People love reading lists – lists which rank anything from the top fifty sounds seals make while mating to the top one hundred Paris Hilton tapes of all time. Perhaps those are identical lists. The same people who love lists also love controversy. With these two thoughts in mind, I set out to make a definitive list of a topic that has often been touched upon, but never been explained thoroughly: the worst Magic cards of all time.
There are over 6000 unique cards in Magic. Only one hundred cards made this list (0.6%). Considering that virtually no two cards are created equal, that’s quite a testament to both R&D’s ability to design useful cards, and the flexibility players have shown in finding strange uses for seemingly underpowered spells. Previous”worst of” lists on the net have named cards such as Phyrexian Dreadnought or Lion’s Eye Diamond as”worst cards of all time,” which is a farce, given that both of these cards appear in tier one Type One decks. You won’t be seeing any rubbish like that in my list.
So how would I define a card which would belong to the Magic Hall of Shame? It’d be easier to first talk about what doesn’t qualify as a”worst card ever.”
I’m loathe to list any card which has the text”draw a card,” since these card drawing effects can replace themselves. This rules out most cantrips, all cycling cards, and many”bad” card drawing effects. Sure, Book of Rass might not be great, but it’s far from unusable in limited. No cycling card is truly an abomination, with Rune of Protection: Lands being the closest to making my little Hall of Shame.
Cards which have been used as part of a broken engine can’t be among the worst cards ever, even though they are true poop in all but a handful of decks. This includes cards such as Illusionary Mask (which, if not for Phyrexian Dreadnought, would still be unplayed in any serious format) and Natural Balance (Drain/Bloom anyone?). While Carnival of Souls does make my top 100 worst of all time list, it’s with the qualifier that it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that one day a broken deck will emerge which abuses this card.
Sometimes Wizards prints a card which strictly obsoletes an older card. Compare Fyndhorn Brownie and Seeker of Skybreak. The Seeker is superior to the Brownie in virtually every comparison test – it has a lower mana cost, lower activation cost, and more power – plus it’s an Elf if you’re into the whole tribal theme. The Brownie did get used back in the day (in Ice Age sealed deck mostly), so even though it’s been made obsolete, doesn’t make it never had a use.
Some people argue that you can’t put a creature on a”worst of” list, since they can always be used to chump block. Great, except these creatures are useless against creatureless decks, decks with flyers, and decks with shadow creatures. If you want to extend that argument to its logical conclusion, then no card in Magic is useless since you can pitch even the worst of the worst to Stormbind. Likewise, holding three Shelkin Brownies in your hand will keep you from taking damage from The Rack just as well as holding three Morphlings, but that doesn’t make Shelkin Brownie an equal card to everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) Blue creature.
Just for arguments sake, cards on this list were judged not only for Constructed valueless ness, but for Limited, team, group, and other play as well. These suckers are just plain bad in every format imaginable. However, only tournament legal cards were included, since cards from other sets can’t truly be judged (Unglued) and/or were not designed to be on the same power level as regular set releases (Portal 1-3, Starter).
So what qualifies a card for entry into the Magic Card Hall of Shame?
1) It’s usually overcosted for its effect. This can include mana cost, or additional costs paid when casting the card.
2) The use of the card is limited. This card usually fills a niche, but it doesn’t fill that niche well, or that niche really didn’t need filling to begin with.
3) The drawbacks associated with the card are too harsh. The card might make you take too much damage during each upkeep, or have such a heavy drawback that just activating it once could spell doom for your entire board position.
4) As stated earlier, the card has to be bad across the board. This includes all Constructed formats, Limited formats, and casual formats (5 Color, Emperor, Two Headed Giant, Free for all team games, and so on and so forth). Any card which has seen play in a serious, winning Constructed deck shouldn’t be on this list.
Wow, those were a lot of rules! It’s time to get cracking, so come with me as we take a trip down memory lane in the Magic Card Hall of Shame!
