Last updated on November 24, 2021

Alms Collector - Illustration by Bram Sels

Alms Collector | Illustration by Bram Sels

Magic has been around the block for a while, nearly 30 years at this point. The folks at Wizards of the Coast have been toiling away releasing new sets of cards every few months for almost the entire history of the game.

Each set has its own unique story not just with in-game lore, but how impactful the cards have been on the game as a whole. Some of these sets have major impacts on Magic which can still be felt to this day.

So let’s dive in and get to know everything there is to know about Magic’s sets!

How Many MTG Sets Are There?

Outnumber - Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Outnumber | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

There’s uh… a lot of sets out there. Depending on how you count ‘em up there are roughly 140 MTG sets out there if you exclude supplemental sets like Commander decks, Duel Decks, etc.

I’m only counting “sets” as those that came with booster packs. This prevents a headache because listing every single Commander precon and Secret Lair would be painful for everyone involved.

Upcoming MTG Sets

Witness the Future - Illustration by Anato Finnstark

Witness the Future | Illustration by Anato Finnstark

Let’s start off with what isn’t out yet. These MTG sets will be Arriving Soon™ with different stories and legality available. There isn’t a lot out about most of these sets yet so info is pretty scarce for now. Here’s what I know:

Set NameSet CodeRelease DateSet Symbol
UnfinityTBAQ2 2022TBA
Streets of CapennaTBAQ2 2022TBA
Dominaria UnitedTBAQ3 2022TBA
Double Masters 2022TBAQ3 2022TBA
The Brother’s WarTBAQ4 2022TBA
Jumpstart 2022TBAQ4 2022TBA
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earthTBA2023TBA

List of Available MTG Sets

Revoke Existence - Illustration by Adam Paquette

Revoke Existence | Illustration by Adam Paquette

These are “everything else” that exists in the physical world:

