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Sorcery: Contested Realm - The Alpha Set!

3/31/23 - Blue text indicates updates based on everything we know as of 3/31/23

On May 23, 2022, the Erik's Curiosa team released as significant update to the Table Top Simulator (TTS) that is being used by the company and fans in the community for play testing and finalizing design mechanics for Sorcery: Contested Realm's Alpha set debut. The set revealed a total of 386 cards. Additionally, there were 6 cards (not including alternative art cards for other revealed cards in the set) that were added to the set via 'stretch goal' milestones during the Kickstarter campaign. This results in a current set size of 392 cards.

We now expect the set size to be 403 cards. The YouTube Q&A video and the official Sorcery TCG discord, the company has confirmed the exclusion Alan Pollack's Ball Lighting, and Dan Seagrave's Tower of Babel two-card concept (Apex and Base).

It had been previously stated by the company that the Alpha set would include roughly 400 cards, with the caveat that it could be more or less than this number as the set is refined through further play testing and refinement. As such, we know that we have now seen a very high percentage of the card list that will be included in the debut set.

In addition to the 386 cards in the TTS update, there were 25 cards that had been previously revealed but not included in this update. Several of these are considered likely to be included in the final Alpha list, while others are speculatively anticipated to be in future sets. Those sets may include the company's planned Revised / Beta set that will follow the Alpha release, the recently announced Arthurian Legends set slated for sometime in 2023, or perhaps the next expansion set (of which I have speculated could have an Angels & Demons theme, based on several clues in the Alpha set list that would lend itself well to a thematic expansion).

We now know that there will be a Beta set slated to release in September 2023. This makes timing of Arthurian Legends uncertain; and draws into question if it will still release in 2023 or if it will slip to 2024. There has also been talk of a potential "Revised" set (presumably a follow-up to Arthurian Legends) that would be the 'mass market' set and could include significantly more revisions relative to Alpha than we are likely to see in Beta relative to Alpha. For Beta, the company has stated that one card has been eliminated (so set size is expected to go from 403 cards to 402 cards), and also the four elemental avatars (air, wind, earth, fire) will be placed with new "hooded avatars" that will have different artwork AND will also be functionally different. The hooded concept is intended to create a tighter connection to the player, such that you assume the role of the avatar - navigating, defending, and conquering the realm.

The Collector Arthouse website also includes a Full Art Gallery page, which is a compilation of full art image scans gathered from Erik's Curiosa reveals, artist social media accounts, and/or acquired from the artists directly. Within this list, there are 31 images that have never been revealed in card form. Again, it is possible (and perhaps even probable) that some of these may be 'surprise' inclusions in the Alpha set, and several others that may be reserved for future set releases. This article sets out to compile the full data of what has, and has not, been revealed, and speculate as to which may land in the Alpha debut vs. future releases.

Note that a page has been added that shows the cards that had been included in a prior Table Top Simulator (TTS) update but then excluded from the latest Nov 2022 TTS update. The page can be found here - Unconfirmed for Alpha | Collector Arthouse.

Below is a table summarizing what we know. Note that the names of "Full Art Not Yet Revealed in Card Form" images should be considered as rough 'conceptualized' titles communicated to the artist, and not necessarily the final name we will see once allocated to a card. This has often been the case, with several card titles changing throughout the development process.

The rest of this article further analyzes the cards that were previously revealed but excluded from the 23 May TTS update, and also the full art images not yet allocated to card form, in an attempt to speculatively forecast where these may land in Sorcery sets. It flows alphabetically by artist first name, looking first at their previously revealed cards and then at additional artwork that we have not yet seen in card form (spoiler alert!).


Shifting Sands by Caio Calazans

Caio's Shifting Sands illustration is beautifully done, and fitting for a Site in the game. However, it is also quite similar to the three Sites done by artist Raffaela Cech (Remote Desert, Arid Desert, and Red Desert), who goes by the name "AronjaArt".

