I love this series!
The goal of this series is to randomly select ten cards from Gatherer and then talk about them. As someone who has been actively playing since the beginning of the game a long time, I have played with the vast majority of cards. I have done Portal drafts (about ten of them) and built Cubes like my Crap Cube, Mono-Black Cube, Random Cube, Commander Cube, and Pulp Cube (all in real life) as well as my iconic Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy with more than 4000 card, all Highlander, and Abedraft, a draft of at least one of each card in the game (save for around 30 cards I don’t have an extra copy of). I have played, or had played against me, at least 90% of the 15,000 cards in the game.
So, the fun part of hitting the Random Top Ten is that, for the most part, I can give actual real game examples of how I have seen the card work. In the previous articles, only once have I gotten a random card I hadn’t played (Trokin High Guard from Portal 2).
Are you ready to get your random card on?
All right Gatherer, take me away!
10. Future Sight
Well today it looks like we are starting out with one of the more powerful cards printed for the kitchen table. I can remember back in the days of casual Five Color (http://5-color.com/) where this was one of the most dreaded cards out there, and you would just pray that they would hit their second land quickly after their first which shut them down. The amount of card advantage racked up over multiple turns was incredible. And this was not theoretical card advantage that may not mean anything later (I drew more cards than you and have more in my hand. Who knows what they are? They could be five lands that I am squirreling away like real cards. Or you can cast your last spell and then cast Windfall and now we both have a grip of five cards and you got more advantage — etc.). These were cards that were cast and played, so it was real ongoing advantage. The only, common, way to stop it, other than to find a Future Sight answer, was to pray for lands. Someone who drew a card, then played a land from Future Sight only to reveal another land was stopped, and now they had to play Magic like the rest of us!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of a Future Sight, why not try it out?
Blessing has been worded poorly throughout its history. Here, let me show you:
This is the first wording, and it seems to imply that you can use this aura’s activation on any target creature you choose, including the enchanted one. This wording remained until Revised, when we got:
All right. That might be a little too simple, but it works, right? It helps to show that the Blessing is just for the enchanted creature. But then in Fourth Edition, things got weirder as it sort of combined these two wordings in a very odd way:
So, it’s targeting, but just the dork it enchants? That’s off. It was legal for tournaments or game play at the same time as Autumn Willow, and targeting language was being typified. So, if you spend a Green mana to enchant her with Blessing, then you would also have to spend a Green on future turns to pump her with Blessing! The most recent printing fixes it, and it now works as expected. Blessing is a fine card for an aura-based deck that wants to party with pumpage or is looking for a mana sink to invest mana in. I find a lot of my Green aura decks naturally are sitting on mana later just randomly, and this works. I also like those decks to run Skyshroud Elf as their mana Elf of choice as they can tap for Green, White, Red, or wash anything into its ally colors. Thus Blessing is even better. And I like running a cool black-bordered version from Beta even if it’s a little beat up over a foil M14 version. Blessings Await!
Heading all the way back to Visions, Coercion really was one of the first places to see a “Look at their hand and force a discard” effect that would be repeated later with cards like Duress, Thoughtseize, Ostracize, and more. It’s a solid card as an adjunct to your 40 cards, and if you get one or two, you’ll almost always run them. Pretty much anyone who has played Limited has played Coercion, as it has been printed in more than 10 sets. It was a key draft card in Mirage Block, Rath Block, three separate core sets, and more. My favorite art was not the one that came up randomly, by the way, but the Portal 2 version by Jeffrey Busch. (These challenges pick a specific version of that card, so a card that’s been printed more than once has multiple chances to get hit in Gatherer).
7. Putrid Raptor
Putrid Raptor is one of the interesting optional morphs that have a mana-free way to morph them, and in this case, you’d get a 4/4 for three mana, which not a bad investment, in order to discard a Zombie. Note that there are a number of Zombies that will love to head to the graveyard where they can lurk until they have some useful self-recursive ability or want to be recurred via other effects such as Lord of the Undead. Plus, unlike some other cards in this oeuvre, there is an option for a 2/2 with the Putrid Raptor that is not eligible with things like Hidden Horror or Mercenary Knight:
Those are also 4/4’s that force a discard on arrival, and while they can be used to discard anything, not just a Zombie, they also can’t be used unless you have something to discard. The Raptor is a Zombie already, so it fits, and it can be a 2/2 if you have something you want to drop, and you can drop it later, so it will be the better choice at times for the right deck.
It was also errata’d into a Dinosaur, by the way!
6. Kess, Dissident Mage
Huh. Well that’s something new. For those of you who may not have been playing Commander last year, Kess, Dissident Mage is the one who has arguably been the leader of the 2017 builds. She has a huge imprint on the format right now. So, this is Kess. She is a cheap four-mana 3/4 body that unlocks three colors for your deck. She will collect a free instant/sorcery each turn from your graveyard, so she basically gives them all flashback but just one at a time. That’s very powerful, and Spikes all over don’t typically mind exiling her from the ‘yard if you are getting a powerful effect twice. Typically, you aren’t reusing those from the ‘yard, but instead things like creatures, lands, or other permanents. You can recast a lot of quality over and over again!
