(Click here to see cards #100-81)
(Click here to see cards #80-61)
Welcome back to the halfway point (and beyond) of my bottom 100 Magic cards of all time countdown. We left off yesterday with Aisling Leprechaun, a 1/1 creature with a marginally useless special ability. Is the Leprechaun the worst creature in Magic history? Heavens no! There are plenty more creatures below him on this list, as you’ll see over the next three days (foreshadowing to the bottom 20 on Friday perhaps?).
You’ll notice that virtually every creature on this list would be considered a weenie. That’s because even overcosted fatties can swing a game if they hit play. Kasimir the Lone Wolf originally was the 100th card on my countdown, until I realized that I myself had used him in casual Legend decks, just because I could. Even though he’s a 5/3 for a whopping six mana, that doesn’t make him horrible – just very expensive and bad for the mana cost. To truly be bad, a creature had to fit two major criteria:
The creature has to be small enough that it can’t swing the game on its own,
The creature has to have a special ability (and by special I mean short yellow bus special) that is useless, near useless, or a complete drawback.
There’s a fine history of high casting cost 1/1’s that have good utility – from Royal Assassin through Krosan Beast. Then there’s Aisling Leprechaun, which is a 1/1 with a horrid special ability. What makes the Leprechaun worse than, say, Eager Cadet or Mons’s Goblin Raiders, both of which don’t even have a special ability?
Sometimes tribe plays into the effect. There are a bazillion and a half cards in Magic which work with Goblins (Mons’s Goblin Raiders), Soldiers (Eager Cadet) and Merfolk (Merfolk of the Pearl Trident). There aren’t a whole lot which work with Aisling Leprechaun.
More important, disappointment plays some part of this equation. Without other cards to play spoiler, Mons’s Goblin Raiders is strictly worse than Aisling Leprechaun. However, there are no expectations for Mons’s Goblin Raiders: It’s a 1/1 for one with no special abilities. Aisling Leprechaun pretends to have a use – it turns creatures Green! – but in reality the use is a letdown, and the card feels worse than vanilla 1/1s in comparison.
Remember, this is the 100 worst cards of all time, not the 100 least powerful cards of all time. If that were the case, the entire list would be littered with underpowered vanilla creatures such as the aforementioned Merfolk, Goblin, and Soldier. Metallic Sliver isn’t useful without other Slivers, but the expectation of playing other Slivers makes it rise above complete crud. With so many cards in Magic, it’s really the interaction between cards and the history between cards that can make or break any individual card. Phyrexian Dreadnought surely would have made this list if Illusionary Mask didn’t exist. High Tide was considered horrid junk until the”untap after you play a spell” free mechanic reared its ugly head in Urza Block.
Maybe one day we’ll find that card which breaks Carnival of Souls, or which makes Chance Encounter into a viable win condition. Until that day, those cards will continue to languish in the trade binders and bulk rare boxes of more serious players, while mavericks build their eight-card combo decks to show that, no, these cards aren’t completely useless. Mons’s Goblin Raiders has literally dozens of cards which make it more valuable than Aisling Leprechaun (Goblin King, Goblin Warchief, Goblin Recruiter, Goblin Grenade, Goblin Assassin, Goblin Burrows, Goblin Shrine, and the list goes on and on). Magic cards don’t exist in a vacuum, or else Black Lotus would be a horrible card, since you’d take three mana burn each time you activated it.
You didn’t come here for my philosophies about 1/1 creatures, dear reader. You came to see some bad cards. Without further ado, I bring you #60 on the countdown of the bad.
60) Index (Apocalypse/8th: Common)
Look at the top five cards of your library, then put them back in any order.
Why it’s bad: Natural Selection set the precedent for the whole”rearrange the top of the deck” concept, and this type of card has been done time and time again. Some have been winners (Impulse, Brainstorm, Sylvan Library), some have been mediocre (Sage Owl, Discombobulate), and some have been plain bad. Index falls into the last of these categories.
For the cost of a card, you get to stack your next five draws. While in concept this might sound like a great idea, you don’t get any effect past the stacking from Index. If the cards are bad, Index doesn’t move you past them – you’re basically looking at five turns of concession. Even if the cards are good, you’d be drawing them within the next five turns anyhow. With so many cards out there which can outright tutor for cards, Index is woefully underpowered.
