The Kitchen Table #199 — No Rares Allowed: 200 of the Best Casual Cards (#100 – #51)

Read Abe Sargent every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Hello my friends, and welcome to the third installment of the No Rares Allowed series. Next week is the final entry and the 200th article by yours truly (if you count weeklies; counting dailies, it’s a ton more). Today, I am in transit to London…

Hello my friends, and welcome to the third installment of the No Rares Allowed series. Next week is the final entry and the 200th article by yours truly (if you count weeklies; counting dailies, it’s a ton more). Today, I am in transit to London. I will be unable to respond to any posts you leave in the forum immediately, although I pledge to read them as soon as I can, and respond ASAP.

Let’s head into everybody’s favorite mini-blog:

Abe in London, part VI

This is the last “Abe in London” before I actually am in London. This is it. I’ve packed clothes, Magic cards, a brand new laptop, papers, and a few essentials like my toothbrush, and headed to London. I decided to keep some of my items I was planning on taking here in the states.

Going with me:

A CD case of computer games.
A laptop.
Two weeks of clothes.
Documents I need (passport, copies of applications, letters, etc).
Six boxes of Magic cards (includes essential rares, commons, uncommons, and decks).
Toiletries and various small accoutrements like sunglasses, MP3 player, etc.
A black leather jacket, which I will wear to save space in the luggage.

That’s it. No diplomas. None of the door decorations my staff has made me over the years. No box of Heroclix. No DVD player or DVDs (that was the final cut). Nothing to remember anyone by — no memorabilia, no birthday or Christmas gifts, etc.

I will be traveling without keys. That’s weird.

My carry-on bag will be the Magic backpack that I won during the Tenth Edition Release tournament.

It’s down to the very end. It feels like I’ve just been waiting for the past few weeks, and not doing anything major. I’m watching TV instead of buying a new game. The only game I’ve been playing is the free FUMBBL Blood Bowl online game.

The final Magic night at my place featured more people than seats. We had sixteen people for the finale. On Tuesday (written before the event, but this will be in the past by the time you read it), I will have a lunch at Pizza Hut with fellow housing staff here at Eastern Michigan University. I’ll kiss my now ex-girlfriend goodbye at the airport.

Six years in Michigan and I leave with a lunch, a Magic night, and a kiss.

My time has been on hold for several weeks, and now we pick up the line and continue the conversation of life. Just with new people and in a new place, with funny-looking money.

I fear that it will feel like an episode of Sliders where I’ve arrived in a world familiar but yet not quite our own. I guess we’ll see.

After all, isn’t life largely about looking forward? Isn’t it all anticipation for the coming weekend, or the end of the workday, or the end of a class? We wait for the end of a turn in Magic, the end of a time in school so you can get a diploma, the end of our work life because we’ve retired, and then the end of our lives.

We look forward to finding new women, which never seem to be as good as we first thought. We play new games, because the old have grown stale, only to find even more stagnation. We find new friends, because we yearn for more relationships, only to find people just as screwed up as the ones already in our lives.

In this spirit I look forward to tomorrow, because it brings something wholly new. Of course, I fear with the fear that all humanity has at something new, yet I plunge ahead. I am at the top of a very large roller coaster, and it is about to plummet into a new world.

Hello London.

Begin Actual Article

#100 — Orcish Lumberjack — (Common, Red, Ice Age) — Along with previous charter Timber Wall, this was one of two commons from Ice Age that fit a Red/Green deck and really amped up the early game mana. They tried to revisit the theme in Legions, but seriously, a four mana Lumberjack is a sucky Lumberjack. This card is a classic, and you just don’t see them around much these days. Take a look and see if you don’t have a few decks that could use a little clear-cutting.

#99 — Blade of the Sixth Pride — (Common, White, Future Sight) — We are down to double digits! This is one of the best creatures since Watchwolf. In fact, it’s a single color Watchwolf. Three power for two mana with no disadvantage. Zvi once said that virtually every Green/White deck should be packing Watchwolf. This may be the single best mono-color two-drop for an aggro deck ever. It’s amazing, and you should have some in a deck somewhere.

