Machine: The AftermathMay 2023Supplemental Set
Commander MastersAugust 2023Compilation Set
Wilds of EldraineSeptember 2023Expansion Set
The Lost Caverns of IxalanNovember 2023Expansion Set
Ravnica RemasteredJanuary 2024Compilation set
Murders at Karlov ManorFebruary 2024Expansion set
Outlaws of Thunder JunctionApril 2024Expansion set

Notes: This era sees a surge in creative storytelling, with deep dives into Magic’s history, unique collaborations (Universes Beyond), and the ongoing Phyrexian invasion arc. This period also includes multiple themed sets that add additional depth and variety to gameplay.

Additional Notes

  • Universes Beyond sets, like MTG Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, are not included in this table as they focus on planes outside the Magic universe.
  • Starter Sets and Box Sets are not included in this table, but were important for introducing new players to the game.
  • Core Sets were discontinued in 2018, with their role filled by the two-set block model for standard play and supplemental sets like Jumpstart.

Key Takeaways

  • Magic: The Gathering spans decades with a variety of card sets.
  • Chronological listing of sets showcases the game’s history and growth.
  • Key expansions have significantly influenced gameplay and strategy.

History and Evolution of Magic The Gathering Sets

Since its debut in 1993, Magic: The Gathering has grown dramatically. The game has released numerous sets and has continuously evolved, adding complexity and narrative to its already rich universe.

The Origin of Magic: The Gathering

The game started with the release of the Limited Edition Alpha set. This foundational set featured 295 unique cards and laid the groundwork for the game’s mechanics. A Beta set followed, expanding the initial card pool and making minor adjustments.

Expanding the Multiverse

The growth of Magic introduced new sets regularly. Arabian Nights came first, adding a distinct cultural flavor. Antiquities explored artifacts, while Legends brought powerful new legendary creatures. Sets such as The Dark, Fallen Empires, and Homelands deepened the game lore and offered thematic cards based on different story elements. Ice Age and Alliances broadened the gameplay with innovative mechanics.

Modern Developments

In recent years, sets like Rivals of Ixalan and Dominaria have struck a balance between adding new cards and paying homage to Magic’s history. Each block of sets brings players to different planes of the multiverse, guaranteeing fresh experiences and constant updates to the game. Today, Magic remains a dynamic and diverse card game with a loyal following.

Key Expansions and Their Impact

Pivotal Classic Sets

Magic: The Gathering sets have shaped the way players engage with the game. From time to time, sets like Time Spiral and Arabian Nights introduced mechanisms and stories that drove the game forward. These sets brought life to the cards and gave players whole new worlds to explore.

Recent and Upcoming Releases

The landscape of Magic: The Gathering is always growing. Throne of Eldraine, launched in 2019, took players into a world of fairy tales and Arthurian legend. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, released in 2020, let players explore a monster-filled land. More recently, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty infused traditional elements with cyberpunk aesthetics, redefining what a Magic set could be. Looking forward, sets like March of the Machine and Phyrexia: All Will Be One promise to build on the rich history of the game. They offer new cards and challenges for players to overcome. These releases ensure that the game stays interesting and engaging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Magic: The Gathering has released a vast collection of sets since its inception each with unique features. Players often have questions about set order, symbols, and formats.

What is the chronological order of release for Magic: The Gathering sets?

Magic: The Gathering sets have been released in series beginning in 1993 with “Alpha.” Following this, new sets have come out periodically, usually grouped into blocks or standalone sets that follow a story or theme.

How can one identify the symbol associated with each Magic: The Gathering set?

Each Magic set has a unique expansion symbol printed on the cards. This symbol indicates the set a card belongs to and its rarity. Players can look up these symbols on card databases or the official Magic: The Gathering website.

Which Magic: The Gathering sets are included in the current Standard format?

The Standard format includes the most recent Magic: The Gathering sets. It generally contains sets from the last two years. Players can find the specific sets on the official Magic: The Gathering website or through community resources.

What was the inaugural set of Magic: The Gathering?

The first Magic: The Gathering set was the “Alpha” set, also known as “Limited Edition Alpha.” It introduced players to the game in 1993.

As of 2024, how many Magic: The Gathering sets have been released?

As of 2024, there have been over 100 Magic: The Gathering sets released. This includes various expansions, special editions, and standalone sets that have added to the game’s depth.

Is there a visual guide that includes images of cards from different Magic: The Gathering sets?

Yes, visual guides with images from different sets are available. Players can find these guides on Magic: The Gathering’s official website, card databases, or visual compendiums published by the community.

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