18,000 Words: The 100 Worst Magic Cards of All Time (80-61)

Welcome back to the second part of my Top 100 Worst Magic Cards of All Time countdown! I’m glad you’ve decided to rejoin me for the next in our hit parade of the inept, as we examine the whats, whys, and hows of bad Magic cards. Today’s breakdown features platinum hits like Saproling Infestation and Goblin Game. Where will they rank in terms of Magic booby prizes? The answer is only a click away.

(If you missed the first part of the series, click here. *)

Welcome back to the second part of my Top 100 Worst Magic Cards of All Time countdown! I’m glad you’ve decided to rejoin me for the next in our hit parade of the inept, as we examine the what, why, and how’s of bad Magic cards.

I’m big on being constructive while offering criticism. I’ve read too many”worst cards of all time” lists that take absolute delight in ripping apart bad cards. Authors of these articles take pot shots at Wizards R&D using the most, shall we say, flowery language. When I set out to make this list, I wanted to avoid schadenfreude (A malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others.) Instead, I wanted to see why certain cards broke down, and how they could be fixed.

One of the features of my article was an attempt to figure out the changes that could be made to a card to make it playable. Note that I don’t say broken or powerful, but just playable. If you tinker with a card long and hard enough, you’ll be able to make it the most powerful thing since Tolarian Academy.

Teferi’s Isle

Legendary Land


Tap: Add UU to your mana pool.

This new version of Teferi’s Isle is completely broken (as stated yesterday). It’s faster than Saprazzan Skerry, works as the same type of acceleration as Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors/Crystal Vein, and has the”drawback” of being Legendary, so you can have two phasing against each other at once.

I’m not looking to make God cards. I’m looking to make good cards.

When tweaking existing bad cards, there’s always the temptation to turn the card into a cantrip as a fix. Sometimes this is suitable, but often times it’s an easy way out of having to think up an elegant workaround for a previously bad card.

Hell Swarm

B, Instant

All creatures get -1/-0 until end of turn. Draw a card.

How boring! This doesn’t take any thought whatsoever, and I’ve tried to avoid cantripfying bad cards whenever possible. There are some cards which scream”make me a cantrip, dammit!” that I couldn’t help but to give the draw-a-card treatment. Usually though, I’ll try to avoid this cop out.

Speaking of cop outs, there are a few cards I refused to change yesterday (and this trend will continue today) by calling them niche cards. Niche cards are cards which fulfill a specific purpose in Magic, a purpose which had previously been unfilled by any cards. These are usually cards which, when they see print, several people will go”hey, I designed a card similar to that!” They say this because fundamentally niche cards need to exist – they explore an unexplored facet of the game, such as Feldon’s Cane allowing you to reshuffle your graveyard into your library, or Psychic Battle allowing mass chaos through redirection – a.k.a. a global Deflection.

By nature of niche cards, several of them suck hard. That’s because they exist to fulfill a very specific purpose (see Tower of Coireall for a card which makes creatures unblockable by walls) and usually that purpose is narrow and weak. There are niche cards which have been absurdly broken (Yawgmoth’s Will, for instance, which allows you to play your graveyard as if it were your hand for a turn), horridly bad (you’ll see many of these on this list), and in between (Mana Severance is decent, but nothing that you’d crow or cry about). These cards are necessary to the growth of the game of Magic, since they are usually not retreads of existing cards, and usually explore new ground. Without Feldon’s Cane, there would be no Reminisce, or Thran Foundry, or Serra Avatar or Darksteel Colossus. Without Jandor’s Ring, there would be no Jalum Tome, Merfolk Looter, or Compulsion. Even if the initial model of a card isn’t up to snuff, it lays the groundwork for an improved reiteration on the theme in the future.

Without further delay, let’s head straight to the 80th worst card in Magic history.

80) Meteor Crater (Planeshift: Rare)


Tap: Choose a color of a permanent you control. Add one mana of that color to your mana pool.

Why it’s bad: Meteor Crater can’t produce colorless mana, so it can’t feed off of other lands or artifacts. This means that until you make a colored drop in a game, it’s completely useless. Even after you’ve dropped a colored card, Meteor Crater only gives you more of what you already have! Unlike Reflecting Pool (which can take advantage of five color lands and dual lands to help mana development), Meteor Crater is a win-more card which leaves everyone a loser.

