Patriot Games

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Is this any good?

Do you like going to the cinema?  No I’m not asking you on a date I am just enquiring if you tend to go and watch movies on the big screen.  I love movies, and happily punctuate my sentences with snippets of scripts and paraphrased miss-quotes.  Thanks to Serenity things became “shiny” if they were foils or not, if someone has no patience then they will be informed that “You are not a Jedi yet…” and for when things go spectacularly wrong there is always “Rog, grab the cat!”

"How did we get involved in a Magic blog?"

One of the things my friends and I would do is make lists of our favourite movies with various rules in regards to things like sequels.  There would then follow hours of debate as we would disagree with each other’s choices and surprise each other with the movies that made all our lists.

This vaguely pointless pastime has inspired me to compile a list.  Not surprisingly as this is a blog about Magic the Gathering it is a list of cards, but not my top 10 favourite cards of all time, rather a list of 10 of the best cards ever printed. 

"That's how I got the part of Oskar Schindler - I told Steven Spielberg I like making lists"

Naturally I did not include the power 9 as these are obviously at least 8 of the most powerful cards ever - hence they are called the power 9 and not the vaguely Ok 9!  Most Magic players know what they are and none of us can afford them if we don’t have them already!  If you don't know what the power 9 are you an find them here.

Over £1,000 for a playing card is a fair price, right?

So other than the power 9, what is it that makes a good card?  There are generally 2 main factors involved in this which are over powered (OP) and/or under costed (cheap).  Here are the choice I made of the top ten cards in Magic.  Feel free to disagree, I would love to see your list in the comments section at the end of the blog.

Mana Drain - legal in vintage and commander.  This card narrowly nudged out Counter Spell as the best counter ever.  It is a hard counter for UU mana which gives you mana equal to the countered spells cost during your next main phase.  A counter so powerful it even got banned in Legacy,  When it was originally printed the mana could have been a problem due to mana burn but now mana burn is no longer part of the game it is just awesome.

Tarmogoyf – Legal in Modern, Legacy, Vintage and commander.  This card is a milestone in Magic as it is the first card to reference the Planeswalker card type even though at the time they did not exist.  Tarmogoyf is potentially an 8/9 for G1 mana!  Sadly because he is so powerful it retails for £50 - £75 each (ouch).  Probably the most wanted reprint ever by those who don’t already have 4 copies.

Eternal Witness - Legal in Modern, Legacy, Vintage and commander.  This card is just so good.  It does all the stuff that Snapcaster can’t do and then almost does all the things snappy does as well!  Also something with an enter the battlefield (ETB) effect that brings back something from your graveyard seems to have “combo” written all over it.  How about Eternal Witness, Splinter Twin and Time Warp for infinite turns?  Lucky that Red/Blue/Green (RUG) isn’t like a playable deck or anything, oh wait a sec…  Also there is a copy of this in the new Izzet Vs Golgari set due out next week.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor - Legal in Legacy, Vintage and commander.  What can we say about big Jace?  Hated by some, misunderstood by many, managed to join an elite club by getting banned in standard, still banned in Modern and extended.  One of the best adverts for Legacy ever - come play Legacy we play good cards like Jace...  I still feel Jace was very misunderstood and was only truly OP when combined with Gideon, and it was that partnership in Caw Blade that was the true power behind the deck (not to take anything away from Stoneforge Mystic or pre-ordain there).  Jace's biggest problem, other than the company he kept, was his availability.  Mythic rare status in a small set meant that Worldwake was destined to sell out.  Please note, most of the people that really hate him don't own him.  During GP Boston this weekend one of the pro players said there was a rumour going round that Jace TMS was going to be un-banned in Modern.  Jace TMS instantly went up in price and I suspect said pro player sold his and laughed all the way to the bank!

Balance – Legal in vintage (restricted).  I love this card.  Sadly, bar winning the lottery, I will never get to play it again as I will never be able to afford to play vintage (as mentioned earlier).  Even then it is restricted which means that you can only have 1 copy of it in the whole deck.  I really want a copy of the Judge promo of this!  Back in the day I lost to this card in my first ever Magic Tournament to a guy who had no creatures in his deck except for 4 Mishra's Factory and 4 Blinking Spirit.  He tap his lands for mana, sacrifice them all to a Zuran Orb for 2 life each and then play Balance so you had to sacrifice all of your lands and any creatures you actually had in play.  One day I will rebuild the deck and make people never want to play Magic again.  I do have an EDH deck which does similar things, but this card is banned in EDH...

Snapcaster Mage - Legal in Standard, Extended, Modern, Legacy, Vintage and commander.  One of the greatest cards ever and is currently legal in all formats.  Wizards have admitted that they didn't realise how good he was in conjunction with things like mana leak outside of Innistrad block.  To give you an idea of how good he is just look at the instant and sorcery cards in this list - snapcaster gives you all of them again for U1 and a 2/1 man as well.  If you have a sacrifice outlet for him he gives you back Balance and  it still kills all of your opponent's creatures...

Lightning Bolt - Legal in Extended, Modern, Legacy, Vintage and commander.  3 damage for R, this is the measure by which burn spells are compared.  Made any creature with a toughness less than 4 bad when it was last in standard (M10/M11).  Shoots both creatures and players so has all the things you are looking for.  Even more proof that 3 for 1 is not a balanced equation in MTG.

Umezawa’s Jitte Legal in Legacy, Vintage and commander.  Way back in the original Mirrodin block they brought in a new for of Magic cards - equipment.  Skull clamp was an uncommon in Darksteel and allowed you to draw lots of cards for getting your guys killed this turned out to be horribly broken and got it banned in everything bar vintage and EDH.  Wizards quickly realised the mistake they had made with skull clamp and banned it.  However they still went on to make Umezawa's Jitte and not ban that.  Counters on Jitte turn it into some form of Swiss army knife doing what ever you need the most at that moment, need your guy to be bigger, no problem.  Want to kill their guys with -1/-1 effects, sure coming right up.  Racing your opponent and a bit lagging on life - here have some life.  Jitte + Creature = win...

Sensei’s Divining Top Legal in Legacy, Vintage and commander.  A great card, always remember the 3 best words in Magic are "Draw a Card".  Well this little beauty allows you to have a good look through the top of your deck to see if the card you want is there first.  In combination with sac lands and other shuffle deck/draw effects gets really broken.  Banned in modern for the fact it can make games go on for ever...

Sol Ring – Legal in commander and vintage (restricted).  When WotC produced their Commander decks last year one of their commander deck building rules was: "Sol Ring goes in every Commander deck."  This would seem to be the case and rightly so as this has to be the most OP and under costed card of all time.  The numbers are all wrong - pay 1 mana for an artifact that gives you 2 mana, no...  A turn 1 Sol Ring is living the dream even now.

I hope you have enjoyed this list and that it encourages you to make your own, or at least to look at some of the amazing cards that make up Magic the Gathering.  I'll be back with my extended deck list for FNM Relax on Thursday, hope to see you there...


  1. You missed off jungle lions.

    1. Jungle lions is such a sweet card a 2/1 guy for G is pretty powerful, however apparently Jungle Lions can't intercept (block). It would also seem that Jungle Lions can't fly either as the copy from Rich Fuller's cube went sailing out of a window during the now infamous "Booze Cube" episode of a couple of weeks ago...