Mercadian Masques was a Magic: The Gathering expansion set which was released
late 1999. It started off the Masques block, which included the Nemesis and Prophecy
sets. It was made available in tournament pack (previously known as starter
pack), booster pack and theme deck forms. The limited/black-bordered
350 card set introduced spellshapers, rebel/mercenary searchers, seal enchantment
spells and all-play abilities. It was also the first M:tg set to feature big
mana symbols on lands instead of the usual text, not unlike the more recent
Pokemon CCG, also by Wizards of the Coast. (This led some people to believe
that M:tg was becoming Pokemonified and going to mainstream kiddie hell).
The promotional card presented to attendees of the prereleases was a foil
- spellshapers: A creature spell which is capable of turning a card
in ones hand into another spell. The creature's ability typically read
as "Mana cost, Tap, Discard a card from your hand: Effect".
The effects available were typically those of basic spell effects from older
M:TG sets, such as Ray of Command (as found on Overtaker) and the Stone
Rain (on Seismic Mage). A particularly useful card that neatly complemented spellshapers
was Squee, Goblin Nabob, a red legend which returned to its owner's hand
from the graveyard during its owner's upkeep, significantly reducing the
cost of using spellshapers repeatedly.
- Rebel & mercenary searchers: Rebels and mercenaries were a large set
of white and black creatures respectively. Searchers from each class could
grab creatures of their type from their owner's library and bring them directly
into play. These fast effects could be used at decisive times such as
before declaring blockers. The rebel
search chains usually ascended in magnitude (searchers could fetch creatures
of higher mana cost). Mercenary searches descended in rank but their fetching
costs did not include the 1 mana overhead the rebels paid for advancing up
- Seals Seals were enchantment versions of basic spells, such as
Unsummon, Shock, Disenchant and Dark Banishing. These enchantments
could be put into play when it was convenient and used (sacrificed to generate
their spell effect) later. These "prepaid" spells allowed players to stockpile
or cast the seals when it was safer to do so. Although the surprise value of
these spells was lost (these spells were typically instants in previous incarnations),
they gained some flexibility and could also serve as deterrents (since showing your
hand, or part of it, to your opponent(s) when not required by a spell or effect to do so, is at this time, not very legal under tournament rules :).
- All-play abilities: These abilities were present on several permanents,
most notably the Mongers. These abilities could be used by all players in
the game (the mana costs were always colourless if there was one).
They were feasible in the limited format because the caster could usually
make better or quicker use of the card. The Mercadian Masques Mongers were
Wishmonger, Sailmonger, Scandalmonger, Warmonger and Squallmonger.
All-play cards were not often seen in constructed decks due to the lack
of concentrated beatdown power.