How to fix it: R&D has adopted a policy of making sure lands can always produce mana, no matter the circumstance. Look no further than Grand Coliseum and Mirrodin’s Core to see examples of this philosophy – even when the lands aren’t producing multiple colors of mana, they still can produce colorless.

Meteor Crater


Tap: Add one mana to your mana pool. That mana may be a color of any permanent you control.

79) Reclusive Wight (Urza’s Saga: Uncommon)

B3, Creature — Minion

At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control another nonland permanent, sacrifice Reclusive Wight.


Why it’s bad: Black creatures have a history of having drawbacks, and this one is no exception. Sometimes drawback Black creatures are powerful (Phyrexian Negator) and sometimes they are too weak to see play. R&D has tinkered with the four drop 4/4 in Black for years, including Derelor (played), Kezzerdrix, (played) and Enslaved Horror (played). Reclusive Wight is not only the only failure of this bunch, but it’s a dismal failure at that. Unlike Skittering creatures also featured in this block (Skittering Skirge and Skittering Horror), Reclusive Wight truly can be the only creature you have in play. It can be the only permanent among artifacts and enchantments as well. The inability to play both the Wight and non-land permanents in the same deck make this guy readily unplayable.

How to fix it: If Skittering Horror was a 4/3 for three mana, why did this guy have only one more point of toughness in exchange for an extra mana and a harsher drawback? The two paths to take would be to either make Reclusive Wight larger, or make the penalty associated with the creature less severe. I’d think to take the path of the latter, as the flavor of the creature (it’s reclusive, after all) would make it want to be in play on its own.

Reclusive Wight

B3, Creature – Minion

At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control another creature, sacrifice Reclusive Wight.


This makes Reclusive Wight a hybrid between Steel Golem and Skittering Horror, both of which are well-associated with Black control decks everywhere.

78) Barreling Attack (Mirage: Rare)

RR2, Instant

Target creature gets +1/+1 for each creature blocking it and gains trample until end of turn.

Why it’s bad: Barreling Attack gives no benefit to an unblocked creature. It also does nothing on defense. It’s only on the offense and only if your creature is blocked that makes Barreling Attack even remotely useful. For four mana, you’d expect a much larger effect than giving a creature +1/+1 or +2/+2 and trample. In addition, the”for each creature blocking it” clause is usually associated with Green creatures (see Gang of Elk and Cave Tiger).

How to fix it: Since Barreling Attack is both weak and out of flavor, do we make it into a Green card or do we make it fit into Red’s color pie? The intention of the card is to make a creature large enough to blow through blockers – so the trample ability should stay. Let’s tinker with the mana cost and color of Barreling Attack:

Barreling Attack

G, Instant

Target creature gets +1/+1 for each creature blocking it and gains trample until end of turn.

Even at one mana, Barreling Attack will usually be 1/3rd of a Vitality Charm. Granted, it’s the good 1/3rd, but there’s no reason why a spell with this limited an application needs to cost anything other than one mana.

77) Saproling Infestation (Invasion: Rare)

G1, Enchantment

Whenever a player pays a kicker cost, you put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.

Why it’s bad: When Saproling Infestation is cast, it does nothing. If nobody uses a kicker during the game, Saproling Infestation does nothing. Even if a couple of spells get kicked, generating 1/1 creatures as a reward hardly seems worthwhile. Wirewood Hivemaster is good because you’re going to play a lot of Elves anyhow – he’s the way you’d want to creature 1/1 tokens. Saproling Infestation requires you play cards you might not otherwise fit in your deck, and for a marginal effect.

How to fix it: I’ve never felt infested when my opponent has played this card, and it’s very weak as a hoser for kicker (or an enhancer for your kicker spells). Let’s kick the power level of Saproling Infestation up a notch.

Saproling Infestation

G1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a kicker cost, that player puts a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each mana in the kicker cost played.

We’ve made Saproling Infestation symmetrical (whereas the original was one-sided), but that’s a hallmark of Green cards such as these. The ability to make multiple Saprolings with each kicker card makes Saproling Infestation much more playable – and since it triggers off of playing a kicker cost, it’ll trigger even if your kicker spell is countered.

