Hello folks! I hope that you are having a fun and safe day today!
What cards are Standard legal but unplayed? What have folks skipped by or forgotten about?
According to Gatherer there are 1393 cards in Standard right now. That's a lot of cards. And yes, I looked at them all and it took me... some time. But that's okay. That's my job!
To make today's list you need to have a few things going for it. What are said things? Great question!
- Good Quality. I am not going to give a slot to a card that's only average or worse. These need to be the cream of the crop. Cards like Lava Serpent or Tome Raider (Azorius Blink is a good shell for it) are not mentioned.
- Unseen. It needs to have been unseen by me at any time save for Limited play. Now if I have run it myself, then that's okay (and it's true of several cards on this list), but otherwise I can't have run into it in MTG Arena ladder play, real life gaming, or online in Standard legal deck lists. I read about 10-12 Standard articles a day, I cannot have run into it there either.
- Casual Quality. I am a casual writer so I am looking for cards that will impact kitchen table play like Commander, as well as FNMs in Standard and elsewhere too, in addition to mere Standard play.
Let's do it!
Honorable Mention #1 - Idol of Endurance
I really like this card's potential in an aggro build. It reminds me of Marshal's Anthem which was great way to finish the game in an aggro build in the mid or late game and wring that last bit of damage out of a life total or to reset after a mass removal effect. In this case you can exile all of your cheap stuff from your graveyard, which is likely to be pretty much everything in an aggressive strategy. Then once a turn you can tap just two mana and drop the best body for the situation. This one is less of an end-game bomb and more if a mid-game value finder. For just five mana you can get the best cheap body back on the first turn, which is just one more than the cost of White's typical Resurrection effects. Plus, you have the ability to make more. This also generates card value over time which is great in any White build. Enjoy it!
Honorable Mention #2 - Maraleaf Pixie
This bad boy is awesome. It's a two-mana ramper that's a powerful on-curve option. Don't have something to ramp into? Just swing for two with your flying self. In the heavy era of Standard Ramp why isn't this considered or run anywhere? It taps for two different colors and it is much better in the late or mid game than say, Tangled Florahedron which is a horrible top deck outside of landfall triggers on the table. In many decks this is the better option and yet... no play. Why it isn't getting any commentary coming its way is beyond me!
Honorable Mention #3 - Order of Midnight
I love this card. It always plays better for me than you think it might. It's basically a better Gravedigger. You can drop it as a powerful two-mana 2/2 flyer on-curve. You can Raise Dead later in the game. And you can do both for four mana, at the same cost as Gravedigger with a better flying body. It synergizes with Adventures and those often have heavy creature counts that this works quite well in. I enjoy it a lot! It's the sort of card advantage that you love.
10. Fiery Emancipation
Double damage is normally the Red way with various effects. But no longer! Now we can triple our damage instead. This bad boy has a big giant casual cachet and can play into a lot of damage-based brews. Burn is the obvious call out. It can increase your final damage in an aggro deck and help you land that extra damage from a final attack. It doesn't just increase your Red damage like similar effects so you can toss in into something like Gruul midrange. Don't over-go its color as it costs three Red mana to drop. I ran it in my Rakdos midrange deck in Arena back when it debuted before the current version with Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. It could do some serious damage and has a mad love with certain Chandra planeswalkers. Don't sleep on it!
9. Zof Consumption // Zof Bloodbog
I hated the low ratings this thing got from my fellow writers as they evaluated the set. It's really strong and has played very well for me thus far. The Bloodbog is great early to help with land management and then the Consumption is great late game as an 8 life swing and game ender. As a reminder, Soul Feast exists, and it got played a lot. This is one-mana more for the swap of an early game land with enhanced value. It's a valuable card and plays that way and I haven't even run into it in other hands in limited formats. Run it; love it!
8. Careless Celebrant
Careless Celebrant is an on-curve two-mana 2/1 that keeps the power going. When it invariably dies, you can Shock an opposing dork or 'walker for two damage. Note that it doesn't self-target, so if your foe has no legal targets, then nothing happens to your stuff, which is pretty good. It does trade down with its 1 toughness, but it'll also kill anything with a butt of four or fewer in combat. And that's pretty handy! It can finish off a wounded 'walker you just hurt in combat, and if a foe has a valuable creature like Lotus Cobra or Edgewall Innkeeper or Thieves' Guild Enforcer (in either mode) it'll often slip through when you swing helping you to drop their life total and giving it pseudo-evasion. Don't forget about it!
