Last updated on October 19, 2021
Electrolyze (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Dominik Mayer
There was a time long ago, before the advent of five different card frames/art in each set, we were graced with the first set of Masterpiece cards… wait, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
A similar line of cards came with the release of Strixhaven in April 2021: the Mystical Archive. While these aren’t the same as Masterpieces from other sets they are very similar. I think this is what Masterpieces should’ve been, and maybe that was Wizard’s intention.
Let’s take a little dive into the archive to see what else is up with these beautiful cards.
What Are Mystical Archive Cards?
Primal Command (Japanese Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Kukka
Mystical Archive is a line of cards with special borders and alternate art that appear in Strixhaven packs. The Archives include some of the most famous instants and sorceries in Magic’s history. They’re legal in draft and sealed decks and are otherwise only legal in formats where they were already allowed, just like Masterpieces.
There are 63 Mystical Archive cards in total, with the Japanese variants making up numbers 64 to 126 of the list. There are 18 uncommons, 30 rares, and 15 mythic rare cards in the Mystical Archive.
- Strixhaven draft boosters (one per pack)
- Strixhaven set boosters (one per pack, chance of a foil in the foil slot)
- Strixhaven collector boosters (three per pack minimum, two etched foils, and one regular foil)
- Secret Lair Showcase: Strixhaven (not available for retail)
The Mystical Archive cards hold a special slot in the booster pack distribution: they’re a “bonus card.” This means that they don’t take up a rarity slot in the pack, giving you the chance to pull multiple rares if you’re lucky.
Each Strixhaven draft booster and set booster have one Mystical Archive card, with set boosters also possibly having a foil Archive card in the dedicated foil slot. Draft boosters can also have foil Archive cards, but they replace a common in the pack. Strixhaven collector boosters have at least three Archive cards.
You can see this in action yourself if you try out Draftsim’s Strixhaven draft simulator.
Mystical Archive Card Gallery and List
Mystical Archive Gallery
Japanese Variant Gallery
The Mystical Archive Card List
- Abundant Harvest
- Adventurous Impulse
- Agonizing Remorse
- Approach of the Second Sun
- Blue Sun’s Zenith
- Claim the Firstborn
- Compulsive Research
- Crux of Fate
- Dark Ritual
- Day of Judgment
- Defiant Strike
- Demonic Tutor
- Divine Gambit
- Doom Blade
- Faithless Looting
- Gift of Estates
- Gods Willing
- Growth Spiral
- Increasing Vengeance
- Inquisition of Kozilek
- Krosan Grip
- Lightning Bolt
- Lightning Helix
- Mana Tithe
- Memory Lapse
- Mind’s Desire
- Mizzix’s Mastery
- Natural Order
- Primal Command
- Sign in Blood
- Snakeskin Veil
- Stone Rain
- Strategic Planning
- Swords to Plowshares
- Tainted Pact
- Teferi’s Protection
- Tendrils of Agony
- Tezzeret’s Gambit
- Thrill of Possibility
- Time Warp
- Urza’s Rage
- Village Rites
- Weather the Storm
- Whirlwind Denial
Where Are Mystical Archive Cards Legal?
Mystical Archive cards, just like Masterpieces from other sets, are only legal in formats they were already legal in. This means that you can’t play Demonic Tutor in your Standard or Modern decks. Some of these cards are Historic legal, but I’ll get to that later.
Most of the Archive cards are legal in Modern, thankfully. While there are still some obvious exceptions, the golden rule still applies: if the card was legal in Modern before Strixhaven then you use its Archive counterpart.
Wizards wanted to appease players of older formats as well as supporting Historic, but some of the Mystical Archive cards are way too good for the format. Their solution? Seven Archive cards aren’t legal in Historic.
Most of the cards that were released with Mythical Archives are powerful and iconic, but they weren’t exactly pushing the limits of what the format could take. Cards like Ephemerate, Faithless Looting, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Weather the Storm are powerful in their own rights, but they’re not format-warping.
Seven cards were pre-banned, all of which are extremely powerful and would definitely warp Historic’s meta. Cards like Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares make playing creatures very hard for most decks. Heck, even Counterspell only just got into Modern via Modern Horizons 2 after being touted as “too powerful” for years.
I don’t know if we’ll see any more bans anytime soon. There are a lot of cards to explore and things to break in Historic now thanks to Jumpstart: Historic Horizons.
What About Draft?
Gift of Estates (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Justin Hernandez & Alexis Hernandez
Mystical Archive cards are legal as long as they’re in your pool of cards. Whether you drafted it or opened it in your sealed packs, you’re allowed to use it. Go nuts!
Alongside the “global” art for these cards, there are alternate art Japanese versions with beautiful traditional Japanese painting-like art and a different frame. But they’re also more difficult to find.
These card variants are only found in collector booster packs. You get at least one etched foil variant and the uncommon Mystical Archive has a 50% chance of being a traditional foil Japanese variant.
You can also get the Japanese Mystical Archive variants from Japanese Strixhaven packs. The distribution between the alternate art and the “global” art is equal according to WotC, so you have a higher chance of getting them in those packs.
There are! Two of the three Mystical Archive foils in each collector pack will be an etched foil. One will always be uncommon and the other will always be a rare or mythic rare. You can tell if the card is etched by the star next to the collector number.
Are Mystical Archive Cards Duplicate Protected on MTGA?
Regrowth (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Minttu Hynninen
Yes, Mystical Archive cards are covered by Arena’s duplicate protection! Wizards confirmed that you’re protected from opening duplicates, with a couple of caveats:
- If you open a rare or mythic rare Mystical Archive card that you already own a playset of, it’ll be replaced with another Mystical Archive card of the same rarity. If you already have all Archive cards of that rarity, you’ll get 20 gems for a rare or 40 gems for a mythic rare instead.
- If you open an uncommon Mystical Archive card that you already have a playset of, you’ll add to your Vault progress instead.
- Mystical Archive duplicates are not converted to regular Strixhaven cards or vice-versa.
I think that this was a slam-dunk for fans of the Masterpiece system and players that want more cards like this without needing to buy Secret Lairs. Although we didn’t see Mystical Archive cards return in Forgotten Realms or Midnight Hunt, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a return in one of the 2022 sets.
I think the feedback for these cards was fantastic and the art is some of the best we’ve seen in a while. I definitely stan the Faithless Looting Mystical Archive, You can @ me on Twitter any day and I’ll defend it.
Sealing the Archive
Natural Order (Japanese Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Ayami Nakashima
Mystical Archive is a beautiful line of cards that came along with Strixhaven‘s release that showed off iconic and powerful instants and sorceries from Magic’s past. While some were banned in Historic because of their power level, most of these cards see play in a variety of formats and are a welcome addition to the game.
While we won’t be seeing Masterpieces anytime soon, I’d love another round of cards like this in an upcoming set and I think this was a fantastic idea. What are your thoughts on Mystical Archive cards? Do you agree, or did you hate them? Let me know in the comment down below!
If you’re looking to grind your way into these on MTGA, make sure you’ve got Arena Tutor at your side. It’s free, so what have you got to lose?
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