When I wrote my forty-first article for StarCityGames.com, I decided to list my personal Top 50 Underused Cards. Everybody has their own crusade, and I’m no different. I love underused cards.
What are your favorite cards? Powerful cards like Swords to Plowshares or Mana Drain? Do you prefer big, nasty cards like Verdant Force or the new Bringers? Maybe you are like me. Your favorite cards are Elemental Augury and Scarwood Bandits.
Ah, Scarwood Bandits, my favorite card. I liked the Bandits enough to write an entire article on just Scarwood Bandits alone. It’s article number seven in my list, in case you care to check. I wrote it way back when I was still a submissions writer (that means non-paid) just hoping and wishing for a featured writer spot someday.
It’s no secret that I think that Anthony Alongi is the best writer on the ‘Net. I even mentioned it in my last article. One of the things that I like best about Mr. Alongi’s writings is his Multiplayer Hall of Fame. He created a system to analyze and review various multiplayer cards, and the system grew in front of us.
I’ve been wanting to write another”Underused” article for a while now. In part-homage to Anthony Alongi and in an effort to more regularly hit a topic that I enjoy, I am going to quarterly retire some of the best underused cards of all time.
“Retire them?” you ask. Yessir, into an Underused Hall of Fame. These are going to be the best and brightest cards that never saw as much play as they deserved. There’s no chaff here, just solid and spectacular cards that, for whatever reason, simply are not played much these days.
Some of these cards are power cards from bygone days, and still have power today. Others are simply cards that should have seen more play but missed their window of opportunity.
I am mostly a casual writer, although I play Constructed, go to Constructed events, and so forth. I care more about casual Magic than about tournament Magic (sorry, but it’s true). Every so often, I write about a tournament experience that no one else is writing about (Mono-Black Control right now, R/G Beats long before it was popular, U/W Control, etc.)
Due to my own casual bias, these cards will have their own bias as well. I rarely see Morphling in casual Magic, but since it holds the roost in tournament Magic, it will be a cold day in Fiji before I put Morphling on the list.
Here’s how the retirement will commence. I will retire five cards in each of six categories. Those categories are: Black, Blue, Green, Red, White, and Other (Artifact, Gold, Land, and Split cards count for other).
By being retired into the Underused Hall of Fame, a card will no longer be considered for any future retirements. These are the best cards that you are not playing! (Well, in fact some of you may very well be playing them, but it hardly sounds impressive to say,”These are the best cards that most of you are not playing.” It just doesn’t have the same zing.) (Zing! Now available in orange and grape flavors.) Note that Portal and Unglued cards are not eligible for the hall at this point in time, sorry.
Well then, without further ado, bring on the inductees!
In my initial article of the Top Fifty Underused…yadda, yadda…I listed five Black cards in the Top 50. Therefore, it stands to reason that those five cards will be the first five inductees. Nope. That article was written over a year ago. Since then, more Black cards have been printed, different cards are now played, and I’m different as well. As such, look for significant changes.
5. Tombstone Stairwell (Rare, Mirage): With the advent of cards from Onslaught and Mirrodin block that can really help abuse the Stairwell, one might have thought that the Stairwell would increase in popularity. After all, you could run Vengeful Dead and kill opponents when Zombies hit the graveyard (like they do every turn with the Stairwell). Dross Harvester will gain you a myriad of life. Undead Warchief will make your Zombies superior to everybody else’s. The combinations go on, yet the Stairwell seems destined to spend its time in a low-value trade box, rather than in decks.
The Stairwell used to be the backbone of a highly popular casual deck shortly after the release of Mirage. The Tombstone Stairwell deck, replete with Ebony Charm, even showed up in tournaments occasionally. Since then, few people climb the Stairwell.