100) Carnival of Souls (Urza’s Destiny: Rare)
Whenever a creature comes into play, you lose 1 life and add B to your mana pool.
Why it’s bad: Carnival of Souls is one of the few mana-generating engine cards in Magic that has never been abused in a viable deck. Its drawbacks are harsh – loss of life and possible mana burn if you’re not prepared to take advantage of the Carnival, loss of life and mana burn if your opponent plays creatures, and the inability to generate enough mana to win the game with a single X spell, since you’ll die before you hit twenty-one Black mana without a lifegain effect.
How to fix it: There is a fixed version of Carnival of Souls in Mirrodin.
Tangleroot (Mirrodin: Rare)
Whenever a player plays a creature spell, that player adds G to his or her mana pool.
This version eliminates both drawbacks of Carnival of Souls, although it generates Green mana instead of Black mana (Black mana which would otherwise be used to fuel a Consume Spirit or Drain Life). Many people place Carnival of Souls towards the top spots of their”worst of” lists. Plainly stated, it’s an engine card that has everything it needs to be broken, but it was just a little too bad to ever find a deck.
99) Teferi’s Isle (Mirage: Rare)
Teferi’s Isle comes into play tapped.
Tap: Add UU to your mana pool.
Why it’s bad: In concept, this wasn’t a bad card – it’s a land which can accelerate your mana slightly – but it won’t do so until three turns down the road. You can play two of them since they will phase out simultaneously, but then you’re seriously delaying your mana development. If it didn’t come into play tapped, it’d be ridiculously good – think Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. If it didn’t phase, it’d be amazing – think Saprazzan Skerry except without any drawbacks. However, with both of these drawbacks combined onto one card, Teferi’s Isle was doomed to be a junk rare.
How to fix it: In order to fix Teferi’s Isle, you have to make sure it doesn’t work as a combo enabler, or as a fast mana acceleration for decks like Tinker – otherwise it’ll be so good that it would be banned. Given that this came out during Mirage – back when Blue control was at a premium – we could make Teferi’s Isle accelerate mana defensively, instead of offensively.
Teferi’s Isle comes into play phased.
At the end of turn, phase Teferi’s Isle.
Tap: Add UU to your mana pool.
This new version comes into play unusable, but is available from your end step until your opponent’s second main phase. This gives the Blue mana available Counterspell mana on the opponent’s turn, but stunts mana development for their own turn.
98) The Laces (Chaoslace, Deathlace, Lifelace, Purelace, Thoughtlace)
Chaoslace (Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised./4th: Rare)
Target spell or permanent becomes red. (Its mana symbols remain unchanged.)
(Deathlace = Black, Lifelace = Green, Purelace = White, Thoughtlace = Blue)
Why they’re bad: The Laces have been oft maligned in Magic history, as people claim the don’t do anything. They have an extremely narrow focus – and what good is changing the color of a spell or permanent as a one time effect? When Magic was young and there weren’t as many cards as there is now, the ability for a Thoughtlace to counter a Blue Elemental Blast or a Deathlace to save your creature from a Terror was marginally valuable. These days, there are much more elegant and precise solutions to problems such as these.
How to fix them: The Laces have been redone several times, including Prismatic Lace (Does not affect spells), Tidal Visionary (does not affect spells, is not permanent), Distorting Lens (does not affect spells, is not permanent), Sisay’s Ingenuity (does not affect spells, is not permanent), Illusion/Reality (is not permanent), Blind Seer (is not permanent), and Vodalian Mystic (only affects instants and sorceries). There has yet to be a version of Prismatic Lace which can affects both spells and creatures on a permanent basis. This is really a niche card that needs to be made eventually. (A niche card is a card which has every reason to exist in Magic, just so there can be a card which affects a specific game mechanic which has yet to be affected in such a way – see Mana Severance, Feldon’s Cane, and Morality Shift for examples).
