Feldon’s Cane (Antiquities and Fifth Edition Uncommon, Chronicles Common)
If you see someone play Feldon’s Cane, expect some Magic version of Survivor – this guy plans to Outlast… exhaust you by countering or killing everything you do, constantly shuffling all his answer cards and card drawing back into his deck. He’s probably going to accompany you to the Land of Draw. It’s strange that this came back the same time as the strictly better Gaea’s Blessing.
Fire Whip (Weatherlight Common)
Much to my chagrin, many of the creatures I would love to attach this to – Ohran Viper, Stinkweed Imp – have been carefully saddled with that pesky “combat damage” clause. Still, it’s not hard to find some other interesting targets: Hypnotic Specter, Thieving Magpie, and Nicol Bolas (!). Also, Fire Whip isn’t a bad thing to attach to a Wall (say, Wall of Roots) or some other durable creature, and you can always sac it off to squeak out another point of damage, which helps push it above the disadvantage normally associated with Auras.
Funeral Charm (Visions Common)
The Mirage and Visions “charms” were largely pretty terrible outside Limited (though Emerald Charm wasn’t bad), but Funeral Charm’s collection of abilities makes it nearly always a solid maindeck card. Its swampwalking ability can even come into play if you happen to be running Cyclopean Giant… If memory serves, it was the first instant speed discard spell, and when you’re not doing silly Orim’s Chant or Counterspell stuff with Isochron Scepter, imprinting Funeral Charm isn’t a terrible idea.
Gaea’s Blessing (Weatherlight Uncommon)
Fans of Sensei’s Divining Top are probably sad Gaea’s Blessing won’t exist alongside it in the new Standard, but you always have Extended. Blessing used to do some crazy things alongside Oath of Druids… and I can’t help but wonder if some sort of high Dredge count card like Stinkweed Imp or Golgari Grave-Troll could combine with Blessing to constantly keep your graveyard shuffling into your deck… and I’m not even sure why you’d want to do that, but the option exists.
Gaea’s Liege (Alpha – Fourth Edition Rare)
There’s been a lot of reviews of Scryb Ranger that I’ve read that basically say “well, sure she’s loaded with special abilities, but what all would you want to untap?” Outside of mana critters… how about going nuts with your opponent’s lands, especially Karoos or Urzatron? Alongside Mwonvuli Acid-Moss and Creeping Mold, I could see some serious mana disruption coming together in a heavily-Green deck.
Gemstone Mine (Weatherlight Uncommon)
I hadn’t seen anyone come right out and talk about this card alongside Karoos and Life from the Loam, so I figured I’d go ahead and do it. Even without that sort of synergy, Gemstone Mine is an incredible multicolor land that is sure to be found in Zoo decks.
Grinning Totem (Mirage, Sixth Edition Rare)
The Totem isn’t a power card by any means, but there are a few modern considerations other than using it to steal a land or an artifact. First, Fellwar Stone is available in Ninth Edition and is a decent mana accelerator if fixing your mana isn’t a huge concern (in which case you’re running the Talismans). So you can actually fetch a colored spell and cast it; against a deck with few win conditions, this isn’t a completely horrible option to combat them. One other last thing: if you’re playing something like Debtors’ Knell, you can steal some huge creature out of your opponent’s deck, wait until your next upkeep, and drop it into your opponent’s graveyard for Knell-age.
Hail Storm (Alliances Uncommon)
When facing down Green decks, creature rushes now have something real to worry about in creature combat outside of silly Giant Growth variants. Two points of damage is not insignificant, and you can even ramp up the carnage with Desert to finish off something larger. If you’ve got some small critters that’re going to die to your Storm, you can always block and stack damage before tossing out the Storm to finish off the bigger stuff. I have to say, I’m kinda looking forward to pairing this alongside Stuffy Doll, and not just blocking – you can swing with Stuffy and cast Hail Storm to deal three damage to your opponent’s noggin.
Honorable Passage (Visions Uncommon)
This card was an absolute beating against Red decks back in the day as a perfect answer to Fireblast and other alpha strikes. Today, it fits as a great answer to an empty-hand Demonfire that would otherwise roast you right out of the game. Keep in mind that in the right metagame, this card can even be fine maindeck, where it can wreck havoc in creature combat. You could run one in the main for a Mystic Teachings toolbox card.
