Hello folks! I hope that you are having a rock-tastic day today!
I don't know what it is. But there is something inside of me that loves random challenges! Random Commander decks built around one from the random leader button over at EDHREC.com? Check! 60 card brews inspired by a random card over at Wizards of the Coast's Gatherer? Check! But this? It's one of my favorites!
What is it? Great question! I have played the game since 1994 and have played with the vast majority of cards, and I have a draft with a copy of every card in the game called AbeDraft so that also sees me use a lot of cards like Rootwater Alligator or Living Airship that you might not have otherwise used or known about.
The goal of this series is to unpack a randomly selected Top Ten and leave them in that order, and then talk about the great and cool things. In all these first 12 sets of cards, just one, a Portal: Second Age vanilla creature, hasn't been used by me. I've used the rest. Now I won't take a basic land if it flips over and I won't do a duplicate so if I get something like Merfolk of the Pearl Trident or it's fellow in-set artifact Dingus Egg I won't take them again.
Get ready for the random sauce!
#10. Vanquisher's Banner
Hello fans of Tribal Decks! This awesome artifact can pump an entire team of creature types and net you cards while you do so and it rewards you for digging heavily into one creature type. You don't lose card advantage by committing to one creature type. It's a great card for the masses and gets played in most of the tribal decks out there. I've run it myself in a few places from limited to constructed. It's a winning card!
#9. Kor Hookmaster
This is an awesome common. Blue isn't the only "Tap-a-dork" color out there with its Frost Lynxes. Hello Kor Hookmaster! You can add that element to your white build as well, and it's a better value in this color as white tends to lean more towards aggro and tapping a blocker for two turns and swinging on by can push through some serious damage. I love this guy and have run him in many a Limited build, but never a Constructed one, sadly.
#8. Heraldic Banner
Today is apparently Banner Day here on the Random Top Ten! This is a differently take on Banner from #10 above, as that one helped a creature type and this one a color. It's great for mono-colored decks that go wide. Heraldic Banner serves as both a useful mana rock and as pump to the more important of the tandem of power and toughness. It's strong in Commander or other kitchen table formats, and it's uncommon and recently printed status make it a budget friendly option for those seeking to play on the cheaper side of life. I've run it in various projects, and it's a solid Banner. Enjoy!
Now what next, Jabari's Banner giving something flanking?
#7. Two-Headed Sliver
Who likes Slivers? Everyone? Yup! This fun common invests Slivers with menace, a key evasive mechanic for the color. It's an old-templated Sliver before the Great Sliver Screw-Up....er..."Refresh" when their look and mechanics were changed. Badly. You could have left the templated with all Slivers getting them which would have given them unique space. It also was a flavor hit as spies in the story line (see Metallic Sliver) were able to spy on the species which shows your Sliver getting their abilities in the story and the mechanics. Also, the image was perfect as the only major species made for the game and had an iconic look they screwed up. It was bad. I've run this Sliver in Sliver builds...
#6. Call the Skybreaker
I love this card and have run it in my Commander Cube. Retrace helps with triggering instant/sorcery matters things like Young Pyromancer and Guttersnipe. It also helps with noncreature spell lovers like Narset, Enlightened Master getting one for free when she swings. Because the spell makes a dork that flies of size, it's a mana sink later in the game and a game-winner. It's a brilliant card and I've run it in Cubes and decks alike. Good stuff, Call the Skybreaker!
#5. Crawling Barrens
I cannot tell how many times I've had Crawling Barrens in one of my Top Tens. Welcome back! I have added this to a bunch of projects, and decks and such. It's an amazing mana sink for decks that make that mana as they can activate this multiple times, unlike something like, say, Urza's Factory. You can turn this land into a game winner, and you can use it at the end of a foe's turn to make sure you spend that mana and then increase its size. This is a very strong card for the ramping fun times!
Wow. This is...a horrible card. Daddy Mac will make ya. This card was so bad that future Jumps would give you something else and leave you at 1 mana, like Aerial Formation that gives the creature a +1/+1 boost and the ability to strive for more targets. Or Trickery Charm and Sapphire Charm where it's one of several options or Defy Gravity that has flashback and can be used twice for the same mana cost. Man...Jump. I ran Jump in one of my favorite decks sporting a bunch of Craw Wurms and Force of Nature and used this as a combat trick to jump and kill a Phantom Monster that would swing my way. Or kill a player out of nowhere by flying for 8 with a Force of Nature over someone. Imagine a deck where you wanted Jump so badly you combined it with instant breaker Isochron Scepter. What would that deck even look like? You can skip this one.
#3. Raise the Alarm
After this was printed it became a staple all across various decks at the Kitchen Table. Two creatures? 2 mana? Instant speed? Aggro and Token decks that went wide loved this to go big with effects like Glorious Anthem or to force a foe into card disadvantage with targeted removal. It was great there. Control decks loved it to chump block two creatures and act as a pseudo-Fog. You could also chump block twice over two turns against one dork and it played like Moment's Peace. If you were saving your mana for removal or counters, you could drop this at the end of a foe's turn and then swing with them on yours. They were heavily played everywhere. I have too! I have decks with it right now. Raise the Alarm and proclaim its glory.
