Ancestral Recall

5 versions

Total Recall

From the very beginning, Magic: The Gathering has had its cycles of cards with series of somehow similar cards in different colors or affecting different cards. Perhaps the most famous is the Boon Cycle from Alpha Limited Edition, giving each color three of something at instant speed for a single mana. The Boon Cycle had four Common cards – Healing Salve, Giant Growth, Dark Ritual and Lightning Bolt – and one Rare card, Ancestral Recall, reflecting that the game’s designer, Richard Garfield, knew that there was a difference in the power of the five cards of the cycle.

Initially, differences in power level were supposed to be ironed by giving more powerful cards a higher rarity, since it was not expected that players would purchase more than a starter deck and perhaps reinforce their collection by buying a booster pack every now and then.

Dominarian Arms Race

Now, as we all know, Magic has turned out to be an arms race, not unlike the global arms race the world had only seen end of right before the game was released. Just like the two superpowers in the previous four to five decades, players were willing to make great economic sacrifices to achieve dominance. And one of the most powerful weapons to stockpile in the early days of Magic (before the game had any restrictions on the number of copies each player could arm their decks with) was Ancestral Recall, the blue member of the Boon family.

White managed to prevent three damage or increase the life total of a player by three; green could temporarily boost power and toughness with three; black turned one mana plus a card into three mana; and red dealt three damage. Well life begins at 20 and more is easy to come by. So pumping creatures and gaining some extra mana and direct damage all came in a variety of flavors with several options to choose from – even if the boons of green, black, and red are still playable in some formats and decks. Ancestral Recall offered something a bit harder to come by: card draw.

Ancestral Recall Is the Second-Strongest Card in Magic

By offering a player three cards at instant speed by only paying one mana, this card has never been surpassed or even approximated by later cards. This is why Ancestral Recall is a very close second to Black Lotus when it comes to ranking the strongest and most sought-after cards ever printed in the history of the game. And it is without comparison the strongest non-artifact among the thousands of Magic cards.

Limiting the number of copies of Ancestral Recall, four in a deck was simply was not enough to quell its power, so the card had to be eventually restricted to a one-off. Being on the Restricted List of Vintage also automatically left the card banned in Legacy, when that format was launched, and today Vintage is alone among the most popular formats in allowing the card to be played at all. Ancestral Recall is also one of the main reasons that you will never or at least almost never see any serious Vintage deck not playing blue. The card is simply a must in all decks for its unsurpassed value.

However, despite its limited legality, the pure power in combination with its collectability given the cards legendary history, and the fact that the card is on the Reserved List and that it was only printed in Alpha Limited Edition, Beta Limited Edition, and Unlimited Edition, still makes Ancestral Recall one of Magic: The Gathering’s most expensive cards. (The card sells for a minimum of 3.000,00 € per near-mint copy.) It is only surpassed by Black Lotus, so just like that card, it is almost a safe bet that over time its price will keep setting new records.


Comments (2)

Brosi90(17.02.2021 12:39)(Edited: 17.02.2021 12:39)

One of the best card if not the best card in the entire game. U for 3 Cards is absurd and broken beyond belief.

DefaultUser(08.05.2015 16:08)

True story, this was developed together with Healing Salve to be part of the 'boon'-cycle. Also it should be noted that generally Alpha Ancestral gets the caster better draws than beta for some reason...

Insight References

On Video This Week (44/2021)

By CMInsightTeam (2021-11-02)

Every week Cardmarket is running a lot of exciting Magic content that you don't want to miss, on both YouTube and Twitch—from gameplay to deck discussion to the latest news regarding previews and prices. Collecting everything in one place, here's your TV program for the week of November 1–5.

Top 3 Two-Card Kill Combos

By Dr-Exhume (2021-10-21)

"Johnny" once said that combos are the best part about Magic. Of course he did. They may not be the most universally beloved or important aspect of the game, but they are fascinating and an important element. Naturally, if we're looking for the most powerful examples, we have to look at Legacy and Vintage.

