Urza's Saga booster pack contains 15 cards per pack. Distribution is 1 rare, 3 uncommon, and 11 commons. Released in October, 1998, Urza's Saga is the first set in the Urza's Saga or Artifacts block. The set contains 350 black-bordered cards (110 rare, 110 uncommon, 110 common, and 20 lands). Phyrexian Colossus card number was incorrectly printed as 306 when it should have been 305. Urza's Saga is the 15th expert level set, a 350-card Magic: The Gathering expansion set. Some employees of Wizards consider it one of the most powerful sets ever released, with many cards now banned in tournament formats. The expansion symbol features a pair of gears from an Urza machine.
The story of Urza's Saga and the later sets in the block are prequels to the former Tempest, Stronghold, and Exodus sets, explaining the aftermath of the Brothers' War as seen in the Antiquities expansion.
Whereas other sets have all five colors of cards referencing the same story, Urza's Saga has each of the five colors showing a different part of the storyline.
Green cards detail the conflict on Argoth, which would lead to the events of the Ice Age expansion. Black cards reveal Urza's failed attack on the plane Phyrexia. White cards document Urza's period of recuperation in Serra's Realm. Blue cards explain Urza's founding of an academy on Tolaria and his temporal experiments. Red cards show Urza's alliance with Shiv.
Shiv, Phyrexia, Tolaria, and Serra's Realm are some of the most iconic settings in Magic. Most of the story of this set is written in the book Planeswalker, though the battle of Argoth is from the end of The Brothers' War and the founding of Tolaria and alliance with Shiv are found in Time Streams.
Cycling cards allow a player to pay a small cost to discard that card and to draw another to replace it. In this expansion set, the cost for cycling is always two colorless mana. When the mechanic appeared again in the Onslaught expansion, the costs varied to fit the card.
Echo is a mechanic that requires the player to pay the casting cost for a permanent again on his/her next turn, or it must be sacrificed. Echo cards generally have lower mana costs than comparable non-echo cards, in exchange for the double payment. All are creatures in Saga and almost all cards with echo are green or red.
Free Spells were a mechanic exclusively featured in blue cards. These spells allow the player to untap the same number of lands as the card's converted mana cost upon resolution, freeing land for other use. This was abused by decks that use lands that produce more than one mana, and Sapphire Medallion from Tempest. Doing this can produce great quantities of mana and the ability to utilize cards from the Scourge expansion with the Storm mechanic.
Urza's Saga had several "Sleeping" Enchantments, enchantments that would change into a creature when an opponent triggers a condition, usually by playing a certain type of spell.
Urza's Saga also contained a cycle of three Legendary Lands, which produced colored mana for each permanent of a given type controlled: enchantments for white, creatures for green, and artifacts for blue. These would prove to be popular cards and so powerful that all are banned in the Urza's Saga Constructed format.
As a side note, the rules for the Trample ability were simplified in Urza's Saga
Urza's Saga has a storyline and thematic feel that suggest an artifact-based set, although it contained many notable cards of each different card type. Among players, the Urza block is widely considered to be the most powerful block from top to bottom.
Urza's block ushered in a new era of combo decks (card decks where only a handful of cards are needed to win games). The period of play after the release of Urza's Saga is often referred to as "Combo Winter" by both players and Wizards staff. Standard (Type-2) and Saga Block constructed decks were so fast that they could often win before turn three. Several articles on the Wizards of the Coast website MagicTheGathering.com discuss various tournaments in which players would mulligan down to half their starting hand size just for the perfect initial hand. A ban on several of the sets most powerful cards followed. The all-too-true joke of the era was that "the early game was the coin flip, the mid game was the mulligan, and the end game was the first turn."
In all, The Urza block has had more cards banned from it than any other card set. Over the course of the block's history, 16 different cards have at one point been banned in at least one DCI sanctioned format, nine of which debuted in Urza's Saga (Stroke of Genius, Time Spiral, Windfall, Yawgmoth's Will, Goblin Lackey, Voltaic Key, Gaea's Cradle, Serra's Sanctum, and Tolarian Academy).