Magic: the Gathering is a game best enjoyed with almost any number of people. When you play, you can end up facing a deck that is outright stronger than yours. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the fact that sometimes, it’s because of one specific card. This one card can change the course of a game, or even end it. As avid Magic: the Gathering fans, we’d like to offer you to have a look at some of Magic’s most powerful cards…
… That aren’t banned!
Before we get into this though, we just wanted to say these aren’t factually the most powerful cards out there. These are some powerful game changers that we’ve either experienced or have knowledge about. There may be (definitely are) more powerful ones out there.
10) Ob Nixilis the Fallen
This card may be more powerful than we’re giving it credit for, but when you consider how easy it is to handle, we didn’t put it any higher. Ob Nixilis the Fallen is a 5 Converted Mana Cost (CMC) 6/6 demon who deals 3 damage and gets 3 +1/+1 counters placed on it when you play a land. Couple this with a card as simple as Evolving Wilds, which is a land that allows you to sacrifice it to search for a land and put that on the battlefield, there’s 6 damage and 6 1/1 counters immediately.
I know the power of this card; at a 6/6, he’s too big for a lot of basic red spells. Black has a few destroys and White has a few situational destroys. Blue can counter it and green can out-size it if they get it early. The real power of Ob is he doesn’t need to lift a finger. You can throw hexproof on him, sit back and just enjoy the absurd size he’ll ramp up to. Trust me, as I have him in my Landfall deck, pairing him with The Gitrog Monster and World Shaper, now THAT is brutality.
9) Battle of the Hydras
Green likes big monsters, green makes big monsters and makes big monsters bigger. It’s monsters like hydras that exemplify green’s ethos, you create a mass of land and fuel an unimaginable horror. Here are three of the biggest and scariest, vote for your favourite at the end:
Think twice about casting spells, especially in multiplayer games, because a Managorger gets out of hand quickly, especially when a red and/or blue deck is in play, and spells are being dropped on the field like it’s raining fire… and rain. It tramples, it costs three mana, and left to sit and stew unchallenged it is a nightmare.
Seems costly, but here’s another Hydra that takes very little effort to spiral out of control, especially with the vast mana output of your average green deck. A pair of Dictates of Karametra means every mana you tap doubles this beasty. Prepare to ask uncomfortable questions like “how many zeroes define a trillion” (it’s 24).
Finally, another costly one, but in terms of explosive growth, Broodmaster’s “Monstrous” ability takes a big monster, and as well as making it bigger, give it some big and scary friends. You can cheaply give yourself a 1/1, but put some backbone into that mana output and give yourself a pack of 8/8 nasties sitting alongside big momma 15/15. Then make ‘em trample.
It sounds pretty feeble to say that a Tarmogoyf can maximise at 8/9 assuming you’ve optimised its potential, and has no keywords that make it more daunting. It’s a 0/1 creature that grows for every card type in every graveyard, meaning it’ll average around a 3/4 (creatures, instants and sorceries are the most likely to end up in the graveyard) but it can grow with a little effort.
But it costs a mere 2 mana… for a creature that averages 3/4… Most “2 drops” are half that, less with a keyword, usually only 1/1 or thereabouts if they have a power of any interest, meaning an average ‘Goyf should cost twice what it does. Now throw the occasional enchantment or Giant Growth onto that horror and it’s an early game bomb that tips the scales heavily in your direction before the game is properly under way.
Previously relegated to the honourables list for being several cards instead of one, and in truth there aren’t many if any that are particularly powerful in their own right. With a few Slivers you have a cruel host that boost one another’s stats and adds keywords like Trample and Deathtouch. The bigger and nastier Slivers can be pulled from the library, make them indestructible, and make every one that comes into play steal something of your opponent’s.
They are the ultimate tribal synergy, lacking the restrictions of allies, more diverse than humans, and packing a punch more deadly than elves. And they simply don’t die… not in game, I mean historically speaking, Slivers just keep reappearing in new sets, these days it tends to be in Master’s sets, but there’s always new Core on the horizon.