Daily Deck Tech Hunt: Considering Doomsday

By OdinFK (2021-09-06)

Every workday ahead of the set's release, Insight is taking a quick look at a deck featuring new cards from the upcoming Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Today, we're considering a card that may make it all the way to Legacy and prove a relevant update to one of the format's meanest combo strategies!

Dress (Down) for Success

By Rone (2021-08-24)

Dress Down looked like a bulk rare at first. But time proved that this flashy enchantment has a ton of potential, revitalizing Death's Shadow in Modern while stopping all kinds of interactions from opposing creatures even in Legacy and Vintage. Keep reading for the full lowdown on Dress Down!

Legacy News: Madness & Standstill

By Rone (2021-08-12)

Legacy is an ancient and vast format. Nonetheless fresh strategies emerge or evolve from previous iterations. Modern Horizons 2 in particular has revitalized brewing prospects. Landstill is back, in a whole new way, and Madness is enjoying a second life too. Want to know more? Just keep reading!

The Finest Vintage: Witches and New Toys on the Horizon

By OdinFK (2021-06-21)

Strixhaven proved to have an impact even on the notoriously impervious-to-change Vintage format, and Modern Horizons 2 is looking poised to leave an even larger footprint. Which cards make the cut in the most powerful environment known to Magic? Some of the answers may surprise you!

The Finest Vintage: Doomsday

By OdinFK (2021-04-29)

Doomsday is a scalpel. You need to know what to do with it, and you need a lot of practice in execution. But once you have picked up and mastered these skills, Doomsday is an extremely powerful deck, maybe the most powerful in all of Vintage right now. Here is everything you need to know!

The Finest Vintage: Sultai Midrange

By OdinFK (2021-03-16)

Commonly considered to be all about assembling the most unfair sequences imaginable, there's more to Vintage than a flurry of Moxen, Bazaars, and Workshops. One peculiarly fair deck manages to hold its own. The fairest deck in all of Vintage? Here's how to win with midrange creatures and planeswalkers!

The Finest Vintage: Breach

By OdinFK (2021-02-15)

The time has come to take a look at a deck that does what most people want to do when they think of Vintage. After Dredge and Shops, it's time to examine the blue part of the Vintage metagame and what is currently its most prominent representative. It's time to power up and jump into the breach!

A Vintage Brewer's Diary: 2020 in Review, Part 2

By TDD (2021-02-03)

This is the second part of my personal 2020 review, brought to you through the medium of paper Vintage decks. Last time, we got halfway through the year, and we looked at five different decklists. Today, we'll go over five more brews from the second half of the year. Let's dive in!

A Vintage Brewer's Diary: 2020 in Review, Part 1

By TDD (2021-01-26)

2020 is finally behind us. As paper play was suspended, many Magic players found their way to Magic Online and Arena. Some of us Vintage boomers, however, still crave the smell of ancient cardboard. Shuffling around those broken spells. Knocking the top of the deck when we need to hit something good …

The Finest Vintage: Ravager Shops

By OdinFK (2021-01-19)

The world of competitive Vintage broadly splits up into the trifecta of blue decks, Bazaar decks, and decks based on another overpowered land from the early days of Magic … Let's enter Mishra's Workshop, impede our opponents' game plan, and cast artifacts fast—possibly faster than usual, or at least bigger artifacts!

Day of the Dragons

By SanchoN (2021-01-16)

If you check the right calendar, you might find January 16 marked as "Appreciate a Dragon Day." What does it take for a Dragon to win appreciation in the world of Magic? Let's celebrate with a look at some of the most expensive, most ancient, most legendary, and most playable Dragon cards.

Commander Legends: Eligeth and Siani's Scry 'n' Fly

By RyanS (2020-11-16)

The new Eligeth and Siani seem to be made for each other, and as both have partner, why not build a deck around them? Eligeth transforms all our scrying into card draw and Siani gives us a huge scry. What more do you need from a partner pair? If you like drawing cards, then this monoblue Commander deck is for you.

