The Kitchen Table #222 – Top Ten Lists

Read Abe Sargent every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, February 28th – My name is Abe, and I’m your doctor with an MD in Casual, bringing healing to the casual masses. Today I want to do something that seems like a lot of fun. I want to bring to you a bunch of top ten lists, and then discuss my choices. Sounds simple enough, right?

Happy Thursday to you all. My name is Abe, and I’m your doctor with an MD in Casual, bringing healing to the casual masses. Today I want to do something that seems like a lot of fun. I want to bring to you a bunch of top ten lists, and then discuss my choices. Sounds simple enough, right?

We’ll look at Top Ten Counterspells; Top Ten Big, Cheap Creatures; and I might even give you my personal favorite Top Ten Creatures of All Time.

For this, you need to keep in mind that these are lists for casual play. There are some cards, like Psychatog, that are truly strong in tournaments, but bring a dedicated Psychatog deck to the Multiplayer table and you are going down. The best casual cards and decks have a good shot at going the distance no matter the format or variant you play — whether Duels or Multiplayer or Emperor or Two-Headed Giant.

With that out of the way, let’s begin:

The Top Ten Defensive Creatures of All Time

10. Cho-Manno, Revolutionary
9. Spike Weaver
8. Dawn Elemental
7. Indomitable Ancients
6. Lieutenant Kirtar
5. Pristine Angel
4. Wall of Blossoms
3. Steel Wall
2. Silklash Spider
1. Commander Eesha

On this list, you see a lot of White dominance. Six of the ten creatures are White, giving you the obvious notion that White creatures can be very defensive. We also have three Green creatures, and one artifact.

Some people might be surprised to see the Ancients chart. They have the same cost as Cho-Manno except they don’t have the same ability. However, with a ten toughness for defense, just how important is “doesn’t take damage” anyway? Cho-Manno’s two issues have been that he doesn’t block flyers and he doesn’t soak up much trample damage. The Ancients laugh at much larger and more expensive tramplers like Child of Gaea. Therefore, the Ancients are simply better than Cho-Manno in many situations, which moves them up the list. (Plus, they aren’t legendary, so you can play both if you draw them.)

A lot of cards here should surprise none of my normal readers. Commander Eesha, Spike Weaver, Steel Wall, Wall of Blossoms, and Silklash Spider are the obvious four top choices, and you’ll see those cards on a regular basis. Kirtar, Pristine, and Dawn Elemental are similarly obvious choices.

Temple Acolyte just missed the list.

The Top Ten Big, Cheap Creatures of All Time

10. Plague Sliver
9. Covetous Dragon
8. Moroii
7. Avatar of Woe
6. Avatar of Fury
5. Chameleon Colossus
4. Possessed Aven
3. Fledgling Dragon
2. Loxodon Hierarch
1. Mystic Enforcer

Some of these choices might seem obvious, while others are more questionable. Let’s go over them.

Mystic Enforcer, Loxodon Hierarch, and Chameleon Colossus should need little justification for their presence here. Possessed Aven and Fledgling Dragon are houses when you have threshold, and you usually do.

Avatar of Fury is always RR to play except in the early game, so he falls on the list. The Woe is a little more difficult to play for BB, but it still is BB more often than not, so he charts.

Moroii is a 4/4 flyer for four mana, with the Serendib Efreet disadvantage. He makes no apologies for what he is, and he’ll win you games.

Plague Sliver might be the most controversial. For four mana, you get a 5/5 ground beater that, while being an exact copy of Juzam Djinn, also hoses slivers and changelings. That’s makes him an upgrade in everything but a sliver deck.

Covetous Dragon is a great finisher for any deck with artifacts, and the existence of artifact lands makes this a much better card than it used to be.

The Top Ten Red X Damage Dealing Spells of All Time

10. Ghitu Fire
9. Kaervek’s Torch
8. Titan’s Revenge
7. Fanning the Flames
6. Molten Disaster
5. Illuminate
4. Fault Line
3. Fireball
2. Rolling Thunder
1. Earthquake

This is probably going to be the least controversial list in the article. There’s nothing too exciting to see here.

The Top Ten Counterspells of All Time

10. Voidslime
9. Arcane Denial
8. Mystic Snake
7. Desertion
6. Hinder
5. Faerie Trickery
4. Dissipate
3. Forbid
2. Counterspell
1. Mana Drain

The ability to say yes or no makes all of us happy players. The top counters of all time include one from the original set and one from the most recent block. In order to even make it here, a counter had to be a hard counter. At the multiplayer table, soft counters like Mana Leak and Complicate simply don’t have a quick enough window in order to be hard counters. The first few turns are not as important to counter someone’s spell, making them less powerful.

