This is an initiative in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast.
The new and busy Streets of Nueva Capenna are almost ready. I have the envelopes at hand waiting to be opened and an account that the good people of Magic: The Gathering to be able to play closed. The wait, as you can imagine, is taking place eternal.
As always when I need to disconnect, it helps me to look for strange stories for our Magic ChroniclesI decide that better than waiting for the hours to pass is to continue diving among the magic tidbits. Hopefully the rest will also make the wait more bearable.
The rarest card in Magic
During the last months I have compiled countless articles, videos and images to which I go from time to time to try to delve deeper into something of Magic: The Gathering that particularly caught my attention.
There are stories to bore, as you have already seen. We’ve been coming back every Wednesday for months and I still have the feeling that I haven’t scratched a millimeter of the surface, but somehow I always manage to find another narrative somersault capable of leaving me with sweet potato paste.
Today’s, without going any further, is the story behind the most special letter from Magic. Yeah, I’m at stake for a couple of fingers sliced off by mobsters from New Capenna You’ve probably heard that thing about the most special card before, but wait until you know the story behind it and you’ll understand what I mean.
The Black Lotus is mythical, the Richard Garfield letters because of the endearing idea and the meme, but the 1996 World Champion it’s on another level. And yes, you have not read it wrong, that is the name of the letter.
1996, the most famous Magic championship in history
We are in 1996 and Magic It has been on the market for a few years. Very few if we look back and review his entire career, but enough to have a muscle capable of organizing world tournaments followed by hundreds of people.
The fact is that there is a world championship and all eyes seem on Tom Chang, an Aussie willing to tear his opponents to shreds with a white monkey deck loaded with White Knights, Savannah Lions, and Serra Angels. The good old days.
At that time the rules required including cards from previous editions in the decks, so to try to avoid having to deal with weaker cards, players clung to certain crazy strategies such as changheng.
He was carrying a single Mental Insidiousness card, a blue card in a pure white deck, but bad luck had it that he showed up at the tournament without his Wastes of Adarkar, the land that was supposed to allow him to play that card. Since the card was not in the deck register, the judges forced him to fill in the gap with plains.
A letter destined to become legend
I don’t know how you would have taken it, but if I found myself in that situation, at the gates of a world championship and seeing that my strategy has gone to waste due to an oversight, the slump would have been tremendous. However, Chanpheng not only did not flinch, but against all odds ended up winning the championship.
And as a grand prize, the letter from Magic most special ever created. A mixture of the traditional and the modern that, after being delivered, underwent a second ceremony that managed to further expand the legend.
With an illustration by Christopher Rush, for the design of the card, only the summoner who appears in the background was painted in the traditional way. In fact, the original art is only reduced to that as you will see below.
The rest, both the winner of the tournament with his corresponding jacket and the effects, were later added digitally to form a single sheet of cards, from which the one that would be delivered to the champion was extracted.
When Magic becomes a museum piece
And right there the story grows even more. The letter was introduced inside a transparent trophy, where it is embedded floating on a sort of silver globe referencing that world championship. A prize that ended up in the hands of de Chanpheng and that, for unknown reasons, in 2001 he sold to a private collector.
Since then the track of the trophy and the card has been lost, but what really makes the set special is that both that sheet of cards and the plates that were used to create it, were completely destroyed.
In a later ceremony in which they wanted to record the exclusivity of the letter and how special it was to own it, the process of eliminating all other copies and printing tools was shown, thus turning the 1996 World Championship on the most special and exclusive card in Magic history.
Hard not to feel a little curious as to where that letter rests right now. A pity that, on the other hand, these pieces are not in a museum instead of adorning the bookshelf of some rich man. Luckily there are other cards of that style that have had better luck, but that one, you know, is another story for another day.