97) Off Balance (Nemesis: Common)
Target creature can’t attack or block this turn
Why it’s bad: Pacifism costs W1 and does everything Off Balance does, but as an enchantment. Netter en-Dal and Bola Warrior both have half the effect of Off Balance, but are creatures which can attack or block – and let’s not even go into Calming Licid or Change of Heart. The ability to stop a creature from blocking or attacking for a single turn is virtually negligible and playing this card is a waste of resources.
How to fix it: Cantrips were developed for the purpose of making small spells like these playable. Flare/Zap would be awful at three mana if it didn’t draw you a card. Hell, Flare/Zap would be bad at one mana if it didn’t draw you a card. Red already has Stun, which is the”cannot block” version of Off Balance, but as a cantrip. Does that matter to us? No, because White is supposed to be the color of affecting combat – let’s soup up Off Balance to be a cantrip.
Target creature can’t attack or block this turn.
Draw a card.
See? Still not the greatest card in the work, but now it’s eminently more playable. Just as a note – it’s easy to throw”draw a card” onto any given card, and make it playable. You’ll notice as you read through this top 100 countdown that I use this mechanic sparingly – I don’t want to take the easy way out of”fixing” bad cards. However, there are some cards which should have been printed as cantrips, but weren’t. This was one of them, and adding the cantrip ability to this card fixes it perfectly.
96) Urza’s Miter (Antiquities: Rare)
Whenever an artifact you control is put into a graveyard from play, if it wasn’t sacrificed, you may pay 3. If you do, draw a card.
Why it’s bad: There are virtually no card drawing effects on this list, for the reasons mentioned in the rules above. In order to be included, the card drawing involved has to be truly horrendous. Urza’s Miter fits this description to a”T” – it only triggers off of your artifacts going to the graveyard, and only triggers if they were destroyed, not sacrificed. This means that you wouldn’t be able to do something as simple as sacrifice a Black Lotus to itself just to cycle through a card!
How to fix it: This one is simple: get rid of the”if it wasn’t sacrificed” clause.
95) Tidal Flats (Fallen Empires: Uncommon)
UU: For each attacking creature without flying, its controller may pay 1. If he or she doesn’t, creatures you control blocking that creature gain first strike until end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Some colors aren’t mean to get certain abilities. Red and White are the colors of first strike, not Blue. Tidal Flats only works when you’re on the defense, only if you’re blocking, and can be negated for less mana than it takes for you to active it. Even if it does work, chances are that the first strike that your skimpy Blue creatures gain won’t be of much help.
How to fix it: There are some cards which really are so out of flavor from where we are in Magic today that they really couldn’t be fixed while keeping their original intent intact. Blue would never get a card like this today, so at best we’d move this into a color that could use it. Compare this to Knighthood:
Knighthood (Urza’s Legacy/7th: Uncommon)
Creatures you control have first strike.
It wouldn’t be a far stretch to make Tidal Flats a slightly cheaper, activated version of Knighthood with a defensive slant.
WW: All your blocking creatures gain first strike until end of turn.
94) Jandor’s Ring (Arabian Nights/Revised: Rare)
2, Tap, Discard from your hand the last card you drew this turn: Draw a card.
Why it’s bad: We have two card drawing cards within two spaces of each other on the countdown. Jandor’s Ring came with a number of drawbacks, some of which were logistic: it cost way too much for the effect (one can imagine Richard Garfield costing Jandor’s Ring to be a halfway compromise between the 4 cast/4 activation cost of Jayemdae Tome), and you could only discard a card you just drew (although Oracle wording later changed it to discarding the last card you drew, allowing you to at least time stamp the effect). In a tournament setting, how in God’s name is someone supposed to keep track of the last card you drew over the course of a turn? People shuffle their hands all the time during the turn. Thank God Jandor’s Ring isn’t very playable, for this reason alone.
How to fix it: This card was fixed in the very next set.
