Revised, also known as 3rd Edition, is effectively Magic's second core set. It diverges from the original core set card pool, as it includes reprints from Arabian Nights and Antiquities and it is the final set before they switched to the "Xth Edition" naming scheme that would be prevalent for many years. This is the final set before Magic starts to grow and change quickly and substantially. Let's take a closer look and see what makes this revision tick.
Revised comes in 11 cards larger than Alpha, but just 4 cards larger than Beta and Unlimited. The small increase is a little surprising given the two intervening expansions added 191 new cards to the pool. It would seem that they rethought set sizes following Revised; card counts rise steeply in 4th and 5th Edition.
As with all the original core sets, Revised is made up entirely of reprints. Most of them come from Alpha, but about 13% come from Arabian Nights (6.5%) and Antiquities (6.2%). The only cards first printed in Beta that are included are those that were left out of Alpha. My suspicion is that many ARN and ATQ cards were not reprinted due to being particularly thematic and therefore out of place in a core set, but reprints like Aladdin's Lamp make that questionable.
The color breakdown in Revised is, to no one's surprise, very similar to that of Unlimited. Revised predates multicolored cards so the set is pretty flat across the five mono-color counts with each color containing about 15% of the cards and colorless accounting for 25%. There is a slight difference here because red comes in at 47 and green only has 45 cards, whereas Unlimited was perfectly equal.
The eleven cards in Revised with multi-color identities are the same as those in Unlimited. This set includes a reprint of the Alpha dual lands cycle and the odd-ball Sedge Troll. Without the inclusion of moxen in Revised the shift from colorless over to colored identities is somewhat smaller, only 25 here whereas Unlimited had a shift of 31.
The card types are ordered the same here as they were in Alpha-Beta-Unlimited. Revised saw an uptick of about 14% in creatures and artifact creatures and a small 8% dip in instants and sorceries. Enchantments and lands held steady at their former numbers while artifacts dipped by just three cards, suggesting that some of the (artifact) creatures from Arabian Nights and Antiquities had some staying power.
Most of the reprints in Revised originally come from Alpha, which makes sense as ABU was three times the size of either expansion. Even so, about 10% of the 3rd Edition creatures come to us from Arabian Nights and five of the eleven artifact creatures in Revised come from Antiquties. Reprints from the first expansions account for a full 30% of Revised's non-creature artifacts as well.
The rarities look very similar to those in Unlimited at face value. The counts are just the same except for the four additional rares, which account for the difference in set size. What isn't evident from the counts is the slight difference in the printing sheets between Unlimited and Revised.
In Unlimited, the cards were printed on three sheets of 121 cards. The sheets were for common, uncommon, and rare cards with more common sheets printed than uncommons and so forth. Obviously there are not 121 commons or uncommons in Revised, nor were there 121 rares in Unlimited. In Unlimited the extra spaces on all three sheets were filled with basic lands (in lieu of a fourth print sheet for lands); Revised has no room on the rare sheet for lands and so there were none. This makes the odds of getting a rare oddly different.
Revised has a curve strongly grouped at CMC 1. There is only a single 0-cost spell among the 25 lands: dear old Ornithopter. Immediately after is a steep spike to 88 1-cost spells, including a number of cycles like the Laces and the Wards, and a variety of X cost spells like Fireball and Hurricane. Almost 29% of the cards in revised are CMC 1, which is far more than in a modern core set but just slightly less than in Unlimited.
While not as prolific as the one-drops, there are 45-60 cards each at 2, 3, and 4 mana. You can also see from the data in the table that creatures are much more highly concentrated at 3 and 4 mana, whereas non-creature spells are concentrated more at CMC 1 and 2. This is often the opposite of what we see now with cheap efficient creatures and more spells (that often do more) at a little higher cost.
Many artists have contributed to Magic over the years, and I thought it would be interesting to see how artist credits break down. This chart shows only the most prolific artists for the set, those with 10 or more cards, but there are 20 more not shown here. While that may seem like a lot of artists, M15 featured a whopping 124 individual artists and that's about par for the course for modern core sets. Due to the inclusion of Arabian Nights and Antiquities cards, Revised features 8 more artists than the original core set.
Most, if not all, the artists for Revised are the same ones who did the original art and the same art was used for the Revised printing. This is unusual now, as most reprints receive new art that fits the set the reprint is for. Many artists persist through the years continuing to do Magic art; for example Mark Poole did basic lands for the recent Commander 2016 set.
On the whole, Revised is very similar to the original core set. Magic is a big ship and big ships turn slow. That said, there are enough differences between them to be worthwhile, and it is just the start of the many changes Magic will go through. Thanks for reading, and join us next time as we explore the next stage in Magic.