4. Forsaken Wastes (Rare, Mirage): As another rare enchantment, Forsaken Wastes is the card that everybody referred to in their Scourge set reviews of Sulfuric Vortex. There are, however, several major differences between these two cards. Firstly, you cannot Disenchant/Naturalize Forsaken Wastes without taking a hit of five life. Secondly, Forsaken Wastes is an Enchant World, so you cannot play duplicates. Thirdly, you do not die as quickly, merely taking one a turn and not two. Lastly, it costs only one colored mana.
In multiplayer, all of these differences are better for the player of the Wastes. A Vortex takes two a turn, and nobody is allowing that to stay in play. On the other hand, one a turn is much more minor. It’s not like you are getting a benefit like Subversion. There are often better targets for those few Disenchants. The player of the Wastes can’t play a bunch of Wastes on everybody because it is an Enchant World. Combine the fact that there are often better targets for removal with the inescapable loss of five life if they take out the Wastes, and most multiplayer groups will allow the Wastes to stay in play much longer then they would allow a Vortex. You can run Seal of Cleansing or Aura of Silence yourself to off the Wastes when you need to without taking a major life loss. Why not try it out?
3. Desolation Angel (Rare, Apocalypse): Casual gamers are notorious for disliking effects that destroy all lands. There are two major reasons. First of all, it slows the game down tremendously. Secondly, it takes away fun, because you cannot do anything. Desolation Angel is arguably the only card in the game that avoids the first problem.
With a 5/4 flying body, this Angel gives lots of love to an opposing player at a rate of 25% of one’s starting life total every turn. The Angel can end a game quickly. Oh sure, the player may still complain about losing their lands, but at least the Angel has two things going for her. She leaves other sources of mana, like creatures and artifacts, behind. Plus, she can be countered, unlike a certain Obliterate spell. With all of this going for her, Desolation Angel is arguably the only casual-friendly Armageddon effect out there.
2. Carrionette (Rare, Tempest): I already know what some of you are thinking – Carrionette is just a 1/1, and its ability can be countered by spending two colorless mana. Still, let’s talk about a few rules points of the Carrionette.
First, the Carrionette only is removed from the graveyard upon resolution only if the two colorless mana is not paid. That means you can play Carrionette’s ability once, two mana is then spent by the target creature’s controller, and you can activate the ability a second time. Second, you can stack Carrionette abilities in order to remove multiple creatures from the game.
You don’t have to play it as a 1/1, although doing so often gets you a chump blocker first. With the Odyssey block in everybody’s toolbox, you can find ways of getting Carionnette into your graveyard with a minimum of fuss. Most players have access to everything from Careful Study to Compulsion. If you still need help, see other number two, down below for ideas.
1. Tortured Existence (Common, Stronghold): I love Tortured Existence (TE) and it loves me. TE has everything going for it. It’s a cheap enchantment (it only costs one Black mana to play) with a cheap activation cost (again, just one Black mana) and a cheap price tag (a quarter). It also has obvious potential.
Consider that the average casual game, especially multiplayer, lasts longer than many tournament games. Not always, certainly, but on average, it’s a longer game. As such, the power of cards like this increases. In multiplayer, Tortured Existence is weak compared to Sylvan Libraries, Future Sights, Mirari’s Wakes, and other enchantments running around. As such, it can slide under the radar. Yet, TE can be very powerful.
In the early game you can recur a landcycler or a Krosan Tusker for land. Put an expensive creature into your ‘Yard for a cheap beater or defensive creature. Later in the game, swap cheap creatures for your more expensive treats. Tortured Existence is no Survival of Fittest. On the other hand, it is a Survival for the graveyard, which is something that even Survival cannot do. You’ll find that TE’s uses are many and varied, but its power cannot be denied.