Zendikar Rising Spotlight: Sea Gate Stormcaller in Legacy

By Andifeated (2020-09-08)

Legacy has long been defined by its powerful instants and sorceries for one mana or less. The best threats in this format often take advantage of decks full of those spells. Zendikar Rising brings us another such interaction, a new creature that has the potential to make it big in Legacy.

Zendikar Rising Spotlight: Ruin Crab in Nonrotating Formats

By ElonThragtusk (2020-09-07)

In the last few years, mill decks have gained new removal and counterspells, but no useful mill cards. This lack of support is the main thing that keeps them from moving up in the meta. How likely is it that a new and, in the case of this deck, better Hedron Crab helps with this issue in Modern and other formats?

Art Appreciation: Double Masters

By SanchoN (2020-08-10)

You cannot put a price on great art, but you can decide whether you want to buy undisclosed pieces of art at random or go straight for your favorite singles. This week Sancho rants about Double Masters and picks the ten most unforgettable box toppers. There are some undeniably awesome ones.

Two-Card Combos That Made Magic History: The Nineties

By TobiH (2020-07-30)

Sometimes it's as simple as putting one and one together, though the equation ideally amounts to something greater than the sum of its parts. The following pairs have formed famous friendships and cooperated so well that it may be tough to name any more iconic duos. Let's take a trip down memory lane …

What's Stronger, Ancestral Recall or Pot of Greed?

By SamuelS (2020-07-23)

Inspired by a tweet from a former pro player and current designer at Wizards of the Coast, this article attempts to compare cards from two vastly different game systems. A thought exercise just as much as an exercise in hilarity, you may learn a thing or two about Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh! along the way.

Forgotten Heroes: Braingeyser

By SanchoN (2020-03-03)

Long before Blue Sun's Zenith, Gadwick, the Wizened, and Finale of Revelation, there was the original blue draw X spell. This week Sancho examines another Forgotten Hero whose eruptions used to be so feared that it had to be banned and restricted in various formats and put onto the Reserved List.

The Top 8 Vintage Decks from Cardmarket Series Paris

By Dr-Exhume (2020-02-26)

Let's take a look at the Vintage results of Cardmarket Paris. The format which everybody loves — or hates — but which is hardly played. What did the ones fortunate enough to enter the Vintage zone choose to bring to the table? How diverse was the field, and what ended up on top?

The Top 8 Old School Decks from Cardmarket Series Paris

By Elric (2020-02-24)

Mardu Good Stuff claims the trophy among thirteen players, defeating Four-Color Control in the finals. Let's take a closer look at these two and the rest of the decks that made it to the Top 8 at Cardmarket Series Paris in Old School — the most nostalgic and posh tournament format in the world.

Playing Unpowered Vintage Jund at Eternal Weekend

By Andifeated (2020-01-15)

Vintage is a format unaffordable to many players because of the notoriously expensive Power 9 and other cards such as Mishra's Workshop and Bazaar of Baghdad. Andifeated is one of those players, but that doesn't stop him from building powerful budget decks and attending Vintage tournaments.

Green's Noncreature Evergreens

By Dr-Exhume (2019-12-12)

Green is best known for huge creatures like Force of Nature or Avatar of Might. These cards shaped the perception of the color for a long time. Recently green was blessed with powerful cards like Force of Vigor, Veil of Summer, and Once Upon a Time. But green always offered more than just big creatures.

Vintage at Cardmarket Series Prague: Dread(ge) Return

By Elric (2019-12-10)

Dredge claims the trophy among eighteen players, defeating a planeswalker-heavy midrange brew in the finals. Let's take a look at all the Top 8 lists, see how the format changed after the restriction of Narset, and explore the latest developments.

Pioneer Primer: Izzet Phoenix

By Rone (2019-12-09)

Ready for some Pioneer action? Rone tries out the newest format for the first time with an old bird everyone though was dead: Arclight Phoenix! Come along to see the deck's configuration and see what it can do in the brand new nonrotating format.