76) Game Preserve (Mercadian Masques: Rare)

G2, Enchantment

At the beginning of your upkeep, each player reveals the top card of his or her library. If all cards revealed this way are creature cards, put those cards into play under their owners’ control. (Otherwise, put them back face-down on top of their owners’ libraries.)

Why it’s bad: If your opponent is not playing with creatures, this card does nothing. The more players that are in a game, the less likely this card is to have any effect. Unless you’re manipulating your (or your opponent’s) library, Game Preserve will most likely backfire almost as often as it will work. If you’re playing all high casting cost creatures, you’re stuck and left for dead if your opponent Naturalizes this enchantment. If you’re using acceleration to get this out early (such as Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves), you run the risk of popping out an Elf in exchange for your opponent’s Masticore. Game Preserve is wedged between the pillars of symmetry and unreliability, making it quite a bad card in general.

How to fix it: Game Preserve is an interesting hybrid of Rowen/Primitive Etchings, and Call of the Wild. It sometimes doubles as a poor man’s Field of Dreams. Either way, it truly accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish (putting either all or no creatures into play from the tops of libraries), and so it firmly fits under the definition of a niche card. Next.

75) Aysen Highway/Hidden Path

Aysen Highway (Homelands: Rare)

WWW3, Enchantment

White creatures have plainswalk.

Hidden Path (The Dark: Rare)

GGGG2, Enchantment

Green creatures have forestwalk.

Why they’re bad: The mana costs on both of these cards are horrendously high. Both of them are limited in scope – they only affect creatures of one color, and they only work if your opponent controls one of five land types. Moreover, it gives all creatures of that color landwalk. This includes your opponent’s creatures, and since you’ve already paid triple White or quadruple Green to cast the Highway or the Path, chances are you have a Plains or Forest of your own in play for your opponent(s) to take advantage of.

How to fix them: For six mana, these spells could have been one sided affairs and been just peachy.

Aysen Highway/Hidden Path


All your creatures have Plainswalk/Forestwalk

This would put these two cards more along the lines of Intimidation – you still need a heavy color commitment to play them, but they are a lot more one sided. A five mana enchantment should at the least swing one way (see Noble Purpose) and not work for both teams.

74) Primal Frenzy (Odyssey, Common)

G, Enchant Creature

Enchanted creature has trample.

Why it’s bad: Whup-de-doo. Your creature has trample. Primal Rage (from Stronghold) gave all your creatures trample for only one less mana – and it saw print years before Primal Frenzy! Regardless, trample is one of those abilities that has existed for all time and memorial in Magic, and it was only a matter of time before there was an enchantment which simply granted a creature trample. Unless your creature is large, trample won’t much matter. Many large creatures already have trample, so what’s the point? It’s a creature enchantment (you can lose card advantage if your creature dies while enchanted and/or while being enchanted) making it already weak. It only works in a combat situation, and only when you’re attacking, and only for a single creature.

How to fix it: Oddly enough, they took a perfectly mediocre card (Primal Rage) and powered it down to bring you Primal Frenzy. Unlike a situation where a newer cards obsoletes an older one (Jalum Tome vs. Jandor’s Ring, for example), the newer card stinks compared to the older one. You could turn Primal Frenzy into a cantrip (like Frog Tongue did for the”can block as though it had flying effect), but I’d rather just say that this is a rare instance when R&D took a non-overpowered card (Primal Rage) and made it worse, so that a single-target version (niche) card could exist.

73) Lance/Lashknife/Reflexes

Lance (ABU/Revised: Uncommon)

W, Enchant Creature

Enchanted creature has first strike.


R, Enchant Creature

Enchanted creature has first strike (Urza’s Saga/7th/8th: Common)

Lashknife (Nemesis, Common)

W1, Enchant Creature

If you control a Plains, you may tap an untapped creature you control rather than pay Lashknife’s mana cost.

Enchanted creature has first strike.

Why they’re bad: If Primal Frenzy is bad, all three of these are worse. At least a trampling creature can deal extra damage in combat – first striking creatures either have to have a high offense to matter, or …. No, they have to have a high offense to matter. Turning a 2/2 creature into a 2/2 first striker isn’t worth a card, much less the need for three cards in existence which do the same exact thing. Particularly disappointing is Lashknife, which is worse than Lance in almost every way. There’s virtually no time at which the alternate casting cost is going to matter, since the spell only costs two mana for a negligible effect to being with.

