If there is one syndrome the Magic community is notorious for, it’s forgetting about good cards in the environment. There seems to be a lack of playtime for old veterans of Type Two, by the time the latest sets have arrived. It happened after Urza’s Destiny was released; Rath Cycle cards were harder to come across. It happened after Prophecy became legal, as people wanted to play with newer cards, although Urza’s raw power helped to keep a lot of its cards in the forefront. Same happened with Apocalypse and the loss of Masques block. Now, Judgment has come and the result? The entire Invasion block should be renamed the Vacation Block.
Of course, there are some cards still seeing play, led by Mr. Flametongue himself. Nightscape Familiar, Undermine, and Mystic Snake still see play. But where is the rest of the team?
Yeah, I know that the entire block is just months away from rotation. And I can understand why someone might not want to shell out the bucks for Vindicate or Urza’s Rage, since those cards will be gone, and with that their price tag as well. But, even the Rage will still have some decent price. It might be Extended-relegated, maybe, but it will still cost five to seven dollars… So it’s not losing a great investment.
But still, there are a lot of cards out there that warrant play – and they’re much cheaper than El Rage. Some of them were played, once upon a time, and still look to be good enough to make some cuts. Others were never played that much, but might need a look over now that the environment is different.
Instead of tossing a long list at you, though, let’s put them in some semblance of order. We’ll organize this list alphabetically by set; how’s that sound? So in the interests of promoting the use of good cards, here is my list of:
"Inexpensive Cards That Are Still Good Enough To Be Played"
Invasion is a large set, so it follows that the most cards in my list are from Invasion. Several of the cards listed here do not fit adequately into a given modern deck, like Recoil or Meteor Storm. Of course, you could build one. Other cards seem to have an appropriate niche, but then get skipped over, like Wash Out, which has to be one of the Most Underplayed Cards. Anyways, enter the Invasion.
People have been calling Elephant Guide the "Best Creature Enchantment Since Armadillo Cloak." Which means that the Cloak is better, or else they’d call the Cloak the "Best Creature Enchantment Since Rancor." So if the Cloak is better, than why are G/W decks playing with the Guide? I mean, trample and life gain is much better than +1/+1. Yeah, the Guide makes a token – but the Cloak does more now, and that is what Magic has always been about. Doing more stuff quickly.
Yeah, I played ’em in my Type Two deck at Amateurs. And I had some strange glances go my way. But then, as people watched them being played, they realized that this is still a good card. It’s a bit of a throwback, but I stand by it as a viable choice in today’s environment.
Extending the "Mutation" Theme, the Aura Mutation may very well be a great secret for G/W’s Sideboard. So forget I mentioned anything.
Death or Glory
I want you to ask yourself, "Self, what kind of deck could best abuse Death or Glory?" Your answer would involve white, lots of creatures, no way to recur, and a deck that had creatures dying a lot. That sounds a awful lot like, oh, White Weenie to me.
The more creatures that are played, the better Exclude becomes. And creatures are played a lot right now. A lot.
This was initially seen in the sideboard against Opposition… But with Lavamancer, Safekeepers, Rootwallas, Looters, Birds, Elves, and Opposition all still out there, maybe you can find a nice home for Mr. Pointy in a sideboard again.
With all of the Madness and Threshold needed, you’d think the Storm would get more play. Ah yes – and Meteor Storm is in one color that can abuse Madness the most, and another color that needs an enabler. Maybe you should be the one to discard a Rootwalla and Fiery Temper in order to deal four to something, and give your Werebear Threshold. Berserk/Giant Growth never had it this good.
Have we really come so far that a 3/3 for three is bad? Are we that jaded? With all of the Calls being tossed around like confetti at a strip club on Mardi Gras, you’d think the Panther would have a home in G/W. At least I’d think so. Here is a 3/3 that kills all creatures south of four toughness. And it costs all of three mana. That’s a good deal.
The Other Blue Common. It enables Madness-Happy People to discard a-go-go, and it can grab two from your opponent. It can leave a more control U/B deck open, of course, but your U/B deck doesn’t have to be so control.
It Zings, and I like cards that Zing. It can bounce anything, which is a nice bonus over the alternatives. Plus, with no cards in your opponent’s hand, it plays better than a Vindicate. I like it because it is fast and dangerous. Plus, in a more traditional control deck, which needs bounce for any permanent that gets by a counter shield, it runs rings around Repulse. Maybe not a card for ‘Tog, but definitely worth keeping on the radar screen.
Are you missing another counter or two? Do you hate to play control without creature kill? Tired of Edicts having less effect because that Roar player also has Mongrels and Rootwallas? Serra Angel in the midst of WW giving you a frowny face? Exclude not getting the job done? Then you need Spite. Buy now, and you get a Malice for free!