#98 — Flowstone Salamander — (Uncommon, Red, Tempest) — This is another hit to come from my precons. I always loved Godo’s Irregulars, but they were just a 1/1, and people were often happy to take the one damage. Then I rediscovered Flowstone Salamander. People aren’t so happy to take three every turn, which forces them to block and thus you kill the blocker. It’s a very strong threat if you have a lot of Red mana untapped.

#97 — Phantom Centaur — (Uncommon, Green, Judgment) — Welcome to one of the best mid-game beaters of Green. Four mana gives you a five-power creature with two built in ways of protection. You get a ton of damage, and evasiveness against Black players. It’s a great card to combo with toughness pumpers and since it is a spirit, Kamigawa block is very happy to add this as an ally to their decks working alongside spiritcraft creatures and soulshift.

#96 — Blasting Station — (Uncommon, Artifact, Fifth Dawn) — This is the other Goblin Bombardment effect on the list. As you have seen, I have begun to use it in decks sometimes to replace GBB. I no longer need to splash Red in order to get a sacrifice effect in my Thallid deck or my Homarid Spawning Bed deck, etc. This card also has some combo potential with its easy untap ability.

#95 — Goblin Dynamo — (Uncommon, Red, Legions) — If you like your goblins big, then look no further. This card has some expense, but there are alternate ways to get him out, like a Lackey or a Moggcatcher. Even if you play him as a 4/4 for seven, he has enough size to be pertinent in combat. You can use him as a pinger, but where he really shines is in sacrificing to Blaze an opponent (or creature of course). He’s good in combat, he has a creature type that has a lot of good stuff along with it, and he comes with a solid tap ability and a great finisher ability. That’s four good things in one card.

#95 — Terashi’s Grasp — (Common, White, Betrayers) — You’ve seen me use this frequently in decklists since its release. It’s no Krosan Grip, Dismantling Blow, or Orim’s Thunder, but your White is not always paired up with Green, Red, or Blue. However, in does gain you life, and its arcane status can allow you to play some cards with spiritcraft or splice.

#94 — Defiling Tears — (Uncommon, Black, Invasion) — I like versatility in a card. This instant can turn a creature Black, good to protect it from Terrors or to change its effect with protection creatures in play and so forth. It can also allow the targeted creature to regenerate, which may save it from a removal spell like Rend Flesh or combat damage. Finally, it can kill a creature with its +1/-1 ability, or it can make one of your creatures big enough to kill a creature it blocks. Although all of its abilities are minor, add them together, and you have a versatile little package.

#93 — Righteous Aura — (Common, White, Visions, Uncommon, Masques) — This is a good card simply because it turns all damage into a mere two damage. Silvos attacks and deals two, Darksteel Colossus brings the heat but deals two, even Big Furry Monster is hitting for a minor two points of damage. White has enough ways of gaining life that paying two to prevent a massive amount is pretty saucy.

#92 — Second Wind — (Uncommon, Blue, Future Sight) — I like creature removal. I like untapping a creature. This is a limited Puppet Strings, but it still doers what you need it to. It can be played on something like Arcanis, or you can play it on a threat at the table. It will rarely get Disenchanted, unlike a Puppet Strings, and its ability to fly under the radar makes it worthy of inclusion. Even still, it is not the untapper that I promised would hit. I believe that card is somewhere in the Top 50.

#91 — Heartstone — (Uncommon, Artifact, Stronghold) – I love engine cards like this. The first time I saw this card was with a deck of slivers with the two mana abilities, which now were just one. Spikes, from the same block, also stand to benefit from Heartstone. Since then there have been oodles of creatures with abilities that would really like a Heartstone. Just one example is Nomadic Elf, which now processes Green into colorless with no extra mana. I’m sure you will find others if you look. (Voltaic Construct + Heartstone + Goblin Medics + Ashnod’s Transmogrant + Utopia Vow = unlimited damage. As an example.)

