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Ice Age starter deck contains 60 random cards per deck and an Ice Age rule book. The distribution is 3 rares, 9 uncommons, 26 commons, and 22 lands. Released in June 1995, Ice Age is the first set in the Ice Age block. The set contains 383 black-bordered cards (121 rare, 121 uncommon, 121 common, and 20 lands).
Ice Age is the eleventh Magic the Gathering set and the sixth expansion set. Set in the years from 450 to 2934 AR, the set describes a world set in perpetual winter due to the events in Antiquities. Of the 383 cards in the set most are new, but a few are also reprint cards from the core game. The Brothers' War, referenced in the set Antiquities and the Urza block, has thrown Dominaria into a drastic climate change. The temperature has dropped sharply and a new Ice Age has begun. Most of society has been lost; all that remains are the soldier nation of Kjeldor, the barbarians of Balduvia, and the elvish society of Fyndhorn. These people must battle against the necromancer Lim-Dûl who has begun to conduct twisted experiments. Meanwhile the wizard Zur the Enchanter trains new wizards to survive in the harsh environment.
Ice Age was the first "stand-alone" expansion; that is, it was the first set that could be played independently of other Magic: The Gathering products. It was the first expansion to reprint all five basic lands. Ice Age is also the first set that was printed for a certain period. Previous sets had a previously specified print run and were then sold while supplies lasted.
With the release of Ice Age Wizards replaced the original white mana symbol with a more defined version of itself. Two cards in the set, Fylgja and Prismatic Ward, were printed with the old mana symbol anyway due to some printer deadline issues that arose because Fylgja and Prismatic Ward had been chosen as promotional cards to be release in magazines prior to the release of Ice Age.
As Ice Age was the first "stand-alone" expansion set, the designers believed that some "staple" cards from the basic set and expansions should be in the set. Thus, the set was also the first expansion set (aside from the Arabian Nights Mountain misprint) to reprint cards. Staple cards like Swords to Plowshares, Giant Growth, Counterspell, and Dark Ritual, as well as popular older cards like Icy Manipulator were reprinted in Ice Age. All in all the set included about 8% reprints of old cards. Also, another 8% of the cards were functional reprints of already-printed cards; that is, aside from the name (and possibly the creature type), these cards were identical to cards in other sets. Examples include Fyndhorn Elves, a functional reprint of Llanowar Elves; Zuran Spellcaster, a functional reprint of Prodigal Sorcerer.
Ice Age was the first Magic expansion that was released in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. There were 56 cards of each color, 25 multicolor cards, 45 artifacts, and 33 lands in Ice Age.
- Necropotence — The linchpin of the "Necro" deck, this black card allows a player to trade life for cards. After the restriction of Black Vise the use of this card increased drastically. Necropotence was originally used to give aggressive black decks a way to refuel after putting all their cards into play. The first Necro decks were so dominant that competitive strategies were reduced to Necro or anti-Necro (decks that arose to oppose necro's dominance included Turbo-stasis and Sligh). This period is often referred to as Black Summer (1996). Necropotence was reprinted in 5th Edition, leading to another surge of Necro-decks in Standard. Later Necropotence was used in Extended decks such as Trix as the draw engine (in tandem with Illusions of Grandeur, also from Ice Age). Nowadays, Necropotence is banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.
- Zuran Orb — This card also allowed a tradeoff; in this case, a player traded lands for life. This, combined with a casting cost of 0, made this card immediately a staple in many decks, including the Necro deck (where a player could trade the lands for life, and then the life for more cards), and the Ernhamgeddon deck (where a player could trade the lands for life instead of having them be destroyed by Armageddon). Another way to abuse the Zuran Orb was to sacrifice lands to it in response to playing Balance. Most competitive tournament decks played at least one Zuran Orb, including Tom Chanpheng's deck that won the 1996 World Championships. The Zuran Orb's power was such that it was eventually the first card from Ice Age to be restricted; though that restriction has since been lifted and Zuran Orb is now banned only in Ice Age Block Constructed.
- Jester's Cap — The Cap was the most popular card when Ice Age was first released. Though by itself, this card does nothing to directly hurt the opponent, if the opponent employs a strategy that relies on one of at most three examplars of a card, as combo decks occasionally do, their entire deck strategy is rendered useless. Jester's Cap was also popular due to allowing the player to look at the cards in their opponent's deck.