Set NameSet CodeRelease DateSet Symbol
Limited Edition AlphaLEA (1E)August 1993Limited Edition Alpha set symbol
Limited Edition BetaLEB (2E)October 1993Limited Edition Beta set symbol
Arabian NightsARN (AN)December 1993Arabian Nights set symbol
Unlimited Edition2ED (2U)December 1993Unlimited Edition set symbol
AntiquitiesATQ (AQ)March 1994Antiquities set symbol
Revised Edition3ED (3E)April 1994Revised Edition set symbol
LegendsLEG (LE)June 1994Legends set symbol
The DarkDARK (DK)August 1994The Dark set symbol
Fallen EmpiresFEM (FE)November 1994Fallen Empires set symbol
Fourth Edition4ED (4E)May 1995Fourth Edition set symbol
Ice AgeICE (IA)June 1995Ice Age set symbol
ChroniclesCHR (CH)July 1995Chronicles set symbol
HomelandsHML (HM)October 1995Homelands set symbol
AlliancesALL (AL)June 1996Alliances set symbol
MirageMIR (MI)October 1996Mirage set symbol
VisionsVIS (VI)February 1997Visions set symbol
Fifth Edition5ED (5E)March 1997Fifth Edition set symbol
WeatherlightWTH (WL)June 1997Weatherlight set symbol
TempestTMP (TE)October 1997Tempest set symbol
StrongholdSTH (ST)February 1998Stronghold set symbol
ExodusEXO (EX)June 1998Exodus set symbol
UngluedUGL (UG)August 1998Unglued set symbol
Urza’s SagaUSG (UZ)October 1998Urza's Saga set symbol
Urza’s LegacyULG (UL)February 1999Urza's Legacy set symbol
Sixth Edition6ED (6E)April 1999Sixth Edition set symbol
Urza’s DestinyUDS (UD)June 1999Urza's Destiny set symbol
Mercadian MasquesMMQ (MM)September 1999Mercadian Masques set symbol
NemesisNEM (NE)February 2000Nemesis set symbol
ProphecyPCR (PY)June 2000Prophecy set symbol
InvasionINV (IN)September 2000Invasion set symbol
PlaneshiftPLS (PS)January 2001Planeshift set symbol
Seventh Edition7ED (7E)April 2001Seventh Edition set symbol
ApocalypseAPC (AP)May 2001Apocalypse set symbol
OdysseyODY (OD)October 2001Odyssey set symbol
TormentTORFebruary 2002Torment set symbol
JudgmentJUDMay 2002Judgment set symbol
OnslaughtONSOctober 2002Onslaught set symbol
LegionsLGNJanuary 2003Legions set symbol
ScourgeSCGMay 2003Scourge set symbol
Eighth Edition8EDJuly 2003Eighth Edition set symbol
MirrodinMRDOctober 2003Mirrodin set symbol
DarksteelDSTFebruary 2004Darksteel set symbol
Fifth Dawn5DNJune 2004Fifth Dawn set symbol
Champions of KamigawaCHKOctober 2004Champions of Kamigawa set symbol
UnhingedUNHNovember 2004Unhinged set symbol
Betrayers of KamigawaBOKFebruary 2005Betrayers of Kamigawa set symbol
Saviors of KamigawaSOKJune 2005Saviors of Kamigawa set symbol
Ninth Edition9EDJuly 2005Ninth Edition set symbol
Ravnica: City of GuildsRAVOctober 2005Ravnica City of Guilds set symbol
GuildpactGPTFebruary 2006Guildpact set symbol
DissensionDISMay 2006Dissension set symbol
ColdsnapCSPJuly 2006Coldsnap set symbol
Time SpiralTSPOctober 2006Time Spiral set symbol
Planar ChaosPLCFebruary 2007Planar Chaos set symbol
Future SightFUTMay 2007Future Sight set symbol
Tenth Edition10EJuly 2007Tenth Edition set symbol
Masters EditionMEDSeptember 2007Masters Edition set symbol
LorwynLRWOctober 2007Lorwyn set symbol
MorningtideMORFebruary 2008Morningtide set symbol
ShadowmoorSHMMay 2008Shadowmoor set symbol
EventideEVEJune 2008Eventide set symbol
Shards of AlaraALASeptember 2008Shards of Alara set symbol
ConfluxCONFebruary 2009Conflux set symbol
Alara RebornARBApril 2009Alara Reborn set symbol
Magic 2010M10July 2009Magic 2010 set symbol
ZendikarZENOctober 2009Zendikar set symbol
WorldwakeWWKFebruary 2010Worldwake set symbol
Rise of the EldraziROEApril 2010Rise of the Eldrazi set symbol
Magic 2011M11July 2010Magic 2011 set symbol
Scars of MirrodinSOMOctober 2010Scars of Mirrodin set symbol
Mirrodin BesiegedMBSFebruary 2011Mirrodin Besieged set symbol
New PhyrexiaNPHMay 2011New Phyrexia set symbol
Magic 2012M12July 2011Magic 2012 set symbol
InnistradISDSeptember 2011Innistrad set symbol
Dark AscensionDKAFebruary 2012Dark Ascension set symbol
Avacyn RestoredAVRMay 2012Avacyn Restored set symbol
Magic 2013M13July 2012Magic 2013 set symbol
Return to RavnicaRTROctober 2012Return to Ravnica set symbol
GatecrashGTCFebruary 2013Gatecrash set symbol
Dragon’s MazeDGMMay 2013Dragon's Maze set symbol
Modern MastersMMAJune 2013Modern Masters set symbol
Magic 2014M14July 2013Magic 2014 set symbol
TherosTHSSeptember 2013Theros set symbol
Born of the GodsBNGFebruary 2014Born of the Gods set symbol
Journey into NyxJOUMay 2014Journey into Nyx set symbol
ConspiracyCNSJune 2014Conspiracy set symbol
Magic 2015M15July 2014Magic 2015 set symbol
Khans of TarkirKTKOctober 2014Khans of Tarkir set symbol
Fate ReforgedFRFJanuary 2015Fate Reforged set symbol
Dragons of TarkirDTKMarch 2015Dragons of Tarkir set symbol
Modern Masters 2015MM2May 2015Modern Masters 2015 set symbol
Magic OriginsORIJuly 2015Magic Origins set symbol
Battle for ZendikarMFZOctober 2015Battle for Zendikar set symbol
Oath of the GatewatchOGWJanuary 2016Oath of the Gatewatch set symbol
Shadows over InnistradSOIApril 2016Shadows over Innistrad set symbol
Eternal MastersEMAJune 2016Eternal Masters set symbol
Eldritch MoonEMNJuly 2016Eldritch Moon set symbol
Conspiracy: Take the CrownCN2August 2016Conspiracy Take the Crown set symbol
KaladeshKLDSeptember 2016Kaladesh set symbol
Aether RevoltAERJanuary 2017Aether Revolt set symbol
Modern Masters 2017MM3March 2017Modern Masters 2017 set symbol
AmonkhetAKHApril 2017Amonkhet set symbol
Hour of DevastationHOUJuly 2017Hour of Devastation set symbol
IxalanXLNSeptember 2017Ixalan set symbol
Iconic MastersIMANovember 2017Iconic Masters set symbol
UnstableUSTDecember 2017Unstable set symbol
Rivals of IxalanRIXJanuary 2018Rivals of Ixalan set symbol
Masters 25A25March 2018Masters 25 set symbol
DominariaDOMApril 2018Dominaria set symbol
BattlebondBBDJune 2018Battlebond set symbol
Core Set 2019M19July 2018Core Set 2019 set symbol
Guilds of RavnicaGRNOctober 2018Guilds of Ravnica set symbol
Ultimate MastersUMADecember 2018Ultimate Masters set symbol
Ravnica AllegianceRNAJanuary 2019Ravnica Allegiance set symbol
War of the SparkWARMay 2019War of the Spark set symbol
Modern HorizonsMH1June 2019Modern Horizons set symbol
Core Set 2020M20July 2019Core Set 2020 set symbol
Throne of EldraineELDOctober 2019Throne of Eldraine set symbol
Ikoria: Lair of BehemothsIKOApril 2020Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set symbol
JumpstartJMPJuly 2020Jumpstart set symbol
Core Set 2021M21July 2020Core Set 2021 set symbol
Double Masters2XMAugust 2020Double Masters set symbol
Zendikar RisingSeptemberSeptember 2020Zendikar Rising set symbol
Commander LegendsCNRNovember 2020Commander Legends set icon
KaldheimKHMFebruary 2021Kaldheim set symbol
Time Spiral RemasteredTSRMarch 2021Time Spiral Remastered set symbol
Strixhaven: School of MagesSTXApril 2021Strixhaven School of Mages set symbol
Modern Horizons 2MH2June 2021Modern Horizons 2 set symbol
Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten RealmsAFRJuly 2021D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set symbol
Innistrad: Midnight HuntMIDSeptember 2021Innistrad Midnight Hunt set symbol
Innistrad: Crimson VowVOWNovember 2021Innistrad Crimson Vow set symbol