A great creature for that more aggressive U/B deck with the Probes and stuff. Pro Green is good. And why not try to Merfolk it up while you’re at it, with Lord and his entourage. Your fortune cookie reads: "Quick Beats post-Upheaval make for interesting times."
Card advantage puts you on the path to victory. Void can give you card advantage. Or it can save your tailbone. Void can kill things or clean out a hand. Maybe both. Handy for matches where a lot of the casting costs for creatures are even. Like White Weenie or U/G.
Sending back a bunch of small green creatures, except for that Mongrel which turned blue? A $5 Bribe. Postcarding a horde of bird tokens? A game win. Showing a bunch of Nightmare Creatures the way out? A Pivotal Moment of Zen. Mailing a letter sealed with the dashed hopes of your opponent playing Quiet Roar? Priceless.
Planeshift will go down in my books as The Set That Time Forgot. There are zounds of quality uncommon and commons in this set; it’s not my favorite set, but it’s solid, so I have a soft spot for ye lode set. From Charms to Battlemagi and all points in between, this is a flavorful set. Anyways, here is the understated Planeshift:
Nothing says "Leave my stuff alone!" like Confound. Since U/G has problems with tokens getting bounced, I’d think that having a way of drawing a card and stopping bounce simultaneously, for only two mana, might be useful. Maybe.
I like the Panther in Hunting Grounds as a way of protecting/bouncing your stuff to your hand. Play it to grab that Snake/FTK/Meddling Mage/Dralnu’s Pet (just kidding) back. And it’s a cheap 3/4. I like cheap. Always have.
Draw a card, and take out a Shade permanently against Mono-Black? And it can single-handedly stop something from attacking? From now on? Where do I sign up? Hobble is the little engine that could. With so little enchantment kill around, look for Hobble to take out something. Even if your opponent has to bounce it back to his hand, you used a card to draw a card and slow down your opponent. Better than a Repulse. And that is the worst case scenario. Hobble can be a lot better, of course. A lot better.
March of Souls
I used it as my Wrath of God in an Opposition deck, and it worked marvelously. It’s splashable, plus you have lots of little baby Icies left over. If you have a bunch of Squirrels out, this will make them better. After death, Squirrels apparently learn how to fly. Besides, which would you rather play against, 6/6 flying Wurms of Doom, or 1/1 flying Spirits of Love and Chocolate?
We all know that red sucks these days… So why not take advantage of that fact? Red can deal two damage early, but Rage is way too slow these days. So, Strafe that Infiltrator, Elephant Token, Rootwalla, and so forth. This card will take out a lot of creatures running around, and it costs all of one red mana.
Probably not for what you would initially think. Instead G/W might be able to shoot down a Wonder-laden-Wurm. Yeah, Wing Snare might be better. But this guy swings/blocks and can draw you some cards with a Blue Mana; not the worst sideboard card I’ve ever seen.
You would think that a two mana instant”Kill Something” spell would just see more play. I understand that R/B isn’t the color combination of choice right now, but why not? FTK, Lavamancer, Terminate, Duress, Haunting Echoes, Edict, Burn; What’s not to like?
Continuing the Planeshift theme is this little gem. Annoying artifacts and unsightly two-toughness creatures have you down? Don’t worry, order Thornscape Battlemage today! It can even sheer off two points of life from your opponent’s head! Grab a set now, before they are all gone. It fits best in a G/R deck. G/W has better options, of course. G/R/W would be ideal. I hear Birds might help.
Voice of All
Planeshift may very well have had the best uncommons of any recent set. And Voice of All was one of the better ones. Here we have a 2/2 Flyer than has the protection of your choice. It fits it more controllish style decks, although a WW deck might toss it out there for the mirror. The Voice used to see play in the sideboards of Invasion-era decks: You’d bring it in against a deck with most of its removal or creatures in one color. Now, mind you, that this was Invasion Block, where every deck had nine colors. Since then, the environment has sped up, and duo-tone decks are all the rage. That should make the Angel even better. Imagine a Pro: Green flyer? A Pro White flyer? A Pro: Blue flyer? Well you can have them all, for only 19.95, with four mana shipping and handling. Man is the Voice a card that is, er, crying out to be heard.
Of the Invasion block sets, probably Apocalypse ranks number one on most people’s power list. As such, there are a large number of cards still seeing play – from Deed to Spiritmonger to Mystic Snake to Prophetic Bolt to Fire/Ice to Life/Death to Goblin Trenches to painlands to Phyrexian Arena to Phyrexian Rager to Lightning Angel. too. But there are still a few overlooked cards:
I hear that Opposition is a good deck that needs something to put it over the edge. I hear that Opposition needs lots of creatures to work. I hear that Opposition needs to gain time to set up. I hear that Anther Mutation does all of the above.
