History of the Game

The evolution of Spellfire

The Evolution of Spellfire

All released editions through the decades of the Spellfire existence

Spellfire has come a long way since 1994. It is the second oldest CCG, with only Magic: the Gathering being its senior. This magical journey will help when looking for old cards, or to understand WHY for Lord's sake they made cards without powers. We'll start our journey where it all began - the release of the game.

1st Edition/No Edition - June 1994 - When the game was first created, it could only be found in gaming shops, and book stores. The release hit the streets a few months before GenCon '94, but the con is where the first really big push was made. No Edition was made available to be obtained in only two ways, and only in deck format. You could either buy it directly from the TSR Castle within the con. The other was based on an offer made by TSR. You send them 60 magic cards, and they would send you a no-edition double deck.

The game at this time had only 3 worlds: Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Dark Sun (and you couldn't even play a theme deck of Dark Sun because there were only 7 Dark Sun realms [and about 40 Dark Sun holdings]). For those of you who own the first and/or no edition, you know it has many cards without powers, and three (Defiler, The Bone March, and Joliet the Rash) have negative modifiers. A few ex-TSR employees say, that this can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Nesmith. He is the one who had this "great idea" of putting all those cards in so "the other cards could be even more valuable." That, coupled with the recycled (although still very good) art is one of the reasons why the game died originally.

The rules were also very different then. Events didn't even go to the Abyss (as it would later be called). This however was fixed with the first errata. Also, there was only a limit of two of any card. This changed the game into something that would just not work today. However, as the cards evolved, so did the rules...

First Edition Booster Packs - June 1994 - These boosters were also released with the first edition double decks. They had 14 cards that could be found with standard decks, plus every pack had one of 25 chase cards. They were the first AD&D champions. It also had 6 cards names for people at TSR: Big Ekim, Gib Evets, Gib Htimsen, Dori the Barbarian, Red Zeb, and Fejyelsae. This tradition would continue for many boosters to follow. This is also where we found the first "instant defeat" champions: Lovely Colleen, and Gloriana. Now, it seems to be all you see in tourney decks. This too continues throughout Spellfire's History.

Booster #2 - Ravenloft - August 1994 - Making their premiere at GenCon '94 in clear plastic packages, these cards were not as we know them today. Many new concepts were brought into this set. First and most obvious, Ravenloft became the 4th world to formally join Spellfire. This set also gave us the first werebeasts (Loup-garou, Sir Hiregaard, etc) and the first real undead (sorry, but 4 allies and one champion don't count for me).

Also, some new game concepts came up. First, we got the concept of Limbo from two cards (Strahd Von Zarovich and Ring of Regeneration. Additionally, this set gave us the first argument that created the Order of Activation (The question, if you care, was that of Midnight, Goddess of Magic vs. the Ring of Reversion). Finally, we had one more type of new card: The Rule Card. They were only 3, but rule cards are such a core concept now, it's weird to think of not having them. Also, this is the only set to the date that was not printed with the chase of any sort.

Landmark Cards: Dementilieu; Quirk of Fate; City States; Conjure Grave Elemental; Tarokka Deck; Ring of Reversion; Flesh Golems; Loup Garou; Headless Horseman and Strahd Von Zarovich.

Second Edition - August 1994 - I'm not sure whether these cards were available at GenCon, but I know they were at FoxCon '94, held later that month. This set took out 20 rares of the 1-400 cards (including Johdee's Mask and Anchient Curse), and added 20 new cards numbered 401-420. This added cards like Discovery of Spellfire, The Living Scroll, and Map of Life. These chases were chased in the truest terms, as they had the rarity of any other rare. All of the cards had 2nd Edition printed on the back except for the new 'chase', which said 1st Edition instead. This move helped the game but still didn't fix its extensive issues.

Booster #3 - Dragonlance - September 1994 - This set added a lot to the game of Spellfire. First and foremost, Dragonlance became the 5th world of Spellfire. Also, this is the set that first started denoting the champion race. It included dwarves, elves, and kender (there are still only 2!). This caused much of the old cards to get blue lining, which means that even though Drizz't Do'Urden doesn't use the Elf(Drow) marking, he still is one. Another major concept never fully followed up on was cards that were effectively based on the time of day outside of the game (such as various wizards of the _____ robes, Dagger of Night, and Time Shift: spells).