#90 — Spirit en-Dal — (Uncommon, White, Future Sight) — This is one of the very few shadow creatures to hit the charts. Sure, it’s a 2/1 creature of relative unblockable power, but the forecast keyword giving a creature shadow is pretty cool too. Later in the game, feel free to make some of your big, dumb White creatures shadow so they can evade the defense and hit for damage. Cards like Serra Angel make good targets for the Spirit en-Dal’s forecast.

#89 — Sky Hussar — (Uncommon, Gold, Dissension) — While we are on the topic of forecast, allow me to remind you what a house Sky Hussar is. In any White or Blue deck, the mana-free forecast ability alone is pretty tasty. Note that you do not need to be playing both colors in order to stock this flyer for its forecast ability. Of course, you should, because when you need a 4/3 that untaps your creatures when it comes into play, you’ll have it. Momentary Blink called and wanted to say hi.

#88 — Dissipate — (Uncommon, Blue, Mirage) — Forbid might have the buyback thing going for it, and Hinder is an acceptable alternative, but for pure no-ability, I prefer Dissipate as my mono-Blue counter of choice. It stops flashback, incarnations, and tons of other tricks dead in their tracks. Like I said, Hinder can do a lot of that, but sometimes you want the card out of the deck entirely, like Lin-Sivvi in a rebel deck, for example.

#87 — Weatherseed Fairies — (Common, Blue, Legacy) — I know that this is just a Blue Thermal Glider, but the important thing is that Blue doesn’t get this sort of card very often. Thermal Glider is no major shakes, but this in Blue is very good. Compare to Narwhal to see what Blue normally had to pay for this ability (or Cerulean Wyvern, which is a three power flyer with pro-Green for five mana, or Aven Smokeweaver, which has two power for four mana). It’s great to be able to block the early stuff that gets tossed your way, and that stuff is very regularly Red. Plus, as I mentioned before, this dodges all of that annoying Red burn, like Slice and Dice. It’s cheap enough to impact the early game, and yet still a flyer to swing over ground forces.

#86 — Serrated Biskelion — (Uncommon, Artifact, Weatherlight) — I like creatures, because every creature you have in play changes combat math in your favor. Sure, you could have an artifact in play that read “3, Artifact, this comes into play with two Abe Counters, Tap: Remove an Abe counter to give target creature -1/-1.” People would still attack you. Have a 2/2 out with that ability, and the math changes. People look for other places to go with their attackers. That’s the beauty of a Serrated Biskelion — it’s removal for the jinky things like Looters and Birds, and a blocker as well.

#85 — Balshan Collaborator — (Uncommon, Blue, Torment) — It flies and it pumps for a lot of Black mana. Trust me, few things put the fear into a defender like a flying Shade. This is best in a deck that has little Blue mana, and a lot of Black. Ideally, it might run Tainted Isle or other Blue/Black lands. Trust me, fear of your creature will be established very quickly.

#84 — Mind Slash — (Uncommon, Black, Nemesis) — It sucks that it is a sorcery ability, otherwise this would be my favorite enchantment ever. As it is, it is still a great card. You can sac a creature for one Black mana to Coercion an opponent. That’s great in any deck that has fears about countermagic or removal. It’s also pretty keen in decks with creatures that have already used their “comes into play” ability, and now are just hanging out — like Ravenous Rats for example, or Bone Shredder. There are a few in-color effects that make tokens that would really contribute to ravaging someone’s hand through the Mind Slash. See: Sengir Autocrat.

#83 — Thran Turbine — (Uncommon, Artifact, Saga) — Since we talked about engine cards a few cards ago, it’s time for another entry. This is a Sol Ring that is unrestricted… in the right deck. When it is not in the right deck, it sucks. Combine it with any number of cards to add mana to your pool for various activation costs. This is a classic Johnny card. From untapping Mana Vault and Grim Monolith to dealing damage from pingers, and more, you’ll find plenty of uses for your Turbine. I personally like Jalum Tome or Jayemdae Tome after a second is down.