How to fix it: The main problem with looking at/rearranging cards on top of the library is that it either does what it does (Index) or it gives you a card in the process (Brainstorm). The cards in the former camp are card disadvantage in exchange for draw quality, while the ones in the latter category have seen play time and time again because they are really good. Second Sight and Spy Network have both been attempts by Wizards to ramp up the power of Index, but neither has been particularly successful. You can’t have people rearranging their entire decks, because of time restraints in sanctioned tournaments (Goblin Recruiter and Proteus Staff/Goblin Charbelcher decks have been notorious for eating time during Swiss play), and Ancestral Knowledge has been the card of this type that allows you to dig deepest into your deck. How about we make this an Ancestral Knowledge variant, except with a twist?
When Index comes into play, look at the top five cards of your library. You may remove any of these cards from the game, then put the rest back on top of your library in any order. For each card removed from the game in this way, put a Page counter on Index.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove a Page counter from Index. At the end of your upkeep, if Index has no Page counters on it, you may sacrifice it to draw a card.
While this new version of Index has a little more text than I would have liked, it allows you to get rid of the bad cards that are on top of your library. However, the more cards that you remove, the longer it takes you to get your card back from your initial casting of Index.
59) Mossdog (Nemesis: Common)
G, Creature — Hound
Whenever Mossdog becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, put a +1/+1 counter on Mossdog.
Why it’s bad: If Mossdog becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, it dies. This isn’t some 5/5 we’re talking about here that might survive a pair of Lightning Bolts – this is a horrid 1/1 creature with a special ability that is by no means special. Nobody will force an opponent to target Mossdog unless they want to (outside of Mindslaver, and for the love of God I don’t want to hear about a Mossdog/Mindslaver deck). Since it’s a 1/1 naturally, it doesn’t factor much into combat situations.
How to fix it: The knee-jerk fix is to make it grow if anyone targets it, but that would become extraordinarily ugly with en-Kor creatures floating around, since Nomads en-Kor plus Mossdog would equal a second turn, two card kill. Allowing it to grow only once a turn, but allowing it grow on your own spells might be another solution, and would work along the lines of Fungasaur’s temporary errata – but I don’t like that fix either, since Mossdog really should act as a deterrent for your opponent’s interaction. How about we make Mossdog truly annoying to play against, and pump up the flavor to the max?
G, Creature – Hound
Whenever Mossdog blocks, is blocked or becomes the target of a spell or an ability an opponent controls, put a +1/+1 counter on Mossdog.
Adding in +1/+1 counters whenever Mossdog engages in combat with another creature reinforces its flavor text:”The more you look at it, the more dangerous it becomes.”
58) Divining Witch (Nemesis: Rare)
B1, Creature — Spellshaper
B1, Tap, Discard a card from your hand: Name a card. Remove the top six cards of your library from the game. Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal the named card, then put that card into your hand. Remove all other cards revealed this way from the game.
Why it’s bad: It didn’t take long for players to realize that Demonic Consultation was a risk well worth taking. As long as you’re playing four of a card, the Consult is the absolute cheapest and fastest tutoring effect in all of Magic. That card was good enough to get restricted in Type 1 and banned in Extended. So how did Divining Witch, which is a reusable Demonic Consultation, end up as one of the 100 worst cards of all time?
The power of Demonic Consultation comes in that it is both an instant and costs only B to cast. Divining Witch costs twice as much. Diving Witch can’t be activated the turn it comes into play – and on the next turn, it costs an additional B1 to activate – plus you have to discard a card to active it! This means that it takes, in the end, four times as much mana, twice as much time, and twice as many cards (the Witch itself plus the card you discarded to spell shape). In Limited, you’re asking to deck yourself activating this even once. In Constructed, would you ever want to draw more than one Witch over the course of a game? Would you ever want to activate a Witch more than once or twice?
How to fix it: Diving Witch is supposed to be a Spellshaper version of Demonic Consultation, so the best we could do is at least make its activation cost B instead of B1. Otherwise, it does what it’s supposed to do, since it templates off the original card exactly.