You’ll note the lack of cards like Force of Will. FoW is great, and very useful in duels. In multiplayer, countermagic is already a loss of card advantage. You don’t want to double up your card disadvantage by adding another card to the counter.

Redirection effects are not counters, and thus are not on here. Similarly, Ertai’s Meddling and Delay are not eligible for charting. If Ertai’s Meddling did count, it’d be number 9.

Mana Drain hitting number 1, and Counterspell number 2, should hardly be a surprise. Forbid at number 3 also seems perfectly understandable.

At 4, 5, and 6x we have three cards that all have relatively the same effect — to counter a spell and remove it from play. Dissipate is the best — counter and remove. Faerie Trickery is almost as good — it cannot target faerie cards, which includes changelings. Lastly, Hinder can move it to the bottom of the library, which is normally good, but eligible for return via tutors. These cards all stop problems like flashback, recursion, and so forth. If an opponent has out an Etched Oracle/Volrath’s Stronghold combo, how do you stop it? One of these three counters.

Of the counters that then give you that card, Desertion is the best. Many of the other counters cost too much mana and/or require you to play it again, making it eligible for counters of its own. Desertion counters, and then puts it right into play. Yes, I’ll counter your Akroma, thank you very much.

Mystic Snake is a good creature in addition to a counter, making it a solid card. Voidslime can counter effects like Pernicious Deed as well, making it more versatile, and Arcane Denial is great in any deck without a strong Blue component. People don’t get as upset about you countering their stuff when you give them two cards.

The Top Ten Most Multiplayer Friendly One-Drop Creatures of All Time

10. Hana Kami
9. Bloodfire Dwarf
8. Mogg Fanatic
7. Traproot Kami
6. Spurnmage Advocate
5. Will-o’-the-Wisp
4. Weathered Wayfarer
3. Steel Wall
2. Soul Warden/Essence Warden
1. Mother of Runes

This list includes some great cards and some cards you might not expect, like many of the other lists. Mother of Runes, Soul Warden, Steel Wall, Weathered Wayfarer, and Will-o’-the-Wisp are all solid cards that you understand. Let’s look at the bottom five.

Spurnmage Advocate is so good because you can return two cards to one opponent’s hand to kill the attack of another opponent. Thus, you can make a friend while also killing an annoying creature. This will also kill Akroma the Elder. In multiplayer, there are enough graveyards that you can usually find one with cards that you don’t care about.

Traproot Kami is great because it can get big enough to block the big creatures, but only in a mono-Green deck.

Mogg Fanatic and Bloodfire Dwarf are both solid cards because they threaten other creatures while they are on the board. The Fanatic scores better because its sacrifice doesn’t require a mana and you can go to the dome with it. The Dwarf can threaten multiple creatures with its Tremor ability.

Hana Kami is only a real threat in a deck with multiple arcane spells in the graveyard. Once you have this, you can easily abuse Hana Kami to no end, and people will fear a Hana Kami with some mana untapped and a graveyard of arcane goodies you can fling at an attacker.

The Top Ten Red/Black Gold Cards I Hope Get Passed in Abedraft

In Abedraft (a draft format where virtually every card ever printed is in the card pool), my favorite color combination is Red/Black. Often a gold card gets opened, and it will get passed around the table to me, despite being good, because no one is in both colors. Any player at a table can get a bomb late this way. When I see a gold card in my R/B colors, these are the ones I most want to see:

10. Backlash
9. Plague Spores
8. Vicious Kavu
7. Spontaneous Combustion
6. Cinder Shade
5. Wrecking Ball
4. Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
3. Void
2. Fire Covenant
1. Terminate

R/B is about killing their defenders, and swinging with your creatures. It doesn’t matter how bad your creatures are, you will win if they have no blockers.

Thus many cards here go without saying. I don’t need to tell you why Terminate or Fire Covenant is good.

Spontaneous Combustion falls on the list because it often kills all of your creatures, so you have to use it properly. Its instant status allows you to do so, but it can sometimes sit in your hand.

Cinder Shade is a great pump creature, able to hit your opponent for a lot of damage or fling itself at a creature and take it out of your path.

Vicious Kavu is one of the best creatures in the game of Magic for a R/B deck. Play it on the third turn, then on the fourth and subsequent turns you clear a path, and hit for four. Clear a path, and hit for four. It’s great.

Backlash and Delirium do something that Black and Red don’t do much — tap a creature. They also deal some damage too, which is a great added effect.

The Top Ten Ways to Kill Akroma and Darksteel Colossus

Since these are The Fundamental Enemies of Multiplayer, playing a card that can take out both is groovy. What are the top ten cards that can kill either one?