For the first time, we also got to use what is now the standard chase configuration (1 chase per 4 packs). This gave TSR many headaches, as apparently the boxes were poorly labeled and many purchasers thought that they would receive one chase per pack. Finally, the last big advance that this set gave us were swimmers, who were champions that could attack realms other than the lead one if the realm showed coastline. Also, we received earthwalkers - champions who could attack any realm regardless of position (without restrictions). Again, this was the cause of much blue-lining in the original Spellfire Reference Guide.

Landmark Cards: Mithas; Reorxcrown Mountains; Raistlin Majere, Wizard of the Black robes; Flint Fireforge; Brine Dragon; Blamblower; Bronze Dragons; Crossed Blades; Takhisis's Helmet of Power; and Medallion of Faith.

Booster #4 - Forgotten Realms - November 1994 - This is one of the most powerful sets ever made, and it really didn't add much new. Instead, it just expanded upon core game concepts and used them for many powerful ideas. The most intriguing idea was that of "draw and discard a card, noting its last digit. "Because of this, an element of randomness was taken from a feature intended to help collectors. Other than that, all this set did was expand upon past ideas and bring more power.

Landmark Cards: Tarrasque; Caer Allison; The Coral Kingdom; Creeping Doom; Limited Wish; Wish; Vorpal Sword; Ring of Winter; Flaming Fist; Ambassador Carrague; Helm; Cyric; Time of Troubles; Cold Cup of Calamity; Unusually Good Fortunes; and Bell of Might.

Booster #5 - Artifacts - May 1995 - This set, as a whole, is my personal favorite and not because it has a lot of power. This booster did not add any new concepts. Instead, it took the underdeveloped concepts of the game and expanded them to make it playable with inventive powers. More artifacts were made for worlds that had few, rule cards had a rarity less than full rares, we found holdings for any world, all champions got better powers, and Dark Sun finally had enough realms to be a viable theme. This was also the first of two sets that had only 20 chases instead of 25. However, it was also a set that started using only 1 rare per pack.

Landmark Cards: Wand of Orcus; Obsidian Man of Urik; Rod of 7 Parts; Bag of Holding; Temporal Stasis; Deflection; Korgunard the Avangion; Drawmij; Ur Draxa; Anchient Kalidnay; Onad the Weasel; Young Strahd; Amulet of Spell Protection; and the Dragon Font.

Booster #6 - Powers - September 1995 - This set brought some new concepts to the game, but still had some tragic flaws that could have been corrected if more playtesting had been done. In this set, we saw two new types of cards: Psionicists and Psionic Power Cards. There were always mixed reviews of Psionicist due to this set. Some thought (for some unknown reason to me) they were way too powerful. The rest of us thought they were still highly underpowered compared to wizard spells. Also, another new concept was born: The avatar. These very high-level champions required a cleric to be discarded to get them into play they were that powerful. Overall, a very powerful set.

Landmark Cards: Sword of the High King; Rand the Bowyer; Bilago Lumen; Lyr of the Mists; Kelaser Redbelt; Caravan Raiders; Lady of Fate, Avatar of Istus; Sirron, Avatar; Living Wall; Tako; Earth Elemental; Control Wind; Kiri, Avatar of Kiri-Jolith; Quill Pen of the Planes; Antimagic Cloud; and The Ultimate Rule Card.

3rd Edition - October 1995 - This is where we really started correcting the mistakes of our forefathers. This set, like 2nd edition, took out 20 of the rares (notable losses this time included Disintegrate, and Discovery of Spellfire). However, it also included the editing of 150 cards from previous sets with powers that didn't work, had no powers at all or needed to be corrected to reflect correct casting times. The rules also changed, limiting event cards to just one per deck. It also indirectly caused 4th edition rules to come out early because there was a combo that allowed a player to take an infinite amount of turns in a row. That's the real reason 4th ed rules set a limit of one of any card.