7. Underworld Dreams
Given just how much card drawing is rife in this Standard format why isn't Underworld Dreams getting play? From Opt to Into the Story to The Great Henge there is a lot of card drawing and flowing going on. It can't just be the casting cost is three Black, right? Not in our age of ramp, Lotus Cobra, the Pathway lands that can be played on either side and so many more mana options. A modern two-color deck like Golgari should easily be able to drop this no later than turn four. Run this thing!
6. The Royal Scions
Why am I not running into this planeswalker anywhere? They are a useful 3-drop with card flowing, creature pumping, and both with pluses to grow their loyalty. Three-drop 'walkers have a lot of value as we have established. Two positive loyalty abilities are also strong. This works best in either a non-spell based Izzet deck or just most decks that run the two colors but have a decent creature count. Either build works. I adore it in Standard and it's good at the kitchen table as well in various formats. Get them the play they deserve!
Ready for the top five? Sure thing, Oh Reader!
5. Kaervek, the Spiteful
I adore Daarken's art for Kaervek, the Spiteful. It made my Top Ten Favorite Art from Magic 2021. You can find that article here. I also got this guy in a random Commander challenge and built around him in a creatureless context. You can find that deck here.
Now for this format he is underplayed. There are Standard control decks that run Black and a tiny number of dorks and can toss this in. There is a reason Spikefield Hazard is such a popular removal spell at the moment in the format. There are many 1 toughness guys that it'll kill that are valuable to archetypes, such as Lotus Cobra, Edgewall Innkeeper, Tangled Florahedron and Merfolk Windrobber. Shoot even the 1/1 Human Token off Lovestruck Beast's Heart's Desire mode will die to it. All of those 1 toughness dorks die to a Kaervek and they'll stay off the battlefield as well until Kaervek is answered. Plus, you can supplement burn and I love in it a Rakdos Midrange brew that's running a lot of burn and isn't the graveyard focused one. It lets your Hazard kill 2 toughness options and opens up better burn ranges. This is a decidedly strong option for Standard, so run it!
4. Renata, Called to the Hunt
Let's look at the awesomeness of Renata. This fun Demigod does a lot for your team, would be a great adjunct to the Mono-Green Stompy decks right now, and I've not run into her anywhere, nor have I seen her name checked in those articles. Her devotion-based power is much better than toughness and creates a game changer. Her +1/+1 countering is awesome in a creature heavy build, and she plays very well with The Great Henge. She also helps to fend off the commonly targeted removal of Heartless Act. She has a lot of synergy to offer and is a good budget option for an FNM build. She's also fine in casual in a number of places. Get your Renata on!
3. Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
This is another missing card that's not mentioned in Standard articles or decklists on Mono-Green stompy. It's an ideal 2-drop that gives you two devotion, size, and when it swings can increase the size of something else. That size increase speeds up The Great Henge by at last two turns, and it loves Renata giving you a bigger size and also a bigger pump if it arrives afterwards with the +1/+1 counter increasing its size and thus the reach of its ability. It's four damage on the swing in a deck with two or more dorks, and that's more than most 2-drops in Green. Break people with Syr Faren!
2. Idyllic Tutor
This bad boy was released in an enchantment matters set, and it is still Standard legal and... no place in Standard has seen it. No deck list. No name shouting. I haven't seen it in anywhere in Arena against a bunch of random decks. And this? It's a powerful reprint that has not been played, and I'm not sure why. This thing can enable a constellation or similar build, so did you forget about it or something?
1. Nylea's Intervention
This is the most powerful card on our list. For three-mana you can Demonic Tutor for any land not just a basic. Four-mana gives you two of any land including special lands. The power rises from there and there are some ways in Standard to get them onto the battlefield quickly like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. A third-turn Dryad into a fourth-turn Intervention can drop both lands assuming you dropped a land after your Dryad in order to have four mana. Its latter mode is death to flyers and will clear out a lot of vital creatures and acts as a one-sided Wrath of God against the Standard archetype Rogues as four mana total will deal four damage to them all. This is a powerhouse that's also underutilized at the kitchen table and I haven't seen a single Commander deck run it, yet they should. Grab it and go!
And there we have it! Anything in here that I nailed or that you also think is underplayed unfairly? Just let me know and have an awesome day!