I believe, for these reasons, the team selected Vasiliy Ermolaev's version of Shifting Sands for the Alpha set (included in the 23 May TTS release), and it is possible that we may still see Caio's version as an alternate art variant or its own independent card yet to be added to the Alpha set. It does not seem particularly fitting for the thematic lore of Arthurian Legends; and thus if it does not find its way into the Alpha set, it is possible that it is introduced in Revised, or simply not used for the game at all.

The following card image is mislabeled and slated for correction in the next update, but this is the artwork created by Vasiliy Ermolaev.

Interestingly, this card was corrected for Alpha with both the artist name and the 'alpha' symbol, but in the Alpha precon decks there was an error in the print file which passed through the copyright symbol instead of the 'alpha' symbol. This same error was made with Spear of Destiny, making both cards very interesting in the Alpha Preconstructed decks.


Hex, Pillar of Zeiros, Orb of Ba'al Berish, Chains of Prometheus by Dan Seagrave

There were four previously revealed Dan Seagrave cards that were curiously omitted from the 23 May TTS update. It seems most probable to me that these cards required more significant design adjustment, either due to lack of clarity of the card effect or perhaps interaction and/or power balance issues within the Alpha set. Most interesting in this list is the Hex Avatar, since this may have the most significant influence on the set, and removing or adding an avatar late in the development phase of the debut set is a significant development.

Updated in TTS in November 2022 - "Hex" received a significant change in the September TTS Update in that it was no longer an Avatar, but rather was changed to "Wicked Witch" and became a creature included in the Alpha set. The original painting was recently sold through Collector Arthouse action platforms for $2,700 -

Also of note here is that three of these cards were previously revealed at a Unique rarity level (the highest rarity level in the game). In the TTS update, there were 54 Unique cards included. The Erik's Curiosa team had previously commented that there would not be more than 60 Uniques in the game, so if that still holds true, there are only a few slots left for inclusion in Alpha.

It seems very likely at this point that there will be more than 60 Unique cards in the Alpha set.


Blasted Oak, Monolith Statue by Dan Seagrave

Two more stunning artworks from Dan Seagrave, yet to find their place within Sorcery: Contested Realm.

I had previously written an article predicting that Arthurian Legends could be the name of Sorcery's first expansion set; a theory that has since been proven true with the company's official announcement. In that article, I introduced several key characters from Arthurian Lore, and art images that may be fitting for that expansion. One that I may have overlooked is Blasted Oak.

Arthurian Lore varies significantly in various texts and films that have been released over the years. In some stories, the wizard Merlin was imprisoned in an old oak tree by the Lady of the Lake, called Nimue or Vivian. She tricked him into revealing all of his secrets to her, and she used that knowledge to trap him. The Blasted Oak could be perfectly fitting in this context for the expansion.

The Monilith Statue is harder to peg. There could be some interpretation to be gleaned from the title, but the illustration does not seem particularly fitting. In Cornwall, where Arthur was said to be born in Tintagel Castle, there is a story of a stone monilith that is partially hollowed out like a coffin. If this is the leading idea, there could be some particularly flavorful game mechanic that could be designed into this card concept.


Spell Block, Pendulum of Peril, Unland Angler by Drew Tucker

Let's start with Spell Block. As there are other 'counter spells' in the game, it's possible that the team could be revisiting if, and why, another may be needed. Or perhaps we could see this resurface as an alternate art (a great one at that!).

We now know through company commentary in a YouTube Q&A and in Discord comments that the "Quick" mechanic was largely removed for Alpha, with the exception of Vincent Pompetti's "Dodge Roll". The design team found the mechanic to be a bit problematic in play-testing and has stated that they are still very interested in pursuing the mechanic, but felt that it was not ready for Alpha and was best to revisit for a future set, potentially.

The Pendulum of Peril catches the eye once again as a Unique. One of the very few relics at the Unique level, and few remaining slots for the target balance in the set. Both Pendulum of Peril and Unland Angler are extremely flavorful cards that would make a great addition for Alpha. However, I think the wording of both can be abit confusing, and would estimate that both are undergoing review for clarification (and potentially rarity level), and perhaps a design mechanic tweak. There is no particular reason to believe that any of these three have direct relevance to Arthurian Lore or other sets.