From the First Bans and Restrictions to Oko

By Elric (2019-11-26)

In 1994, Wizards released the first list of banned and restricted cards, dealing with presumed problems such as Dingus Egg and Orcish Oriflamme. Compared to Oko, Thief of Crowns and Once Upon a Time they seem … to be coming from a different game. We've come a long way, but some things never change.

Vintage at Cardmarket Series Barcelona, an Analysis

By Elric (2019-11-06)

A modern version of BUG Fish claimed the trophy in a metagame filled with artifact and combo decks, but also speckled with a few surprises. Let's see how the latest releases and changes affected the Vintage metagame, and take a look at the Top 4 decklists!

A Very Nostalgic and Special Tournament Report

By Elric (2019-10-15)

Here's a tale from an event unlike any other, impressions and observations about what an Old School tournament represents, the experience of community and nostalgia, featuring all-powerful cards such as Moxen, Black Lotus, Hypnotic Specter—and Fishliver Oil!

A First-Timers Look at Old School

By Rone (2019-08-13)

Trying a new format in Magic is one of the coolest experiences a player can have. From playing unknown cards to learning different mechanics, Rone looks at his experience at an Old School tournament. Let's break it down.

Forgotten Zeroes: Alpha Betas

By SanchoN (2019-04-23)

In this new series, Sancho examines the many useless Magic cards printed through the games' history. And what better place to begin than with Alpha, the set that saw the ultimate power cards being printed literally side by side with some of the most godawful pieces of cardboard you have never heard of.

Dangerous Propositions: Glimpse of Nature

By Kumagoro (2019-04-11)

The Modern ban list is a maximum security prison with 34 inmates, some of which could potentially pose a serious threat to the meta. In this ongoing series, we're reviewing each of those offenders to see if they're eligible for parole. This time it's the turn of the green storm enabler.

#TwitterBuildsModern Episode Two: The Drudge of Dredge!

By JohnnyCroat (2019-03-29)

Graveyard decks come in many shapes and sizes. There's Living End, which is usually brought back out for a spin every time some new cool ETB effects get printed. UB Storm is in effect a graveyard deck, relying on Past in Flames in order to be able to recycle a big heap of cheap cantrips so as to generate massive card advantage and storm count. There's Dredge itself, happy to dump as many cards into the bin as possible, and then cheating several itty bitty bothersome monsters into play, which have a tendency to come back turn after turn after turn. So then, how does this relate to Maze's End? Read on!

Fracturing the Continuum: The Time Walk Story

By Kumagoro (2019-03-14)

Time is fleeting! Madness takes its toll! Time-walking has always been a signature blue move, one with the power of spelling doom for the opponent, though it might as well just amount to drawing one extra card. Let’s see how many different iterations of the time-bending trick have ever been printed, and how few actually played.

Define This: Magic Players

By Moudou (2019-03-12)

In this final chapter of Define This, we are going into one last notion of MTG vocabulary. While some terms are easy to define and have a sturdy theoretical background, others are simply not that easy to describe. After going through CA, tempo, tiebreakers, and the metagame, let's work on the lingo that characterizes you, the player.

Ravnica Allegiance: Cube Picks

By SanchoN (2019-03-07)

As with the preceding Ravnica set Sancho just enjoys Ravnica Allegiances too much to make a definitive list of the absolute must-have cube cards. He does however have some suggestions for ten cards that you may find interesting to try in your own homemade limited environment.

Should This Be Banned - Part 1

By RJGiel (2019-03-04)

We all know the hype and speculation about ban list announcements made by WotC for Modern and Legacy. But what about the commander ban list? Who takes care of it, and why are certain cards on there? Today, Robert wants to explore beyond our kitchen tables and into the broken, degenerate, format that Commander can be.

