Abeth Edition, Part 2: The Uncommons

Abe gears up for the second part of his attempt to create a Base Set that he’s comfortable with by listing his uncommons… and we can almost guarantee that some of his choices for “good beginner cards that won’t overpower the format” (Rule of Law? Humble?) are sure to be controversial.


Artifact/Land Uncommons (20):
Brass Secretary
Charcoal Diamond
Crenellated Wall
Dragon Engine
Fire Diamond
Fountain of Youth
Gemstone Mine
Goblin Cannon
Icy Manipulator
Mana Prism
Marble Diamond
Mind Stone
Moss Diamond
Pit Trap
Puffer Extract
Rod of Ruin
Serrated Biskelion
Skull Catapult
Sky Diamond
Soul Net

An imbalance of artifacts versus artifact creatures is not the disadvantage like it would be with colors, since these could be used by any deck. The Diamonds do see print again, as they are basic mana producers that have an important role. Additionally, Mind Stone and Mana Prism also can help out with mana.

There are several creatures that fulfill various roles. Serrated Biskelion gives a deck a little creature kill, Brass Secretary a little cycling, Crenellated Wall a little defense, and Dragon Engine to serve. These four creatures are a versatile mix.

Notable for their absence is the lack of the Lucky Charms. However, Soul Net is still around. Since Soul Net can be played in any deck, its inclusion makes sense. However, I felt that the basic set should not contain both the Diamonds and the Charms, because that would create two sets of cards that would be drafted only by specific colors.

Icy Manipulator’s return to the base set might be a bit of a selling point — but I doubt it after a minor splash in Mirrodin. Instead, it brings a bit of creature control to the set as well as the combo with Howling Mine. Other creature control artifacts include Goblin Cannon, Rod of Ruin, Skull Catapult and Pit Trap.

We finish our artifact selections with Puffer Extract and Fountain of Youth. Choices for uncommon artifacts have to be a little low-key, because any deck can use them, but there are several good limited cards in here, creating enough justification in limited to consider removal.

White Uncommons (18)
Absolute Grace
Absolute Law
Auspicious Ancestor
Ghostly Prison
Heavy Ballista
Icatian Priest
Leonin Skyhunter
Rule of Law
Serra Advocate
Spirit Link
Staunch Defenders
Story Circle
Tempest of Light
Voice of All
Wall of Swords

White should have creatures that help each other, and defense. With that in mind, I keep the Wall of Swords, Heavy Ballista, Staunch Defenders, and Serra Advocate. All of those are old standbys, and reflect the color well. To that mix, we add Leonin Skyhunter as the classic 2/2 for WW with an ability or three. Icatian Priest can pump any creature for the mana, and adds to the one-drops available to White. Auspicious Ancestor joins the creatures for fun with a very White slate of abilities. Finally, Voice of All gives White a generic hoser.

As far as spells go, Story Circle is probably the big, well, “story.” Story Circle replaces the CoPs. It had more White in its casting cost, plus the ability uses White, thus making the ability to include protection in a deck require more than a splash to use reliably.

The other big story is probably the inclusion of Ghostly Prison. The inclusion of a highly useful tool will help White significantly.

Rule of Law, Tempest of Light, Knighthood, Humble, and Redeem give us a selection of White abilities for our uncommon slots.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: I have some issues with his choices, which I’ll go into at the end of the series… but as someone who throws Humbles into every white deck he builds, Humble is a terrible card from a rules perspective. Even reasonably experienced players aren’t sure about how it works sometimes, especially when interacting with various pump enchantments and/or +1/+1 counters. You wanna confuse a novice player all to heck? Throw in Humble – T.F.)

One of the reasons I included Parapet in the commons was so that I could take out Castle. There are a lot of White uncommons fighting for spots, and it should be representative of the color as a whole. White gets a lot of funky abilities, and it can be hard mashing them all in. Your hosers are Absolute Grace and Absolute Law.

Cards that just missed the cut include Ward of Piety and Rain of Blades.

Green Uncommons (18):
Blanchwood Armor
Charging Rhino
Creeping Mold
Elven Riders
Elvish Lyrist
Elvish Scrapper
Fangren Pathcutter
Karoo Meerkat
Primal Rage
Sylvan Scrying
Wing Snare
Whirling Dervish

With two one-drops, I felt Green needed a couple of decent two-drops in the uncommon slot. Enter Karoo Meerkat and Whirling Dervish. Barishi and Charging Rhino are decent-sized creatures. Fangren Pathcutter is added as a nice beefy creature. Toss in the classic Elven Riders.