5. Treetop Bracers
I don’t turn to them much anymore, but the original version in Nemesis¸was pretty pimping. I used it lots on stuff in Verduran Enchantress and similar builds all of the time. It could make a Rabid Wombat tough to handle. I’ve also run into it in my encounters in Commander with Uril, the Miststalker decks as a way to make it hard to block and pump it up some as well.
4. Chromatic Star
Ever since Barbed Sextant in Ice Age, Wizards has created these cheap, one-shot mana makers in artifact form that replace themselves. One of the ways that Wizards has changed up the pitch is to create different ways to get the card. In some cases, you acquire the card as part of the mana effect. Here, you get it whenever the Star dies. That’s valuable in case someone (such as yourself) fires off a card like Akroma's Vengeance that wipes all artifacts from the battlefield. You can also sacrifice it to something else for the card, like Arcbound Ravager. Sacrifice it to Infernal Tribute to draw a card, and then draw a card. It’s death-into-card trigger is useful in more places than a mere Barbed Sextant would be. I have certainly used it. I once blocked a beefy attacker with it, and it didn’t die, because I had out Darksteel Forge along with March of the Machines: which made it a 1/1 indestructible artifact critter.
3. Dingus Egg
Did you know that Dingus Egg used to be restricted? It was played as the “kill” card in the most onerous (and prolific) deck around during the era — Land Destruction. Nobody liked LD as it ruled early tournaments and was very hard to stop without resources like mana. For example, here’s one powerful deck from the current Old School 93/94 format:
This deck is courtesy of an Old School MTG blog.
You can see how powerful and consistent it was. You could cast four each of Sinkhole, Stone Rain, Strip Mine (Ice Storm if you ran Green), and then a quick Dingus Egg could kill. When your deck was powered off Sol Ring, Black Lotus, Moxen, and more, then you could easily have a first turn LD spell to hit you foes with, and you could smash powerfully. You can see this player is adding taxing effects like Nether Void or Gloom to the deck as well as a little removal for dorks (Lightning Bolt and Fireball, plus some creatures and Mishra's Factory to swing and win). But you get the idea.
The problem, by the way, wasn’t Stone Rain, to my mind. Having Red have land destruction is fine, and people have hated on it for a long time. It was comboing it with Sinkhole and Strip Mine that gave it the powerful amount of throat-punching LD led by the fast mana of Dark Ritual and Mox Ruby. A first turn Badlands + Dark Ritual into Sinkhole and Sol Ring was deadly. Even without a powered hand, you could still go 2nd turn Sinkhole your land, and then 3rd turn Ice Storm/Stone Rain to destroy another. (Note the main deck artifact hate to smash mana rocks as well).
So, Dingus Egg was restricted, which was the wrong angle to attack the deck from. It was the kill spell, but after someone has no mana and can’t play anything, you can use anything from a Dragon Engine to a Roc of Kher Ridges if you wanted to win. It’s didn’t matter at that point.
2. Snowhorn Rider
Who likes morph creatures? Apparently today is Double Down Tuesday here on the Random Top Ten List. Snowhorn Rider fits into a section of morph that I like to call Morph Beef. These include cards like Akroma, Angel of Fury, Exalted Angel, Sagu Mauler, or Pine Walker that have a nice morph into a beater that can swing and do some damage in the red zone. They can be your winning condition. As you can cast them later on curve and still be fine. A six-mana Sagu Mauler is still a Sagu Mauler. Here we have a 5/5 trampler with a big body that can either be morphed and then flipped for 5 mana or just cast for six, and either is fine. I’ve cast it as both in a normal of draft formats. It’s solid and reliable.
If you have played triple Khans of Tarkir draft as much as I have (it’s one of my favorite), you also tend to get it later in your drafts, and you can get it as a reliable Temur force of nature. I once had three in the same deck. It’s strong everywhere.
1. Scoria Cat
Scoria Cat! Prophecy had this weird mechanic where your stuff would get better if you had no untapped lands. Here are a few others:
The most well known of these is likely Veteran Brawlers as they were a key kill creature feature in Ponza decks at the time. Now the reason they were likely made is because it felt like a typical Red strategy. There’s mana burn during this era. So in order to get these advantages, you either had to tap out for stuff, or you had to tap your lands and get some mana burn damage. But today, these cards are better without mana burn. Scoria Cat, in particular, is useful, because it’s a 6/6 for 5 mana. There certainly might be a place for the Lava Kitty in Cubes and such.
Did you like those random cards of craziness? Excellent! Here are the first six iterations of random fun for you to unpack!
Thanks for reading!!