Inner Workings: Izzet Phoenix

By Kumagoro (2019-01-30)

In each installment of the Inner Workings series, we'll examine a different Modern archetype to find out what makes it tick. This time, it's the turn of a the latest blue-deck marvel, a list that transferred directly from current-day Standard and took Modern by storm – quite literally.

Will Vintage Players Survive Survival Aggro

By Elric (2019-01-21)

A combination of Bazaar of Baghdad and Survival of the Fittest with the raw power of Hollow Ones and Vengevines has given birth to a new aggro deck that may be funny to play but is very consistent.

Human Wizards that Made Vintage History

By Elric (2018-12-20)

Snapcaster Mage, Young Pyromancer, Jace Vryn's Prodigy, Monastery Mentor, and Containment Priest: Are humans taking over Vintage? Pietro's got the answer.

Rather Exhumed: Coming Down from the Grave

By Rone (2018-11-09)

"Graveyard matters" cards are a key element in the Modern metagame. With Dredge on the rise due to Creeping Chill, we need to re-evaluate maindeck hate and how certain strategies rely on this part of the game. In today's article, Rodrigo ranks the format's tier decks based on their graveyard dependency.

Grinding You Down

By SanchoN (2018-10-31)

Admitting that mill is not a strategy for winners but still unable to let it go, Sancho spends this week's article milling somewhat aimlessly about just enjoying the pretty mill cards and musing about the eternal what if, that lures hordes of Johnnies to hunt for a deck which will deck any opposition consistently.

Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage: The New Hotness?

By Elric (2018-10-25)

Vintage format has been revolutionized by a card capable of winning games at instant speed and all on its own. It's not only because of its raw power, but also because of how easy it is to build balanced and synergistic decks around it. Pietro is here to tell you everything you could possibly want to know about Paradoxical Outcome in Vintage.

Dangerous Propositions: Hypergenesis

By Kumagoro (2018-10-17)

The Modern ban list is a maximum security prison with 33 inmates, some of which pose a potentially serious threat to the meta. But now that Big Jace has been released, anything can happen. Let's review each of those offenders to see if they're eligible for parole. This time we talk of the ultimate green cheater.

Sum of Cubes - Summer Cube Catch Up

By SanchoN (2018-08-08)

No deeper [Nexus of Fate] may connect the three latest bigger releases from Wizards of the Coast. But simply being chronologically adjacent have destined Battlebond, Core 2019 and Commander 2018 to be reviewed together by Cubes for Squares. See which 10 cards we chose to recommend for testing in your own limited environment.

Tribal Attractions: Sphinges

By Kumagoro (2018-06-08)

With its strict, four-faction setting, Ixalan has been a very tribal block, and then Dominaria doubled down with some tribal focus of its own. Time for Kumagoro to have fun with Modern-legal concoctions for some less obvious tribes, starting from the riddling terrors of blue skies.

An Homage to the Strongest Card in Magic

By SanchoN (2018-05-03)

Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Timetwister and the five moxes are all powerful Magic cards. But one card stands above them all - the basic Island. Where would Magic be without the wonders of Counterspells, timing, priority and all the subtleties that come with the ability to tap an Island.

Legacy's Two-Cost Cantrips

By CabalTherapy (2018-04-30)

Drawing cards in Legacy is not a job relegated only to Brainstorm. There are many other potent spells that can step in and provide the much-needed card quality or card advantage. Many of these fall at a converted mana cost of two. Join me as I venture into the world of cmc two spells.

Highlights in Bilbao: Modern at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan

By Rone (2018-02-06)

Last weekend, the best Magic players in the world gathered in Bilbao to fight for the crown at PTRIX. After two years without a Modern Pro Tour, everyone was excited to see if the Pros could shake up the format and bring new strategies and cards from recent sets. Here are the tournament highlights.

As Foretold

By DrHoeh (2017-04-06)

And then there they were: Wonders as foretold by the ancestors!

Eternal Masters Previews

By DrHoeh (2016-05-24)

Eternal Masters - Embrace your favourite new old cards!

View All Articles
cardPreview