Updated in TTS in November 2022 - Pendulum of Peril is actually INDEED confirmed for Alpha, and was in fact the first Unique card that creator Erik Olofsson actually pulled from his first pack opening that was filmed and shown on video -


Weighted Net, Bell Tower, Call to Arms by Drew Tucker

These are the great Drew Tucker's three paintings that have yet to be translated to a card. Weighted Net and Bell Tower could go either way and do not necessarily imply strong correlation to Arthurian Lore, but it is interesting to note that Bell Tower was teased in the Kickstarter Campaign in an obscured image showing three example Curio Cards that appeared to be Erik's Curiosa, Bell Tower, and Winter River. Bell Tower was showing in a card design that resembled a traditional Magic the Gathering card format, and could imply a reference to the game's early development when the creator had been experimenting with a more MTG-like design concept. Or...they could have been random examples as a placeholder for the Curio concept; there is no way to know at this point.

Call to Arms feels like a slam dunk for the Arthurian Legends set. With the set size so close to that target 400 mark, there seems little reason to force it into Alpha. However, it is worth noting that there are several cards in Alpha that seem fitting of an Arthurian Legends or Angels & Demons theme, but are likely to still be included in Alpha. My theory on this is that it plants seeds for game design expansion, and synergies with cards that will be added to the card pool with the Arthurian Legends release.


Avaddon Succubus and Spontaneous Combustion by Elvira Shakirova

We will go for the two-for-one here since there are only two pieces yet to be assigned for Elvira Shakirova artwork.

If there is indeed destined to be an Angels and Demons deck, then the Demon Succubus seems particularly fitting. It is interesting to note, however, that the Succubus also has a "move towards" effect much like that of the Unland Angler; which makes you wonder if both are under the same review and scrutiny for a potential wording and/or design clarification change and still yet to be included in Alpha.

As for the full art Spontaneous Combustion...we have not yet seen this one in card form, but it screams of the tortured alchemist pouring over the books in attempt to turn chemistry into fortune, and thus perfectly fitting for an Alpha inclusion!


River Styx by Elwira Pawlikowska

River Styx is a card we have seen before, but excluded from the latest TTS update. The card was re-introduced during the Kickstarter campaign as a Kickstarter Exclusive Pledge Card that will be included for each backer in the pledge pack. It was also re-imagined as a spell book style card (not a landscape style Atlas card as shown), so its mechanics are likely to change. There is also a playmat with this beautiful artwork offered through the Kickstarter and Backerkit campaign.

It is now confirmed that this artwork has been used for a "Death's Door" token card, to be used when your Avatar is on 'death's door' and on the brink of defeat...or...epic comeback!


Wrath of the Sea and Free City by Elwira Pawlikowska

Here we see a couple of the several examples in which Erik assigned the same title at the time of painting commission to multiple artists. For the TTS update and presumably Alpha inclusion, we saw an illustration for Wrath of the Sea from Mattias Frisk, and an illustration for Free City from Ian Miller. As such, it stands to reason that these two illustrations could either be included as alternative art cards in the set or simply not used in the game.


Twister by Francesca Baerald

This is one of those moments in Sorcery where you see the artwork, read the type line text and the card mechanic, and just have a little chuckle. This is a card that I

suppose you could argue either way (Arthurian Legends or Alpha). I'm not sure that there is anything in particular that would tilt it one way vs the other, but rather that it seems ripe for review of rarity level and game mechanic to tune its relevancy for the set.

Interestingly, Severine Pineaux's "Predestination" card, which determines the outcome of random effects, would be synergistic with this card and was also omitted from the update. So one would assume that "random effect" affect cards are likely undergoing a review for viability and tuning.

Predestination has changed to Kythera Mechanism and is now CONFIRMED for Alpha. We do not yet know the details on rarity or card mechanic, but it was glorious to see it confirmed in a box reveal video at the China factor!


