Last updated on August 14, 2023

Tendrils of Agony (Mystical Archive) - Illustration by Rovina Cai

Tendrils of Agony (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Rovina Cai

If you’ve read any of my previous work for Draftsim you may be aware that I’m a sucker for all things Japanese. I grew up watching Power Rangers, martial arts movies, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, and more. This evolved into a love of Japanese culture, language, history, and pretty much anything to do with it.

I naturally love any kind of Japanese crossover that WotC does as a big Magic fan, and they’ve been doing them pretty regularly the past few years. I always make a point to collect these unique variants.

Today I’m here to talk to you about the Strixhaven Mystical Archive and all of the different Japanese variants that were made for it. Let’s get into it!

Why Are Strixhaven Japanese Cards Special?

Opt (Strixhaven Mystical Archive) - Illustration by Kristina Collantes

Opt (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Kristina Collantes

The Mystical Archive from Strixhaven is a set of 63 instant and sorcery cards that supplement the main set. WotC naturally wanted to reprint a bunch of classic cards but worried about the effect they might have on Standard, Pioneer, and Modern.

Their solution was the Mystical Archive, a collection of cards that aren’t legal in Standard but still appear in draft boosters, so they could be a part of the Limited format. Every booster had one Mystical Archive card that ranged from cheap and simple cards like Infuriate all the way up to the banned-in-Legacy Demonic Tutor.

WotC also printed Japanese variants of each of these cards. These gorgeous variants featured a classic style of Japanese art that dates back centuries. Each piece of art was commissioned from a long-standing Japanese art agency with over a century of experience.

Strixhaven Japanese Mystical Archive: Demonic Tutor

One of my favorites is the stunning art for Demonic Tutor. It was shown off very early in the spoiler season for the set and I was completely blown away. I’ve seen so many similar images in Japanese anime, games, and so on and it really resonated with me.

Everything on these cards, from the way the text boxes are structured to the names printed vertically to the set symbol being a stamp, has been meticulously designed and the end result is incredible.

Why Do the Japanese Versions Have Alternate Art?

WotC has a strong relationship with Japan and is always looking for ways to market the game differently to the Japanese audience. The Japanese market is extremely different from western markets, so different kinds of products work in Japan where they wouldn’t work in Europe or the U.S.

Japan has one of the largest Magic-playing populations in the world. It’s one of the largest communities that uses a language that doesn’t use the Roman alphabet. Creating variants that make use of the way these languages are written is something that WotC’s Japanese office has been working on for a few years.

We’ve seen some incredibly unique Japanese variants in the past few years, like Japanese Liliana, Dreadhorde General drawn by legendary Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano and the borderless variation of Kaito Shizuki drawn by legendary Fist of the North Star artist Hara Tetsuo. I’d be beyond excited to see more like this in the future.

List of Japanese Mystical Archive Cards

Like I said before, there are 63 cards total in the Mystical Archive series. 11 white, 12 blue, 12 black, 12 red, 11 green, and 5 multicolored (one in each allied pair) cards.

Are the Japanese Mystical Archive Cards Available in Foil?

The Japanese Mystical Archive cards have four different printings with varying kinds of foiling. These are:

  • Non-foils are your typical non-foil card, same as any other printing. All foil versions, including these etched foils, have a star at the bottom of the card while non-foils have a small dot in the same place.
  • Etched foils look very similar to non-foils but have a foil texture surrounding the card’s text box.
  • Traditional “collector” foils have a traditional foil treatment and are found in collector boosters in all languages.
  • Traditional “set” foils are a different kind of traditional foil treatment. Unlike collector foils, they’re glossier and are only found in Japanese language draft and set boosters. They’re the rarest possible version of the card.

The difference between the two traditional foil versions is very hard to tell and many stores don’t even differentiate between them. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the set symbol on the card.

Set foils are characterized by a very shiny set symbol while the symbol on collector foils is dull. It’s hard to know whether this difference was intentional or just down to a quirk in the way these cards were printed.

What Types of Boosters Are They Found In?

Mythical Archive cards can be found in Strixhaven collector boosters of all languages, and in all boosters in Japanese language.

Collector Boosters

Collector boosters of all languages come with either three or four Mystical Archive cards, one of which is guaranteed to be a Japanese variant. There are two slots for etched foil cards, one is uncommon and the other is rare or mythic. One is from the normal global series and the other is a Japanese variant.

Then there’s another slot that’s an uncommon Mystical Archive card in traditional foil that has a 50% chance of being a Japanese variant. The crowning glory of every collector booster is the foil alternate art rare or mythic card with a roughly 48% chance that it’s also a Mystical Archive card, with a further 50% chance of that card being a Japanese variant.

Japanese Language Boosters

Non-foils and the traditional “set” foils are available in set and draft boosters, but only in Japanese language products. Each draft and set booster comes with one Mystical Archive card that has a 50% chance of being a Japanese variant, the other 50% being the global series variant in Japanese.

Can You Get Japanese Cards in Strixhaven Set Boosters?

The Japanese Mythical Archive variants are available in set boosters, but only from Japanese language boosters. They only appear in collector boosters for products in any other languages.

What’s the Rarity of Japanese Mystical Archive Cards?