Has U/G become so Madness-Inbred that a simple 2/2 flyer for two is beneath it? This is good material here, folks; make sure you play it. Opposition might have a use for it as well, since it’s cheap and easy. And if there is anything that I like more than cheap, it’s easy. You don’t need to discard Wonder, or have a Madness Enabler out, or happen to draw…. You just need the card, and the mana.
Did you ever play Type One? Get upset by a Hymn? Do you think Stupor is too powerful? The Verdict is in, and Gerrard is pissed. It used to be that black decks would splash white for cards like this. But, I think the opposite is good today. Try tossing in some black lands and Verdicts/Vindicates, and tell me your games don’t come out smelling clean and refreshing!
These are some card combos out there in Invasion block that could easily warrant a looksee. Here are those I recommend off the top of my head:
Blazing Specter + Crypt Angel + Sengir Vampire + FTK
So toss in the above creatures, maybe a Skizzik or two, and then add Terminates, Duress, Edicts, Firebolts and maybe that Void you see above. You have a nasty little deck. The main problem is that this deck needs a bunch of Invasion-era rares, so if you are low on those, you may continue to be low on them if you don’t want to trade for these cards.
Cameos + Diamonds + Wildfire
Nobody expects it. I played around with a Wildfire deck a few months ago on Magic Online. It worked, but absolutely needed Cameos to function. With Fire Diamonds, Cameos, and so forth, plus Pillage, Stone Rain, and big 3/3 Flyers that become Shivans with Threshold, the deck gelled quite easily. Never worked well if your opponent expected it, but LD can go a ways in this environment.
Cavern Harpy + Doomsday Specter + Nightscape Familiar
Toss in Vodalian Zombie, Lord of Atlantis, a few 187 critters like, say, Gravedigger, Ragers, Crypt Angel, Dakmor Lancer, Battlemagi, or maybe Bloodstock or something. Probe and Recoil would fit as well. Upheaval would add spice.
Dralnu’s Pet + Draco + Hypnox + Zombify
Yeah, you never wanted to Death a Draco back… But the printing of Zombify fixed that. Now you can pitch that big ol’ nasty critter to a Pet, and recur it the following turn as well. 6/6 flying tokens have nothing on a Hypnox’d Pet. Or on a Hypnox. Other thematic cards might be Laquatus’s Champion, Cabal Ritual, Buried Alive, Entomb, Twilight’s Call, and so forth.
Orim’s Chant + Howling Mine + Holistic Wisdom + Cunning Wish
Solitary Confinement is too bulky. Dance with the girl that brung ya. Cunning Wish for Instant, play Instants for the Wisdom; Chant for fun. I loathe combo, but this combo looks like fun. And Chant has come down a bit in price with its lack of playtime.
Strength of Night/Deadapult + Lord of the Undead
While working the Merfolk theme, go take a gander at the Zombies. This is a strong Zombie era, with a lot of Zombie lovin’ available. Pair your Zombies with green or red for that extra special spice. Nightscape Familiar, Grave Defiler, Maggot Carrier, Lava Zombie, Pyre Zombie and Shivan Zombie or Llanowar Dead, Crypt Keeper, and so forth. If you go with the red version, then you can play those Terminates. Bring out the dead.
Teferi’s Moat + Morningtide
Yeah, Morningtide isn’t really a Invasion block card but this really seems to tweak my mental muscles. Teferi’s Moat something like, say, green. Then, should Wonders come down, just Morningtide them away. Toss in Wash Out, Counterspell, Absorb, Wrath of God, Serra Angel, Persuasion, Fact or Fiction – Why isn’t a Neo-U/W "The Deck" style control deck functioning? I think it could. Morningtide may be the lynchpin for the deck. Oh yeah, Morningtide protects U/W from Haunting Echoes, which may have been the silver bullet vs. U/W in the past.
Oh, yes – I almost forgot my super secret tech. A card that should still be played. A card that will be forever remembered as environment-changing. It looked so innocuous, and yet it was so devastating.
Fires of Yavimaya
Come on, you had to know this was coming. Of course I would bring out Fires for all to see. Just think of the possibilities: Grizzly Fate, Shivan Wurm, Flametongue Kavu, Wild Mongrel, Phantom Centaur, Birds, Elves, Call of the Heard, Roar of the Wurm, Spellbane Centaur, Kavu Titan, Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, Thornscape Battlemage. Shivan Dragon! What more do you need to know?