Hello everybody, and welcome to my latest turn on the Daily. Normally grad school would prevent me from doing this until the summertime, but this week I’m on break. Yep, some people travel to a tropical paradise, some people go see NCAA basketball games, but I spend my Spring Break writing for StarCityGames.com!
To start, an admission. I won’t be following the same formula as my last two Dailies…
[pauses for cheering to die down]
…where I took a single card and built five different decks around it. On the off chance that you actually enjoyed those articles, you can find part one of the Reweave Experiment here, and part one of the Godo-a-Go-Go here. I wanted to follow the same formula again, make it my trademark – I’d chosen the card Conjurer’s Ban to be my guinea pig this time round – but I just didn’t have any time for testing.
Instead, this will be The Week of Lists. I will make various Magic-related lists, and you will log into the forums and tell me what an utter Dumb Ass I am, and how your list is quite obviously superior.
Sound like fun?
Monday’s List: Top 10 Creatures for one mana
Somehow, I had missed Mike Flores Ravnica Green review, where he was all hot and bothered for Birds of Paradise, calling it “probably the best one-mana creature in Magic.” Upon re-reading it recently, that didn’t sound right to me, so was born my first list for this article.
10. Weathered Wayfarer
Probably the most underrated creature here. This ability has always been strong, but I’m surprised that the best it has done is come out of the sideboard in a mono-White control deck to hunt up Cloudposts or Urza lands. Why hasn’t this ability ever been really broken, especially with the printing of dual lands and the “Karoos” in Ravnica block? I blame Umezawa’s Jitte.
9. Disciple of the Vault
His case for being higher on the list is hurt by the fact that Affinity is still a format-dominator without him, and would have been even if he had never been printed. The next guy on this list is Carnophage; the mono-Black Hatred deck would have been awful without him. However, Affinity is still awesome without the Disciple; in fact it may be even better, because an artifact can be put in the Disciple’s spot… increasing the deck’s explosiveness.
This guy was mostly limited by the playability of Hatred, although Black Aggro decks had the occasional renaissance right up until Tempest rotated out of Extended. If anything, this guy showed that giving Black two-power creatures at one mana is way too dangerous, no matter what the drawback may be. Also, this guy played a key role in one of my favorite articles of all time … but that’s a list for later this week.
7. Savannah Lions
More for history than anything else. Since he was reprinted in Eighth Edition, I think you’d be hard-pressed to say he was better than any other one-drops printed in that time, such as Disciple of the Vault. However, people love their White Weenie for a reason. This guy is the reason, and has been for a decade.
6. Birds of Paradise
Actually, I have never liked the Bird too much. It just seems like, if you desperately needed color X, you always had better ways to get it than a 0/1 creature. The only time I ever really loved having the Bird in my deck was during the Standard season of early 2005, when he could both power up a quick Plow Under and also carry a Sword of Fire and Ice as needed – assuming he didn’t eat a Shock or Frostling activation first.
5. Goblin Lackey
He was banned in Extended, and has been the best creature in Legacy since that format was created; pretty much speaks for itself. However, he seemed to be little more than a guy prior to the creation of Goblin Piledriver and Siege-Gang Commander, which is why he doesn’t rate higher on the list.
Incidentally, Legacy players, do you think Goblins would still be capable of winning a Grand Prix if Lackey were banned? (Note: I have no reason to think that he would be banned… I’m just posing a hypothetical.) After all, Aether Vial could perform the same role, but would its slightly “fairer” drawback be too disabling? Discuss.
4. Grim Lavamancer
Actually, a lot of people didn’t play this guy in Odyssey Block, since he couldn’t kill a Wild Mongrel and he had anti-synergy with the Threshold mechanic. It was only after the printing of Onslaught fetchlands that he really began to shine, and he’s been spectacular ever since. In every Extended format since the fetchlands were printed, a deck with Grim Lavamancer has been the most important in the format; maybe not the best in the format, but definitely one of the decks that you plan to see at least once per Pro Tour Qualifier.
3. Mogg Fanatic
This little fellow was always at least “okay,” depending upon what other Red cards could appear in a deck alongside him. However, after the Sixth Edition rules switch, he pretty much became awesome, as he could serve as a Shock to any creature with which he fought. This card showed how strong a no-mana activation cost could be, which in turn is why we have to settle for the decidedly lame Frostling these days.
2. Kird Ape
I’m trying to look into the future a little with this one. Although old-timers such as myself still smile when thinking about Taiga into Ape, people always seemed to have an answer for it in tournaments. Next Extended season, expect that all to change. Fast. If you thought Jackal Pup was a house in pre-rotation Extended, just wait until you can run eight lands that tutor for Stomping Ground. A year or two from now, he may even make it to the very top of this list, but for now I have to stick with the old reliable…
1. Jackal Pup
I’m surprised Flores would suggest the Birds at the number one slot in the Ravnica Green review, when he’s made no secret about his unhealthy love for this mighty canine. No one-mana creature has been so popular for so long. He won the first Constructed Pro Tour where he was legal (Price’s LA) and took second at the last Constructed Pro Tour where he was legal (Canali’s Columbus, where Shuhei Nakamura was running the Red men).
It’s interesting that this guy is infinitely better than Savannah Lions, despite having a drawback where the Lions are vanilla, specifically because of his color. It’s the same reason that Lightning Bolt is awesome while Healing Salve sucks; the same reason the entire top 5 of this article showcases Red cards. Red creatures are better than everybody else’s because they only have to swing a couple of times before the opponent is in burn range; this makes the Red creatures’ drawbacks irrelevant, no matter what they are. R&D should think about that before they go trying to make a color pie too fair.
Join me tomorrow when I reveal the true depths of my comic-book nerdity.