The Mystical Archive cards comes in three rarities: uncommon, rare, and mythic. The premium set contains are 18 uncommons, 30 rares, and 15 mythics.

You’re guaranteed to get one Mystical Archive card in draft and set boosters. This has a 67% chance of being uncommon, a 26.4% chance of bring rare, and a 6.6% chance of being mythic. But these only have a chance of being Japanese variants if you open a Japanese language product.

You can only get the Japanese variants from collector boosters if you’re opening a product of any other language. You’re guaranteed one etched foil in every pack with a 50% chance to get a traditional foil uncommon and a 24% chance to get a traditional foil rare or mythic.

Are Japanese Mystical Archive Cards Legal?

Yes, these Japanese variants are legal in any format where the cards are legal. Interestingly, each of the 18 uncommons were cards that were already legal in Standard, but a lot of them rotated in September 2021.

These cards are all only legal for play if the cards themselves are legal in that format. Strixhaven being legal in a format doesn’t make the Mystical Archive cards legal. For example, Lightning Bolt isn’t legal in Standard or Pioneer, but you can use these variants in Modern or Legacy.

How to Get Japanese Mystical Archive Cards

If, like me, you love these Mystical Archive cards and want to get your hands on some for yourself, you can buy the boosters they come in. But you probably want to just buy the individual cards if you’re smarter than me.

While you can likely find them in local social media groups or at your local game store, there are online stores you can use.


For all of you American readers, TCGPlayer is probably the best resource to find obscure cards for sale. It can be hard to find what you’re after since there are multiple Mystical Archive variants, but TCGPlayer can show you listings from multiple stores across the country, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

Card Market

For European readers, you may already know about Card Market, the best online marketplace for predominantly European sellers. But of course it can cater to worldwide buyers and sellers.

If you’re looking for any of these cards note the version number in the card names. V.2 is for non-foils and foils of the Japanese variants, while V.4 is for the etched foils. V.1 and V.3 are the respective codes for the global series versions.


For my money, Hareruya is the best MTG brand in Japan. Set up in Tokyo by legendary pro player Tomoharu Saito, they have grown their brand by sponsoring pros across Asia and Europe, putting forward pro teams at Pro Tours that include such players as hall-of-famer Lee Shi Tian and former World Champion Javier Dominguez.

They also have an excellent online store that’s my #1 source for buying Japanese cards. They ship worldwide depending on certain Covid restrictions still in effect, but they’re currently shipping to the U.S.A., Europe, and most importantly to the UK (which of course I care about the most). Shipping costs roughly $18 depending on the exchange rate, which is well worth it.

This is also the easiest place to find all four variants of the cards seeing as they have a ton of Japanese boosters to generate their stock.

My Collection

Like I said, I love collecting these kinds of Japanese variants. That of course means I’m working on a collection of these cards.

I set out to collect one copy of each card in each version. I was then dismayed to learn about the secret fourth version, the Japanese set booster foil. The mythics in this version are worth hundreds of dollars and in one particular case (Time Warp) well over a thousand.

While I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be able to complete the collection of set booster foils without moving to Japan, I have lucked into a few of them through various means. I was mostly lucky enough to find a Demonic Tutor from someone who knew its value but was happy to let it go for quite a bit cheaper just to find a buyer for it. So while I’m going for all four versions, it’s completing the other three that I care about the most.

Here’s my current progress:

  • Non-foils: 63/63
  • Etched foils: 61/63
  • Collector foils: 59/63
  • Set foils: 23/63

I started collecting by buying three Japanese set boxes and an English collector box when the set was released. I immediately scored a few big hits with a foil Demonic Tutor in the collector box and a set foil Mind's Desire in one of the set boxes.

A lot of players in local groups were selling a bunch of their pulls, so I was able to start a rudimentary collection after a few nice purchases. I prioritized the big mythics like an etched foil Demonic Tutor and Time Warp.

I then came across someone who’d bought some Japanese product and lucked into the foil Demonic Tutor. We worked out a deal for a bunch of his non-foils as well as the Tutor, and that gave me almost a complete non-foil set already.

An order or two from Hareruya later and I quickly completed the non-foil set and have been slowly trading for the etched foils and collector foils ever since. These are much easier to find locally since they’re found in English products.

I have my collection sorted into a 4×3 binder, with each of the four versions in their own column. From left to right they go non-foil, etched foil, collector foil, and set foil.

Each of the missing slots are the cards I’m missing. If you have anything I’m missing, please contact me and maybe we can work out a deal!

Wrap Up

Natural Order (Japanese Mystical Archive) - Illustration by Ayami Nakashima

Natural Order (Mystical Archive) | Illustration by Ayami Nakashima

Like I said before, I adore any Japanese variant I can get my hands on. I finished my collection of the Japanese art planeswalkers from War of the Spark in foil (with the obvious exception of the $2 to $3k foil Liliana), and I’m nearly finished with this collection.

I may be a player first and a collector second, but there’s something unique about finishing a project like this after working on it for so long. I really love putting together complete foil decks, and this is where my collecting has been focused in recent years.

Do you have any collections that you’d like to show off? Maybe you’ve got some wicked Mythical Archive scores? Let me know in the comments below or join the discussion over in the Draftsim Discord.

Stay safe and take care!

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