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Alliances, the expansion set of the Ice Age block, followed the theme of the main set, and this practice has become the typical setup for all blocks afterwards. Thus a new idea of the cards came along - the “pitch spells”, which are cards that can be paid with an alternative cost instead of regular mana, either by exiling another card in hand, or in the later future as a requirement of specific permanents.
Alliances, in particular, has the pitch spells that require another card of the same color to be exiled, with the blue Force of Will as the best one. Force of Will with just another blue card and one life is a proper zero mana counterspell, and nowadays its value is extremely high, but it’s still a required four in most of the Legacy and Vintage decks. The other pitch spells are less impactful, but the black Contagion (which distributes two -2/-1 counters on creatures) and the green Bounty of the Hunt (which gives three +1/+1 counters) have seen play considerately. And aside from the pitch cards, Alliances also offers some really good utility lands. Thawing Glaciers is a land that searches for basics in the library and put them into play, and before some rules explanations, its ability to be bounced back at the end of a turn after the activation allowed its ability to be activated twice - during the turn and at the end of the turn - thus giving two basics instead of one.
There are two more most played cards in the set. The first one is Lake of the Dead, a land that requires a Swamp to be sacrificed, gives one black or four at the cost of another Swamp. The other one is Kjeldoran Outpost, which requires a Plains to be cast, but for just two mana it puts a 1/1 soldier into play. Being a land which is not counterable, it had become a main deck winning condition for controls for a long time. Last but not least, a historical mention to Deadly Insect - the 6/1 with shroud would be unplayable nowadays, but at that time it was considered a playable and frequently used card in tournaments.