#82 — Tempting Licid — (Uncommon, Green, Stronghold) — Like Calming Licid, which charted earlier, Tempting Licid is able to do a host of Licid tricks that are well established. It can also turn into a Lure, then after the Lured creature is gang-tackled while your team sneaks through, you can hop the Tempting Licid off and do it again next turn. I haven’t used Lure in a real deck since this was released. (I might use it for simplicity in online articles, but I prefer this to Lure any day.) In fact, this will help decks with a lot of creatures get several attacks in, unlike something like Lure which needed another piece, like a regenerating target or a Basilisk.

#81 — Supply/Demand — (Uncommon, Gold, Dissension) — Of the new gold split cards, none fits my fancy more than Supply/Demand. Demand allows you to tutor your deck while Supply can make you a lot of little critters. Since its printing, I have put Supply/Demand into a lot of decks, and rarely for Demand. Supply is usually the right way to play this card. I’ll put it in saproling decks or convoke decks or Tolsimir Wolfblood decks, or just normal decks that make a lot of mana and would like to keep swinging with a bunch of critters. In multiplayer, you’d rather kill a person with a horde of creatures that can attack someone else than blow your wad Fireballing someone and have nothing left for the other players.

#80 — Simian Grunts — (Common, Green, Legacy) — Flash apes with a big body for their cost are only disadvantaged by the echo. They are a great combat trick for Green, however, making a body that can then ambush block an attacker whose controller thought was safe attacking your Greenness. It often doesn’t feel like it has echo if you flash it into play with mana you weren’t going to use anyway, and then untap and pay its echo. The echo feels like its normal casting cost.

#79 — Repulse — (Common, Blue, Invasion) — Invasion has a core of commons that I think stand the test of time (Dismantling Blow, Repulse, Harrow – which was a reprint – Agonizing Demise, and at least three cards that have yet to be seen and will chart higher on the list). Repulse is a great bounce spell because it nests you a card. I like bounce, but the old cards like Unsummon and Boomerang left you with some card disadvantage. You can do all of the tricks like put lethal damage on the stack with an opposing creature before blocking your own, or saving a creature. On the other hand, you can just get tempo and bounce something aggressively.

#78 — Scryb Ranger — (Uncommon, Green, Time Spiral) — By making the classic Quirion Ranger cost one more mana, they gave it three abilities. It almost feels like Akroma-lite — having four abilities for two mana. Sure, it is only a1/1, but at some point in time, you have to overlook that. It has the time-tested Quirion Ranger ability to make mana or untap a creature (and again, this is not the untapper that I promised would chart later). In addition, flash, pro-Blue, and flying are all really good abilities — and they work together too.

#77 — Necromancy — (Uncommon, Black, Visions) — This is one of the best reanimation spells ever, because it has two modes of play. Play it on your turn as a normal enchantment, and it is basically a Zombify that can get the creature from anywhere for one less mana but is vulnerable to enchantment removal. You can also play it as an instant and bring the creature out, but it goes away at the end of the turn — making it either a great trick or a great reanimation spell, your choice.

#76 — Dismal Failure — (Uncommon, Blue, Planar Chaos) — I love it when any counterspell can use the quote from Undermine — “Which would you like first, the insult or the injury?” Best quote ever on a counter. Dismal Failure is another card that could have used it. (See also, Hinder, Dissipate, Dismiss, Forbid, Spelljack, Desertion, Commandeer, and any other counter that does something else besides counter). This has been underused, at least at our table so far. It’s a great addition to counter decks, and it can be deadly at the right time. Even if all you get is a superfluous land, counter decks want to have more mana available, so that’s a benefit. If you get a spell of any sort, then this was pretty good.

#75 — Otherworldly Journey — (Uncommon, White, Champions) — I like cards with the ability to do many things, just in case you hadn’t noticed. This card can pump one of your creatures, dodge removal (including the mass kind), untap one of your creatures to keep it available to block something, reuse a CIP ability, reload the fading or vanishing counters on the creature, Fog an opposing creature, and more. It’s also an arcane spell, so there are tricks you can use with that. All told, this card has a lot of power, and you’ll find many uses for it.

