Everybody likes Top X lists, right?
After twenty years of cards for Magic, it seemed like a good time to stop, look back, and consider the cream of the crop for multiplayer. What are the absolute powerhouses when you dial it up against multiple foes? These are the epitome of multiplayer hotness.
Now, any such list will have some element of subjectivity to it. But I have intentionally removed all of my pet cards from this list. Sure, I swear by Draining Whelk, but I would be deluding myself and you if I had it on my list. Similarly, cards like Goblin Bombardment or Sword of Vengeance are nowhere to be found despite how much I adore them. You cannot mistake cards that you personally like for the best hundred in the format.
Remember that this is not a Commander-specific list. If it were, you could expect cards such as Phyrexian Arena and Serra Ascendant to chart. However, the cards in here will all be good for Commander since it’s multiplayer.
Some cards that did not make the list include cards from the first set (Ancestral Recall, Time Walk), the most recent sets (Past in Flames, Vraska the Unseen), and cards in between (Ruination, Arcanis the Omnipotent). If these guys did not make it, what was high enough quality to chart?
100. Yavimaya Hollow – This land saves creatures from a lot of dying. It can keep them out after creature combat, it can save them from some targeted or sweeping removal (such as Magmaquake and Rend Flesh), and it can combo with some of your own cards (such as Pestilence). Giving a creature survivability is key in multiplayer when creatures are dying so often.
99. Acidic Slime – Having a creature that can take out any major problem in the artifact/enchantment/land range while also rocking a 2/2 deathtouch body to scare off attackers is just powerful beyond compare. You can often swing at a defense with the janky 2/2 and the opponent won’t block because he doesn’t want to trade with any of his great creatures.
Kokusho, the Evening Star – While not as powerful or board-changing as it once was, there is still plenty of power in the Star of the Evening. You net a 5/5 flyer with a death trigger of significance when you play him. We all know the tricks this guy is capable of.
97. Crucible of Worlds – Something that always annoys in multiplayer games is land destruction. Sometimes, you have a dork who plays Armageddon just because—even when it hurts him, too. Other times, you have someone who has come after your utility lands. Perhaps you are sacrificing your own lands, such as fetches. Maybe you just have a deck with dredge, self-milling, or discard. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with a lot of lands in your graveyard, this is the key card for you.
96. Dread – Dread is very powerful for two major reasons. First, you acquire a 6/6 evasive body for your investment of 6 mana. That’s right on curve. But don’t forget that you also can swing with impunity, and people are hesitant to attack back and lose their creatures to Dread’s ability. The combination of a great ability tacked onto a powerful creature gives you one of the Top 100 multiplayer cards of all time.
95. Exsanguinate – Sometimes, you want a card that plays nice. And sometimes, you want to smash face. When you put some mana into this X spell, you make a lot of enemies at the table. Of course, the life you gain from it may give you padding for a turn or two until you can finish folks who survived the Great Exsanguinate of 2013. After all, they are newly weakened. Combine this with #98 Kokusho for a great defender people will hesitate to attack into post-Exsanguinate.
Citanul Flute – If you like creatures, this is one of several cards on the charts you will appreciate. This will tap and allow you to search your library for any creature of the mana you spent or less in casting cost and put it right into your hand. It is a very precise card-drawing and tutoring tool that will find the needed creatures repeatedly. I love to use it to grab a creature with flash in response to things like spells. “Okay, I’m grabbing Mystic Snake!” The Flute has a lot of power packed into it.
93. Sheoldred, Whispering One – I apparently have this black-and-colorless thing going on in the back part of the Top 100. Sorry about the lack of diversity. Because Sheoldred is both creature removal and creature reanimation, our good Phyrexian legend also threatens people from multiple angles. If you can keep the One of Whispers in play long enough to matter, the board will swing radically to your side in just a turn or two.
92. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – This potent monstrosity is typically the biggest creature you’ll see played. It’s at the top of the heap because it can be powered out by some spells, such as Show and Tell, Sneak Attack, and Eureka. However, it charts lower because it lacks the synergy or casting cost of other major beaters that chart higher. However, once you have this out, it will not take long to clear the board.
91. Jarad's Orders – Searching your library for a creature card for your hand is fine. Searching your library for a creature card for your graveyard is all right. Doing both with one card is tremendous card advantage. It works well with reanimation strategies or just with creatures that have effects in the graveyard. If you procure the right cards, this will break backs.
Aura Shards – You won’t find much in the way of basic removal on this list unless it’s truly good. I swear by cards such as Orim's Thunder, Mortify, Terminate, Dismantling Blow, Seed Spark, and Lightning Helix. But you still won’t find them on a list like this. Aura Shards is different because every one of your creatures is a Naturalize for free, but only if you want it (the Shards has a quite valuable “may” clause). The board-wrecking you can perform with this is staggering.
