I get it. I understand you. I understand why you could forget a lot of these great cards. Magic is a game with too many pieces. There are around 18,000 unique cards (According to Gatherer, there are 17,925 cards legal for Vintage, toss in cards that are banned, like Ante cards and Chaos Orb, and you are nearing 18k). That's a lot of
fish... cards. I have probably played with 16,500 of them (basic guess, I play a ton of Limited, and I own a copy of every card for Abedraft). Even I forget some cards. If you are new to the game, it's hard to even begin to comprehend that many moving pieces to a game. Can you imagine joining a game with that many unique pieces? That's incredible! If Magic stopped after Guilds of Ravnica, I could do one Top Ten article a week showcasing ten cards, and it would take more than THIRTY-FOUR YEARS to write about every card that's been printed! That is crazy.
And whether you are new or an older player, many of these 18,000 cards are going to be lost to most of you.
That's why I wanted to give you some cheap commons that I think have been forgotten. Did you forget about them? Did you ever know about them? Check this ten-set out!
10. Pestilence and Friends
Pestilence is a powerful common printed in the first set and was also a major component to a broken Urza's Saga Limited environment where this "draft-around-me" card was common. For the early years of the game, Pestilence decks were one of the most iconic and commonly seen decks. But then it lost its favor. How did it work?
Hello! I'm a dark, dank, Gate of the Cemetery. I'm a Wall with Defender and I ain't swinging. In order to keep the undead and various horrors in the Cemetery from afflicting the townsfolk, I need Protection from Black! That makes me a very resonant card. That also makes me a powerful tool to toss into decks like Pestilence, Crypt Rats, or Withering Wisps:
Not only will the Gate survive these kinds of effects, but it will also remain on the battlefield, so they won't be sacrificed at the end of the turn. This was also true for a number of White cards in this era, and those also were printed and played in these decks, like White Knight.
Here, let me get you a quick little sample deck from this era:
Pestilence for the Win | Casual | Abe Sargent
- Creatures (22)
- 2 Paladin en-Vec
- 4 Cemetery Gate
- 4 Melesse Spirit
- 4 Soltari Monk
- 4 Voice of Grace
- 4 White Knight
- Sorceries (1)
- 1 Demonic Tutor
There we go!
This has remained an incredibly strong theme in Black even as it's occasionally been slid to Red. Black has cards like Famine, Pestilence Demon, Thrashing Wumpus, Sickening Dreams, and Crypt Rats. Enjoy!
9. Disturbed Burial
I think this card doesn't get the chops that it should. I'm not sure why, but it's definitely true. Buyback allows you to keep the card in your hand and you can keep casting it as you have mana. That makes this a great card. It's a mana sink for your Black ramp deck that uses stuff like Cabal Coffers to churn out a ton of mana. It's a way to trigger "cast sorcery" triggers like Guttersnipe over and over again. It gives you strong long-game card advantage. It even gives you good stuff while remaining in your hand, so it will help "hand-size matters" effects like Gerrard's Wisdom, Maro or Kagemaro, First to Suffer. This card is incredibly strong, and I have it in multiple decks right now. I also have it in a Cube as a cool target.
8. Distant Melody
Tribal decks often include many dorks but fewer support cards due to the sheer synergy and needed density of card selection to make the tribal focus work. You don't have space for a lot of other cards and effects. That's why Distant Melody is so good! This card is an essential in any tribal deck that includes Blue. Drawing a ton of cards is a key part of keeping the gas flowing.
7. Abyssal Gatekeeper
This Horror was once printed as a common in Weatherlight and has since been reprinted precisely one time in a duel deck. It's a strong card that plays into a strong space. When it dies, everyone is hit by an Innocent Blood effect and sacrifices a dork. Like many a card before (or after) it, such as Mogg Maniac, Black Cat, or Typhoid Rats, this has kept people from smashing you on the ground. They don't want to kill your dork. Because you have this amazing 2-drop on the battlefield, people treat your board position with more respect, especially before you cast any other bodies. That gives you time to set up. In other shells, it's great because you can sacrifice it for various Black sacrifice effects, such as Attrition or Mind Slash. I love to sacrifice it when someone looks my way or attacks me with a dork it can't block. It can be used right after someone cast their Commander on a naked board. Abyssal Gatekeeper is a good choice for the modern day.
