Or, a lesson in why people don’t bid on crap sets.
Recently, I’ve tried combining two of my preferences—foreign cards and old cards—with a third, shill bidding on ebay. (Seriously, you get a lot of cool shit for cheap when people don’t bid against you. I think I’ve gone elitist now; having to pay more than a dollar for a first edition Exalted book? An outrage!) This resulted in the purchase of a pack of Italian Renaissance and a pack of “I think it’s Chinese” Japanese Chronicles for twenty-five and one pennies. Granted, neither of these sets is awesome, full of crap commons and useless old artifacts that most people like to forget about in these days of Loxodon Warhammers and Isochron Scepters. But c’mon. Two packs of cards for under a buck, plus shipping? I’ll take that.
Both of these sets have interesting histories. As most of us know, Renaissance was meant as a way to print black-border cards in French, German and Italian before the white-bordered European 4th Edition sets were released (because of Wizards’ policy, cards couldn’t appear in white-border until after appearing in black-border). Meaning Renaissance reprinted a lot of Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Dark, and Legends cards, most of which were in high demand by players at the time. However, Italy had already seen releases of The Dark and Legends, in that order, so reprinting these cards was a bit pointless; therefore their Renaissance selection was minimized down to Arabian and Antiquities cards. Italian Renaissance was the smallest of the European runs; I believe it had around 60 cards.
Chronicles was basically the same thing, a white-bordered “expansion” to 4th Edition that reprinted a lot of older cards which were in high demand, namely Legends and Dark which had sold out immediately. (Though, to be fair, Arabian and Antiquities had also sold out by 4th Ed’s time.) There were plans to release more Chronicles sets, but after the massive hate the set got from collectors Wizards cancelled this plan…except for a Japanese release, because the Japanese needed black-bordered cards before 4th Ed released, and selling a set named “Renaissance” in Japan made no sense. While the set list was identical to the French and German Renaissance sets, the only difference was the inclusion of the Chronicles logo and layout.
So, given my impatience and love of foreign Cities of Brass, I immediately cracked the Italian Legends booster. My first draw was a Tawnos’ Wand—whee, I can make 2/2’s unblockable. Next came an Erhnam Djinn—ok, kind of nifty. And now we’re done with the uncommons. Next came two Urza’s Power Plants (score!), bug and rock for the collectors out there, and a bunch of crap commons: Grapeshot Catapult, War Elephant, Battering Ram, and Amulet of Kroog. Not a bad selection, but not a terribly great pull.
Next, the Japanese Chronicles. The first card is lost on me, something I’ve never seen before—and with good reason. It turns out that it’s a “Puppet Master,” enchant creature which returns the creature to your hand if it dies (along with Puppet Master itself for UUU). This is followed by a Primordial Ooze. Uhmkay. Next is a bit of a surprise…wait for it…another Erhnam Djinn! Yay, halfway to a playset. Last is a string of random commons: Scavenger Folk, Dandan, Wall of Heat, Keepers of the Faith, Goblin Shrine (score!), Divine Offering, Wall of Shadows, Emerald Dragonfly, and a Giant Slug.
Going back over the list: I got two parts of the Urzatron, a Goblin Shrine, a Divine Offering, and two Djinns, plus a lot of random “interesting” crap (green flying, lots of walls, artifacts, a blue 4/1 with Islandhome for two mana and a white 2/3 for three mana). All in all, I can’t complain given the low, low price I paid; I like foreign cards, and I got a bunch I might deck (the Shrine and Urzatron are definite). But still: I would have killed for another FBB City of Brass. Or some legends. Or even a Tormod’s Crypt. Now I’ll just kill if I get another friggin’ pair of Erhnams. I believe I’ve learned two things today: I got a lot more than I paid for, but not by much, and if nobody bids against you, there’s probably a reason.
Next week, join me again as I open some foreign packs of Homelands and realize how much the set sucks when you don’t pull an Eron, Baron, or Serrated Arrows. (Though I’d kill for some Ferrets.)