10. Gaze of Justice
9. Mangara of Corondor
8. Chainer’s Edict
7. Oblivion Ring
6. Weight of Conscience
5. Tawnos’s Coffin
4. Oblation
3. Wing Shards
2. Crib Swap
1. Swords to Plowshares

This is why Crib Swap is so valuable in decks. To play a removal spell in multiplayer, it has to do one of four things:

1). Kill an Akroma the Elder (e.g. Wing Snare)
2). Kill a Darksteel Colossus (e.g. Altar’s Light)
3). Kill anything else (e.g. Terminate)
4). Kill everything in play (e.g. Wrath of God)

If your removal spell doesn’t do at least one of those things, pull it out. There’s no room for Terrors in your deck or your hand. That’s why I value cards like Chill to the Bone, which can meet #3.

Of course, this list is looking at cards that are both #1 and #2. Swords to Plowshares will forever be the best example of this synergy, as well as #3 on the list. Wing Shards is obviously good, especially with storm, but if they attack with another creature, it isn’t a guaranteed kill — that’s why Crib Swap rates so highly. Oblation also is a guaranteed removal, but they draw two cards. Tawnos’s Coffin can remove it until you want to bring it back or the Coffin dies, and that’s about as good as it gets at the next level.

Weight of Conscience is one of the few ways to take out either one, and it’s from Morningtide, so there’s a chance you can pick up some right now at your local card store for pennies. Oblivion Ring came from Lorwyn, so you have three of the Top Ten on this list coming from this block.

Rounding it out is Chainer’s Edict, which can flashback after a sacrifice of another creatures, making it easier to get what you want than the other Edicts. Mangara of Corondor, once in play and being around for a turn, can tap to remove the offending creature, but that requires a lot, as does Gaze of Justice, which is only good in mono-White decks.

Note that another way to handle Akroma and Darksteel is to steal them.

Or to play your own.

Abe’s Favorite Creatures of All Time

10. Silklash Spider
9. Living Airship
8. Man-o’-War
7. Hystrodon
6. Commander Eesha
5. Ashen Ghoul
4. Thornscape Battlemage
3. Wall of Blossoms
2. Fleetfoot Panther
1. Scarwood Bandits

No one loves Scarwood Bandits the way I do. Fleetfoot Panther comes from Equinaut. Wall of Blossoms, Thornscape Battlemage, Eesha and Silklash all come from multiplayer experiences.

I fell in love with Living Airship during one of my Deck a Day dailies where I rolled a card at random and had to give it a home. I rolled Living Airship, and gave it two days in the sun, not just the one. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Living Airship as a result.

Hystrodon goes back to an early version of Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy at around 500 cards, and every morph creature I had always seemed to be a Hystrodon.

Ashen Ghoul began my love affair with the graveyard and changed the way I looked at the game. I also won some Standard tournaments with it in my deck post-Weatherlight.

Man-o’-War is one of my favorite 187 creatures, and I love to play it and hold it forever.

The Top Ten General Enchantments/Artifacts for Multiplayer

I dropped the general statement in there to keep the list away from overly powerful but restricted cards like Yawgmoth’s Bargain or Goblin Bombardment.

10. Privileged Position
9. Nevinyrral’s Disk
8. Future Sight
7. Pernicious Deed
6. No Mercy
5. Tawnos’s Coffin
4. Honden of Seeing Winds
3. Mind’s Eye
2. Mirari’s Wake
1. Sylvan Library

These are enchantments and artifacts that I just feel comfortable dropping in multiplayer, no matter what deck I am playing.

Sylvan Library, Wake, No Mercy, Sight, Disk, and Eye have been lauded in many previous articles, and Coffin has been touted here earlier today.

I swear by Disk over similar effects like Oblivion Stone.

Privileged Position is a great “hands off” card that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Despite its high mana cost, it’s a quality spell.

Honden of Seeing Winds is great because it often slides under the glare of more blatantly powerful permanents like Future Sight and Mirari’s Wake.

The problem with Future Sight is that you do all of this work to play it, including paying triple Blue, only to see it Disenchanted as soon as possible by opponents. At least you can use Wake immediately after playing and Mind’s Eye is easier to play.

Top Ten Permanents People Should Autokill on Sight, but Don’t

This list is for those cards that just sit on the multiplayer table. No one seems to think of them as Public Enemy #1, but they should. Instead, the players at your table might kill it if it becomes too much of a problem, otherwise they let it sit there.