Three Common Instants in a row, although the first two could not be farther apart in card quality, but Anticipate? It's kind of in the middle of the first two massive suckage of Jump and massive rule-age of Raise the Alarm is this bad boy. Look at three cards, one fewer than Impulse for the same mana. One heads to your hand and the other two are sent to the bottom of your library. It's not a bad card. In a format like Commander where redundancy matters, sure, it's no Impulse, but you can run it alongside Impulse all day long. Over at EDHREC.com there are 6,124 decks have registered it, which is a lot. Impulse? 14,027. It's not in the same class, but it'll get you there, nonetheless. It's fine. Jump gets a 1 out of 10. Raise gets a 10 out of 10. This maybe a 6. Maybe a 7 if I am feeling frisky.
I love love love love love this cycle. Like really, seriously, Abe-love with it. Brawn is the second-worst of the seven Incarnations though. Here's how I rate them from 7 to 1, and why.
Valor. Not a bad card, but First Strike is limited, and you need a Plains to make it work, and it's a 4 mana cost for a 3 mana body all day long.
Brawn. Hey, trample at least is an evasion ability, and this is a bigger War Mammoth in size and cost and ability. It's not bad, and you see it at times in green builds that fill the graveyard and need Trample for their lads like their Commander.
There is a big jump up in quality from here to the next 5.
Filth. Filth on this list is metagame dependent. In Five Color where everyone was running all five colors? This was the best of the Incarnations by far! In Commander its back at fifth. Evasion that will happen as people run a lot of colors in Commander, but it's not as reliable as another higher hitter on this chart.
Glory. I adore Glory. The ability to repeatably spend 3 mana to give your team protection from a color is awesome to keep them alive, swing through defense, and protect them from being targeted for removal. It's a great card!
Wonder. In modern formats like Commander, this is a bit better than Filth. If they have a Swamp, Filth gets the whole team through without any blockers, whereas Wonder's flying force can be blocked by reachers and flyers. It's not as good in that case. However, anyone can be flown over if you take out their blockers whereas only a subset of Commander decks run Swamps.
Genesis. Putting Genesis #2 hurts my soul because of my adoration for it, but it's the correct choice. It's great for card advantage, allowed you to outlast counters as you can just keep recurring the key dork until they run out, and you can bring back that key piece of removal like Acidic Slime. It's awesome. But sad to see it here.
Anger. Haste is so important. Haste is a Time Walk for red as it lets you kill one turn sooner. It's even more important in multiplayer where you need to punch with creatures before sorcery removal like Wrath of God comes online to give you at least one hit in.
I have run all 7 incarnations all over the block and most are still in Abe's Deck of Happiness and Joy, although I pulled out Valor more than a decade ago.
And there you have it! So, what did you think of this random top ten? Did you enjoy them? Anything in here that you forgot about or never knew exited? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!!!
Thanks for reading and have an awesomely awesome day today!!!
Did you like those random 1-set cards of craziness? Excellent! Here are the first eleven iterations of random fun for you to unpack!
- Random Top Ten #1. My first top randomly features both hits (such as Grim Lavamancer) and 'what the?' moments, such as Narwhal. Enjoy!
- Random Top Ten #2. If you like high profile spells like Gush and Fire // Ice, then you came to the right place! If you like old and obscure stuff like Silver Seraph and Infernal Darkness, then you also came to the right place.
- Random Top Ten #3. Sometimes in these random builds you have a lack of any sort of theme. But we did finish with a rare that I used to win my first ever Sealed tournament, so there you are!
- Random Top Ten #4. This was about when I realized this series had legs, so I began to codify the various articles. This Top Ten's random feature is high profile cards and a full three are commonly seen in multiplayer or kitchen table gaming.
- Random Top Ten #5. Including cards like the dreaded and the game-winning Door to Nothingness, this is a fun random blast!
- Random Top Ten #6. This Random Gatherer-Inspired slate of ten includes cards such as Thallid, Forbidden Orchard, and everybody's favorite infect creature. And cards you likely forgot about (or never knew about) with Savage Firecat and Wall of Light in there as well! Check out the randomness!
- Random Top Ten #7. In this Random Gatherer article, we see cards like Blessing, Coercion, the Zombie Dinosaur beasts of Putrid Raptor, and Dingus Egg. Check it out!!!!
- Random Top Ten #8. From Bad Moon to Ball Lightning, and from Armory Automaton to Power of Fire, we have a ten-set of randomly chosen cards for your enjoyment. This Random List is the list that keeps giving, as I decide to pause and create a Top Ten Ways to Abuse Power of Fire in the middle of my top ten list so you get TWO TOP TEN LISTS for the price of reading a single article. What's not to love?
- Random Top Ten #9. Who wants Black Sun's Zenith or Muldrotha, the Gravetide? Who wants Kjeldoran Knight or Staggershock that you may not have known about? My #1 card was a Commander legal leader and I turned and was inspired enough to create a budget Commander around him the next week!
- Random Top Ten #10. Top Ten Ten Time! and you can see cycling lands, Eldrazi, Defenders, and Beetles. And not necessarily in that order! Enjoy!
- Random Top Ten #11. Lets break out of the ten-set! You can see cards in here like Sorin, Solemn Visitor, Claws of Gix and a powerful #4. We even get my favorite card name of all time. What'll be? Check it out!
- Random Top Ten #12. For this fun article I get forgotten cards like Samite Alchemist and fun cards like Hot Soup. I know you wanna check it out, right? Right!!!!!