Landmark Cards: Ruins of Zhentil Keep; Cormyr; Evermeet; War Party; Karlott the Shaman; Joliet the Rash; The Horned Society; Arch-Druid; Kevin's Blade of Doom; Sadira; Dispel Magic; Gatekeeper; Weasel Attack; Estate Transference; and Starving Artist.

Booster #7 - The Underdark - December 1995 - Originally, this set was planned as the Spelljammer booster, but got changed when TSR could not rebuy the rights to the game (it can still be seen in the first two chase cards of the set). It gave us another world (or pseudo-world, depending on how you look at it) to add to the universe of Spellfire. The booster was mainly focused on attacking, and it did a good job with it! This gave us the Underdark world (arguments whether it should truly be considered a world or just a characteristic prevail), Quest spells (cleric spells castable only by champions of adjusted level 13+), and some of the funniest chase sets around (which was finally back to 25 cards per deck).

Landmark Cards: Underdark realms; The Triumverate realms; Drow Justice; Hornung's Guess; Mindkiller; The Unnamed, Avatar of Gruumsh; The Avatar Shar; Ellorelloran; Ring of Gaxx; The Deep; The Sword and Helm of Garion; and Broken Arrow.

Booster #8 - Runes & Ruins - February 1996 - This booster was a tribute to all old TSR products in the 70's and early 80's. It did allow AD&D to become a full-fledged world. Cards play well, but there were many mechanical problems that litter the set. For instance, all realms in this booster have the back printed upside down, being very reminiscent of many 1st edition realms. Another key mistake they made is that all the wizards in the set had the wizard spell icon. Another monumental change was Unarmed Combat Cards, in this case, only usable by heroes. Also, we had the first artifacts that were not attached to the world, but rather champion type. Overall, one of the better sets, with a fairly strong chase set.

Landmark Cards: Isle of the Ape; Barrier Peaks; The Lost City; Bigby; Vecna the Arch-lich; The Keeper; Intercession; Tyranthraxus, the Possessing Spirit; Volcanic Eruption; Star Gems on Martek; The Rahasia; Haymaker; Dream Team; Manshoon of the Zhentarim; Undead Regeneration; Runes of the Future; Gib Kcir; Dispel Psionics; and Boots of Fharanghn.

Booster #9 - Birthright - May 1996 - This booster gave us many new things. First and most obvious is that we could now play adding the world of Birthright. This brought the number of worlds to 7 or 8 (depending on how you count Underdark). We also gained a champion characteristic of Awnsheghlien. These are creatures with the direct blood of the gods, I believe. We also had two new card types were also added. These were regents (another type of champion with god's blood in his distant lineage), and blood abilities, which were used by the new regent type. Overall, these blood abilities still are hard to counter.

Landmark Cards: The Spiderfell; Avanil; Baruk-Azhik; Imperial City of Anuire); Espionage!; Armor of the High King; Touch of Decay; Death Touch; Blight; Raze; Drawmij's Instant Summons; The Gorgon; The Spider; The Nobel Outlaw; The Wizard; Rhuobhe Manslayer; Taxation; and The Fates.

4th Edition - July 1996 - This is still easily the most sought-after set of cards. 4th Edition was a completely new set of 1-500 cards, with a 20 card chase set (1 chase per deck). The deck was still bought with a double-deck format, but the other deck box held a Draconomicon Booster pack. This set brought back all the key cards from various past sets and really brought great strength to the game. It's a pity they ran out so quickly. The set strengthened all worlds and themes and made them viable for high-level play. This is also the first time we see unarmed combat cards for dragons, undead, elf(drow) [still only 1!], and UCs for any champion to use. It also gave us the new designation of Adventurer and Dwarf(mul).