How to fix them: Let’s assume Lance and Reflexes operate under the same principle as Primal Rage/Primal FrenzyKnighthood gives all creatures you control first strike, and for only a slight bit more of a mana investment. Let’s take a look at Lashknife instead. Mercadian Masques had several enchantments that could be played at instant spells – cards like Tiger Claws, Cho-Manno’s Blessing, and Flaming Sword. Flaming Sword gives +1/+0 in addition to first strike, but the ability for Lashknife to potentially work as a”I’m tapped out and helpless – oh wait, no I’m not” combat trick would make up a little bit for the loss of one extra power.


W, Enchant Creature

You may play Lashknife any time you could play an instant.

If you control a Plains, you may tap an untapped creature you control rather than pay Lashknife’s mana cost.

Enchanted creature has first strike.

This allows Lashknife to at least act as a surprise, making it marginally useful in some combat situations.

72) Divergent Growth/Harvest Mage/Multani’s Harmony

Divergent Growth (Scourge: Common)

G, Instant

Until end of turn, lands you control gain”{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Harvest Mage (Nemesis: Common)

G, Creature — Spellshaper

G, Tap, Discard a card from your hand: Until end of turn, if you tap a land for mana, it produces one mana of any color instead of its normal type and amount.


Multani’s Harmony (Planeshift: Uncommon)

G, Enchant Creature

Enchanted creature has”Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.”

Why they’re bad: The ability to produce multiple colors of mana is very strong. Birds of Paradise, City of Brass, and Gemstone Mine have all performed this task admirably. This does not mean that card count should be sacrificed in order to obtain the ability to produce multiple colors of mana. These three cards all allow you access to five colors of mana production, but at the cost of a card. Is this worth it? Signs point to no, since the Growth, the Mage, and the Harmony all made this list at spot 72.

The main problem with such spell is that by the time the ability matters, you’ve probably already got access to enough colors of mana. You don’t want to cast Divergent Growth on the first turn, since it’ll do nothing. It’ll probably do nothing on turn 2, or 3, or even 4. If you need it by turn 5 to cast a previously uncastable spell, you’re probably playing the wrong mana producers in your deck to begin with. In a pinch, you’re better off playing cards like Rampant Growth (which permanently gets you alternate sources of mana, plus accelerates your mana) or Quirion Elves (which give you access to all five colors of mana, plus can attack and block). Multani’s Harmony will turn any creature you control into a Birds of Paradise, but the beauty of the Birds is that it only costs one mana to cast. Take a look at Utopia Tree – it looked great on paper, but the two mana it takes to cast has made it a very mediocre card compared to the Birds.

How to fix them: These cards all do what they’re supposed to do, but their effect is both unexciting and unimpressive. White has gone about this type of mana fixing in an entirely different manner, with cards such as Celestial Dawn and False Dawn. Those cards whitewash all your permanents, making it so that you don’t have a temporary mana-fixing effect, but instead always have access to the right colors of mana, universally.

71) Greener Pastures (Urza’s Saga: Rare)

G2, Enchantment

At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if that player controls more lands than any other, the player puts a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play.

Why it’s bad: Cards that rely on you having more of a resource than your opponent are usually risky propositions. Monstrous Hounds is a large beater that just never found a niche. The problem with these cards is that you need to be able to break their symmetry to reap their benefits, and oftentimes it’s nigh unto impossible to do so.

If you play Greener Pastures on your third turn, your opponent needs to miss their third land drop for this enchantment to have an effect naturally. Otherwise, you’ll need to pack land destruction spells – but your reward for such a strategy is getting a 1/1 Green creature each turn? The effect is extraordinarily disproportional to the effort required. Sure, you might zoom ahead on the land count with Rampant Growths and the such, but you’re still only getting 1/1 dorks, and only once a turn.

Heaven forbid if your opponent gets ahead of you on the land count. Heaven forbid again if you’re playing multi-player, as your chances of this thing ever working in your favor drops even further.