57) Acidic Dagger (Mirage: Rare)
4, Tap: Whenever target creature deals combat damage to a non-Wall creature this turn, destroy that non-Wall creature. When the targeted creature leaves play this turn, sacrifice Acidic Dagger. Play this ability only during combat before the declare blockers step.
Why it’s bad: Acidic Dagger’s effect is very powerful, but its drawbacks and mana costs are as unimpressive its ability is impressive. Fine, it costs four to cast. Not so fine, it costs four to activate. Even less fine, it can only be played before your opponent decides blockers. Even worse, the Dagger kills itself if the creature you’ve used it on dies. This means that on the defense, your dude can play Abu Jafar for one turn, but in exchange losing both your blocker (it’s chumping a larger creature, we’ll assume) and the Dagger. I guess you could play the Dagger with regenerators, but Drudge Skeletons alone would cost 4B to both Dagger and regenerate in one turn. Compare this to Dead-Iron Sledge.
How to fix it: Even if we removed every drawback from this card, it still wouldn’t be great shakes. At least that that point, it would be playable and not binder bait.
4, Tap: Whenever target creature deals combat damage to a creature this turn, destroy that creature.
We got rid of the non-Wall clause, the sacrifice Acidic Dagger clause, and the play-only-before-blockers clause. What we’re left with is a card that’s a bad version of Heartseeker, but at least it’s a nifty combat trick in Limited and group games now (imagine the fun you’ll have messing with other people’s blocks and attacks!)
56) Soul Channeling (Mercadian Masques: Common)
B2, Enchant Creature
Pay 2 life: Regenerate enchanted creature.
Why it’s bad: Creature enchantments are naturally weak, since if you lose the creature being enchanted, you lose the enchantment as well. Recurring enchantments (Rancor), returning enchantments (Crown of Flames) and Equipment (Bonesplitter) have all been attempts to make creature enchantments playable – and some have succeeded better than others. Soul Channeling isn’t one of them. It costs too much to cast, costs too much to activate, and has the drawback of being a creature enchantment. This was printed in the same set as Deepwood Ghoul. Would you rather have a 2/1 regenerator for B2, or give that ability to a random creature for the same mana cost, setting yourself up for a two for one card loss in the process?
How to fix it: Regeneration runs into the same problem as Soul Channeling: if you put it on a smaller creature, you’d be better off using a creature with built regeneration in the first place. If you put it on a larger creature, chances are that creature is large enough to survive combat anyhow. What if we made Soul Channeling affect all your creatures a-la Strands of Night?
All your creatures gain”Pay 2 life: Regenerate.”
This would take it out of the common slot and into the uncommon slot, but there’s already a cycle of”all your creatures gain an ability”, such as Coastal Piracy, Noble Purpose, and Kyren Negotiations. This would have made a much better card than Larceny, which comes down way too late to make a difference. This would make it much more of a swing card along the lines of the other MM uncommon enchantments.
55) Dwarven Pony (Homelands: Rare)
R, Creature — Pony
R1, Tap: Target Dwarf gains mountainwalk until end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Dwarven Demolition Team. Dwarven Warriors. Dwarven Weaponsmith. Dwarven Soldier. Dwarven Armorer. Dwarven Lieutenant. Dwarven Trader. Dwarven Sea Clan. These are the Dwarves that existed at the time Dwarven Pony was printed, and among them we have five 1/1’s, a 0/2, a 1/2, and a 2/1. For the low, low cost of two mana each turn, you could make any one of these creatures unblockable against about 40% of the decks you’d be likely to face. Even with an improved card pool, there are only two Dwarves in Magic that have a power greater than two (Dwarven Strike Force and Dwarven Patrol).
How to fix it: Homelands was the original tribal set (hi Onslaught!), and was also one of the most underpowered sets of all time. Even if we made Dwarven Pony as follows:
R, Creature – Pony
All Dwarves gain mountainwalk.
It still stinks. At least it’s still a pony. Anyone for a dwarf deck?
54) Quagmire Lamprey (Mercadian Masques: Uncommon)
B2, Creature — Fish
Whenever Quagmire Lamprey becomes blocked by a creature, put a -1/-1 counter on that creature.
