Limited Edition Alpha Collation

Limited Edition Alpha is the first printing of the original Limited Edition set. For historical reasons and because there are more than the usual differences between printings, Alpha and Beta are often regarded as different sets. Alpha is a core set with 74 commons, 95 uncommons, 116 rares, and two variations of each standard basic land. The printing was done in Belgium.

Alpha was sold in 15 card booster packs and 60 card starter decks. Booster boxes had 36 packs and deck boxes had 10 decks.[1]

Pack Anatomy

Alpha uses striped collation with 11 × 11 sheets. The rarity ordering and orientation of packs and starters for old products can be inconsistent. Observed booster packs are back-facing with common-uncommon-rare ordering. The cards may be upside down. Basic lands appear on all the print sheets, so they can take the place of a common, uncommon, or rare card.

11 Commons3 Uncommons1 Rare

Observed starter decks have rare-uncommon-common ordering. They have 60 cards with 2 rares, 13 uncommons, and 45 commons. They may be front-facing or back-facing, and the cards may be upside down. Decks will have both an outer seal and an inner seal. Starter decks also include a rulebook which is inserted between the uncommons and commons.

2 Rares13 UncommonsRulebook45 Commons

The uncommon and rare sheets for Alpha are not known exactly, but the evidence from pack openings is consistent with the popular theory that they are basically the same as the Beta sheets. The most notable difference is the absence of Circle of Protection: Black and Volcanic Island that were added for Beta. Beta also added a third art variation for each basic land, but it appears that positions were not changed — only some of the existing lands were changed to the new art. There is, however, an exception to this on the common sheet where analysis of pack openings has revealed that the land to the left of Circle of Protection: Black is also different.

The common sheet has 9 Plains, 10 Islands, 9 Swamps, 9 Mountains, and 10 Forests. The uncommon sheet (if it matches the Beta sheet) has 6 Plains, 2 Islands, 6 Swamps, 6 Mountains, and 6 Forests. The rare sheet, anecdotally, just has 5 Islands (which would match the Beta sheet except for the Volcanic Island). If we take Plains, Swamps, and Mountains as the standard, then Islands are Forests are overprinted. The exact amount of overprinting depends on the rarity ratios which are different between boosters and starter decks. Either way, Islands are just barely overprinted and Forests are slightly more significant.

Common Sheet

There is a single sheet that prints each common card once. The remaining spaces are filled by basic lands. As noted, the sheet layout is almost the same as the Beta sheet. It has been reconstructed by observing pack openings (and cross-referencing with the known Beta sheet).

Swamp (A)Howl from BeyondMountain (A)Lightning BoltForest (A)Giant SpiderPlains (A)Death WardUnsummonIsland (A)Sea Serpent
SinkholeSwamp (B)Frozen ShadeSwamp (A)Mountain (B)ShatterHill GiantWar MammothWall of WoodForest (B)Giant Growth
Plains (A)Forest (B)Benalish HeroPlains (B)Island (A)TwiddlePower SinkFearSwamp (B)Plague RatsDark Ritual
False OrdersMountain (A)Red Elemental BlastIronclaw OrcsLlanowar ElvesScryb SpritesForest (A)Plains (B)Guardian AngelCircle of Protection: BluePlains (A)
Power LeakProdigal SorcererIsland (B)JumpUnholy StrengthDrudge SkeletonsSwamp (A)Mountain (B)Mons's Goblin RaidersFireballMountain (A)
TranquilityIronroot TreefolkForest (B)Wild GrowthPlains (B)Healing SalveCircle of Protection: RedInvisibilityIsland (B)Island (A)Creature Bond
ParalyzeTerrorSwamp (B)Scathe ZombiesFirebreathingDwarven WarriorsMountain (B)Forest (A)Stream of LifeGrizzly BearsForest (B)
Holy ArmorPlains (A)Mesa PegasusCircle of Protection: WhiteSpell BlastIsland (B)Merfolk of the Pearl TridentSwamp (A)PestilenceSwamp (B)Raise Dead
Mountain (B)Hurloon MinotaurDisintegrateMountain (A)RegenerationForest (A)Shanodin DryadsPearled UnicornPlains (B)DisenchantHoly Strength
Island (B)Phantasmal TerrainBlue Elemental BlastIsland (A)Drain LifeSwamp (A)WeaknessEarthbindMountain (A)Gray OgreStone Rain
FogForest (A)Craw WurmForest (B)Samite HealerPlains (A)Circle of Protection: GreenIsland (A)Psychic VenomFlightIsland (B)

Rare Sheet

I haven't observed the full sheet, but there has been one observation[2] of the Island that replaces the Volcanic Island from the Beta sheet. Assuming that the rest of the cards follow the Beta sheet, then the whole sheet is known.

Winter OrbNightmareJade MonolithManabarbsMox EmeraldElvish ArchersSunglasses of UrzaAnimate WallTundraSleight of MindChaos Orb
LifelaceSavannahRighteousnessAncestral RecallBlack LotusBad MoonMox SapphireRaging RiverFungusaurNorthern PaladinMagical Hack
CockatriceMox RubyBlaze of GloryDisrupting ScepterLord of the PitMana FlareTaigaNatural SelectionCrusadeMana ShortBirds of Paradise
Cyclopean TombContract from BelowBadlandsGranite GargoyleMox PearlTimber WolvesMeekstoneSavannah LionsVesuvan DoppelgangerWord of CommandForcefield
ChaoslaceThe HiveLord of AtlantisWarp ArtifactRoc of Kher RidgesForce of NatureFarmsteadMahamoti DjinnIsland (A)Volcanic EruptionIsland (B)
LichZombie MasterAnkh of MishraTropical IslandDeathlaceSmokeGaea's LiegeIsland (B)BalancePirate ShipIsland Sanctuary
Gauntlet of MightDemonic AttorneyHowling MineBayouForkGoblin KingIllusionary MaskLiving LandsPersonal IncarnationThoughtlaceMox Jet
Mana VaultDemonic HordesScrublandEarthquakeHelm of ChatzukVerduran EnchantressPurelaceKormus BellCopy ArtifactClockwork BeastSedge Troll
Jayemdae TomeIsland (A)Nevinyrral's DiskRoyal AssassinTwo-Headed Giant of ForiysPlateauLiving ArtifactTime VaultReverse DamageDrain PowerIsland (A)
Will-o'-the-WispShivan DragonKudzuBlessingTime WalkNether ShadowRock HydraFastbondVeteran BodyguardBraingeyserStasis
Mind TwistPower SurgeWebWrath of GodUnderground SeaDingus EggDarkpactWheel of FortuneAspect of WolfArmageddonTimetwister

[1] These box sizes are reported by Crystal Keep. I haven't seen boxes of Alpha product, but these numbers match up with later products.

[2] This YouTube video from Power9Quest shows the opening of a Beta starter with Alpha's Volcanic Island replacement. This is one of many Beta starters that have Alpha rares instead of Beta rares. There is no way the Island could be one of the known Islands from the Beta sheet without a major irregularity of some kind, but it is consistent with being the Volcanic Island replacement.