#74 — Ordered Migration — (Uncommon, Gold, Invasion) — This is about the time when the big boys start to come out and play. I wanted to save some of the better cards that fell outside my Top 50 for the last bit of the countdown, and that hit with the previous entry. Starting a few cards ago, from here on in, it’s the top of the top, although again, there is no countdown here. Ordered Migration has been a favorite of mine for ages. I love playing it in any Five Color or Domain deck, with the ability to make numerous flying birds of doom. You can also play it in a theme deck where they are pumped by Soraya the Falconer and Kangee, Aerie Keeper. However, I find that this card works best in normal decks with a lot of colors. A five-mana spell that makes four or five 1/1 flying tokens is pretty good.

#73 — Harmonize — (Uncommon, Green, Planar Chaos) — I know that it has just been printed, and I know that some Green mages around the world have already packed their decks with four of these. I want you to know that Harmonize will be the single best Green card-drawing spell of all time. The likelihood that there will ever be a better one is significantly low. There might be a better draw spell for your situation, like Nature’s Resurgence versus a creatureless deck or something. However, for raw pure card drawing power, nothing beats Harmonize in Green.

#72 — Squirrel Nest — (Uncommon, Green, Odyssey) — Squirrel Nest got its major advertising by being one half of a broken combo with Earthcraft. I want to point out that Squirrel Nest is not simply valuable as part of that combo. Mana Severance is pretty crappy outside of the combo with Goblin Charbelcher, but Squirrel Nest is still pretty good. Players at your table aren’t going to kill a Squirrel Nest unless they have to. It just makes a 1/1 every turn, which is slower in multiplayer than in duels. However, it won’t be long until your Nest has made a lot of squirrels — five, eight, ten or more. They might not all be in play at the same time, some having bit it to Wraths or Pyroclasms. Yet, the Nest keeps making more chump blockers or gang attackers for you. It is a useful but subtle card.

#71 — Samurai of the Pale Curtain — (Uncommon, White, Champions) — In any multiplayer game, you are going to see graveyard tricks. From threshold to incarnations, from Nether Shadows to Zombify, there are a lot of uses for graveyards. Samurai of the Pale Curtain does not shut them all down. However, it can make the tricks harder to pull off, especially ones like reanimation. In addition to hurting opposing strategies, the Samurai of the Pale Curtain brings strategy of its own — beatingness. With a 2/2 body for two mana plus bushido 1, the Samurai is pertinent to the red zone for its two mana casting cost. That makes it good as a beater and good as a hoser. I think we have a winner here.

#70 — Syphon Mind — (Common, Black, Onslaught) — Fans of multiplayer should not require too much of an introduction to this card. It is the new Congregate. You play it and five opponents discard cards while you draw a new handful. In fact, some multiplayer enthusiasts might wonder why this didn’t chart higher. It’s a blunt instrument, and while useful, its power is obvious to the player and the people you play against. Just like Congregate (which will not be charting, by the way), it has obvious uses, no subtle ones, and often gets you targeted just because.

#69 — Stinkweed Imp — (Common, Black, Ravnica) — Joining its fellow Black common in the list is ol’ Stinky. He is also not going to chart as high as some might hope, because he gets played more than a lot of these other cards. However, I want you to understand that El Stinko is top notch at killing, and thus preventing the attack of, virtually everything that does not regenerate. You might not even bother to toss the Stinkster in front of Silvos, but against most foes, he can take them down. Decks with massive graveyard usage really love his dredge of five as well.

#68 — Pyrohemia — (Uncommon, Red, Planar Chaos) — With this carting, will Pestilence also be seen? Nope. This makes the cut because it is so good for what it does. There are enough pro-Red creatures in Red that Pyrohemia can be used with ease. You can also pull a Pestilence and combine it with White for cards like Sphere of Law and Light of Sanction. There are also some high toughness creatures for cheap in Red, like Wall of Diffusion and Wall of Stone that work well with Pyrohemia. You can also combine it with things like Pyromancer’s Swath and Furnace of Rath for pure devastation that no Black deck could ever achieve with Pestilence. Pyrohemia, welcome home.