List of Magic Online Only Sets

Exclusion Mage - Illustration by Chris Seaman

Exclusion Mage | Illustration by Chris Seaman

Set NameSet CodeRelease DateSet Symbol
Tempest RemasteredTPRMay 6, 2015Tempest Remastered set symbol
Vintage MastersVMAJune 16, 2014Vintage Masters set symbol
Masters Edition IVME4January 10, 2011Masters Edition IV set symbol
Masters Edition IIIME3September 7, 2009Masters Edition III set symbol
Masters Edition IIME2September 22, 2008Masters Edition II set symbol
Masters EditionMEDSeptember 10, 2007Masters Edition set symbol

List of MTG Arena Only Sets

Exclusion Ritual - Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Exclusion Ritual | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Set NameSet CodeRelease DateSet Symbol
Amonkhet RemasteredAKRAugust 13, 2020Amonkhet Remastered set symbol
Kaladesh RemasteredKLRNovember 12, 2020Kaladesh Remastered set symbol
Jumpstart: Historic HorizonsJ21April 26, 2021Jumpstart Historic Horizons set symbol

You can also see a list of MTG Arena exclusive cards.

What Were Blocks?

Champions of Archery - Illustration by Donato Giancola

Champions of Archery | Illustration by Donato Giancola

Expansion sets for Magic were originally grouped into “blocks,” a collection of two to four sets that all shared a common theme and setting. They usually started with one “large” set followed by two or three smaller sets of cards and a core set (I’ll get to that in a second).

This system was in place starting back in 1996/97 with the Mirage block and continued until 2015 when it transitioned to a two-set per block system called the “Two-Block Paradigm,” discontinuing core sets altogether.

