Hello happy people! I hope that your day is going very well! Since we are still in a standby for the full spoilers from the eagerly anticipated return to the plane of Kamigawa, I wanted to take a week off from the latest tech and review what I consider to be the best cards for casual play like Commander, Five Color, multiplayer, Type Four, and more from the original block. Ready? Let's do it to it! And a common is going to hit #2 and #3 and two uncommons will hit in the Top Five as well!!
Ready for the list? Let's get started!
Honorable Mention #1. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
We'll start with our first of three cards on the Honorable Mention. Basically, hitting at #13 is everyone's favorite breaker of mirrors! This thing is a casual classic being run in 22,747 decks over at EDHREC.com as well as tons of play outside of Commander. This 5-drop 2/2 with haste can tap and copy a nonlegendary dork you control that gets haste and is sacrificed at the end of the turn. It formed a Standard-legal infinite combo deck with Pestermite which would untap Kiki-Jiki over and over again and make a huge Pestermite army that would swing for the win with haste on that turn. It has loads of combos! It's heavily popular at the kitchen table and despite many reprints it's still sitting at a double-digit cost! Great card!
Honorable Mention #2. Ninja of the Deep Hours
Hello happy Ninja fans! This card kicks butt! It's the best ninjutsu card for decks around the world and is often the only one played. The ability to self-bounce an unblocked attacker and smash for a card with your 2/2 is pretty nifty. It fits several builds, like blink builds with things to reload, midrange builds that emphasize creatures with enters-the-battlefield stuff, or even saboteur decks that look to net unblocked stuff with combat damage triggers. Good stuff all! This has the highest played percentage of decks from Betrayers of Kamigawa in Commander! Ninjutsu cards make up 6 of the 10 most played cards that are registered over at EDHREC.com, and 2 more in the next five. A shout out then to the most enduring mechanic from the set for kitchen table play. Good stuff!
Honorable Mention #3. The Shizo, Death's Storehouse Cycle
Hello happy Shizo folks! This epic cycle is heavily played in Commander. Each of these five legendary lands don't enter the battlefield tapped so there is no tempo loss to run them. Each taps to help out a legendary dork in various ways. Shizo is the most heavily registered over at EDHREC.com with 16,961 of these registered. Minamo, School at Water's Edge is next in the cycle at 14,717. This is a beloved cycle where every one is heavily played in Commander where your leader is usually a legendary dork and can benefit from the tapping of these lands and some mana. They each have a low opportunity cost and are beloved in the most common casual format.
#10. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Let's kick our list off right with Kira! Kira dominated for a long time many formats. As you can see, this 3-drop 2/2 flyer in blue gives herself and other dorks the ability to break the first time they are targeted each turn. That means people would need to waste a target from something like a spell or ability first before actually handling the issue - pretty nasty stuff. Kira made decks from Modern to older formats where interaction was pretty low, and she essentially gave them all hexproof. I love Kira in Type Four where you have an infinite amount of mana but can only cast one spell per turn so it's much harder to crack her shell. She's awesomely awesome! She's played in tons of decks and formats as a fun adjunct to removal and adds a tempo element to aggro decks and is a Top Ten played card from her set and is one of the only non-Ninjas on that list on EDHREC.com as well. Good card for your consideration. She's also still in double digits since she's so popular to purchase.
#9. Azami, Lady of Scrolls
This is a bit of a throwback pick as Azami is just in 2% of blue decks in EDHREC.com, with 7,217 but she's still the second-most played Commander from her set. There was a time when Azami was one of the most played Commanders in the format. She was so ubiquitous, that a Deck Advice column for StarCityGames.com was called "Dear Azami." She was everywhere and I once ran into two at the same game at my local game store in Ypsilanti, MI. Azami is as Azami does. But today she's only leading 956 decks from her set, and that's a big fall off. Play some Azami and respect the old days of yore!
#8. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Azusa, Lost but Awesome is a casual all-star. She leads the third-most Commander decks from her set, she is the highest rated one without a tribal bent (Rats and Wizards), and with 36,283 decks she is in she is the fifth-most played card from her set in Commander according to EDHREC.COM. She is a huge hit. She is a heavy hitter in formats like Five Color as well where she was a massive hit after getting reprinted. As a double Exploration on a body, she is a beloved card that everyone loves. Me too!
And now let's move to the card so good it was banned in Commander!
#7. Kokusho, the Evening Star
Hello Kokusho fans! This thing was one of the most played dorks ever at the kitchen table. I was shocked when Akroma won the legendary contest held at Wizards.com and Kokusho didn't even get out of the first round! He was so dominant in multiplayer and Commander because people would abuse its death trigger and kill everyone at the kitchen table in a few life drains. It's still one of the most powerful dorks ever printed for Five Color. It was unbanned in Commander and today is still a Top Ten card from the set. Kokusho is a powerful force of nature. But not that Force of Nature. Love it a lot! It's currently worth north of $20.