Only one of the Blue cards that was in my Top Fifty from a year ago are here in my top five Blue cards now. With four creatures in the inaugural class, Blue has the highest percentage of creatures being inducted of all of the colors, which is quite ironic considering how poor blue is normally considered. Without further ado:
5. Whirlpool Warrior (Rare, Apocalypse): The Whirlpool Warrior is a subtle card because he needs both Blue and Red to run. Despite his mana requirements, the Warrior is quite strong. In any Blue/Red deck that does not run many counters, the Whirlpool Warrior runs from solid to great. He trades land for random cards, expensive cards for random cards or cheap cards for random cards – each of which is good. You can fire him off twice, and the second time hit your opponent(s), which is better. There is nothing like making a person shuffle their deck after they Vampiric Tutor. Decks that run all five colors can use this guy the best. They’ll often have dead cards in the first several turns due to mana problems, and the Warrior shuffles them back in for later use and draws more cards.
4. Ertai’s Familiar (Rare, Weatherlight): Ertai’s Familiar is a little known card from one of the backwaters of Magic in Weatherlight. Weatherlight was surrounded by two of the best sets ever printed in Tempest and Visions, but it was lackluster itself. Ertai’s Familiar remains a solid 2/2 body for just two mana. Most of you probably had to click on the link and read the card. Many of you are probably saying,”Ertai’s Familiar is stupid and bad.” You might not even be reading this right now, because you skipped to the next card.
If you are reading this, good for you. The Familiar is a great card post-Odyssey, It regularly adds three cards to your graveyard every other turn. What sorts of cards from Odyssey block could abuse that ability? Flashback cards? Incarnations? Ichorids? Threshold? Add in cards like Ashen Ghoul, Nether Shadow, and number 2 on the Black countdown in order to find even more abusable cards. The Familiar works very well with some modern cards, so well in fact, that you might want to dust them off and give them a spin.
3. Riptide Mangler (Rare, Legions): Although the Mangler hasn’t been released for too terribly long, the Mangler is still underplayed. Riptide Mangler is an ideal two-drop for Blue. It has a three defense, so it can block for a while. Then it can take an impressive power, and you have a fairly big creature that can swing for a pretty big chunk of damage. For a simple investment of two mana, Riptide Mangler is one of the best blue creatures printed, especially in multiplayer games, where you know a 6+ power creature is getting played sooner or later.
2. Alexi, Zephyr Mage (Rare, Prophecy): A set for the casual player, Prophecy hasn’t really stood the test of time well. Most of the five Winds are rarely played these days. The Avatars, except for Fury and Woe, are rarely seen. The big spellshapers do not rear their head much, except for the occasional Mageta, the Lion. Of those three rare cycles, one card stands out as the best multiplayer card, and it’s not Plague Wind or Avatar of Woe or even Mageta, the Lion.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly, Alexi is subtle in a ways the other three are not. Players will fall over themselves to kill Woes or Magetas. Plague Wind gets stopped by a lowly UU instant. Alexi, however, often sits on the table. After all, Alexi uses two cards, a lot of mana, and just returns creatures. She can’t kill anything. Yet, for all of that, Alexi is my second favorite female legend to see working for me on the board (after Captain Sisay). When Alexi is in play, nobody is getting through with their creatures. Who wants to have their entire army bounced? Alexi can save your creatures from a Wrath of God or Plague Wind, including bouncing herself. I’ve often bounced my creatures at the end of someone’s turn, then played my own board clearer.
The simple fact is that Alexi is understated, but very versatile, and very powerful. Bounce five of your opponent’s creatures during their end of turn step, and watch them discard three cards. Good stuff!
1. Desertion (Rare, Visions, 6th): The only non-creature in Blue is also its highest ranking inductee. Desertion is simply the only Counterspell that doubles as a winning condition. Cheaper than Spelljack and better to boot, Desertion is the uber-Counter of Doom.
What, you think Spelljack is better? Hardly. Sure, Spelljack gets you any card, including instants, sorceries, and enchantments. However, you still have to play the card itself, making it subject to its own counters. With Desertion you can counter say, Silvos, Rogue Elemental, and swing with him on your turn. An early turn of swingage on your part is always a good thing. Besides, Spelljack is cool and all because you want to take big creatures and expensive artifacts and smash face. Desertion lets you do all of that sooner and safer.