Jalum Tome (Antiquities/Chronicles/5th/6th/7th: Rare)
2, Tap: Draw a card, then discard a card from your hand
Jalum Tome strictly improved on Jandor’s Ring, reducing both the initial cost and the drawback to discarding, without any negatives added to the effect. Since that time, there have been several reiterations of Jalum Tome, including Cephalid Looter, Merfolk Looter, Compulsion, and other Blue card drawing effects.
93) Riptide (The Dark: Uncommon)
Tap all Blue creatures.
Why it’s bad: Riptide does one thing particularly well – it taps all Blue creatures. The usefulness of tapping all Blue creatures is up for debate! In multiplayer, this can buy some time or open somebody up for attack – but again only if they are playing with creatures and only if those creatures are Blue. In constructed, Riptide is virtually useless except in the Blue on Blue Merfolk mirror match, in which case Lord of Atlantis will probably allow your Merfolk to get through just fine without the need to tap all your opponent’s blockers at the end of their turn.
How to fix it: Blue’s no stranger to time stamping cards – that is, to affecting them beyond the current turn and into other turns. Telekinesis from Legends is a card which would work well when integrated into Riptide’s design, as Riptide is a niche card that does what it’s supposed to do, but again falls short in the power department.
Tap all Blue creatures you don’t control. Blue creatures you don’t control don’t untap during their controller’s next untap phase.
92) Sea Troll (Homelands: Uncommon)
2U, Creature — Troll
U: Regenerate Sea Troll. Play this ability only if Sea Troll blocked or was blocked by a Blue creature this turn.
Why it’s bad: Time and time again I’ve seen Sea Troll make people’s top ten worst of all time lists. On my list, he’s only at #92. For God’s sake, he’s not much worse than Gray Ogre, Scathe Zombies or Pearled Unicorn – hardly the worst creatures of all time. The loss of one point of toughness in exchange for an extremely limited regeneration ability isn’t much of a tradeoff. The ability so rarely comes into play that it might as well not be on Sea Troll to begin with.
How to fix it: These days, Blue wouldn’t have a Troll (that would be Green), and Blue wouldn’t have a regenerator (that would be Black or Green). Imagine though that this had been printed during Invasion block, perhaps as an Apocalypse creature.
UG, Creature – Troll
G: Regenerate Sea Troll. Use only one activated ability of Sea Troll each turn.
U: Sea Troll loses Islandhome and gains flying. Use only one activated ability of Sea Troll each turn.
This would be an interesting variant on both Jungle Troll and Gaea’s Skyfolk, while keeping the flavor of the original – a creature which is good against Blue, but is also capable of regeneration.
91) Hell Swarm (Legends: Common)
All creatures get -1/-0 until end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Such a small effect is hardly useful in most situations. You’d almost never want to play this while you’re attacking, and it’d almost never affect the blocking situations. There are a few times when, say, your opponent might attack with a 2/2 creature and you block with a 3/2 creature, allowing yours to kill his, but those situations are so few and far between as to render this card negligible.
How to fix it: Wizard printed Marsh Gas in The Dark, but it still wasn’t too good. The fundamental problem is that minor power diminishing effects that are universal are either too weak or too symmetrical to do much good. On top which you have a thematic problem, as Black is the color of affecting toughness more than affecting power. How about the following revamp?
All creatures get -0/-1 until end of turn.
This version feels a lot more Black, since it’s capable of killing weak creatures. It’s essentially Nausea for half the cost, but as an Instant. Most times, Nausea only cares about toughness anyhow, and making Hell Swarm into an instant-speed Nausea would make it playable at least in Limited.
90) Withering Hex (Onslaught: Uncommon)
B, Enchant Creature
Whenever a player cycles a card, put a plague counter on Withering Hex.
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 for each plague counter on Withering Hex.
