As you may recall, yesterday I began a Random Cube project where I randomly selected cards from Gatherer to put into a Cube. Then after each random choice, I added in one card of my own selection into the Cube.
Well, I was sparked by that random idea, and I thought we could do that today . . .
I have played a majority of the cards that have been printed in Magic. Either in limited, Abedraft, or my various decks down through the years, I've seen most of the cards. I can give you real information, stories, and advice on the vast majority of cards out there. So this project, of hitting ten random cards from Gatherer is a cool way to address one of my core points — there's a ton of great cards in Magic you've forgotten about or never heard of. Take a look and see! And we step outside of my own biases as well to do so.
Are you ready?
Top Ten Random Cards!
10. Terrifying Presence
The first card I flip is this cool variant on a Fog. Now I've long belabored my love of playing the right Fog. There are so many Fog variants down through the years. And one of the good things about this is that it saves you from major combat problems, but that one blocker that'd kill an attacker will do so, and yet won't damage back. I can block your Shivan Dragon with my Baron Sengir and then prevent all of the combat damage save for the Baron's. And don't forget that you can cast this card for someone else. You can play politics by letting Brandon's creature kill one of Sarah's attacking dorks, but otherwise nothing happens. Shoot, you can use this card aggressively. Swing into a bad set of blocks, only let the unblocked creature deal damage, and nothing else happens. This card has a lot of interesting uses. So get your Presence on!
9. Magnetic Mountain
A lot of early cards from Magic really hosed colors. And Magnetic Mountain was strongly in that lineage. Today, opposing colors show their hate a lot less. Maybe they get along more? But you used to have cards like this that ruined folks' day. If you have foes playing with any sort of Blue creature, than this will seriously ruin their day. Magnetic Mountain is awesome in its hosery. Tap four mana to untap any Blue creature. Now these old school hosers are certainly useful, if blunt, tools we have for the kitchen table. If you are running up against a deck you can't fight, or there is a person or two who have really nasty Commander decks and their attitude is sort of "Stop us if you can!" then you can. And this sort of card can so do. It' cheap to acquire, cheap to play, and can be snuck down past a counter-shield. It'll be death to a deck like Azami, Lady of Scrolls. So dig into these hosers of the past to unveil something really powerful and unexpected at your next Magic Night.
8. Snow Fortress
Ah yes, the Fortress of Snow. It's a surprisingly viable card for Magic in the Modern Age. I still run it in my decks. As an inflatable Wall, it's a great card to interfere with creatures and to put the fear of a powerful blocker in them. As you can pump the front or the back, you can make it high for blocking big beaters, or strong for taking out attackers. I often find that if I have the mana untapped, people have to assume that I will use it to keep my Fortress alive, and they swing on elsewhere. And don't forget that you can shoot a grounded attacker that's coming your way as well. As long as it's not flying, you can shoot it, whether you block it or not. And since those abilities all require colorless mana to use, you have a lot of options. I've put it in decks with things like Death Pits of Rath, Pyrohemia, Fumiko the Lowblood, and more. Shoot unblockable twerps down old school Snow Fortress style! No more Looter il-Kor for your metagame!
One of the best examples of cards that are on the Reserved List that make no sense. Outside of Limited, I don't know that I've ever run it. But you have to admit, Narwhal is a perfect example of flavor trumping things. Here you have a Whale with a horn. So it's Blue. And it's got first strike, because of the horn. And it has protection from Red. Because Narwhals don't like your Red chicanery. It doesn't matter if Blue doesn't really get first strike or pro Red. That's how we role! Man, I wish Blue cards still frequently got creatures of the deep, like Whales and Squids and such. We need more Whales!
6. Grim Lavamancer
This will likely be the best known card on today's Random-a-Tron. It's a classic card, with a classic design, and a classic feel. Exile two cards from your graveyard, and shoot something for two damage. It's a Shock on a stick, but with a limited set of usages due to the exiling requirement. It always works better in decks that either don't care about their graveyard, or which are throwing cards in there left and right. This card has always been one of Red's best 1-drops in tournaments and the kitchen table is no different. Shoot, I even have it in my Commander Cube. It does what you need it to, and I like tossing some equipment on it and swinging later, after you've taken out early threats or utility creatures.
