Legends is the third expansion and marks an exciting point in Magic development. It showcases the first new major concepts by giving us the first multicolored spells and introducing legendary permanents. There is no shortage of either one as the set focuses on multicolored legendary creatures as a theme. Legends also has the distinction of being home to the Elder Dragons (i.e. Nicol Bolas) which would inspire EDH and later Commander. Let's dig into this legendary expansion and break it down.
Legends is large, much larger than any other set before Ice Age. After that the big-small-small blocks become the norm and Legends falls shy of the big sets by about 10%. More importantly here is the transition from old to new; Legends is more than three times as large as either of its predecessors. This large discrepancy could be attributed to the huge new design space opened by adding multicolor and legendary creatures, or possibly to the breadth of themes allowed in the creating of so many unique creatures. I suspect it is both and likely a bold step to build on the already huge success of the game.
Finally, after two expansions and two core sets, we have a color distribution with more than just monocolor slots. The multicolor cards, not including identity, come in at 17.7% of the set totalling out at 55. The multicolor representation is far from complete however; the two-colors are only allied pairs and the three-colors are only shards. Even so, it is an impressive amount for the first go around.
The color identities aren't terribly different from the colors in Legends. There are no basic lands so the only shift from colorless is that the Mana Batteries and the cycle of Legendary one-color lands move to their respective colors. Fire Sprites is the only spell with an off-color ability making RG the only unequal two-color identity spell and leaving green one card lighter than the others.
Each of the multicolor cards introduced in Legends is a creature; the distribution of colors per creature can be seen here. About 64% of them are of the familiar monocolor sort while two-color and three-color creatures make up 23.4% and 13.4% respectively. At just over a third of the creatures, the multicolor cards were sure to be seen often in the 15-card Legends boosters.
Legends has more creatures than the first two expansions had cards, coming in at 152 between creatures and artifact creatures. While the raw count is much higher the creatures only make up 49% of the set, which is middling between Arabian Nights' 58% and Antiquities' 33%. Legends' other common types are notably more prevalent than they were in prior expansions; Enchantments make up 18.4% and Instants make up 13.9% where both of those were 10% or less of Arabian Nights and Antiquities.
Another exciting development in Legends was the introduction of legendary permanents. Eventually we'll see legendary on all permanents but Legends only showcases creatures and lands. Legendary appears in the typeline of 24.5% of all cards, almost a full quarter of the set. If we compare just across lands and creatures it appears on 38%, 55 of the 159 creatures and 6 of the 11 lands. The inclusion of legendary lands makes legendary slightly more prevalent than multicolor.
The rarities of Legends differ from the previous expansions in two ways. The set has actual rares, whereas the former had only commons and uncommons, and the modernized distribution follows a different pattern. ARN had C>R>U and ATQ had U>C>R, but the cards of Legends are 24% commons, 37% uncommons, and 39% rares. The slim margin between uncommon and rare is more intersting when we look at the original rarities; most of the uncommons are U1 which was considered "rare" in Arabian Nights and Antiquities. The U1s would be just as scarce as the rares if not for the 15-card packs having more uncommon slots than the one rare. Many of the multicolor creatures, especially ones with abilities, were uncommon as well as many combat tricks and enchantments.
Legends has a heavier top end than the previous expansions; five and six drops each make up about 10% of the set. Another 21% of the set is at CMC 4, the most common CMC, and about 47% of the set is between 1-3 mana. Many of the multicolored creatures feature two symbols for at least one of their colors and they are prevalent in the 4-6 drop range, while many of the monocolored cards sit in the 1-3 range.
The top end of the curve is larger than the sets thus far with eight 8-drops and fifteen 7-drops. Among them are the Elder Dragons like Nicol Bolas and a variety of odd spells like Divine Intervention. The bottom is fairly typical at only 14 cards, including the legendary lands and banding lands. It is slightly unusual to see three creatures at CMC 0 though, here in the form of the kobolds.
The Legends expansion features 36 artists, the most for any of the three expansions thus far; sixteen more than Arabian Nights but just nine more than were used for Unlimited. About half of the artists for Legends were new to Magic at the time; Unlimited and Antiquities each featured 19 of these same artists and Arabian Nights featured 16 of them. This increase in total artists is a trend that will continue as more expansions come along, for example the recent Kaladesh expansion had 104 individual artists featured in it and that number is pretty typical these days.
Here in Legends we can see that Magic is already evolving. It brings new concepts that will become core pieces of the game and expands the card pool by almost double. The difference between Legends and its predecessors is quite interesting and I look forward to exploring the difference between Legends and what comes next. Thanks for reading and I hope you'll join me next time when we break down The Dark.