Lord of Lies and Yokai Kappas by Gadu Duaso

Are we noticing a trend? Demons again. The clues are mounting for a potential Angels & Demons expansion set in the future; or the concept of angels and demons within the context of a core set (?). These are both demons; and both were removed from the latest TTS update.


Near Miss by Jeff Easley

This has been in the last few updates but was not included in the latest release. While not exactly the same as a counterspell, there are a few such cards in the game with a similar effect. "Reverse damage" is a bit of a staple in many TCGs, and you have to wonder if this card may be repurposed with a design tweak for Alpha, or perhaps held off for a core inclusion in a future release. No particular thematic lore attachments here to lean either way.


True Allegiance and Miracle Workers by Jeff Menges

Both of these kids seem very appropriate and fitting for the Arthurian Legends expansion.

The illustration of True Allegiance seems perfectly fitting of the tales of Morgause and Mordred from Arthurian Lore. Morgause is an important figure as her influence is an integral part of Arthur's downfall. She molds young Mordred's mind to make him feel like the rightful heir to the throne; a traitorous "allegiance" with deadly consequences.

Miracle Workers would be fitting of the many battles that transpire in Arthurian Lore with King Arthur and his Knights.

A correction here - Miracle Workers is indeed confirmed for Alpha; perhaps one of the cards that lays the foundation for future thematic set expansion (in this case...Arthurian Legends?...)


Taarg War Beast by Jeff Menges

The last unaccounted for artwork from Jeff Menges is Taarg War Beast, and this is another that could be potentially fitting in Arthurian Legends. In Arthurian legend, there was mention of a "Questing Beast"; a strange creature sought by some of the knights of the Round Table. Its name came from a noise it would make from its stomach that sounded like a pack of questing hounds. Perhaps not the original intention of the card when it was commissioned in 2020, its exclusion makes you wonder if it could be repurposed to fit the lore.


Vengeful Squire by Lindsey Crummett

Vengeful Squire is a painting by Lindsey Crummett has never been shown in card form. In my article about Arthurian Legend, I had postulated that this could be an illustration of Young Arthur. However, it is also quite possible that this could be an illustration of Mordred, symbolizing his betrayal of Arthur. Perfectly fitting for the lore in one way or another, I do not suspect we will see this one included in Alpha.


Sunken Figurehead and River Bridge by Matt Tames

Two illustrations by Matt Tames yet to be seen in card form are Sunken Figurehead and River Bridge.

A second reflection on Sunken Figurehead makes you wonder if it was commissioned similarly to Elwira Pawlikowska's "Mariner's Curse", and Elwira's artwork selected for the singular concept instead...


Wind Ward Gem, Earth Ward Gem, Fire Ward Gem, Water Ward Gem by Melissa Benson

The gems! Seemingly a throwback to the mox cards in MTG, the mystique and allure of gems are always highly coveted in a TCG. These particular gems appear to be fitting as Relics, as shown in the previously revealed Wind Ward Gem, and have a mechanic like that of the "Circle of Protection" cards in MTG. Only the Wind Ward Gem has been previously revealed, but the elemental connection to Wind (will it be changed to air?), Earth, Fire, and Water makes it seem that these are almost a certainty to be included in the Alpha set.

Updated in TTS Update in November 2022 - The "gems" are BACK! They are now called "Core" cards...


'Unnamed Body Armor', 'Unnamed Shirt', 'Unnamed Fire Piece', Kiss of Death by Santiago Caruso

We don't yet know the name of three of these pieces from Santiago Caruso, so I have assigned a temporary title to three of them for convenience. At least those three (and not the one titled Kiss of Death) seem particularly fitting for Arthurian Legends.

It is quite possible that Kiss of Death may fit Arthurian Lore in a symbolic way as well. There are two plausible fits that come to mind. The first, is King Uther's accord with the wizard Merlin to disguise Uther as Queen Igraine's husband (his enemy) while he was away at war; an affair that resulted in the birth of Arthur. And the other could be Arthur's affair with Morgause; Arthur's half-sister (unbeknownst to him at the time). Both with fateful consequences, the "Kiss of Death" seems well fitting for the set theme.


