Ascended Fan Nickname: Morphling earned the nickname "Superman" for its high power level at the time. So when the designers made an enchantment that could give Morphling's abilities to any of your creatures, they called it Pemmin's Aura—an anagram for "I am Superman."
Mark Rosewater has confirmed that particularly-poorly-received mechanics are less likely to return for future sets.
Wizards dropped Kiora's last name after it was brought to their attention that it resembled a Maori word that touched on a central religious concept.
Doug Beyer: If we learn that any of our worlds, terms, or characters disrespectfully tread on the sincere beliefs of our fellow humans in contemporary, living cultures, we feel its important to take steps to correct that as best we can.
When War of the Spark: Forsaken released, it sunk the popular Chandra/Nissa ship in favor of Chandra/Gideon. While this would be controversial on its own, it did so by insisting that Chandra only liked "decidedly male" hunks and had no interest in women, which contradicted many previous stories where Chandra was depicted as pansexual. This caused outrage not only in the game's audience, but within Magic's own Creative staff. After an apology from Wizards of the Coast, future stories completely ignored it, still portraying Chandra as pansexual. Since the War of the Spark novels weren't very popular or well-received in the first place, it's now viewed as a meme-worthy anomaly that's completely ignorable rather than any earnest attempt at Hide Your Lesbians.
In 2020, seven cards from 1994 and earlier were effectively removed from the game over racially or culturally insensitive names. These cards were banned in all formats they were previously legal in, had their art removed from Gatherer (Magic's official card search tool), and a promise was made that the cards would never be reprinted. Wizards was also clear that they were banning these seven cards first and other bans over similar concerns were explicitly not off the table. This included cards like "Jihad," "Pradesh Gypsies," and the infamous "Invoke Prejudice" which features The Klan. This was somewhat followed up when it was revealed that select Dominaria United collector's boosters would feature cards from Legends packs that had been sitting in storage for almost three decades. This set is notably the one in which "Invoke Prejudice" and a couple other banned cards are from. They were withheld and presumably destroyed. Also withheld were other cards with art by Invoke Prejudice's illustrator Harold McNeil, who is an alleged Neo-Nazi based on his other, non-Magic artwork, suggesting McNeil himself has also been disowned and Un-Person'd by Wizards.
A number of older cards were very blatantly racist, most notably Invoke Prejudice, which depicted a knockoff Ku Klux Klan. While updated production standards ensured such cards wouldn't be created in future, they hung around as uncomfortable background facts of the game until 2020, when they were banned from all official tournament play and had their art unpersoned from Gatherer.
Mark Rosewater also has a few sets he isn't very proud of, chief among them Unhinged note Which was a commercial failure and which featured the hated Gotcha mechanic, ultimately killing Un-sets for thirteen years until Unstable and Battle for Zendikar note Which had numerous problems, from weak cards to bad draft gameplay to a story which largely ignored the charm and flavor of the original Zendikar block in favor of just focusing on the battle between the Gatewatch and the Eldrazi.
Development Hell: A live-action film adaptation was announced in the 2000s but nothing much else came of it for years. Fox would pick up the project in 2014...then do nothing with it for some years afterward. After the studio's merger with Disney, the film was scrapped and the rights returned to Hasbro, who opted to produce an animated series instead.
He Also Did: Mark Rosewater, Head Designer of Magic R&D, was a writer for Roseanne for a short time before he worked at Wizards of the Coast. This fact has become something of a Running Gag in his weekly column on the official website.
Late Export for You: The exclusive rights for publishing Arena in China, Hong Kong, Macau and all of Southeast Asia were given to Chinese company Tencent. This resulted in players from these regions being separated from them after the closed beta or at least it would, if not for Tencent delaying the open beta for Arena months after it started for the rest of the world. SEA players were less than pleased with Wizards effectively grouping them with China.
The now-discontinued annual Magic Invitational tournament invited the game's top players to compete for the chance to submit their own custom card to the game and get their face featured in its artwork. Similarly, the 2018 world champion, Javier Dominguez got his likeness on a card in *Throne of Eldraine*, though he did not get the chance to design it.
Many current members of the R&D team that creates the game started off as regular players. Notably, contestants in the Great Designer Search received internships in R&D as a reward for winning a card design competition, and are now full-time employees.
The Canadian comedy group LoadingReadyRun, after making a sketch about their love of Magic, was been approached by Wizards and asked to do a whole miniseries (and later full series) of them. They also started to host official "Pre-Prerelease" events, which showcase new card sets several weeks before they're available in stores.