In practice, five mana is really the cutoff for countermagic. You can get by with a five-mana counterspell, but not a six-mana one. Plus, triple Blue on Spelljack is much worse for multicolored decks. As such, Desertion is the current King of Underused Blue Cards. Whoo hah!
I may have another controversial decision here with my number five choice. So be it, I welcome controversy! Three creatures and two enchantments make our green class. That’s probably as expected. Once again, however, you will not see many of the same cards that appeared on my earlier article’s Top 50 list.
5. Krosan Tusker (Common, Onslaught): I figure that this will be almost as controversial a selection as White’s number five, Red’s number one, Green’s number four or other’s number two. Really, there shouldn’t be as much controversy, because Krosan Tusker is simply one of the best cards ever printed in Green.
Sure, Tusker is played in some decks already. Some players have gotten the hint and play Tusker. However, I would argue that, for casual Magic, Krosan Tusker is so good that virtually every Green deck should religiously play four copies. (Note use of the word”virtually.” Maybe not combo decks like, say, Enchantress.)
Why am I so pro-Tusker? The ability to instantly and uncounterably (except for Stifle, and seriously, who would Stifle a Tusker anyway?) draw two cards for three mana, including a card that should help out your mana situation tremendously in the early game. Later, Tusker becomes a 6/5 beatstick of doom. [Sounds a lot like Solemn Simulacrum, actually. – Knut]
Let’s see, it says here that makes Krosan Tusker a split card. Say hello to the new split card, Inspiration/Doom Beast.
4. Spike Feeder (Uncommon, Stronghold): From one commonly played creature (get it, commonly played?) to another uncommonly played one (do you continue to get it?), Spike Feeder may be just as controversial a selection. Seeing as how Spike Feeder still gets some play in casual circles, this may be an off-kilter choice.
Many of us remember the halcyon days of yore when Spike Feeders put in a regular appearance at tournaments. What has happened to make it worse? Mirrodin block makes the spike ability to hop counters all the more intriguing, so where have all the Feeders gone? (In my best Paula Cole voice). Gone to graveyards, everyone, (In my best Peter, Paul and Mary voice) because they certainly aren’t getting much play these days. That’s simply a shame considering how useful the Feeder has always been. This was one of the best Green cards made when Green sucked, surely it still has the goods to hang with the big boys.
3. Arboria (Uncommon, Legends): Here is an old trick that is usually only played by players from the old days of Magic. Arboria is a great enchantment, but it is one of those Legends cards that have languished in obscurity. To be fair, many of the old Legends cards are simply not that good when compared to the cards of today. Arboria does not share such misery.
Arboria’s language has been cleaned up a bit in the Oracle. Simply put, if you didn’t put a card into play or play a card (on your turn), then you cannot be attacked. As such, Arboria works very well with cards like Vedalken Orrery and Winding Canyons that put cards into play on other turns. Likewise, a deck that makes creatures by, say, a permanent like Mobilization or Kjeldoran Outpost, will rarely be able to be attacked. Note that the Arboria works both ways, so you may want methods other than attacking to win the game. Direct damage comes to mind. Or, play a creature token deck with token generators that uses Epic Struggle to win. Arboria is so good in part because it is so unexpected. Put it off against your casual playgroup and see how they react to the card then!
2. Holistic Wisdom (Rare, Odyssey): In many of the aforementioned Top 50 Underused Cards article, Holistic Wisdom was the highest ranking Green card. It has been unseated, however, by a more recent card. Still, Holistic Wisdom is one of the best engines running around. In Five Color, Holistic Wisdom was so good that we had to ban it. In our Limited Infinity draft, Holistic Wisdom is so good that I have yet to lose a single game where I have drafted it.
With that sort of resume, it seems disappointing that Holistic Wisdom is so undervalued and underplayed in casual environments. The ability to abuse Holistic Wisdom is obvious, yet no one seems to try and play with it much. What a sad state of affairs.