5. Phantom Monster
I think it's weird that I have so many cards here from the first few sets — Ice Age, Homelands, Arabian Nights, and now Alpha /Beta. I wonder if Legends or Antiquities or even Fallen Empires will follow! Anyways, I've run Phantom Monster in lots of places, like Pauper online (where it's reprinted as a common a long time ago) or in Commander '95 (where you play cards printed up through 1995). And it's a fine body there. It swings for three in the air on the 5th turn instead of the 6th, where a lot of folks are swinging. We have tons of 5 mana 3/3s with some ability, like Vigilant Drake, Aven Windreader, and Shinen of Flight's Wings. But this one gets down earlier, and swings earlier. So I've run it here and there as a useful stopgap. And hey, it's great to see these cards in their original version as well. It's not like the few bucks it'd cost to purchase an original one would set you back much anyways. For a mega-cheap pimped version, the foil common from Eternal Masters is just a quarter.
4. Temporal Fissure
Storm has always been one of the major players in competitive Pauper. Even after folks banned a few cards to deal with it, it's there. And through it all, Temporal Fissure has been there as a useful way to bounce a person's whole side of stuff, lands and all, in order to get a swing or three through and win. You build up a big storm count, and then blow up everything. You can pick up all of the various combo elements quite cheaply. And it's not like Temporal Fissure require that build anyways. You can use anything from High Tide and Turnabout to Manamorphose, Dark Ritual , and Darkwater Egg to make it work. You've got this. And the Fissure is a proven reason why.
3. Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
Our token card from Ravnica today is . . . Trostani! Let's hear it for our good Selesnya's overlords! Trostani is great at bringing home some good token loving. She's all about the team. Because only the Selesnya Guild understands the power of community. Of helping the other and the greater. We understand the power of "we." In addition to leading the guild in a rousing rendition of "We are family" we have Trostani at the races, bringing out more stuff pretty quickly. You can populate everything from the 8/8 Elemental token of Grove of the Guardian, the 6/6 Wurm Beats of Roar of the Wurm (or a dead Penumbra Wurm) or even the */* stylings of the powerful Avatar summoned by no less a luminary than Ajani Goldmane himself! Let's hear it for Trostani and the Lifesmiths!
2. Laccolith Whelp
Okay, I have to be honest with you. I cheated and went ahead and flipped over the last card in a moment. So I can tell you this now — I have actually played with every card we randomly grabbed from Gatherer today. How cool is that!??!?! Now, to be fair, I've only used the Whelp (and the Presence) in Limited formats. But the Whelp is one of a handful of Laccolith buddies from Nemesis that I always felt sort of enabled the creature control of that set. You might not notice that there are three ways to use the power here for your Laccolith buddies. You swing, and then someone blocks. Let's say their Wall of Ice leaps in front of your Laccolith Whelp. Well, why not send that damage to another creature that person controls? You can stack the Laccolith damage from other folks, or other combat damage, to kill a blocker you might not have otherwise have done. And you can shoot a creature that didn't block at all. Maybe that Laccolith Whelp kills a Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves the owner controlled. Now, there are two other ways to use this ability. One is something you might not see at first. But you can shoot any creature. That means you can attack, get blocked by one player's Wall of Ice, and then shoot a third player's Wellwisher instead. You can use this to get kills, as well as to use alliances to take out stuff. But there's a subtle third use. You can shoot the creature that blocks itself. So that may not be obvious, so let's walk you through an actual combat:
- You attack with Laccolith Whelp
- Your foe blocks with Wall of Ice
- You can deal one damage to the Wall of Ice immediately, which prevents your combat damage later.
So your Laccolith stuff basically has first-est strike, as they can shoot the blocker for damage before damage, even first strike damage, is dealt. You can also deal damage to a creature from a non-combat source, which can kill it. A creature like Fog Bank prevents all combat damage. This is not combat damage. And if you are looking at Laccolith Whelp, and doubting the value and power of a 1/1 with this ability, then check out Laccolith Rig, Laccolith Warrior, or Laccolith Titan.
1. Ornate Kanzashi
What an odd card to flip as my last slot. I've actually played the Kanzashi in Commander a few times. In that format, it's pretty good. Tap it and 2 mana, and exile a card from the top of your opponent's library. This will help you exile good stuff, fight against top-of-the-deck tutors like Mystical Tutor or Liliana Vess, and you can use it to exile problem. And you can do something else. If you have the mana, ability, and desire, you can play that card until the end of the turn. Get a free land, creature, whatever. It's very similar to the various recent versions of this card you've seen as "Red card drawing". You have learned just how good that can be, and now you can do that to your foe's deck, or just exile issues. From an answer to Academy Ruins and Volrath's Stronghold to gentle card advantage that's not egregious to actual, proper, deck manipulation via cards like Elemental Augury, there are a lot of ways to use and abuse the Kanzashi. Not so random today!
And there we are! And some of these cards, like the Kanzashi and Fortress, could easily have made the cut in my next “Top Ten Cards I Need to Remind You Of”, so it was nice to beat down that door. I hope you enjoyed our little trek through all things random!