Why it’s bad: Flanking existed in Mirage block as a mechanic which enabled dynamic combat situations. Quagmire Lamprey acts as a flanker with a permanent bonus – until you realize that every flanker that mattered was 2/2 or larger. You don’t want to invest three mana for a 1/1 creature that discourages blocking. For that mana, you can get Phantom Warrior (unblockable), or Razortooth Rats (fear). For less mana you can get Metathran Soldier. You’ve also got Fallen Askari to run, which is quite the beater for less mana than it costs to cast the Lamprey.
How to fix it: Deathgazer fills one of the uncommon slots in Mercadian Masques, so we can’t change the Lamprey to a straight”destroy all creatures blocked by Quagmire Lamprey” effect. There are three easy choices to improve this card: reduce its mana cost, increase its power/toughness, or increase the penalty creatures receive for blocking it. Because of Deathgazer, I’d want to rule out the last of these three. Why not incorporate another block mechanic, and make the Lamprey slightly more useful due to tribe?
B, Creature – Mercenary
Whenever Quagmire Lamprey becomes blocked by a creature, put a -1/-1 counter on that creature.
Rampart Crawler and Molting Harpy are the only one-drop mercenaries in Masques block (Soldier of Fortune is randomly a mercenary), so adding another one-drop mercenary isn’t unbalancing whatsoever.
53) Razor Pendulum (Mirage: Rare)
At the end of each player’s turn, if that player has 5 life or less, Razor Pendulum deals 2 damage to him or her.
Why it’s bad: Razor Pendulum works both ways (both for and against you), and requires your opponent already be near death to work. It doesn’t help you kill an opponent in the early game, and it helps you”win more” later in the game. Lava Axe finishes an opponent neatly. Razor Pendulum gives them an out (lifegain, destroying the Pendulum), takes at least three turns to kill an opponent if they are at five life, and gives them the entire turn to find a solution. It can deal a lot of damage in a multiplayer game, but then again so can Earthquake, Reflect Damage, Hurricane, and a lot of other finishers.
How to fix it: Let’s move the effect to an upkeep effect, so that A) you aren’t the first person hit by the Pendulum if the life races are close, and B) so that your opponent doesn’t get a whole turn if the Pendulum is going to kill them. Also, why not extend the life range at which the Pendulum can work, in order to make it more relevant to the game?
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if that player has 10 life or less, Razor Pendulum deals 2 damage to him or her.
I increased the mana cost slightly, because otherwise it’d be a little too good. We don’t want this to be an easy finisher for goblin decks against Circles of Protection – we want it to be a fun casual card which has some Constructed and Limited relevance.
52) Chaos Lord (Ice Age: Rare)
RRR4, Creature — Lord
First strike, haste
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if the number of permanents is even, that player gains control of Chaos Lord.
When Chaos Lord comes into play, it loses haste until end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Playing with Chaos Lord is an absolute headache. Any card which makes you count each and every permanent each and every turn is immediately suspect. In multiplayer games, counting such as this gets tedious and frustrating. In more serious formats (Constructed, Ice Age block Limited) the Lord might have been a contender – if not for the last clause. If you’re investing seven mana (three of it colored) for a 7/7 creature with a major drawback (you might never keep control of it), why does it need to have a major drawback, rendering it nigh unto useless?
How to fix it: This one is easy. Erase all text on this card which reads”When Chaos Lord comes into play, it loses haste until end of turn” and you’ve got a card which is at the least playable, and not absolute trash.
51) Merchant Ship (Arabian Nights: Rare)
U, Creature — Ship
Merchant Ship can’t attack unless defending player controls an Island.
Whenever Merchant Ship attacks and isn’t blocked, you gain 2 life.
When you control no Islands, sacrifice Merchant Ship.
Why it’s bad: Islandhome creatures typically are large Sea Serpent types which play defense in Limited, and occasionally beat down if your opponent happens to play Blue. Merchant Ship can’t damage an opponent, can’t attack against most decks, and has an ability which won’t do much to swing the game. It also doesn’t have evasion or power, so it can neither get past nor kill any blocking creatures.
How to fix it: We’re going to offer two ways to fix Merchant Ship. The first is to move it into White and keep the flavor of the card.