Why it’s bad: Onslaught introduced a cycle of cards involving cycling (say that five times fast.) These included Astral Slide, Lightning Rift, Invigorating Boon, Fleeting Aven, and Withering Hex. Withering Hex was by and far the worst of these cards, despite being creature removal. Without any cycling cards, it was useless. Your opponent could easily play around it by not cycling their own cards, in case you were lacking for cycling cards of your own. To kill a 4/4 creature, you’d need to invest four cycling cards – and that would be all you’d get out of Withering Hex. It was slow, cumbersome, and has too little of an effect.
How to fix it: The initial knee-jerk fix for Withering Hex would be to make it an enchantment a-la Lightning Rift or Astral Slide. This would be ridiculously powerful in Limited, and this cycle was meant to be uncommon, meaning that Withering Hex would be seen again and again. Lightning Rift was a fine card to play in order to wreck your opponent, but it either killed a creature, or it enabled you to finish a creature off in combat. Withering Hex would lack the ability to affect players, but would be amazing as a constant on-the-board combat trick. You could argue whether it would or wouldn’t be too good, but why not stick more closely to the original intent of the card – as a single target removal spell that combines with cycling cards?
Compare this to cards such as Takklemaggot, Traveling Plague and Screams from Within. Now we have a well-used Black mechanic that would go hand in hand with a cycling creature kill spell.
B, Enchant Creature
Whenever a player cycles a card, put a Plague counter on that creature.
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 for each Plague counter on Withering Hex.
When enchanted creature leaves play, return Withering Hex from your graveyard to play.
Note that since Wizards does not want to mix up -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters anymore, the creature gets Plague counters which are then translated into -1/-1 counters, instead of just getting -1/-1 counters. Given that people usually use coins and/or glass beads and/or pieces of paper to denote counters, what’s it matter if it’s a Plague counter or a -1/-1 counter? Either will be just as confusing if +1/+1 counters start flying around.
89) Port Inspector (Mercadian Masques: Common)
U1, Creature — Townsfolk
Whenever Port Inspector becomes blocked, you may look at defending player’s hand.
Why it’s bad: As a reaction to the comboriffic Urza’s Block, Wizards mandated a wide spread powering down of the Mercadian Masques block as a whole. The results were cards like Port Inspector, a meager 1/2 for two mana that had a special ability which didn’t much matter. In fact, the ability to look at the defending player’s hand would only happen if the Inspector was blocked, and chances are the already small creature would die during this exchange – it couldn’t even chump block and give you a Peek!
How to fix it: Blue’s gotten a lot of spells and creatures which allow you to look at an opponent’s hand, such as Telepathy, Wanderguard Sentry, and Telepathic Spies. There’s never really been a good replacement for Glasses of Urza outside of Telepathy – which is constantly ‘on’. Fixing Port Inspector is easy:
U1, Creature – Human Townsfolk
Tap: Look at target player’s hand.
88) Fighting Chance (Exodus: Rare)
For each blocking creature, flip a coin. If you win the flip, prevent all combat damage that would be dealt by that creature this turn.
Why it’s bad: You’ll notice that a lot of the cards on this list involve very specific combat situations. In this case, Fighting Chance really only matters if you’re on the offense, and looking to save creatures that might be dying in combat. If your creatures are larger, it’s useless. If you’re on defense, it’s pretty much useless. If you don’t have creatures, heaven help you if you’re playing this card.
How to fix it: Red isn’t the color of Fogs and damage prevention. Red is the color of keeping creatures from blocking, period. Bola Warrior, Bedlam, Sluggishness, and Stun are great examples of this theme. Fighting Chance should reflect Red’s do-not-block theme.
Choose any number of target creatures. For each creature chosen in this way, flip a coin. If you win the flip, that creature cannot block this turn.
87) Ice Cauldron (Ice Age: Rare)
X, Tap: Put a charge counter on Ice Cauldron and remove a nonland card in your hand from the game. You may play that card as though it were in your hand. Note the type and amount of mana used to pay this activation cost. Play this ability only if there are no charge counters on Ice Cauldron.