I still really like Probe. I was initially exposed to this awesome card during the Invasion prerelease weekend where I built a deck around Probe, Recoil, Repulse, Exclude, Agonizing Demise, and even some creatures! I notched a high mark, made Top 8, and that was on the back of two Probes that were always there for me when I needed them. Probe is either a good 3-drop or a great 5-drop. You don't get upset when you topdeck it later in the game. Even today, I run it in Cubes as an awesome draft target, and various builds. Because you are discarding, you are filling up that sweet graveyard full of two nice cards. It plays into the whole, "Draw three cards, discard two" and then add another benefit, with cards like Compulsive Research or Oath of Jace. In this case the benefit is a kicker for two more mana to hit your foe for a Mind Rot effect. That's pretty sweet! Probe for the win!
5. Tortured Existence
I have called this the best common for multiplayer ever printed. It was the top card of my "No Rares Allowed" list that looked at the best 200 commons and uncommons for multiplayer. (It's here, although that list is 11 years old) I think this card is so awesome that it was on my first entry into my Underused Hall of Fame that counted down the best cards no one was using.
The best way to explain how awesome this card is, is by using this apt analogy -
Survival is one of the most iconic cards ever printed. It's powerful. For one mana, discard a creature card, and search your library for any other critter and put it into your hands. It's devastatingly powerful. Tortured Existence is the same, save it grabs any dork from your graveyard instead for the exact cost of a Survival. You can discard something expensive early that you can't cast for something you can. You can exchange something cheap you draw later in the game for something powerful in your graveyard. It's perfect for decks like Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and even Lazav, the Multifarious from Guilds of Ravnica. It's a great card for you to toss into your next build!
4. Sprout Swarm
I like Sprout Swarm a lot, and I hardly doubt that I am alone in that claim. This is an awesome, instant, token maker of Saprolings en masse. It's great because that instant status gives it massive flexibility, as does convoke and buyback. You will typically cast this at the end of someone's turn, tap all of your mana and dorks to make 2-3 Saprolings, and then proceed to take your turn and untap. This lets you drop a lot of stuff onto the board, and the more you use it, the more you can, make as the Saprolings can, themselves, be tapped for more Saprolings. So, now you are making 4 and 5 a turn! It's gets big fast. And that's just the normal way you cast this thing. You can make blockers when someone brings the heat your way, or make some dorks prior to attacking with a haste enabler like Fires of Yavimaya that you control. There's so much value here! It's an ideal mana sink for ramp. It triggers "for each time you cast an instant or sorcery, do this," effects. It can be used to break stuff like Aura Shards. This is a great common! Play it!
3. Avenging Druid
Avenging Druid is a card that I have long championed in my columns. It has made the cut in many of my Budget builds, graveyard-builds and more. I adore in in Sultai Commander decks as both a method of land-grabbing and graveyard filling. Note that this thing stops when you hit any land, not any basic land. Also note that the land you fetch up immediately heads to the battlefield, so it's ramp too. It's perfect for Commander; multiplayer, Five Color, 60-card-pickup, and a lot more! I also have one in my Commander Cube and it's often a high draft target by those who have played with it before and respect the Druid. This is a great card!
This card is only run in 161 Commander decks that have been registered on EDHREC.com How is that possible? Do you not want the massive ramp-age of this card? Do you not want the graveyard chicanery of this card? Do you need to have this printed in Commander 2019 in order for you to realize how awesome it is?
It's awesome! Play it; see it; love it.
2. Songs of the Damned
Take a look at this Ice Age common. It's a variant of Dark Ritual that increases as you have a stocked graveyard. Now, remember your last Commander game. Did you have at least one deck with a graveyard-centric theme? At least one deck that had a bunch of dorks in its 'yard? Isn't this card just nasty for a lot of modern Commander decks? Of course, it is! So why aren't you running it? Did you forget about it? Did you never know about it? This. Is. Songs of the Damned. Enjoy it.
1. Fade Away
Fade Away was a card printed while Blue was still considered the color of tempo and taxing effects. Taxing was moved to White and also de-emphasized. This card would never be printed today, and certainly not as a common! Imagine grabbed three of these in your draft deck! You might eventually see it get printed in a Masters set, but otherwise, this is not a direction that Wizards follows any more. That makes this card more powerful than would otherwise be expected. Unlike a lot of other cards from this era, this one won't be antiquated by modern power creep. I like it in Cubes and places where this tempo and taxing are perfect adjuncts to your decks. If someone is tapped out, this can play like a one-sided Blue Wrath of God. It's an incredibly flexible tool and card. It's also useful against modern strategies such as a deck that spews tokens everywhere. If a deck is apt to have more dorks than mana, or to regularly tap out for stuff, then this is powerful. Enjoy Fading Away!
And there we go! Ten Commons that you clearly forgot about (or never knew about!). Anything in here that sparks your own deck-building? Anything in here that recommends itself? Are there any commons that you think everyone else forgot about that they should be reminded exist? Thanks for reading!