Destroy All Humankind. They Can't Be Regenerated. revolves almost entirely around the game, as the story takes place in 1998 and focuses on two middle school students as they bond over playing it. The title itself is a reference to a common ability description found on most Magic cards.
Terese Nielsen became controversial in 2018 due to her political views, which include support for QAnon and trans-exclusionary radical feminism. The situation got worse in 2019, when she gifted art to the far-right YouTube channel, Edge of Wonder. Doug Beyer eventually confirmed that "[Wizards hasn't] commissioned new art from Terese Nielsen in quite a while... The last product that will have any reprint art from her is this fall with Zendikar Rising."
After Noah Bradley confirmed allegations of sexual misconduct with members of the Magic and artist community, Wizards made an official statement that they would they would stop commissioning artwork from him and reprinting his work.
Sleeper Hit: Wizards of the Coast wasn't big until got a hold of Magic, and at that point their only call to fame was being the holder of the Ars Magica RPG franchise. A decade later, it was big enough for Hasbro to come calling.
When making the first true expansion, Arabian Nights, the idea was tossed around that cards from different sets would have different card backs to determine what set they were from (Arabian Nights's was going to be purple with gold accents). The change was averted at the last minute, seeing how the different card backs—as deck protectors weren't that widely used yet—would help players fix their decks. Instead, we were given the expansion symbols that appear on the right side of the card between the art and the text box. And the rest is history.
Originally, Withengar's art was going to depict him as being much smaller and missing a finger, which was supposed to have been the blade that he was sealed in. When the artist, Eric Deschamps, was told to redraw Withengar so that he was as big as a building, Withengar's fingers were much larger than knives, so Deschamps drew Withengar without any missing fingers and redrew the blade.
At some point, there was speculation around the Time Spiral block that there would be a sixth purple color to reflect the universe coming apart at the seams. The R&D had playtested and created a few cards with the color, but it was eventually dropped.
A design concept for a land which was nicknamed "Barry's Land" was brought about: being a basic land that taps for colorless. For years, the idea was thought about, until Battle for Zendikar replaced the idea with Wastes lands.
Depending on the choice of the players, any of the four Ixalan factions (the Brazen Coalition, the Empire of the Sun, the River Heralds, or the Legion of Dusk) could have taken over Orazca. Alternate endings for the three losing factions were published on Magic's story website and are considered non-canon.
Prismari was originally conceptualized as the "hard science" college of the five Strixhaven colleges (as Blue and Red encompass most of the game's Elemental Powers), before becoming the arts college in the final product; the "hard science" theme would instead be split between Witherbloom and Quandrix.
Due to the original Kamigawa block being so divisive both with players and developers, when the design team was planning out Neon Dynasty there was a distinct possibility that they would be asked to make a new Japan-inspired plane for the tropes they wanted to explore rather than return to Kamigawa. However, the pitch was good enough that marketing and development thought it was worth the risk to go back to that well.
For Streets of New Capenna, the Brokers were originally pitched as straight-up Corrupt Cops, since being the White-centered faction they had to use law to do crime. By that point, however, controversies regarding police brutality in the United States, such as the killings of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, convinced Wizards that this wouldn't be a smart idea, which is why the Brokers became a corrupt law firm instead.
Working Title: Every set has a codename that the designers and developers use before the final name is decided.
Beginning with Mercadian Masques, each three-set expansion block got a three-word phrase; for example, Ravnica, Guildpact, and Dissension were "Control", "Alt", and "Delete," respectively. With the advent of two-set blocks, the phrases evolved: the three blocks codenamed "Blood", "Sweat", and "Tears" were split up, with "Blood" and "Sweat" composing one block, and the next block codenamed "Tears" and "Fears". These sets would become Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Shadows over Innistrad, and Eldritch Moon respectively.
Currently, the codenames are going through an alphabetical list named after sports - Throne of Eldraine was "Archery", Theros: Beyond Death was "Baseball", Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was "Cricket", Zendikar Rising was "Diving", Kaldheim was "Equestrian", Strixhaven: School of Mages was "Fencing", Innistrad: Midnight Hunt was "Golf" (with partner setInnistrad: Crimson Vow as "Clubs"), Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was "Hockey", and Streets of New Capenna is "Ice Skating", with more along the same lines upcoming.
Other sets also get codenames, though usually unrelated to each other due to not following a set schedule like the expansions do. Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms was "Zebra", Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate was Pentagon, and Unfinity was "Umbrella".