Tap, Remove a charge counter from Ice Cauldron: Add to your mana pool mana of the type and amount last used to put a charge counter on Ice Cauldron. Spend this mana only to play the last card removed from the game with Ice Cauldron.
Why it’s bad: Ice Cauldron is one of the most lengthily worded and most confusing to use cards in Magic. In short, it allows you to”store” a card and some mana on the Cauldron itself, until such time that you use the Cauldron to get the mana and spell back. This would allow you, say, to tap Ice Cauldron plus WWW into your pool to remove Dawn Elemental from the game, and then tap Ice Cauldron to get WWW the following turn to allow you to cast Dawn Elemental (with an additional W mana, of course). The problem is that the Cauldron is at the mid to higher end of the mana food chain to begin with, making it prohibitive to use. It’s entirely possible to lose both tempo, the Ice Cauldron, and the spell you’ve removed from the game to a timely artifact removal spell. All in all, Ice Cauldron does what it’s supposed to do, but what it does isn’t very impressive.
How to fix it: Upwelling was an attempt to”fix” Ice Cauldron by allowing mana to float through various turns – this would duplicate the effect of”storing” up mana to later cast a spell which would normally be beyond your mana means. Otherwise, Ice Cauldron is a niche spell which just doesn’t work well. If you reduce its cost by too much, it becomes overpowering. It’s fine as it is, but it’s in the same boat as Carnival of Souls – a card which does what it’s supposed to, but it’s very unimpressive.
86) Ice Age Talismen (Hematite, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite, Nacre, Onyx)
Hematite Talisman (Ice Age: Uncommon)
Whenever a red spell is played, you may pay 3. If you do, untap target permanent.
(Lapis Lazuli = Blue, Malachite = Green, Nacre = White, Onyx = Black)
Why they’re bad: Let’s get this out of the way: the only real use for the Talismen is as a combo engine driver. Several multiplayer grand melees in New York back in the day ended with buyback spells, Mana Flares, and Talismen. However, the set up to get to the point where a Talisman will give you infinite mana is ridiculous – it usually involves six or seven other cards, an investment in time and resources, and the unwillingness for your opponent or opponents to see your combo coming (and thus giving them plenty of time to smash your face).
How to fix them: Reduce the cost it takes to untap a permanent, and you’ve gotten a really broken engine card (see Mind over Matter). It’s not the activation cost that needs to be changed to make the Talismen more useful, but the effect generated by the card.
Whenever a green spell is played, you may pay 3. If you do, tap or untap target permanent.
The addition of the ability to tap permanents makes the Talismen more versatile on both offense and defense, and therefore marginally useful.
85) Cycle of Life (Mirage: Rare)
Return Cycle of Life to its owner’s hand: Target creature you played this turn is 0/1 until your next upkeep. At the beginning of your next upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on that creature.
Why it’s bad: Turning your own Shivan Dragons into 0/1 creatures for a turn for the”benefit” of having a 6/6 fire breathing flyer instead of a 5/5 fire breathing flyer doesn’t quite seem like a bargain. Any creature hit by Cycle of Life is just asking to die. Since you can only affect creatures you cast this turn, Cycle of Life is dead on the board if you don’t use it immediately. You also need to recast Cycle of Life if heaven forbid it gets activated.
How to fix it: It’s hard to imagine that Cocoon was transformed into an even worse card, but Cycle of Life went straight downhill on the Green scale of suckery. While the ability to permanently pump a creature +1/+1 is attractive, Forcemage Advocate, Afiya Grove, and Battlegrowth all seem like much better choices. So how do we solve the Cycle of Life problem? The card’s mechanic doesn’t even reflect the card’s name! You’d think a card named”Cycle of Life” would, in fact, have something to do with the cycle of life, and not giving a +1/+1 counter in exchange for a temporary Humble. Let’s try to keep the flavor of the original while adhering more to the cycle of life moniker.