1. Hystrodon (Rare, Onslaught): Around our multiplayer table, when somebody plays a Morph creature, everybody tries to guess what it is. We have assigned Morph creatures to each other. Aaron must be a Bane of the Living. Jil must be an Exalted Angel. Despite playing a highlander deck with upwards of 800 cards in it, for some reason, the Morph creature that always seems to make its way to me is the Hystrodon. I am never disappointed.
With a cheap Morph cost, the Hystrodon can swing for three damage and draw you a card as soon as the fourth turn. In multiplayer, somebody is always vulnerable to a 3/4 trampler. Add it in the added bonus of playing it morphed in order to disguise what it is, and Hystrodon is a very powerful card that is also just subtle enough to avoid removal regularly.
I have no clue what people must be playing in their decks if they are not playing Hystrodon. Type Two rares that are in print often retain value despite low casual appeal. That is apparently not the case with Hystrodon, whose price has dropped significantly since its release. Considering that Hystrodon is one of the best card drawing tools available to a Green deck in the casual game, it should certainly be more popular than that. As such, Hystrodon is the highest placing Green card in our first Underused Hall of Fame class.
You’ll recognize two Red cards from their previous appearance. Three other cards join them on the list. Red usually represents burn and burn and more burn with the occasional creature tossed in. This is no exception with two burn spells, a goblin spell, a chaotic card, and an old school beater all joining the team. The burn begins now:
5. Lightning Surge (Rare, Judgment): Suppose for a second that you have threshold. Here’s a card that, for five mana, can deal six unpreventable damage. Does that sound good? What if you could later deal another six unpreventable damage, from the same card, for seven mana? Does that sound better? Lightning Surge is a potent card for the mid to late game, where it shines long before Urza has Rage mana available. Sure, the Surge requires threshold in order to be anything other than an expensive Lightning Blast, yet threshold comes easily enough in casual Magic with its longer games. The Surge is simply a solid card through and through.
4. Mogg Infestation (Rare, Stronghold): A one-sided Wrath effect with an interesting twist. You can only Infest one person with Moggs, but it’s a lot of fun to do. In a pinch, you can essentially double your own creature total with an Infestation, giving you Mogg beatdown. Other times, you’d gladly give a White player four Moggs for their Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Dawn Elemental.
In multiplayer, Mogg Infestation only affects one player, so you cannot rely on it being a cheap Plague Wind. Watch out for Coat of Arms, by the way. There is nothing worse than giving an opponent Supa’ Moggs. Of course, if the guy with the soldier deck currently has a Coat of Arms in play, you can help yourself to some Mega-Mogg-Beats (and no, I’m not talking techno).
3. Wildfire Emissary (Uncommon, Mirage): There was a time when Wildfire Emissary was so popular that it made Inquest’s Top Ten Creatures of All Time list. I kid you not. Oh, how times have changed.
The Emissary used to be seen in Type One, Type Two, and all points in between. As a pro White creature, the Emissary gave Red one of its few powerful protection creatures. It was too big to be Lightning Bolted, too anti-white to be Swords to Plowshared, and a major pain to many decks running around.
Even today, Wildfire Emissary has a lot of offer. White continues to be one of the most dominating colors at multiplayer tables around the country. Here is your Red, anti-White tech. Good enough to be played against other colors, but gravy against white. It pumps, so you can swing for more. It’s a big, nice creature that can’t be taken down by Incinerate, the aforementioned Lightning Bolt, and just about any other commonly played burn spell. Bully for creatures that used to be good and still are.
2. Starke of Rath (Rare, Tempest): Let’s get this straight, this is Starke of Brokenness. No, he doesn’t shoot lasers or fly, but he can single handedly tussle with the biggest and nastiest creatures running. With a tap ability more powerful than Avatar of Woe and Visara, the Dreadful, Starke commands absolutely no respect from other players. People see Visara, and Terminates fly. People see Starke, and they snicker. The key to Starke is simple.