W, Creature – Ship
Whenever Merchant Ship attacks and isn’t blocked, you gain 2 life.
At least it can start swinging against any deck with the above version. It still isn’t impressive. The alternative is quite startling, and very powerful. I know that in most cases I said that I wanted to make cards playable and not amazing, but Merchant Ship is a rare in a set with cards like Library of Alexandria, Bazaar of Baghdad, and Juzam Djinn, so I feel a little saucy.
U, Creature – Ship
Whenever Merchant Ship attacks and isn’t blocked, you may draw a card.
Is a smaller, islandhome Ophidian for only one mana too powerful? In the Blue on Blue mirror match, Merchant Ship would be ridiculous. In Type One, this would get played both often and in multiples. Is it as bad in other formats? Not quite so, since unlike the dual-land laden Type One, chances are most of your opponent wouldn’t have Islands.
50) Parallax Inhibitor (Nemesis: Rare)
1, Tap, Sacrifice Parallax Inhibitor: Put a fade counter on each permanent with fading you control.
Why it’s bad: Fading cards were either really good or really bad. There wasn’t much of a middle ground – you either had Blastoderm or Skyshroud Ridgeback. In Limited, most fading cards were playable (Phyrexian Prowler, for instance), even if they weren’t exciting. In constructed, you had Parallax cards (Wave, Tide and Saproling Burst). Adding a single counter to each of these cards to give them an extra activation/an extra turn to stay in play generally isn’t worth a whole card. Without fading cards in play, the Inhibitor isn’t even useful.
How to fix it: Parallax Inhibitor does what it’s supposed to do, but what if we made it as follows:
2, Tap, Sacrifice Parallax Inhibitor: Put fading counters on target permanent until it has counters equal to its fading ability.
Basically, Parallax Inhibitor would allow you to”recharge” a single fading permanent. Would this be broken with Saproling Burst? It’d definitely be good to turn your six 1/1’s into six 7/7’s – but it’s the only card with which Parallax Inhibitor would be grossly overpowered. With other fading cards though, it would just be a reset button which wouldn’t be overpowering. Note the new version is useless with Blastoderm.
49) Animal Magnetism (Onslaught: Rare)
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent chooses a creature card from among them. Put that card into play and the rest into your graveyard.
Why it’s bad: Unless you can stack your deck to have only one creature within your top five cards, you’re paying five mana to put your worst creature into play. Chances are you’ll end up with a Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves in play in Constructed, and worse in Limited. This card costs a lot of mana, and very rarely will come even close to reaping any sort of reward. Why not just play a five cost creature, which will usually be bigger than whatever the Magnetism can pop out?
How to fix it: There are three immediately fixes to Animal Magnetism.
You choose which of the creatures revealed by Animal Magnetism comes into play.
All of the creatures come into play.
All of the creatures come into your hand.
#1 sets up the card to be a combo engine, along the lines of Erratic Explosion/Draco, so I’ll eliminate that one. The second one is like the first one on speed, so that’s a no go. Animal Magnetism wants to put the creatures into play, so we’ll eliminate that one as well.
That didn’t help, did it? Well, let’s move back a couple of blocks from Onslaught to Invasion. There were a number of cards in that set which revealed multiple cards or made multiple piles at once – the divvy cards! Which color has absolutely no divvy cards in Invasion? That’s right, Green! How about we make this into Green’s long lost divvy card? Better late than never.
Reveal the top five cards of your library. Put all non-creature cards in your graveyard. An opponent then separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put all of the creatures in one pile into play, and put the into your graveyard.
Note that you have to work hard to set this up, because unlike Fact or Fiction, you don’t get to keep all the cards. I’ve intensified the mana cost towards Green so it’s not an easy splash.
48) Sporogenesis (Urza’s Saga: Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a fungus counter on target nontoken creature.
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each fungus counter on that creature.
When Sporogenesis leaves play, remove all fungus counters from all creatures.
Why it’s bad: Sporogenesis costs four mana to cast, making it slow to begin with. It only gives one counter a turn, making it even slower. If this enchantment leaves play, all this slow work was for naught. The end reward received for all this tedious time and resource investment? 1/1 creatures, but only if your other creatures die! No thanks.