Predestination, Ring of Morrigan, Time Stop by Severine Pineaux

These three cards were excluded from the 23 May TTS Update. However, any time a card has been previously revealed it is fair to tilt toward the likelihood of inclusion in the Alpha set, and perhaps undergoing a review of rarity or card mechanic for design balance.

One possible exception here could be the "Ring of Morrigan". In Celtic tradition, the Morrigan, a Triple Goddess of Celtic myth, was thought of as the Goddess of Death. It has been theorized that many ancient myths had been blended together to lead to the inclusion of Morgan Le Fay in Arthurian Lore. In the lore, Morgan Le Fay is one of three women who transport the fatally wounded King Arthur in a barge to the Isle of Avalon to be healed (a possible connection to 'Miracle Workers' by Jeff Menges??).

One again, our beloved "Predestination" is BACK; and we can't wait to see how it has evolved as "Kythera Mechanism". A concept with such rich real-life history and allure...


Holy Grail and Armageddon by Tony Szczudlo

Two more cards previously revealed but excluded from the 23 May update were Holy Grail and Armageddon by Tony Szczudlo. While Armageddon could be argued either way and perhaps loosely tied into Arthurian lore as representative of the many epic battles of Arthur and the Black Knights, it is quite obvious that Holy Grail perfectly fitting as a central theme of Arthurian lore.


Woods and 'Unnamed Art' by Vasiliy Ermolaev

The fit for these two paintings, never seen in card form, is a bit of guesswork. It appears to me that the Woods scene may have been an early rendition of Vasiliy's Bridge Troll, Bosk Troll, Gnomes, Assorted Animals, or one of his other woods-centric pieces.

Similarly, it is plausible that the unnamed artwork may have been an early rendition of Donnybrook Inn. Also, there are a few examples in the alpha set where the illustrator had to re-paint a piece to fit a landscape format for a 'Site' card. This could also fit the theory of this illustration being a precursor for the final Donnybrook Inn piece.

In any case, I suspect one or both of these could theoretically be introduced for the Alpha set, but given how few slots there are remaining for a 400-card set (especially considering several others that seem more plausible), I would lean toward assuming these will not be used in the game.


Old Salt Anchorman, Highland Princess, Dalcean Phalanx by Vincent Pompetti

Three more cards previously revealed but not included in the latest update. While it is easy to see a fit for the Phalanx in Arthurian Legends, it seems that old Salt Anchorman and Highland Princess would be more fitting of the Alpha set.

The Anchorman is a natural fit for water elemental decks, and similarly thematic cards such as Pirate Ship, Ghost Ship, Sunken Treasure, etc.

While Highland Princess could certainly fit in Arthurian Legends, there are several other "Royalty" cards in the Alpha set and the theme and card mechanic synergies would be fitting for inclusion. I presume this may have been held for rarity and game play review given its prior Unique designation and the very few slots for Unique cards that remain. Very difficult decisions will need to be made soon to finalize the set.


Sanctuary, Roots, Dragonslayer, Gardens by Vincent Pompetti

The last unaccounted full art images bring us to these four beauties by Vincent Pompetti in his signature watercolor style. As it would be completely speculative as to where and how these would fit, I will not attempt to hazard a guess beyond saying that at this stage of the game as the team nears its impending deadline to finalize the set and send it to the printers, it seems unlikely that several never-before-seen cards would be introduced to the Alpha set. Hopefully there will be an exception or two; or we can look forward to these in a future expansion! It is also always a possibility that any previously unrevealed artwork in card form could be used as an alternative art or a promo card.

There were 9 more cards confirmed in recent YouTube videos from the company. one is Kythera Mechanism; the others are as follows (note - these are older TTS versions and details are likely to change in various ways for Alpha)...


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Mike Servati @ Collector Arthouse, signing off...


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