Landmark Cards (and there were a ton!): Stonefist hold; Ull; Ur Draxa; Dragon's Crown Mountains; The Mistmoor; Blood Sea of Istar; Nightmare Lands; Lair of the Eye Tyrant; Fortification: Bailey; Celestial Jewel of Sarimie; Dance of the Red Death; Hurricane!; Wrath of the Immortals; Rings of All Seeing; Dark Haven; Arrow of Slaying; Skeletal Lord; Athasian Sloth; Marauder; The Dreaded Ghost; Helm; Kalid-na; Yumac the Cold; Moraster; Chevnerik, etc

Booster #10 - Draconomicon - July 1996 - Released concurrently with 4th Edition, this booster focused on one theme, and made almost an entirely new booster out of it. We see the first dragon champions that are not monsters, new dragon-only spells and unarmed combat cards, and even dragon-only items and artifacts. Even if you don't play using dragons, there are many useful cards you could use. Overall, I love this set for the same reasons I loved Artifacts: expansion with a theme. Now, you rarely see a tourney of fun decks without at least 1 dragon.

Landmark Cards: Lair of the Shadowdrake; Mount Deismaar; Dragon's Horde; Dragon Raid!; Favorable Winds; Maldraedior, Grwat Blue Wyrm; Tamarand, Great Gold Wyrm ; Lareth, King of Justice; The Celestial Emperor; Dragon's Calm; Blessing of Bahamut; Well of Many Worlds; Orb of the Eternal Dragon; Breath Weapon III; Swollow Whole; The Battle Must Go On!; Lernaean Hydra ; Dragon Cultist; Playing to Lose; and Underground Lair.

Booster #11 - Nightstalkers - September 1996 - This was a very unique set. First and foremost, every card in the set is a photo card, as opposed to just the usual chase set. It focused on two things: 1. Like the previous set, it focused on the old undead and made them fearsome again. New unarmed combat cards for undead and other boons to the previously alive are found throughout the set. 2. The other major addition is the two new card types: Thief champions and thief skills. This resulted in yet another card type players had to deal with (they are rarely countered), but overall, it didn't have a huge effect yet.

Landmark Cards: Nelanther; Falknovia; Cromlin; Assassin's Guild; Cavern of Ancient Knowledge; Complete Suprise; The Guildmaster; Jacqueline Renier; Julio, Master Thief of Haslic; El-Hadid; Orcus; Trumpet of Doom; Herald of Mei Lung; Use Poison); Nemon hotep; A Sure Thing; Level Drain; Den of Thieves; and Mad Scientist's Laboratory.

Booster #12 - Dungeons - October 1997 - This long-awaited set introduced one new card type, the Dungeon. It is a personal rule card that is played before your first turn. However, there were many new concepts that were brought up in this set. We were given Artifacts that could only be attached to Realms, powerful new support cards (making Thieves very fearsome), and spells that could only be cast by champions on the correct world. Plus, the chase set of 1-25 were all cards created by fans at the 1996 GenCon Game fair. Overall, a very powerful set.

Landmark Cards: Labyrinth of Castle Greyhawk; Pit of the Mind Lord; The Enchanted Land; Song of the Dragonlance; The Azure tower of Onad the Fallen; Border Garrison; Ruins of Iolonia; Skulker; Tyvorg the Frost Giant; Master Illithid; Boiling Oil; Cannon Ball; The Triton Throne; Psionic Disintegrate; Death Field; Con Game; Hijacking; City Shield; What Goes Around Comes Around; Fighting Dirty; Black Hands Thieves Guild; Enter Darkness Together; Necba the Wrathmaker; Handmine; Poor Oriental Lord; and Highmaster Illithos.

Booster #13 - Fiends - This set was never produced. This set was planned to be produced, but Wizards didn't see enough money on the line to continue it. However, there are some interesting residuals left. This includes the originally planned chase list. Kevin Melka was working on it, and sent it to Ogre for editing when the order came down for your enjoyment, here is how we got the original chase list: Fiends Chase Cards. It was supposed to bring the world of Planescape, screwed over by the sucky Blood Wars game, into Spellfire.

Booster #14 - Incantations - This set was also never produced. As far as it is known, no work was ever done on this set except some basic conceptual work. The set was supposed to focus on support cards, including spells. However, spells weren't the only focus, but it was supposed to iron out the inadequacies found in Spellfire to bring Blood Abilities, Psionics, Unarmed Combat Cards, and Thief Skills all to an equal level as cleric and wizard spells.

