A Magic: The Gathering card.
Card Title: Ancestral Recall
Card Type: Instant
Editions: Alpha/Beta, Unlimited
Artist: Mark Poole
Casting Cost: U
Card Text: Draw 3 cards or force opponent to draw 3 cards
Ancestral Recall is one of the Power Nine and often considered the most powerful single card in Magic: The Gathering. Card drawing is an important part of the game and no card does it more cost-effectively as this one. It has a very strong combination of a low casting cost and a lack of drawbacks. Cards that draw cards allow a player to gain an advantage over their opponent, by drawing cards that give resources, or adding more muscle to their side, or just giving them more options. Especially early in the game, having three extra cards is a huge advantage.
The extremely low cost of Ancestral Recall allows it to be cast on the first turn, if a player is lucky enough to get it and an island in their starting hand. Additionally, as an instant, it can be played at any time, even in the middle of an opponent's turn, to try to get that card you know would disrupt what your opponent's doing.
The extent of the mistake made by printing this card is demonstrated by the characteristics of cards that replaced it for card drawing. Brainstorm allows three cards to be drawn, but the player must select two and put them back on top of their deck, leaving the same number of cards in hand. Meditate gives four cards for three mana, but has a massive drawback; it makes the player skip their next turn, including its card draw. Other card drawing cards have similar drawbacks.
In the original playtests of Magic, Ancestral Recall, as well as fellow Power Nine card Time Walk, was common, not rare! This is because it was part of a cycle of instants called 'boons'. The common thread in this cycle was spending 1 mana to gain three of something in flavour for the colour. This, the blue boon, drew cards. The red boon, Lightning Bolt did direct damage. The black boon, Dark Ritual, gave you mana. The green boon, Giant Growth, pumped creatures. The white boon, Healing Salve, prevented damage or restored life. These cards vary wildly in power, with Ancestral Recall being the most powerful, and Healing Salve the least.
This card was on the inaugural Restricted List, and with good reason, as just about any deck design could be boosted by it. It remains one of the most sought-after cards in the game, and despite its exorbitant price, is still considered good bang for the buck in Type 1 tournaments.
This writeup is copyright 2003 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.5/ .