How to fix it: The two main disadvantages of Greener Pastures is that it’s both symmetrical and doesn’t reward you enough if you do break symmetry. Let’s ramp up the effect a little, in order to make the rewards reflect the effort.

Greener Pastures

G2, Enchantment

At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, if that player controls more lands than any other, the player puts a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each land greater than the number of lands the person with the next highest number of lands controls.

70) Chance Encounter (Odyssey: Rare)

RR2, Enchantment

Whenever you win a coin flip, put a luck counter on Chance Encounter.

At the beginning of your upkeep, if Chance Encounter has ten or more luck counters on it, you win the game.

Why it’s bad: There were a whole cycle of alternate win condition cards in Odyssey block, one for each color. They were Battle of Wits (played at the tournament level), Mortal Combat (not played, but useable at least with Hermit Druid), Test of Endurance (a favorite win condition for White players in multiplayer and emperor games everywhere), Epic Struggle (pretty bad, since if you have 20 creatures you’re probably going to win anyhow, but again doable in multiplayer games), and then this piece of junk. It’s bad enough that coin flipping cards are the ultimate skill-frustration cards in Magic, but when you graft an instant win condition onto a 50/50 coin flip, you’re asking for trouble. Players immediately broke this card with Frenetic Efreet, forcing Wizards to errata Frenetic Efreet upon release of Chance Encounter (previously, you could activate the Efreet a billion times, and it would cause you to flip a billion coins. Now the flip only happens if the Efreet is in play).

How to fix it: It’s bad enough you need to flip coins in order to get counters on Chance Encounter, but you have to win the flips as well. Let’s just up the number of counters needed and drop the”win the flip” condition. This will let the kids go crazy with cards like Goblin Festival and Orcish Captain – sure, they can generate infinite mana to go nuts and win, but then again if they had infinite mana they would be able to win the flip enough to win ten times anyhow.

Chance Encounter

RR2, Enchantment

Whenever you flip a coin, put a luck counter on Chance Encounter.

At the beginning of your upkeep, if Chance Encounter has twenty or more luck counters on it, you win the game.

69) Accursed Centaur (Onslaught: Common)

B, Creature — Zombie Centaur

When Accursed Centaur comes into play, sacrifice a creature.


Why it’s bad: Sarcomancy. Carnophage. Kjeldoran Dead. Accursed Centaur follows all of these Black one-drops with a drawback and manages to come out as the clear victor in the”how bad can we make the drawback on a one drop and have it be unplayable?” contest. Losing a creature to cast a creature is a tough sell to begin with – even gating creatures from Planeshift rarely saw play outside of Limited, because the tempo loss of gigging your own guy in exchange for a larger/better guy can be devastating. Gating creatures didn’t even cost you a card, only time – whereas Accursed Centaur will, in most cases, cost you a card. If, by the off chance you’re sacrificing a token instead of a creature card, you’re still wasting time with a 2/2 for one mana – by that point, wouldn’t you just rather hard cast Scathe Zombies?

How to fix it: There are many ways to fix Accursed Centaur, including giving it fear or regeneration (to make it another version of Kjeldoran Dead, albeit one with a more balanced power/toughness ratio), both of which are hallmarks of Black creatures. Since it’s a common, we wouldn’t want to make it too wacky:

Accursed Centaur

B, Creature – Zombie Centaur

When Accursed Centaur comes into play, sacrifice a zombie other than Accursed Centaur, or sacrifice Accursed Centaur. If you sacrifice a zombie other than Accursed Centaur in this way, return target Zombie card from your graveyard to your hand.

That version, while interesting, would not fit into the common slot of Onslaught – although it would fit the tribal theme of the block. No, we need to make this a simpler fix, one that flows in a simple manner, and makes dropping the Zombie in the early game a risky proposition. To this end, we should look no further than Tempest for an inspiration: Servant of Volrath.

Accursed Centaur

B, Creature – Zombie Centaur

When Accursed Centaur leaves play, sacrifice a creature.

This makes the Centaur a playable one drop, but with a drawback that is significant in both Constructed and Limited.

68) Shriek of Dread (Planeshift: Common)

B1, Instant

Target creature gains fear until end of turn.