89. Decree of Justice – The ability to cycle this for creatures gives you several advantages. First, it is hard to counter—an opponent has to have something like Voidslime or Stifle to do it. Second, you draw a card from it, so you don’t even lose a card to make your instant army. Last, you have the ability to make a bunch of 4/4 flyers if the board position prefers that. Sure, nine times out of ten, you will cycle it, but you need the flexibility to make Angels occasionally.
88. Darksteel Sentinel – Sometimes, you need to protect yourself from dying, and this guy helps on two fronts. First, you can make a surprise blocker to leap in front of that annoying attacker. Then, the Sentinel also stays alive through virtually any removal, and people rarely waste those removal spells on him that can kill/exile it. It can also nip in for the occasional 3 damage with vigilance while keeping the defenses up.
87. Defense of the Heart and Pattern of Rebirth – This is the first on my almost-the-same list—for when two cards with similar or identical utility would chart in similar places, so I combine them. Both of these have tricky ways of sneaking creatures onto your battlefield from the library. Both require triggers, and both are vulnerable to disenchants or other removal as well as counters. However, should they trigger, you can add one or two dudes to rock the table quickly.
Sylvan Library and Sensei's Divining Top – One of these costs no mana to use, and the other requires mana but can be used anytime; one can draw you a card by bouncing it to your library, and the other can draw you cards for 4 life each. They are very similar, and they really help to find the good stuff in your deck without being so forceful that you must counter or destroy them. These are the backbones of many decks.
85. Soul Warden and all of its friends – With too many friends to list, this simple early drop gains life every time someone drops a creature. That’s a lot of life over a few turns. By the time it dies to sweeping removal, the player typically has gained double-digit amounts of life and improved his board position with the creature. Sometimes, you even swing with it on an empty board early.
84. Darksteel Plate – Aren’t you sad that your best creatures always seem to die? The creatures that you want to be indestructible never seem to be! Considering the plethora of mass removal that plagues multiplayer, having that awesome creature that’s indestructible is a real boon. This will equip a creature and give it the needed ability. Plus, the Plate is also indestructible, so it won’t die to a Creeping Corrosion. (It also transforms any creature into the best blocker ever, by the way).
83. Doubling Season – Almost every deck these days seems to spit out tokens or has a permanent with counters on it. You can add this to many decks to improve your planeswalkers, Decree of Justice, and more. It’s quite powerful when built around as well, and it becomes the key card of many combos. Plus, it only doubles up your own things; no one else receives any benefit from it.
Simic Sky Swallower and Iridescent Angel – You need big flyers that can protect themselves from targeted removal. Both of these bodies do that very well. One has shroud and trample and smashes through defenses. The other is smaller and has protection from all colors and sneaks through defenses. Both are helpful to inflict some damage to the face, and both have built-in protection from targeted removal. These are smart creatures to add to any multiplayer deck looking for good beats and built in protection.
81. Griselbrand – On the other hand, you can forget protection and just go with smashing and massive card-drawing. This 8-mana 7/7 flying lifelink dude can net you life and then spend it for seven cards at a time. The tricks are tremendous, and even outside of a deck specifically designed for the demon of olde, it works wonders against your foes.
80. Leyline of Sanctity et al. – There are several enchantments and an artifact that will give you shroud or hexproof. You want them. These cards protect you from so many things. It protects you from a lot of graveyard hate. It protects you from burn to the face. It keeps Edicts from touching your creatures. There are a lot of spells and abilities that want to target you, but now they can’t, and that makes them very sad. Make your enemies sad, and pick up some of these!
79. Replenish – What truly pushes Replenish past the broken line is the fact that it only returns your enchantments to the battlefield from your graveyard—not any others. That’s just unfair for 4 mana. With so many mighty enchantments (including many on this Top 100 list) as well as useful utility enchantments (Oblivion Ring, Faith's Fetters, etc.), you can find a lot of potent utility for this in many decks.
Whispersilk Cloak – I like two things in multiplayer. I like creatures that don’t die to targeted removal. And I like creatures that can swing through an ornery defense for a smash. Having both in one artifact is a potent arsenal of facesmashery. You can help to protect key players and swing with key hitters. If those guys are the same, your enemies will be in a world of grief.
77. Expedition Map and Armillary Sphere – Yes, I know, one searches for two basic and the other for one of any land. Nevertheless, the sheer flexibility of these cards is incredible. They fit into hundreds of decks. From retrieving Cabal Coffers or Emeria, the Sky Ruin to finding the right two colors of mana no matter what colors you currently control, both of these rock the block.
76. Hermit Druid – If you want to mill cards into your graveyard en masse while also ensuring you hit your land drops, this is the card for you. It simultaneously draws a land with every activation while netting you a bonanza of graveyard love. This is the little engine that could.
Whew! We are one quarter of the way there! We have just seventy-five more cards to go. Join me next week when you can find out if your favorite cards made the list!
See you next week,