#6. Pithing Needle
Our highest-scoring card from Saviors of Kamigawa (And our only card in the set) is this artifact. The third set in the block was hugely disappointing. The top played card in that set on EDHREC.com is the common aura Freed from the Real, which is used for combo decks to untap their Commander or other card with tap abilities. No Commander from that set has more than 600 decks. And that was a dense set of tons of legendaries.
The next most played card is everyone draws classic Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, which can be played in every deck and clocks in at 15,237 decks. This was a poorly received set at the time and things got worse over time. Champions x3 is a great booster draft, Champions x2 and Betrayers is fine, and one of each is really bad. Pithing Needle was the notable exception and a big hit. It's a cheap way to answer a card on the battlefield and shut off its abilities. In Commander, it can shut down the nasty abilities of a Commander rather than merely remove it from the game and then it comes back. For something like Sliver Overlord, this is pretty nice. Although most Commanders don't have activated abilities they have triggered or enters-the-battlefield ones. You can shut down a nasty planeswalker. It's also been heavily used in sideboards from formats like Modern to Legacy.
Top Five Time!
#5. Ghostly Prison
Our second highest-scoring uncommon and highest scoring White card is this! Propaganda is a 3-drop enchantment uncommon from Tempest in Blue that taxed every dork that wanted to attack you, was heavily played in multiplayer where you could play keep away since folks might want to do things with their mana like play cards from their hand rather than attack you, and they'd often attack another instead. Propaganda is still a major force in Commander and other multiplayer formats and is registered in 48,899 decks over at EDHREC.com, which is a huge amount of decks.
So, you could see the parabola of just how popular moving Propaganda effects to White was going to be with Ghostly Prison. And Ghostly Prison? It's played in more decks, 54,843 decks so that's 14% of white decks! It is the fourth most-played card from its set over at EDHREC.com. It's just incredible how much this thing and its friend are played, and an entire deck archetype is built around Propaganda and Ghostly Prison and friends (Pillow Fort). Fun stuff!
#4. Sensei's Divining Top
Ah yes, the Top. This is our "top" scoring 1-drop artifact and second highest scoring artifact and top scoring uncommon. (Sorry) Want to talk about play in Commander? The Top has 69,086 cards registered over at EDHREC.com, and since it's colorless, that's an 8% rate in every deck ever. It's been printed in its original set, a Masters set and a From the Vault appearance, so it's really pricey on the secondary market north of 50 dollars. Imagine how much more play it would get if it was just 5 dollars or something? This thing was so powerful it was banned!
Top Three Time!
#3. Sakura-Tribe Elder
This is our highest creature on our list. Sakura-Tribe Elder (STE) was a powerhouse and played all over Standard while it was legal. It's also heavily played in Kitchen Table formats like Five Color and Commander where it's a staple. STE is played in...get ready...116,104 decks over at EDHREC.com and is the second most-played card from the set. When you clock in over 100k you are going to make my Top Three list, right? 27% of Green decks run it! It's also the cheapest card in my Top Five with a price of just $1.49 as it's been heavily reprinted in Commander decks. The next cheapest card is either Ghostly Prison at $2.99 or the sold out next common on our list...
#2. Kodama's Reach
Ah yes, the world's first Cultivate. This common card that searched for two basics and put one onto the battlefield and the other into your hand for just three mana was a massive improvement on previous options. From Five Color to Commander, it became an immediate and long-lasting hit. It's the most played card from it's set over on EDHREC.com with 150,747 decks registered running it. That's a huge 35% of green decks. Its non-arcane remake Cultivate is in 209,828 decks and is the 49% of green decks. I don't know why Cultivate is run more than this as they are the same card, but Cultivate is the most played green card and the Reach the third most-played Green card after Beast Within at 39% of cards. It can't not be on my list!
But it's not my number one card!
#1. Umezawa's Jitte
Ah yes, the Jitte. Two mana to drop, two mana to equip, and then when it deals combat damage you toss on charge counters which you can pull off to give the equipped dork +2/+2 for the turn, or to -1/-1 a dork, or to gain two life. This has been called by some the most powerful piece or equipment ever printed and only Skullclamp and maybe Batterskull are in the conversation. This thing dominated Standard and still sees loads of play at the kitchen table. Unfortunately, it's an expensive since it's only been reprinted in a limited edition From the Vaults set. It's the most played card on EDHREC.com from it's set. It's one of the most impactful ever printed, bar none!
And there we are! What did you think of my Top Ten list? Anything I missed or that you forgot about? Anything in here that I got in the wrong order? Just let me know!