#67 — Fling — (Common, Red, Stronghold) — Before we leave Red for a while, let’s look at another card from that color – Fling. Fling is simply a marvelous card. It can toss a creature that is about to die to combat damage or removal at someone’s head, which is pretty awesome. You can also often deal a lot of damage with it, so long as you pack goodies in your deck like Cosmic Larva or Akroma the Red.

#66 — Wall of Shards — (Uncommon, White, Coldsnap) — It’s a 1/8 wall for two mana with flying. This will block almost everything that could be possibly played in the first few turns. Meanwhile, you make friends with the cumulative upkeep. Once your defense is up later in the game, let it go, and Wall of Shards basically gave you three, four or five turns to make friends and set up, so that now you can establish a little pain. You could also combine it with something like False Cure or Forsaken Wastes.

#65 — Nezumi Graverobber — (Uncommon, Black, Champions) — He’s a 2/1 for two splashable mana, which allows you to play him in a lot of decks. He can lightly hose graveyards, which is pretty good. Then, when he levels up, he turns into a 4/2 beast that will reanimate anything in any yard. This can happen as soon as turn 3, when he strips the lone card out of someone’s yard, then flips, then swings for four damage on the third turn.

#64 — Wall of Mulch — (Uncommon, Green, Onslaught) — As I have said before, I am a fan of the cheap Green wall. Wall of Mulch looks like a backward Wall of Blossoms when you first see it. Instead of getting you a card when it comes into play, you are getting a card when you sac it with a Green mana. However, note that you can sac any wall, including our friend, Wall of Blossoms. It’s a combo deck waiting to happen with Jungle Patrol and a great adjunct to existing Green walls like Wall of Blossoms, Vine Trellis, and Wall of Roots.

#63 — Skyshroud Elf — (Common, Green, Tempest) — I know that little Green elves that tap for mana are not sexy enough to normally make charts like this. However, it is important to understand the role of the Skyshroud Elf. He taps for a Green mana, so yay for acceleration. Then he filters any amount of mana you choose into White and Red mana. Want three White mana for Akroma, Sr.? How about that extra Red mana to channel Jiwari? It is gold in a deck that uses all three colors, and better than Quirion Elves in a two color deck with either color.

#62 — Exclude — (Common, Blue, Invasion) — Now there are only two Invasion commons left on the list. Exclude is a money card because not only do you get to counter a vital threat or a key piece of defense for an opponent at the table, but you also get to draw a card off it. At the multiplayer table, there is always someone playing a stupid creature, so the fact that it can only counter creatures is not as much of a disadvantage.

#61 — Celestial Crusader — (Uncommon, White, Time Spiral) — Flash plus a 2/2 body plus a Crusade effect; what’s not to love? Bring the Crusade effect into play when you need it, and not when others can benefit from it. Then you have a flash 2/2 creature that can attack and block like most creatures can. It plays absolute havoc with combat math, turning an attack into your board into a devastation for the attacker. There is nothing this guy won’t do except suck. He doesn’t do that at all.

#60 — Surestrike Trident — (Uncommon, Artifact, Darksteel) — Fling is a great card but it is a one-time use, and your creatures goes too. Surestrike Trident is reusable and all your creature has to do it tap. Sure, the Trident has to be equipped each time for four mana, but you can easily tap a creature, deal a bunch of damage to someone’s head, then equip it to another big guy, and tap, then equip it again and tap. That’s just eight mana, and you can imagine how much damage you will have done. You might want to keep the last guy untapped in order to block and stuff, but you get the idea of how powerful this is. In Type Four, it absolutely owns, in case you care.

#59 — Cavern Harpy — (Common, Gold, Planeshift) — I like gating, and I like a 2/1 flyer. This was a hallmark in the Aluren deck, but it is also a good creature on its own. As the only gating creature that has an ability to bounce it back to your hand, I’m sure you can imagine how good it is. In Blue-Black alone, there are a lot of creatures you might want to bounce, from Nekrataal to Ravenous Rats to Man-o’-War to Merchant of Secrets and much more. This can be both a good adjunct to an existing strategy or an engine on its own in the right deck. However, it is not nearly as good as another creature that will be charting in a few spots…

#58 — Shrieking Drake — (Common, Blue, Visions) – … Ah, let’s just get it over with now, shall we? I love this classic 1/1 flyer for one mana. It will gate anything back to your hand, which is ideal for all colors and all sorts of cards. The number of things you can use this with has bee documented previously with cards like Otherworldly Journey, Cavern Harpy, and more. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of tricks with which the Drake works well. It is a two-mana creature Capsize on your main phase with Equilibrium.