Why it’s bad: For two mana, you are able to give one creature the ability to be semi-unblockable until end of turn. Not permanently, such as with the BB casting cost enchantment Fear, but temporarily, as in for a single turn. If ever a card screamed”Why aren’t I a cantrip?” it’s this one! Invasion block was full of multicolored creatures, making fear less important than it might ordinarily have been. Moreover, the block was full of cantrip effects (Repulse, Exclude, and Annihilate), so there was already a precedent set for the Shriek to be a cantrip as well.

How to fix it: Make Shriek of Dread a cantrip – pure and simple. Oh wait, this was done a few sets down the road. Witness Dirge of Dread from Onslaught:

Dirge of Dread (Onslaught: Common)

B2, Sorcery

All creatures gain fear until end of turn.

Cycling B1 (B1, Discard this card from your hand: Draw a card.)

When you cycle Dirge of Dread, you may have target creature gain fear until end of turn.

When cycled, Dirge of Dread acts as a cantrip version of Shriek of Dread. It can also be used as a team-granting fear effect. Either way, Wizards fixed Shriek of Dread for us, so thank you R&D.

67) Baki’s Curse (Homelands: Rare)

UU2, Sorcery

Baki’s Curse deals 2 damage to each creature for each enchant creature enchanting that creature.

Why it’s bad: Baki’s Curse is out of flavor on many levels: Blue isn’t the color of dealing damage, and Blue isn’t the color of caring if creatures are enchanted (give or take the Metathran creatures from Urza’s block). In addition, creature enchantments are rarely played, and are even more rarely played in multiples. If on the off chance you do catch someone enchanting a creature, that creature needs to have a 2 toughness or less to die from the Curse. Many enchantments which see play boost the toughness of creatures (Blanchwood Armor, the Urza block Embraces, Armadillo Cloak), making this card moot. Back in the day, people would joke about how this was anti-Rabid Wombat tech, except that it could never actually kill a Wombat.

How to fix it: Venomous Vines provides a nice in-flavor alternative to Baki’s Curse, but we’re not looking to change the flavor of the card – Baki’s Curse is a sorcery which deals damage to enchanted creatures. We’ll have to move it into Red – and it would fit Red very well, since Red can’t deal with enchantments except in a round about way (such as Flaring Pain dealing with Circles of Protection). Between the damage dealing and the killing the messenger/not the message aspect of Baki’s Curse, it would be a perfect fit for the new color. In addition, let’s make it capable of killing Wombats.

Baki’s Curse

RR2, Sorcery

Baki’s Curse deals 3 damage to each creature for each enchant creature enchanting that creature.

66) Goblin Game (Planeshift: Rare)

RR5, Sorcery

Each player hides at least one item, then all players reveal them simultaneously. Each player loses life equal to the number of items he or she revealed. The player who revealed the fewest items then loses half his or her life, rounded up. If two or more players are tied for fewest, each loses half his or her life, rounded up.

Why it’s bad: There are few cards which are as misread or as misplayed as Goblin Game. Here’s a primer for Goblin Game:

Whether you win or lose the”Goblin Game,” you lose life equal to the number of objects you revealed. I’ve witnessed dozens of people who would reveal twenty to thirty objects, thinking that they would only lose life equal to the difference between the numbers of objects revealed by their opponent (s).

By the time you’ve hit seven mana, you’ve got better ways to kill an opponent than by losing life in order to halve their life total as a sorcery.

This costs seven mana, for [censored] sakes!

Did I mention that it costs seven mana to cast?

If Unglued Two had seen print before Planeshift, chances are that this never would have been a tournament legal card.

Because it costs seven mana.

And because it can backfire, it doesn’t affect much late game, and because it’s a”wacky fun card” that’s neither wacky nor fun.

And it costs seven mana.

[Number of foil Goblin Games opened by yours truly: Two – Knut, still crying]

How to fix it: You don’t fix Goblin Game – it does what it’s supposed to do, and it was designed entirely for casual play. Sure, you could make it cost less mana (RR3 for instance), but it still wouldn’t see play. This is one of those cards that would be near impossible to cost properly. If it cost R mana, it would be broken in half (each player would end up around five life on the first time). Same for it costing R1. Would it be fair at RRR like Game of Chaos? Better not to find out.

65) Mercadian Lift (Mercadian Masques: Rare)

2, Artifact

1, Tap: Put a winch counter on Mercadian Lift.