How to fix it: Given the speed (or lack thereof) of Sporogenesis, and that it costs four mana to begin with, why not make the effect something at least meaningful?
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a fungus counter on target non-token creature.
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each fungus counter in play.
When Sporogenesis leaves play, remove all fungus counters from all creatures.
Templating is a little tough here, but basically I want Sporogenesis to put Saprolings into play whenever any creature goes to the graveyard, except for the counters on the creature that actually dies. It’s like a symbiotic relationship where the remaining fungus-infected creatures take a dead creature and make Saprolings out of it. This way, you get one, then two, then three, and so on and so forth Saprolings each time anything dies, but if the creature you’re putting counters on dies, you get nothing.
47) Decaying Soil (Odyssey: Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a card in your graveyard from the game.
Threshold — Whenever a nontoken creature is put into your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, return that card to your hand. (You have threshold as long as seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)
Why it’s bad: R&D fixed Enduring Renewal, and by fixed, I mean that in the strictest veterinary sense Decaying Soil is a fixed version of the previously combolicious enchantment. Decaying Soil works counterintuitive to its own purpose: it removes cards in your graveyard each turn, while only working when you obtain threshold. In addition, you must pay one mana to return a creature, which makes it nearly impossible to use Decaying Soil as a combo engine. While I can understand the need to add a mana cost to the ability so you can’t easily go infinite with zero cost creatures, the penalty of losing a card out of your graveyard each turn makes setting this card up an insurmountable proposition.
How to fix it: We definitely want to keep the graveyard theme going for this card, but we don’t want to so heavily penalize use of Decaying Soil by making it impossible to achieve threshold. All the while, adding a graveyard-loss penalty once you achieve threshold seems more than fair. In addition, you’d want to make the penalty a little harsher the one card, to discourage this card from being a combo engine.
Threshold – Whenever a nontoken creature is put into your graveyard from play, you pay 1 and remove two cards in your graveyard from the game. If you do, return that card to your hand.
This would make it more like Hunting Grounds, where it’s a powerful effect that doesn’t do anything until you achieve threshold – but once you do, you’re rewarded with a fairly powerful effect. From a templating issue, this would work:
502.23.Ruling.3 – For triggered abilities, they only trigger if the Threshold is true at the time when (think”just before”) the trigger condition occurs. [Odyssey Rules Insert 2001/10/04]
Losing two cards out of your graveyard as part of activating the trigger would not keep the creature from returning to your hand.
46) Cephalid Snitch (Torment: Common)
U1, Creature — Cephalid Wizard
Sacrifice Cephalid Snitch: Target creature loses protection from black until end of turn.
Why it’s bad: Designed as a helper for Black in the Black-stilted Torment set, Cephalid Snitch was too narrow to play in Limited, unimpressive in Constructed (where Black has so many sacrifice effects such as Innocent Blood, Diabolic Edict, Chainer’s Edict, and Mutilate to get around protection from Black that it isn’t even funny), and particularly bland as a 1/1 creature for two mana. Losing the Snitch as part of the activation cost is particularly costly as well, putting this card over the top of suck mountain.
How to fix it: Making a creature lose an ability such as protection from Black is an interesting concept, but it’s grafted onto a creature in the wrong way. Why does the Snitch need to die in order to remove protection from another creature? Why is this card a common, when its effect is clearly one that won’t impact the majority of games in both Limited or Constructed, and the effect is decidedly narrow?
Cephalid Snitch (Torment: Uncommon)
U, Creature – Cephalid Wizard
Tap: Target creature loses protection from black until end of turn.
Even in this incarnation, the Snitch is a niche card (much like Tower of Coireall, but with an even narrower focus). At least at one mana and with a tap effect it’s not completely horrible.
45) Naked Singularity/Reality Twist (Ice Age: Rares)
Cumulative upkeep 3
If tapped for mana, Plains produce R, Islands produce G, Swamps produce W, Mountains produce U, and Forests produce B instead of their normal type.
Cumulative upkeep UU1
If tapped for mana, Plains produce R, Swamps produce G, Mountains produce W, and Forests produce B instead of their normal type.