Play Starke when he is your best creature. If you don’t give your opponent a tastier target than the 2/2, then you won’t have your things killed. In multiplayer, watch as things keep getting killed and Starke switches teams. Nobody will come after you when they can take out something better. In duels, Starke is even better, because it just sits there, useless. It’s a seductive tool, so your opponent will rarely tap him to attack or something, in hopes that you have a more powerful creature or artifact coming. Of course, you don’t, but there’s no reason to mention that.
1. Earthquake (Rare in a bunch of sets, including pretty Portal versions): Are you about to die and in search of a mechanism to draw the game instead of you losing? Need one of the cheapest killers of ground creatures ever? Want an ability that you can use for various situations? Want removal that is highly prone to synergy? Then I’ve got the card for you.
Earthquake does it all. Usually, it cleans up unsightly ground creatures while your aerial attack commences. Earthquake can also take out everything but Pro Red creatures. Combine with Subterranean Spirit for a medium-sized Red creature that will survive any Earthquakes. Play regenerators that can survive the Quake. Play creatures with high defenses, so that you don’t need to kill them. Alternatively, don’t play any creatures at all.
That’s not everything, folks. Earthquake is a burn spell too! Take out your opponents as long as you have higher life. Snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat with a high powered Quake. Take out multiple players at a game table with just one spell. Earthquake is the Spic ‘N Span of Red. Use it just about anywhere in the house for a good cleaning.
The ubiquitous White features three creatures, an enchantment, and a removal spell. None of the creatures in our first group of white inductees is designed to deal massive amounts of damage by entering the red zone. These are subtler cards for subtler times. It feature a pair of has-beens, a never-was, an occasional player, and an obscure card type. Welcome to the initial five inductees into the White Underused Hall of Fame:
5. Exile (Rare, Alliances, 7th): I want everybody in the room to sit down and listen up, because I am about to make a tremendously controversial claim. I figure that, within ten minutes of the posting of this article, my e-mail box will be overflowing and the forum posts will be seventeen pages long. Still, it needs to be said. Your precious sacred cow needs to be exposed for what it is.
Exile is better than Swords to Plowshares in virtually every multiplayer situation.
I heard that gasp. Your quick intake of air notwithstanding, I stand by my remark. For some reason, people deify Swords to Plowshares as if their mortal soul’s salvation depends on it. No, it doesn’t. Note that I think Swords is better in duels, where you can’t be sure that your opponent won’t be playing white. In multiplayer, however, Exile is king.
In multiplayer, low life is a target. By adding life to an opponent, you make them less of a target. By adding life to yourself, you become less of a target (barring an obnoxiously high life total, of course, which usually results in tunnel vision from the other players in your direction). Exile and Swords both remove the creature from the game, so that’s good. Exile costs more, but you usually aren’t worrying about it on the first couple of turns anyway. Sure, Exile doesn’t work on white creatures, but there is always a target for Exile. Feel free to Exile something abnormally large that is attacking a neighbor. Multiplayer is sometimes about making friends and gaining life.
Besides, in multiplayer, are you blowing your Swords on stupid, non-threatening targets like Birds of Paradise? Exile is simply a better card. Play them both if you have room, but if you don’t, play Exile.
4. Null Chamber (Rare, Mirage): In duels, I’ll grant you that Null Chamber is not the best card ever. In multiplayer, however, Null Chamber becomes an amazing tool. Null Chamber essentially has two things going for it. The first applies in duels and multiplayer alike. You can ban a card on a much more difficult to destroy permanent than, say, Meddling Mage. The second benefit is multiplayer-only. Simply put, if you and an opponent work together, the two of you can pretty much neuter a deck. We sometimes declare Obliterate immediately upon the Null Chamber hitting play.”Uh-oh, Don’s at seven mana, gotta use my tutor on Null Chamber.” Play this in a highlander deck in order to avoid the return problem of not being able to play what is named.
