CGC Cards Grades Another Black Lotus and Other Fantastic Magic: The Gathering Cards

Posted on 3/7/2024

In the first few months of 2024, CGC Cards graded several early Magic: The Gathering cards, including rarities such as the Power 9, Shivan Dragon and more.

CGC Cards™ saw many incredible submissions pass through the Grading Room in the first few months of 2024, including several Magic: The Gathering cards from early sets. These cards each received grades of CGC 9.5 or better, which is quite a feat considering that all of these cards are over 30 years old.

Limited Edition Alpha and the Power 9

The first set introduced to the public, Limited Edition Alpha debuted the world of Magic: The Gathering — and trading card games as a genre — to the United States. The game became popular almost instantly, with collectors and interested players scrambling to open packs and build decks with the most powerful cards in the core set. Limited Edition Alpha helped give birth to MTG as we know it today by introducing core creatures, mechanics and artifacts that would continue to be used throughout the TCG’s history.

One of the most sought-after cards — both back in 1993 and today — is the Black Lotus. Black Lotus provides three mana of any one color when tapped, making it one of the most powerful cards in the game. In fact, Black Lotus was so powerful that it was banned along with eight other cards of similar power after the release of MTG’s Arabian Nights set. These cards became known as the Power 9, and all of them are valuable, but none more so than Black Lotus.

Limited Edition Alpha had a very limited print run. In total, there were no more than 1,100 Limited Edition Alpha Black Lotus cards in circulation. With so few examples printed — and even fewer having survived over time — Black Lotus is always in huge demand. This particular CGC-certified Black Lotus received a grade of CGC Gem Mint 10. It is one of two examples graded CGC Gem Mint 10, according to the CGC Cards Population Report, with only one graded higher.

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The submission also included five more examples of the Power 9, including four of the Mox Gems and a Time Walk. The Mox Gems — Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl and Mox Jet — each produced one color of mana (corresponding with the gem’s color), allowing for unprecedented mana acceleration. Time Walk, meanwhile, allowed players to take an extra turn immediately following their current turn. Like Black Lotus, these cards were banned and are highly sought after today.

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Limited Edition Beta

Limited Edition Beta was released soon after Limited Edition Alpha and introduced some improvements, including the addition of new cards and small error revisions. Limited Edition Beta also experimented with a new manufacturing process that gave cards tighter corners. Players preferred this design, so Wizards of the Coast kept it for future sets.

One of the cards that was introduced in Limited Edition Alpha and carried into Limited Edition Beta was Shivan Dragon, one of the most influential dragon cards in Magic: The Gathering. As one of the limited powerful Flying creatures available in early Magic sets, Shivan Dragon gave players a massive advantage in play, especially against menaces such as Serra Angel. Not only that, but its artwork — illustrated by Melissa Benson — shows just how terrifying dragons can be, and its terrifying radiance captured the hearts of players everywhere.

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Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights was the fourth Magic: The Gathering set. As the first MTG expansion, Arabian Nights introduced and broadened several game concepts, including lands having additional effects besides tapping for mana, coin flipping, cantrip cards, the Lifelink ability and more. Two of the rarest and most storied cards in the Arabian Nights set are Juzam Djinn and Library of Alexandria.

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Juzam Djinn is fondly remembered for its iconic artwork and deceptive gameplay. Having a 5/5 creature available for a measly 4 mana cost was already efficient back in 1993, but many players didn’t even have to pay that large of a mana cost to get Djinn on the field. Because of its black background, the extra (2) in the mana cost wasn’t very legible. Many players simply ignored it and only paid two Swamps to get Juzam Djinn onto the battlefield. Though MTG players can’t get away with that level of deception today, Juzam Djinn is still a very popular card in Old School format.

Finally, Library of Alexandria is a rare example of MTG making references to concepts in real life. In this case, the card references the ancient Egyptian library of the same name and its ability is reminiscent of the actual library’s vast amount of resources. MTG’s Library of Alexandria lets players manipulate the game to their advantage by giving them a mana curve while also letting the player stack their hands by drawing cards whenever they have exactly seven cards in their hand.

About CGC

Since revolutionizing comic book grading in 2000, CGC has grown to include certification services for a vast variety of pop culture collectibles. These divisions include CGC CardsCGC Video Games and CGC Home Video. CGC Cards provides expert card grading for TCGs, sports cards and non-sports cards. CGC Video Games is dedicated to video game grading for the most popular consoles, including Nintendo, Sega, Atari, PlayStation and more. The newest division of CGC, CGC Home Video, provides expert VHS grading in addition to other types of home media.

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