10. Mother of Runes
9. Kokusho the Broken Star
8. Nevinyrral’s Disk
7. Volrath’s Stronghold
6. Soul Warden/Essence Warden
5. Sylvan Library
4. Standstill
3. Howling Mine
2. Pandemonium
1. Planar Portal

I don’t know why people let Planar Portal sit there and get used. Knock that off. If anyone has the mana to play Planar Portal, then they have the mana to abuse it. Kill it on sight, don’t let it sit around.

“Maybe I can get a benefit from Pandemonium?” so you let it stay. Kill this thing before someone tries to cycle Decree of Justice for ten with two solider lords out. See also: Standstill.

Unless you are getting an immediate benefit from Howling Mine, take it out. In a four player game, you are already getting outdrawn 3:1. I’d rather it be 3:1 than 6:2, so unless you are mana screwed and need the cards or something, take this down. And don’t put them in your deck barring Island Sanctuary or Underworld Dreams tricks.

I hate seeing someone play a Vindicate or a Wrecking Ball on a non-land when a Volrath’s Stronghold is out. Unless it’s my Stronghold, of course. It’s too powerful to leave in play.

One of the reasons that cards like Sylvan Library and Soul/Essence Warden are rated so high on their own lists is that they go under the radar. Tell people to knock it off and kill the offending permanents when they have a chance to.

Don’t let the Disk untap unless you want it to go off. Don’t let someone untap a Mother of Runes. Sometimes people are afraid to kill Kokusho because they don’t want the life loss. Once he gets played, you are losing the life, so suck it up and take him out immediately.

And with that, we come to the close of anoth… hold on. I’m getting news that my musical interests are poking through and demanding to be heard. Alright then, since I have already written a full Magical article, I might as well drop these in.

Until later…

Abe Sargent

Super Special Non-Magic Lists:

The Top Ten Artists of All Time

10. Blood, Sweat, & Tears
9. Backlash
8. VNV Nation
7. New Order
6. The Moody Blues
5. Chicago
4. Erasure
3. The Echoing Green
2. Pet Shop Boys
1. Depeche Mode

I like late 60’s/early70’s music and then electronica. After that, I pick and choose the artists I like.

The Top Ten Songs of All Time

10. Godz Look Down on Us, by Escape with Romeo
9. Beloved, by VNV Nation
8. London, by Pet Shop Boys
7. Do it Again, by Steely Dan
6. Enjoy the Silence, by Depeche Mode
5. Question, by The Moody Blues
4. Seven Cities, by Solar Stone
3. This Love, by Dark Voices
2. Dream of You by Schiller with Peter Heppner
1. Drop, by Massivivid

Also, currently among my faves are:

Mentir by Marie-Mai
Cara Mia by Måns Zelmerlöw
Freedom Cry by Deep Forest
Wonders Never Cease by Morcheeba
Oublier by Noir Silence
So Alive by Pristina
Anthem by Filo and Peri
Flamboyant by Pet Shop Boys
Integral by Pet Shop Boys
The Wrong Side by Abney Park
Wake Up, by Hooverphonic (My favorite bridge of all time)

Things I Would Admit on Moment of Truth for Big Cash

I love Jon Secada and have all of his albums
I have a mancrush on Tom Jones and George Clooney and Jack Davenport
Coupling is my favorite sitcom of all time
Yes, I am an ordained minister
I think James Nesbitt was flat out robbed for not winning the Golden Globe for Jekyll
I want to be Doctor Who
I have a weakness for redheads
I just rewatched This Life for the second time — better than the first viewing
I wish more people knew about Jeremiah
CBC news is better than any American news channel or program

I remember when Israel was bombed and then attacked parts of Lebanon recently. American news coverage spent 7 minutes of an hour program on it, with four of those minutes on how it might affect oil and gas prices. CBC news coverage was 18 minutes of a 30 minute program, with only a blurb as they went to commercial about petrol prices. Much better coverage. They tapped into BBC reporters in Lebanon and Israel, had interviews, showed the bombings on both sides and was serious journalism, without any bias. Why can’t we get that here in the States?

West Virginia Yum Yums

This is a recipe I have refined, and my roommate and I love it. She calls it West Virginia Yum Yums because I received a similar dish back home.

1 can Campbells Golden Mushroom soup
1 large green pepper
4-5 organic carrots
1 medium mushroom
1 lb of pork tips
1 tbs of Shed’s Spread Country Crock

Take the tablespoon of the margarine and melt in a pan. Heat the pork tips on medium until cooked thoroughly. Chop pepper, carrots and mushroom. Add ½ can of water to the mushroom soup and add water/soup mix to pan. Stir. Let sit for five minutes. Add carrots. Stir. Wait two minutes. Add pepper and mushrooms and any spices you desire. Turning the mixture over and over again, heat for ten minutes or until ready. Serving size — two hungry people.