There was another set put out by Wizards of the Coast in production, although it never made it. In an appraisal of all their old card lines, they planned a "classic" series for all its old card games, most prominently Netrunner, Battletech, and Spellfire. Jim Butler created a set based solely on fan suggested cards, and playtesting was used to see which cards were solvent. However, this plan was thrown away by Wizards when Netrunner: Classic didn't get the sales numbers they wanted (which was their own fault, since not enough copies were printed and not distributed well). Therefore, Spellfire: Classic was thrown away, but became the working basis for the online boosters.

On-line boosters:

Without corporate support, Spellfire still continues to be an active game. The quest began by being only the second game to survive to keep the game alive by making new cards (the first was Mythos). Therefore, we got the following sets:

Booster #15 - Inquisition - Spring 2001 - Titled both to put the magazine Inquest into its place (the magazine loved to mock our favorite game), and to show we survived Wizard's inquisition of old TSR properties, Inquisition made the game thrive once more. It sought to fix the problems found in tournaments with current rules and cards. Instead of adding new card types or worlds, it lets the fans speak as Mike "The Ogre" Huebbe created the set and made it official for all tournaments and play. The cards were available to download from the official Spellfire site which also has an official online guide (Reviewing an Inquisition). It had 99 cards with no chase so it would easily fit into page holders.

Landmark Cards: Castle Arborgate, The Shadowlands, Arena of Dori the Barbarian, Castle Moovania, Mij Retlub, the Spellfire Oracle, Dragon Mountain Kobald, The Grim Reaper, Etarkine, The Gathering, The Apocalypse, Guild of Adventurers, Ogre's Horned Helm, Slap!, Dispel Illusion, and Mimic.

Booster #16 - Millenium - Spring 2002 - This second on-line booster came out in 2002. This was produced by the "Spellfire Triumverate": Mike Huebbe (representing the judges), Steve Naus (representing retail), and Hayden William Courtland (representing the fans). Again, based on fan suggestions, they created a 99 card set. However, they added a new concept to Spellfire that was present in Dungeons & Dragons for years: dice. Many cards required rolls to grant them effects or level. While protested by some fans, the set has gotten general approval and is the most recent part of the canon and tournament scene. These cards, like Inquisition, were available to download from the official spellfire website, and had an un-official guide in process (Grading a Millenium).

Landmark cards: Duergar, Aurumvorax, Feinoue, Void Shaper, Cockatrice, Doomgrinder, Rigged Dice, Corruption, Amish Nick, Insanely Good Fortune, Two Fisted Player, Kronos the titan, Poisoned Oasis, Gellidus, Dragon of Ice, Hornung's Randomness, Bansmareton, Wealthy Oriental Vassal, Elven Towers, Stomp, and Stunning Fist

Booster #17 - Chaos - Spring 2003 - The third online booster came out in 2003. The Chaos Booster (CS) represents the third tournament legal online booster designed and created by the Spellfire community. The expansion adds a variety of new champions (players' favorite card type) and a handful of new Avatars. Clerics get a strong boost in this expansion as do swimmers. In addition, we see the appearance of a host of potions and oils.

Booster #18 - Conquest - Autumn 2004 - The Conquest Booster (CQ) represents the fourth tournament legal on-line booster designed and created by the Spellfire community.


Dark Wizard from the west Coast killed the game.



Five mighty kings started to recreate the world of Spellfire.


Prime edition - Summer 2021 - There are 600 cards in this edition - all cards are entirely new and unrelated to the previous editions. The New Booster Pack system was presented with the game release. The common, uncommon, rare, and super rare booster packs allowed scarce and valuable cards. You can find Spellfire Prime logo at the bottom of the cards on all Prime edition cards.

Booster #19 - Spellfire Classic - Summer 2021 - Spellfire Classic booster was released in Summer 2021. There are 999 selected cards in Spellfire classic set, which is sold only in booster packs. It consists of a set of redesigned and redrawn cards of old editions and booster packs. You can find the Spellfire Classic logo at the bottom of the card.