3. Hand of Justice (Uncommon, Fallen Empires): I understand why some cards are no longer played. Number two on the White list is just a 1/1, number 3 on the Red list is past his prime, and so forth. This card, however, makes no sense to me. Why aren’t casual players still playing Hand of Justice in droves? Avatar of Woe retains significant monetary value because it pops a creature in a color that regularly pops creatures. White, on the other hand, rarely pops creatures. As such, why isn’t the Hand getting more play? Although it usually only was played in mono-White decks, you don’t even see it there much these days. That’s a sad thing.
2. Witch Hunter (Uncommon, The Dark, Chronicles): Much like my Exile statement above, I am about the make another statement here and now. Are you ready?
I have never seen a 1/1 creature dominate a multiplayer table like the Witch Hunter.
I don’t know if you played Magic in the days when Witch Hunter was a staple of mono-White and Blue/White decks. The creature list for a Blue/White control deck looked like this”2 Witch Hunter, 4 Clone, 2 Doppelganger, 4 Serra Angel.” Everything else was Swords to Plowshares, Disenchants, Counterspell, Control Magic, and so forth.
Ah the Witch Hunter. Ever seen a Witch Hunter and two more Clones of one on a table? The sheer number of games I witnessed where a Witch Hunter dealt all twenty damage to a player would stagger a mule in heat. Why can’t a Witch Hunter continue to establish dominance? It can ting an opponent or bounce an opponent’s creature. That’s a versatile toolbox. I know that we have creatures with many more abilities today, but at the time, Witch Hunter seemed like a bounty of goodness. I’ve been playing one in my multiplayer deck, and guess what? He is still a solid investment. Bounce either a threat or a defender, or just ting for one. Either way, the Witch Hunter is good stuff.
1. Soul Sculptor (Rare, Urza’s Saga): Our number one card in White goes to show that the list is not all about nostalgia. I’ve never seen a 1/1 dominate a table like Witch Hunter did, but these days, Soul Sculptor is the better 1/1. Soul Sculptor is simply unimaginably powerful in duels or multiplayer alike.
Firstly, Soul Sculptor makes all of your Disenchant effects double as creature kill. Increasing the usefulness of other cards is always a plus. Secondly, the Sculptor allows your creatures to dodge most creature removal.”Nope, it’s not a creature you targeted with your Expunge, it’s an enchantment. Guess your Expunge is countered (fizzles for you old time folk).” Thirdly, it completely neuters a creature of your opponent. In duels, I’ve locked down a bunch of creatures until they found a creature spell. (Play Zur’s Weirding in order to keep them from ever having a creature spell again).
My favorite play is the dreaded,”At the end of your turn, make your Spike Weaver an enchantment. During my turn, make your Silvos an enchantment. Swing with Big Stupid Creature of Death (typically Child of Gaea).” Soul Sculptor is simply the best of the White cards that nobody seems to play much. You should because he’s great.
With artifacts, gold cards and split cards all in the same category, you’d figure that this would have been the most competitive arena for inclusion. Unfortunately, that was simply not the case. White and Blue were much more competitive than this category. With just one creature and three other permanents, this category is atypical. Of course, what do you expect from the”Other” category?
5. Spite/Malice (Uncommon, Invasion): It’s not like Spite/Malice is the best, uber-card ever. It’s not even the best split card (that honor is probably Fire / Ice’s). For sheer versatility, however, few cards rank up there with Spite/Malice. A Black and Blue control deck for casual simply must consider including Spite/Malice. Sure, it’s either an expensive Counterspell or an expensive Dark Banishing, but how many counters do double duty like this? Control decks thrive on answers, and Spite/Malice can answer two very different problems. Spite/Malice never seems to get the play it deserves, so we see it here on our list. Note that this was the only non-permanent in the inaugural class of the Underused Hall of Fame.