#57 — Stalking Yeti — (Uncommon, Red, Coldsnap) — And here is one such trick right now. The Yeti is a favorite of mine because it works without needing snow mana, it just won’t have the self-bounce ability. As a 3/3 yeti, it comes into play as an activation of Karplusan Yeti or Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. This is certainly my favorite yeti. It’s a great supplement to Red’s damage dealing powers, and can help to take out bigger things than itself in a pinch.

#56 — Azorius Herald — (Uncommon, White, Dissension) — I love unblockable creatures. I also love a creature that gains me some life when it comes into play. A 2/1 unblockable four-life gainer for 1WU is a great deal. What keeps it out of the Top 50 is the fact that, unlike other CIP creatures, it does not work well with things like Otherworldly Journey or reanimation effects (although it will work with Shrieking Drake and other bounce effects). It’s still a solid creature and a fine deal.

#55 — Cephalid Sage — (Uncommon, Blue, Torment) — If this list has taught you one thing, is that I like creatures with comes into play abilities. This creature is simply amazing when you have threshold. It makes a powerful engine with all of the Flickerform and Cavern Harpy tricks that you can do with it. You will draw a lot of cards and your graveyard will be so full of goodies that the inner Johnny in your will burst with ideas.

#54 — Selesnya Guildmage — (Uncommon, Hybrid, Ravnica) — Pumping your team will change your combat values at instant speed, and all opponents will respect that. Making a little saproling dude will also cause some respect. Having both abilities on a 2/2 with an easy casting cost will often send attackers into other people’s red zones and leave your clear on unwanted visitors. There will come a point where your gathering horde of Saprolings is ready to launch their own initiative, and the Guildmage can support them with the pumping ability. Unlike other Guildmagi, this is a winning condition in its own. It can easily kill an entire table of players when left unchecked.

#53 — Ninja of the Deep Hours — (Common, Blue, Betrayers) — I love this card’s versatility and card drawing power. You can use it to self-bounce all of the things we mentioned earlier with Shrieking Drake and company. You can also use it to still deal two but also draw a card, bouncing some creature back to your hand for the privilege. My favorite use of the Ninja is to attack with an Ophidian, have it go unblocked, activate it, draw a card, then ninjutsu out the Ninja of the Deep Hours and deal two and draw another card on top of it. It’s also good if they try to Maze of Ith or Kor Haven your unblocked attacker.

#52 — Flaming Gambit (Uncommon, Red, Torment) — Against someone who has no creatures, this is an instant Blaze. Cast is as soon as someone Wraths. Then you have it sitting in your graveyard, ready for you to untap and kill someone else. It’s also a great way to Edict out a creature or two, at instant speed despite the mana it may require, is better than all of the other non-Diabolic Edicts.

#51 — Gloomdrifter — (Uncommon, Black, Torment) — My final card of the article before heading into next week’s actual countdown, is another favorite from Torment. Gloomdrifter is a top-notch card, with the flying and the 2/2 and the nifty threshold ability. Giving non-Black creatures -2/-2 is pretty strong, especially tacked onto a flying 2/2 body. Massacre and Infest cost 4 and 3 mana respectively. This brings a 2/2 as well, which can do the attacking and the blocking that creatures are wont to do.

And that brings us to another conclusion. Next week brings us article number TWO HUNDRED. We will also see the final fifty cards in the No Rares Allowed countdown. These fifty cards are in order, so get ready. Also remember, I would love to see your comments on today’s article, but I will be unable to respond. I will read them, however, I promise.

The next time we meet, I will be in London!

Until later,

Abe Sargent