Blocks were eventually shelved after Wizards realized the Two-Block Paradigm was problematic for a lot of reasons, mainly because of a lack of reprints and issues with developing sets. Wizards replaced the system with the current “Three-and-One” model where each release is a large standalone set and we get a new core set every summer.

What’s a Core Set?

Into the Core - Illustration by Whit Brachna

Into the Core | Illustration by Whit Brachna

Magic initially used to refer to these as “basic sets” or “base sets,” and they weren’t wrong. Core sets made up a large portion of the common cards that players used regardless of format and age. These sets were mostly reprints of cards from other sets and featured reminder text on cards to help new players. The card themselves didn’t feature keywords or mechanics that were exclusive to expansion sets, instead featuring “evergreen” mechanics that were more common and less complex.

Core sets have been a part of Magic since its inception. Despite a brief pause from 2015 to 2018 WotC released one every year. 2021 sets took a bit of a deviation from this as Forgotten Realms was originally designed as a core set but evolved into its current incarnation as development continued.

Wizards hasn’t yet released any details about the next core set for summer 2022, so it may happen again where we just get another less complex set in exchange for a core set.

What Were Starter, Advanced, and Expert-Level Sets?

Leveler - Illustration by Carl Critchlow

Leveler | Illustration by Carl Critchlow

Because Magic has such a wide variety of complexity, Wizards implemented a rating system for products with the release of Fifth Edition in 1997. These were introduced to better inform new players how complex a set or product would be.

Starter-Level Sets

Starter-level was the lowest level of complexity and offered a great starting point for new players. Starting with products like the Portal trilogy and Starter 99/00, these were marketed to bring new players into the game.

These products were quietly discontinued, but you can find similar products with starter decks from your local game store or boxed sets like the 2021 Arena starter kit.

Advanced-Level Sets

Advanced-level is the “baseline” for the game, exclusively belonging to core sets.

Expert-Level Sets

Expert-level was the height of the rating system and were the most complex mechanics and thematic cards available. Every expansion set was also traditionally an expert-level set.

This rating system was put out to pasture in 2007 with the release of Lorwyn, though I can’t find any announcements from Wizards as to why. I suspect that the sheer amount of set releases and most of them being expansion sets (which are always expert-level) meant there was no real need to continue the rating system anymore.

What’s a Supplemental Set?

Enhanced Awareness - Illustration by Ryan Alexander Lee

Enhanced Awareness | Illustration by Ryan Alexander Lee

While Standard is the primary driver for printing new cards and it was the most popular format until Commander, there was still a demand for other products that didn’t have to affect the fragile Standard environment or were focused on a different aspect of gameplay like drafting (with Conspiracy), multiplayer (Archenemy and Battlebond), or new formats like Jumpstart.

We’d eventually begin to see other types of supplemental sets that introduced new cards to the game but still wouldn’t be introduced to Standard as traditional expansions. Products like Commander decks, Modern Horizons, and Masters sets quickly became extremely popular and continue to this day. The newest product line is the Universes Beyond series with IPs that aren’t owned by Wizards of the Coast.

Can You Mix Magic Sets?

Combine Chrysalis - Illustration by Hector Ortiz

Combine Chrysalis | Illustration by Hector Ortiz

Of course you can mix sets! This is how we come up with formats for play. Standard, Modern, Pioneer, Historic, Vintage, Legacy, and other formats are all made up of different sets with their own rules on what sets are considered legal in that format.

How Often Do Magic Sets Come Out?

In a regular year, Wizards releases a new Standard-legal set every three months. The only exception in recent memory are the Innistrad twins Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, which were released within two months of each other. Supplemental sets are printed between these release windows, usually also one per quarter.

Wrap Up

Summary Judgement - Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander

Summary Judgement | Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander

Magic wouldn’t be where it is without its unique set structure to introduce new cards into the game. You can see how it’s affected other TCGs as well, with many of them operating on a similar structure. We’ll definitely be seeing the boundaries pushed in the future with new structures and new sets getting bolder and bolder as they’re announced. While some of us may be getting exhausted by the never-ending hype train, all we can do for now is hang on tight.

What’s your favorite set? Do you have any fond memories of sets old or new? Let me know in the comments or reach Draftsim on Twitter.

Stay safe out there, and keep slinging that cardboard!

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