Why they’re bad: Why are both of these cards in the same set? Naked Singularity and Reality Twist have identical, except that Reality Twist does not affect Islands. The cards have an outrageous upkeep (three a turn! Reality Twist costs 2UUUU to keep around for a second go around – Naked Singularity seems a bargain at 6 in comparison). They are too expensive to cast or upkeep in constructed, and too unwieldy for casual play – they don’t affect non-basic lands (give or take dual lands), and they are not going to work against most multi-colored players.
How to fix them: There’s no need for both Reality Twist and Naked Singularity to co-exist, especially in the same set. They are redundant in the rare slot, and are not good to begin with. Let’s focus on Naked Singularity then, as affecting all five colors seems more interesting than affecting all non-Blue colors.
How do you make Naked Singularity fair? Contamination was a bit on the powerful side, but required a creature upkeep instead of a mana cost upkeep. It also Blackwashed all lands, and not just basic lands. Is there a way to fix the Singularity so that it can affect non-basic lands? It’d be tough, especially given five color lands such as City of Brass – you’d have to keep track of what color you tap for (Green) to get another color (Black), and it’s too much of a headache to figure out. We still don’t solve the non-basic land problem. How about if we draw inspiration from another Ice Age rare, Ritual of Subdual?
Cumulative Upkeep 2
If tapped for mana, basic Plains produce R, basic Islands produce G, basic Swamps produce W, basic Mountains produce U, basic Forests produce B and non-basic lands produce 1 instead of their normal type.
This would shut off dual lands, throw all five colors into chaos, and stop City of Brass from getting around the Singularity effect.
44) Time and Tide (Visions: Uncommon)
Simultaneously, all creature cards that are phased out phase in and all creatures with phasing phase out.
Why it’s bad: There have been bad mechanics in Magic history, and the worst of the lot always revolve around massive rules issues. Licids don’t exist, according to Paul Barclay. Neither does Phasing. Phasing intuitively doesn’t make sense – creatures which phase out trigger”leaves play” abilities, but creatures which phase in don’t trigger”comes into play” abilities. Phasing occurs during a phase when it shouldn’t occur (untap), and Phasing permanents keep enchantments, unlike permanents, affected by remove-from-game effects.
So you’ve got these creatures which come in and out of play every other turn. For the low cost of two mana plus a card, you get to bring one back as a surprise. Surprise! Your opponents probably aren’t playing with phasing creatures outside of Mirage/Visions/Weatherlight Limited, making it Time and Tide a card which will only affect your side of the board. It also requires you play with phasing creatures, most of which are suboptimal. If you want to keep phasing creatures in play, Spatial Binding is your way to go. Otherwise, the best you’re going to do is have a surprise blocker for a turn or a surprise attacker for a turn. That isn’t worth two mana and a card.
How to fix it: Why not make this a global affect? It still won’t do much to help your phasing creatures, but it could act as a type of Fog effect. You’d want it to cost a little more than UU if you’re going to allow it to stop all combat for a turn, plus act as a spell to save your creatures from removal/fizzle opposing enchant creatures, and other trickery associated with phasing out a creature for the turn.
Time and Tide
Simultaneously, all creatures cards that are phased out phase in, and all creatures in play phase out.
43) Didgeridoo (Homelands: Rare)
3: Put a Minotaur card from your hand into play.
Why it’s bad: There are few to no good Minotaurs in Magic. The good ones don’t cost much more than three to play. You’re not going to build a competitive, fun, or other Minotaur deck that needs to take advantage of ducking counterspells. For just a little more mana, you can get a non-tribal version of Didgeridoo, a.k.a. Elvish Piper, Quicksilver Amulet, Belbe’s Portal, Cryptic Gateway, or Urza’s Incubator. It serves one purpose exceedingly well, but with only fourteen Minotaurs in all of Magic, it’s not like this tribally theme card ever needed be made. Goblins and Dwarves are enough, thanks.
How to fix it: It does what it does. It’s a niche card in a set where Minotaurs were supposed to be touted as a workable tribe.
42) Metamorphosis (Arabian Nights/Chronicles: Common)
As an additional cost to play Metamorphosis, sacrifice a creature.
Add X mana of any one color to your mana pool, where X is one plus the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost. Spend this mana only to play creature spells.
