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In August of 1994, Wizards of the Coast released this expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. It contained 119 unique cards, all bearing the crescent moon as their expansion symbol. It was available in 8-card booster packs, and was printed on two sheets - a common sheet, and an uncommon sheet. There were two different levels of uncommon cards, 35 that were printed once per sheet, and 43 printed twice per sheet. The common sheet had 40 C3 commons on it, each printed 3 times per sheet, along with a single C1. The cards on the uncommmon sheet are considered rare, and the single C1 is considered the only uncommon card in the set - the Maze of Ith.

The Dark was a rather unremarkable set overall, with only one card to make the restricted list, the Maze of Ith, which was removed from the list much, much later. Ball Lightning has been popular since the set's printing, and for a time, Amnesia was used in some tournament-quality decks. Blood Moon has been seen now and then, with the ability to severly punish people using large amounts of non-basic lands - often finding a home in the Extended format with the number of dual lands seen there.

WotC made a decent recovery from the distaster that was Legends, availability wise. The Dark actually came in two shipments, the second a few months after the first. (For those interested, I started playing this game between these two shipments) Neither shipment was available more than a couple months, though the increased print run of 75 million and the rationing that many stores imposed allowed many more players to get their hands on some of the cards in this set. This was the last expansion set to run into problems of availability (except for some temporary situations that held up cards for a while during a print run).

The Dark did not have a strong storyline when it was printed - one was developed in detail later on, in the novel The Gathering Dark. The setting is one after the Brother's War (between Urza and Mishra), with Dominaria getting colder and harsher. A Church is gaining power, and has started a backlash against magic - after all, it was the cause of the war and the troubles. Magic users are hunted, and forced to go underground, forming two hidden schools, the City of Shadows, and the Conclave of Mages - or are they just stories?









The Dark
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

The Dark is a children's picture book by Lemony Snicket, perhaps intended for ages 4-6. It deals, in a slightly creepy way, with fear of the dark. While it is a charming book, it does not involve unfortunate events or wrong questions, and will primarily be of interest to children of its intended age range.

"Laszlo was afraid of the dark.

The dark lived in the same house as Laszlo.

Sometimes it lived in the dark closet. Sometimes it hid behind the shower curtain.

But mostly it spent its time in the basement."

Laszlo is worried about the dark, but not so scared that he doesn't take some proactive diplomatic measures,visiting it in the basement and speaking to it politely. They live in uneasy peace, until one night Laszlo's nightlight goes out. That night, the dark calls him down to the basement.

Spoiler alert: After a bit of back and forth and author pontification, it emerges that the dark is guiding him to a drawer in a cabinet in the basement in which the spare light-bulbs are kept. Laszlo thanks the dark politely ("You're welcome", said the dark), and from that day forward the dark never bothers Laszlo again.

This is a charming book, with simple but pleasing illustrations and just enough Snickety humor to make it amusing to adults. The story is appropriate to the target age, although I think the first reading should probably not be a bedtime story, as the idea of an anthropomorphic dark is not immediately conductive to a good night's rest. It does have a happy ending, and at no point is it scary (unless the reader makes an attempt to make it so, I suppose).

While this book is generally quite fast-moving (although well-paced for suspense), there is a massive block of text (four paragraphs!) just before we discover that the dark is nice. This page can be skipped entirely, or the two middle paragraphs can be skipped without losing the overall sense. If you have a particularly patient young-un', they may even enjoy the wordy interlude. But I can't help but feel that this is massively out of place.

The illustrations are simple ink lines over gouache colors, exactly what we expect from Jon Klassen. This gives a lot of control over shading of light and dark, and helps keep the very limited palette visually pleasing. The overall composition of this book is excellent.

ISBN-13: 9781443417945
ISBN-10: 1443417947

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