Tap, Remove X winch counters from Mercadian Lift: Put a creature card with converted mana cost X from your hand into play.

Why it’s bad: On the second turn of the game, you get to play Mercadian Lift. On the following turns, for the cost of setting your tempo back a land drop, you get to add a counter to the lift. Eleven turns later? Darksteel Colossus!

Mercadian Lift really is that bad. If you want to play a four mana creature, you probably won’t have the counters until turn 5 – at which point you might as well have cast the four cost creature on your own. The ability to”surprise” your opponent by playing a creature as an instant is negated by the fact that it takes forever and a half to get counters on the Lift in the first place, it drains your resources, and there are better ways of achieving this goal – for instance, Elvish Piper or Quicksilver Amulet. Worst of all, once you put a creature into play using the Lift, you have to start all over again building up counters! No thank you sir.

How to fix it: Putting creatures into play for free is always a tricky ground, because if you make it too good then it will unbalance the game (Oath of Druids) because it allows you to circumvent mana costs. Verdant Force costs eight mana for a reason: It’s a better creature card than most one-to-seven casting cost guys. If Verdant Force cost two mana, it would be the best creature in Magic. However, it costs eight, and that’s why it’s down on the overall power curve from other creatures (Jackal Pup, Morphling, etc). If you could play him for free easily, he would be insane in the brain and the membrane.

With that said, Aether Vial provides a nice alternative to Mercadian Lift.

Aether Vial (Darksteel: Uncommon)

1, Artifact

At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a charge counter on Aether Vial.

Tap: You may put a creature card with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Aether Vial from your hand into play.

Aether Vial is another card which”fixes” a previously bad card. It solves the mana investment issue (you get to put counters on for free), it costs less to put out (so you can immediately start accumulating counters on turn two), and it doesn’t lose counters when you put creatures into play.

64) Arcum’s Sleigh (Ice Age: Uncommon)

1, Artifact

2, Tap: Until end of turn, attacking doesn’t cause target creature to tap if defending player controls a snow-covered land.

Why it’s bad:

Dashing through the snow,

In a one-mana Arcum’s Sleigh,

Over the fields we go,

Crying all the way.

You play snow-covered lands,

My creature doesn’t tap,

If you’re running all non-snows,

This card is complete crap.

(cue the chorus)

How to fix it: Jingle my bells. Initially you’d think that getting rid of the”if the defending player controls a Snow-Covered land” clause would fix the card, but it’s a friggin’ Sleigh! Thematically, the card works perfectly, except that nobody plays snow-covered lands. This card was bad even in Ice Age/Alliances limited. However, it would be fun to turn this card into a piece of Equipment. Yeah, yeah, Equipment didn’t exist in February of 1996. It would make the card slightly more playable. We’ll have to change the name, because we really don’t want to muck with Snow-Covered lands. Let’s pretend they don’t exist, ok? I know R&D does the same.

Arcum’s Rocket Boots

1, Artifact – Equipment

Equipped creature does not tap to attack.

Equip {2} ({2}: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)

63) Omega Myr/Squire

Omega Myr (Mirrodin: Common)

2, Artifact Creature — Myr


Squire (The Dark: Common)

W1, Creature — Squire


Why they’re bad: Many herald Squire as the worst creature in Magic. No my poppets, he might be the most boring, but he’s far from the worst. He’s just eminently disappointing – for two mana, White was already used to cards like White Knight by the time The Dark rolled around. This guy was a reverse Savannah Lions except with a one mana penalty for no discernable reason. Green gets 1/2 creatures for G mana (Rime Dryad, Norwood Ranger), so there’s no reason for Squire to cost as much as it does.

As far as Omega Myr goes, taking out the colored cost requirement of Squire doesn’t make the card any better. 1/2 for two mana stinks, given that the bare minimum standard for that slot is 2/2 for two (Grizzly Bears, Spineless Thug, Goblin Raider, and Glory Seeker for 8th, with Coral Eel the lone holdout of the cycle). Omega Myr and Alpha Myr are cute as a pair, but only one of the two is playable.

How to fix them: It would not hurt for either of these boys to cost a single mana. Drop Omega Myr to one for a 1/2 and Squire to W for a 1/2 and you’ve got yourself a couple of fixed cards.