Hunting Moa (Urza’s Destiny Uncommon)
Last time Moa made a big splash on the tournament scene, he was adding counters to Soltari Priests and Monks to enhance unblockable beatdown. How convenient that we have Shadow running around again, including Soltari Priest for an encore! Of course, there’s also the +1/+1 counter consideration that Ravnica has brought about with Bloodthirst and Graft, and we’ve even got Spikes and Mindless Automaton for more fun. At its very worst, the Moa is a 4/3 beater for three mana even if you have to pay the echo cost (and with Thick-Skinned Goblin, maybe you don’t).
Icatian Javelineers (Fallen Empires Common)
I’ve heard just a minimal buzz on this kid, but being able to ping off a weenie or sending a point to the dome if the ground is stalled is really quite potent for a one-mana creature. One thing to keep an eye out for, in case you’re running a W/U deck with Clockspinning for some reason, you can always add an extra javelin counter if you haven’t used it yet. Synergy baby!!! (Okay, yeah I know it’s not all that, but still…)
Jasmine Boreal (Legends Uncommon)
Back in the day, having the cool gold border was special enough (well, almost)… ten years of gold cards later, the only thing she’s got going for her is that she’s sexier than Squire. Aaron Forsythe has already ‘fessed up that he and Devin Low are to blame for her return.
Jolrael, Empress of Beasts (Prophecy Rare)
Yes, she’s a “snidd,” as Mr. Knutson has categorized marginal 3/3s for five mana. However, I’ve run Jolrael quite a bit – mostly in multiplayer decks – and while the ability to turn your lands into an alpha-strike army is quite good, her main power is the ability to punish control players and their pesky mass removal spells. I remember one multiplayer game where an old buddy Tony was playing a black deck and he cast Mutilate, which was pretty much going to annihilate all the creatures in play. I went ahead and activated Jolrael, targeting him, so all his lands died too. Needless to say, it was tough defending yourself from everyone upset to lose all their creatures when you have no mana. One trick I’d recommend using to keep her alive long enough to get active is Gather Courage, since you can tap her to convoke it in response to something pesky like Volcanic Hammer or Psionic Blast.
Kobold Taskmaster (Legends Uncommon)
You know, kobolds were kinda cool and quirky as zero mana critters so tiny that they needed a taskmaster or lord to actually do any damage, but there really weren’t enough of them to do anything interesting with. I know Wizards couldn’t bring back a real Kobold without causing Cloudstone Curio craziness, but printing a legendary land that makes Kobolds to go along with this by itself seems incredibly underwhelming. Wouldn’t it have been cooler to make no-mana 0/1 Kobolds that had Suspend 1 for zero mana? And as a nod to Kobold Overlord, they could have first strike… or better yet double strike!
Leviathan (The Dark, Fourth Edition Rare)
You know, for the trouble you have to go through in order to actually get him in play and swing with him (outside of, say, Yore-Tiller Nephilim), you’d think he’d be bigger than 10/10, trample or no, or that you’d at the least be able to untap him at instant speed for the price of two islands getting sacrificed. Of course, you can skip trying to untap him all together and keep sticking him into the Arena to square off against any creature your opponent steps up with.
Merfolk Assassin (The Dark Uncommon)
I think the cool artwork for this card more than anything is why people played him, though once you got a few Merfolk Assassins it didn’t take long to try and scrounge up some War Barges.
Merieke Ri Berit (Ice Age Rare)
Merieke is one needy bitch and fragile as hell, but I can remember a few old buddies that bent over backwards to her demands and made us all miserable until somebody dug up a way to kill her off. Note that, not only is she a tiny 1/1 for three colored mana, but she also doesn’t untap naturally. Once you steal a creature, if that creature dies she just lays on her side useless unless you’re playing another way to untap her. If you’re going to the trouble, come prepared with Trickster Mage, Magewright’s Stone, Lapis Lazuli Talisman (you know you’ve always wanted to play it), Aphetto Alchemist, or Minamo, School at Water’s Edge. Of course, if you’ve got some way to untap her multiple times in a turn, she becomes a man-eater.