4. Snake Basket (Rare, Visions, 6th): Once one of the chase cards of Visions, now relegated to the backwater of casual Magic. At one Magic Invitational, in the finals, a deck built around this card battled against a deck built around card number three on our Other list. How ironic that they should both end up here, together.
There are a lot of reasons to like Snake Basket, especially in this era of artifact love. Pop a Basket, make a bunch of Cobras. You do like attacking with Cobras, right? Sure, Snake Basket is just a sorcery token maker, as opposed to, say, Decree of Justice. However, Snake Basket can fit into any deck, making Cobras for any color that wants them. There always seems to be extra mana floating around in casual Magic, why not turn that mana into Cobras?
Casual Magic frowns on using cards like Goblin Welders for uber-powerful plays a la Mishra’s Workshop. However, using Welders for, say, Snake Basket recursion is sure to get a hearty chuckle and a pass. The heat from using a Snake Basket is much less than the heat from, say, Myr Incubator, which is much more antagonistic. Plus, if the Incubator tokens are dealt with (which is easy to do), you may have neutered your deck, whereas the Snake Basket is not a one-trick pony, but can be used to supplement other cards or strategies.
3. Elemental Augury (Rare, Ice Age): Elemental Augury continues to do one thing better than any other card ever made. It controls your opponents’ libraries. Sure, it takes three mana to use, but the ability to set the three cards on top of an opponent’s library over and over again is very powerful.
In fact, the Augury’s ability is so unique, that the only thing keeping it from being number one is the sheer utility of the top overall card and the three color cost in the Augury. Augury can only fit into decks with Black, Red, and Blue.
Use it to keep your opponent’s in mana flood or mana stall. Keep a vital color away from them. Make sure they draw few threats. Ensure that they do not draw an answer. Negate the power of tutors that place a card on top of a library. This card is an ideal tool.
2. Stormbind (Rare, Ice Age): Stormbind was a lynchpin in a Type Two tournament deck that was rated as one of the best decks of all time by Inquest. The deck was so degenerate that it resulted in one particular card getting banned. Considering the power of the Vise Age deck, you may not consider Stormbind to be”underplayed.”
You would definitely be wrong. Strombind has seen play in tournament winning decks from 1.x to Type One to Type Two to 1.5 This is not some wimpy little card. With the advent of Madness, Threshold, Incarnations, and so forth, you might have thought that Stormbind would have gone through a renaissance.
Instead, Stormbind continues to wallow in virtual obscurity. Stormbind has tremendous power both as a finisher and as a way of clearing a path. The card is very powerful, and yet, consider this. Right now, on StarCityGames.com, you can get a Stormbind for all of a dollar. I rarely see it in casual play, and it obviously isn’t in high demand anywhere. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why.
1. Vhati il-Dal (Rare, Tempest): I love Vhati and he loves me. What is the best”Tap” ability ever printed on a creature? I don’t mean an ability that is”Cost, tap ability,” just a tap ability, without mana or other costs associated with it. Think about it for a second.
I submit that Vhati il-Dal’s ability is the single best tapping ability ever printed, for any creature (at least for casual play). I have had Vhati in winning Living Death tournament decks. He is simply too versatile to imagine.
First of all, he’s a 3/3 body for four mana – so you know that they didn’t cheat on the power and toughness for the ability. He can block a 10/10 trampler, then make it a 1/10 and you have just neutralized a creature. He lets humble one-power creatures trade with anything. Mogg Fanatic becomes a creature killer. Vhati makes evasive creatures much less appealing by reducing power to one. There are no minuses here, he just gives a creature a glass jaw or a glass sword.
For casual Magic, there is no tapping ability more powerful than this, and it’s on a well-sized body to boot. Ah, Vhati, if only more people saw your sheer power.
Whew! That’s it, and that’s thirteen pages of Word later. I hope that you see some deck ideas here amongst the list of some of the best cards printed that you are not playing (Or probably not playing. At least not right now.) Good luck with your casual gaming.