62) Odyssey Shrines (Aven, Cabal, Cephalid, Dwarven)

Aven Shrine (Odyssey: Rare)

WW1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, that player gains X life, where X is the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as that spell.

Cabal Shrine (Odyssey: Rare)

BB1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, that player discards X cards from his or her hand, where X is the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as that spell.

Cephalid Shrine (Odyssey: Rare)

UU1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, counter that spell unless that player pays {X}, where X is the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as the spell.

Dwarven Shrine (Odyssey: Rare)

RR1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, Dwarven Shrine deals X damage to that player, where X is twice the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as that spell.

Why they’re bad: You’ll notice that the Green shrine is not on this list. Nantuko Shrine was played in block with the five Odyssey Eggs in a deck that was capable of pumping out a ton of Squirrels in a frighteningly quick fashion. Let’s be fair: this entire cycle was designed with group play in mind. With all the disparate strategies that players will bring to the table in group games, there’s a good chance these cards will trigger zero times over the course of a large melee. Occasionally you’ll get them to work, but the amount of life you gain off Aven Shrine, the amount of cards you discard from Cabal Shrine, the extra mana you pay (1-2) for Cephalid Shrine or the amount of damage taken from Dwarven Shrine is all but negligible.

How to fix them: Up the ante. Play into the strengths and weaknesses of the colors these cards represent, and make them a little less symmetrical.

Cephalid Shrine

UU1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, each other player draws a card for each copy of that card in all graveyards with the same name.

Dwarven Shrine

RR1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, Dwarven Shrine deals X damage to each other player, where X is the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as that spell.

Cabal Shrine

BB1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, each other player discards X cards from their hand, where X is the number of cards in all graveyards with the same name as that spell.

Aven Shrine

WW1, Enchantment

Whenever a player plays a spell, counter that spell if there is a copy of that card in any other player’s graveyard with the same name.

Now the Shrines still affect all players, but usually will not affect the caster himself/herself. Dwarven Shrine hits all other players, Cephalid Shrine makes for a good group dynamic card to encourage variety and discourage redundancy (plus it’s nifty against Accumulated Knowledge in serious Constructed), Cabal Shrine still isn’t great but it’s a tad better, and Aven Shrine acts like a Meddling Mage/Bazaar of Wonders hybrid. Aven Shrine might be too good, but at least it’s a lot more interesting now.

61) Aisling Leprechaun (Legends: Common)

G, Creature — Faerie

Whenever Aisling Leprechaun blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, that creature becomes green. (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn.)


Why it’s bad: When I decided to do this countdown, this was the first card which made me want to offer”new” and”fixed” versions of the bad cards. Aisling Leprechaun is a 1/1 creature with a special ability that is utterly useless. I don’t want to hear about anyone saying”but I slapped a Lure on him and then cast Perish and killed all my opponent’s creatures!” – you’re playing a three card combo with two horrible cards and a spell which most likely hurts half of your deck, since you’re already playing Green.

What does it matter if you’re changing the color of your opponent’s creatures? Moreover, why does this change only happen during combat?

How to fix it: I just look at the Leprechaun and say”now what?” I’ve just made an opponent’s creature Green, my Leprechaun is dead, and I’ve wasted a card getting to this point. There has to be more than life to this. Leprechauns are supposed to be wee magical folk who are harbingers of luck and fortune, not Green road bumps which give Goblin Goon a bad case of toe fungus before they die. How can we make the color change ability of the Leprechaun useful, all the while reflecting the true nature of these folk?

Aisling Leprechaun

G1, Creature – Faerie

Protection from Green.

Whenever Aisling Leprechaun blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, that creature becomes green. (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn).


Now we’re cooking! As a protection from Green creature, the Leprechaun can enter combat with any other creature, and emerge unscathed. How’s that for lucky? Plus, once the creatures are Green, he can slip past their defenses (as you’d expect a small man with a pot of gold to do) to hit for a little bit of annoyance damage. The dynamic of making the Leprechaun protection from Green really fits this card, and it’s a simple change which really brings out another whole dimension of flavor and usefulness to the otherwise 61st worst card of all time.

Tommorrow: Cards 60-41, and a brief reflection on the nature of 1/1 creatures.