Cycle of Life
0: Target creature you played this turn is 0/1 until your next upkeep. At the beginning of your next upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on that creature. Play this ability only during your turn.
Sacrifice Cycle of Life: Regenerate target 0/1 creature.
The above version solves both the”returning to hand” problem of Cycle of Life, while allowing you to save a single creature that is hit by Cycle of Life.
84) Aladdin’s Lamp (Arabian Nights/Revised/4th: Rare)
X, Tap: The next time you would draw a card this turn, instead look at the top X cards of your library and draw one of them. Shuffle the rest and put them on the bottom of your library. X can’t be 0.
Why it’s bad: Impulse allows you to draw four cards and choose one for two mana. Aladdin’s Lamp lets you examine your cards in exchange for a draw for ten mana. Any questions?
How to fix it: For the love of God, if you’re going to get a ten mana artifact into play (even with Tinker) that involves X in the activation cost, don’t have the card supplant your normal draw as part of the activation effect! Let Aladdin’s Lamp draw you some cards, dammit!
X, Tap: Look at the top X cards of your library and place one in your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
83) Psychic Battle (Invasion: Rare)
Whenever a player chooses one or more targets, each player reveals the top card of his or her library. The player who reveals the card with the highest converted mana cost may change the target or targets. If two or more cards are tied for highest cost, the target or targets remain unchanged. Changing targets this way doesn’t trigger this ability.
Why it’s bad: A card which was originally capable of creating an infinite, self-contained loop (Psychic Battle would keep retriggering whenever it would cause a spell to retarget, since it didn’t have the last clause before Oracle errata), Psychic Battle was doomed from birth. It’s strictly a multi-player affair. As with many symmetrical cards, it can backfire easily, requires way too much effort to build around for the effect, and can be trumped by simpler cards such as Willbender, Reflecting Mirror, Deflection, and Meddle.
How to fix it: Psychic Battle is another niche card which does exactly what it was designed to do – cause spells to retarget based on the top cards of player’s libraries. There’s no reason to change it, but instead we should just acknowledge that it’s a horrible card and leave it at that.
82) Rakalite (Antiquities/Chronicles: Rare)
2: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn. Return Rakalite to its owner’s hand at end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Another card which makes perennial”worst-of” top ten lists, Rakalite by far isn’t one of the top ten worst cards in Magic – in fact I’d say it’s number 82! Then again, that’s where I put it, didn’t I? Rakalite’s effect isn’t bad at all – preventing one damage for two mana is par for the course for Limited, where Amulet of Kroog and Shield of the Ages have similar effects. The six mana cost is a killer, along with the”return to hand” clause should you activate Rakalite even once.
How to fix it: All you’d need to do is get rid of the”return Rakalite to its owner’s hand” clause. This would make it decent, but not broken, in limited formats. In fact:
Panacea (Mercadian Masques, Uncommon)
XX, Tap: Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.
Although Rakalite can hit multiple targets with multiple activations (whereas Panacea can only target one creature/player a turn), the two cards are functionally similar, and Panacea can well be considered a ‘fixed’ version of Rakalite.
81) Tower of Coireall (The Dark: Uncommon)
Tap: Target creature can’t be blocked by Walls this turn.
Why it’s bad: Tower of Coireall drew its inspiration from Juggernaut, the original”cannot be blocked by walls” creature. Virtually nobody plays with walls, and even when they do, you’re better off making your creature entirely unblockable (Tawnos’s Wand, Joven’s Tools, Cloak of Mists) than using this piece of trash. It’s not totally useless, but it’s pretty close. Imagine how much worse spots 1-80 get if this guy only finished in 81st place?
How to fix it: It’s fixed, it’s just really useless. Another niche card.
Tune in tomorrow when I’ll talk about niche cards, cantrips, and bring you cards 80 through 61 in my 100 worst Magic cards of all time countdown extravaganza!