Why it’s bad: Food Chain would have been on this list before it was broken in Extended Goblin decks at Pro Tour: New Orleans 2003. It’s left the ranks of bad cards, leaving the original version it was based upon to dwell sadly alone. Metamorphosis exchanges a creature for a one mana boost. That’s right – you can sacrifice your Serra Angel to play Mahamoti Djinn! You could sacrifice a Verdant Force token to play nine Jackal Pups! You could sacrifice Draco to cast Pouncing Jaguar, Acridian, Albino Troll, Cradle Guard, Citanul Centaurs, and Winding Wurm. Good luck paying the upkeep!
Or you could just play a land on the following turn, and cast a creature without the need to sacrifice an old one…
How to fix it: You could turn Metamorphosis into a neat combat trick for limited, but changing it into an instant that allows you to play creatures at instant speed;
As an additional cost to play Metamorphosis, sacrifice a creature.
Add X mana of any one color to your mana pool, where X is one plus the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost. Spend this mana only to play creature spells. Creatures spells played in this way may be played at any time you could play an instant.
Now we’ve got a combat trick is capable of killing another creature in limited. Unlike Time and Tide above, this would be universally useful for any type of creature, and not just phasing creatures.
41) Legends Glyphs (Delusion/Destruction/Doom/Life/Reincarnation: Legends Commons)
Glyph of Delusion
Put X glyph counters on target creature that target Wall blocked this turn, where X is the power of that blocked creature. The creature gains”This creature doesn’t untap during your untap step if it has a glyph counter on it” and”At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a glyph counter from this creature.”
Glyph of Destruction
Target blocking Wall you control gets +10/+0 until end of combat. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to it this turn. Destroy it at end of turn.
Glyph of Doom
At end of combat, destroy all creatures that were blocked by target Wall this turn.
Choose target Wall. Until end of turn, whenever an attacking creature deals damage to that Wall, you gain that much life.
Glyph of Reincarnation
Play only during the end of combat step.
Destroy all creatures that were blocked by target Wall this turn. They can’t be regenerated. For each creature put into a graveyard this way, choose a creature card from the graveyard of that creature’s controller and return that card to play under its owner’s control.
Why they’re bad: All of the glyphs have good effects. All of the glyphs require Walls to play, making them less than useful. They are instants which can only affect creatures which, by definition, cannot attack. Glyph of Destruction and Glyph of Doom are redundant (really, what creature won’t die to a +10/+0 Wall?), and Glyph of Reincarnation might just cause your opponent to have a one way Second Sunrise, since it is fully capable of returning the creature killed by the Glyph itself. If you’re playing Walls, chances are you’re using them for their defensive nature. If you’re using a Wall which can activate to attack (such as Walking Wall), you can’t use the Glyphs offensively, since every single one requires that your walls be blockers. Why do you need cards to enhance the defense of already defensively oriented creatures?
How to fix them: Wizards learned that in order for Walls to be useful, they need to have built in abilities aside from glorified toughness (Wall of Swords, Wall of Stone, etc). Stronghold finally introduced a set of playable walls:
Wall of Blossoms (Stronghold: Uncommon)
G1, Creature – Wall
When Wall of Blossoms comes into play, draw a card.
Wall of Essence (Stronghold: Uncommon)
W1, Creature — Wall
Whenever Wall of Essence is dealt combat damage, you gain that much life.
Wall of Razors (Stronghold: Uncommon)
R1, Creature – Wall
Wall of Souls (Stronghold: Uncommon)
B1, Creature – Wall
Whenever Wall of Souls is dealt combat damage, it deals that much damage to target opponent.
Wall of Tears (Stronghold: Uncommon)
U1, Creature – Wall
Whenever Wall of Tears blocks a creature, return that creature to its owner’s hand at end of combat
Three of the Stronghold walls are direct homage’s to the Legends Glyphs (Essence, Tears, and Razors, which has a high power to stop creatures, much like the +10/+0 given by the Red Glyph). The Green one makes more sense thematically (Black should reanimate creatures, not Green), and the Black one just explores another aspect of the color.
Coming up tomorrow: A look at a few cards which just missed the top 100, and cards #40-21!