I really like Scavenger Folk and their flavor, but I included Elvish Scrapper instead due to the creature type. I still miss the Folk, though.

In the spell slot, Creeping Mold returns as a versatile card. Lure, the old standby, joins us. Primal Rage adds trample. Fecundity is a nice Greenish card drawing. Roots and Wing Snare are ways for Green to keep up with the creature kill in other colors. Sylvan Scrying is another land tutoring effect, although this time without any clunky wording about land type. Blanchwood Armor shows the power of the forest. Your hosers are Compost and Choke.

Priest of Titania almost made the cut.

Red Uncommons (18):
Flame Elemental
Flowstone Crusher
Ghitu War Cry
Goblin Matron
Goblin Offensive
Goblin Soothsayer
Goblin War Drums
Ogre Arsonist
Orcish Artillery
Wild Wurm
Whip Sergeant

Red’s creatures include some new replacements for other cards. Cards like Wall of Fire and Fire Elemental have been removed, leaving only Orcish Artillery as the sole original card from the days of yore. Joining the group are Goblin Soothsayer as another one-drop, Whip Sergeant and Goblin Matron as utility, Flowstone Crusher as the big creature, Wild Wurm as the only coin-flipping card in the set, and Ogre Arsonist as land destruction. This is a nice selection of cards and abilities and casting costs.

For spells, no color had more in my final selection than Red. (For uncommon spots, anyways.) Demolish and Pyroclasm were, I thought, automatic entries. I wanted Threaten to represent Red gaining this ability. I like Ghitu War Cry as well. Blaze needed to see play somewhere. I also like having Fling in the basic set. Goblin War Drums was a nice flavorful addition. Lastly, I added Goblin Offensive to round out the Red uncommon selections. Your hosers are Sirocco and Flashfires.

I wanted to include Enrage (or Tears of Rage), Blood Rites, and Commando Raid, but they just didn’t fit.

Black Uncommons (18)
Abyssal Specter
Bog Wraith
Brood of Cockroaches
Crypt Rats
Dark Hatchling
Engineered Plague
Mind Maggots
Parasitic Bond
Relentless Rats
Screeching Harpy
Skeletal Scrying
Soul Feast

For creatures, I want to include Abyssal Specter and Screeching Harpy as solid flyers. The first one is standard, and the second regenerates in Black fashion. Relentless Rats might be a mini-chase card as well as a nod to an old card once found in the basic set. Bog Wraith is the only original holdout. Abomination hurts Green/White a little. Mind Maggots is an interesting Black theme. Brood of Cockroaches is a self-recurring creature, and Dark Hatchling fills in the last slot.

For spells, however, there were several choices. Intimidation was the black creature enabler. Engineered Plague felt like it belonged. As did Soul Feast, Parasitic Bond, and Zombify. Addle replaces both Ostracize and Duress. Skeletal Scrying represents the old Necropotence ability, but with a commitment to mana and graveyard resources to harness. Your hosers are Slay and Execute – the only cantrips in the basic set, by the way. I figured Black should get free kill as its hoser.

I really wish I was able to fit in Barter in Blood, which was the last uncommon I cut. I felt that there was too much removal and pulled Devour in Shadow/Smother (only one would make it) and the Barter.

Blue Uncommons (18)
Air Elemental
Baleful Stare
Glacial Wall
Fog Bank
Hunting Drake
Long-Term Plans
Mental Discipline
Merfolk Looter
Phantom Warrior
Thieving Magpie
Tidal Wave
Treasure Trove
Wind Dancer

In the creature slots for Blue, we see a lot of fliers and utility creatures. Fog Bank and Glacial wall both provide defense. Puppeteer and Merfolk Looter are utility. Air Elemental gives Blue its big flyer. Hunting Drake, Magpie, and Wind Dancer add to the utility mix. Lastly, Phantom Warrior adds its unblockable body to the mix.

For spells, we include card drawing in Treasure Trove and Opportunity. Levitation is the creature enabler. Confiscate and Curiosity enchant creatures. Long-Term Plans gives Blue an actual Counterspell in the main set. And Tidal Wave is added as a nice trick. Your hosers are Baleful Stare and Hibernation.

Cards that barely avoided the cut included Telepathy, Reminisce, Discombobulate, and Graceful Adept.

Next up: Rares.