6) Deathrite Shaman
Graveyards are a resource in the right hands, that is why the ability to exile cards became a growing necessity. Your undead minions can be returned to unlife, your expended spells are not as lost as they seem, and one short Delve can make an obscenely high cost disgustingly low. And the right card can also feed off the graveyards of others.
Have rid of a creature that you don’t want coming back, and use it to feed your life total. Be rid of that flashback or split card and deal some damage in the process, or just bolster your own resources by getting rid of land that wasn’t even yours. All of these abilities are tragically cheap, and the fact that the Shaman has to tap for it is its greatest limitation. But for the cost, it adds versatility and power in the early game that’s hard to rival.
Everybody loves mill decks right? What says fun quite like watching your entire library pour into your deck while your life remains relatively untouched? Oh boy, do you need to draw more cards to keep your immediate options open? Sure you don’t want to leave your cards in your library where they’re safe? Does writing an entire paragraph in rhetorical questions helping emphasize exactly how bad milling feels?
Traumatize in a mill deck is relatively high cost at five mana, but it very literally cuts your work in half, a single cast halves your opponent’s deck, meaning all those little cards like Mind Sculpts and Manic Scribe have gone from mild problems that have banished your favourites just tantalisingly out of reach (unless your a black deck, but your graveyard isn’t invulnerable), and worse yet, if you’re already under the influence of a Fraying Sanity then that Traumatize is suddenly as good as an instant-win.
4) Snapcaster Mage
Blue is a colour that wants to control the pace of a game. They want to make sure you don’t get your actions off the way you’d want. They may counter your cards, they may return cards to your hands, or outright take control of them. Blue loves to mess with you and watch you as you waste your mana. So then when Snapcaster Mage was introduced, blue players were completely at ease with their control game.
An expensive card to buy, Snapcaster Mage has a lot of power for quite cheap. At 3 mana, you get a 2/1 with Flash. 2/1 isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s the fact it has Flash that makes this so special. At any point, you can cast this and trigger its main ability. You choose an instant or sorcery card from within your graveyard and give it Flashback until the end of the turn. Your opponents rallied back up? Aetherspouts. Your opponents have a powerful card incoming? Cancel. You name it, you can get it if it’s already in your graveyard.
This creature is a great way to keep the magic flowing.
3) Lightning Bolt
The humble tool of red. The humble, painful tool. Let me explain something real quick; one mana can sometimes summon in a 2/2 creature… and a 3/3 at a push. Therefore, Lightning Bolt in turn 1 has a check against pretty much every creature that comes into play on turn one. However, some creatures that cost 4, 5, 6 mana only have 3 toughness. With one red mana, Lightning Bolt deals with them.
Naturally, Lightning Bolt doesn’t have to be cast on a creature. Indeed, players and Planeswalkers are equally doomed. However, it’s worth pointing out that when a Planeswalker is played, the player playing it technically gets priority so can use a Planeswalker ability as soon as it comes onto the field. Nevertheless, it’s still 3 damage which can be flung around with ease. Many creatures aren’t safe and 3 damage is more than a tenth of your life total in a one vs one game… On turn 1. For 1 mana.
Remember that Planeswalker rule, guys…
It’s easy to forget that for some decks, life is no mere countdown timer to death, but as much a resource as mana, creatures, library and the contents of one’s graveyard. Black decks in particular are masters at using every part of the animal, so do not easily dismiss Thoughtseize for digging a chunk out of your life. For a single mana you can pull a nasty tooth from your opponent’s hand.
Most cards of the ilk, like Duress or Divest limit your options to certain card types, meaning that while you can see that big horrible spell or creature that you’d really rather be elsewhere, you may not be able to do anything about it. Thoughtseize has a high price, but it’s still an early game advantage, slows the pace of progress for your opponent, and it’s not like you won’t be getting that life back any time soon.
1) Jace, the Mind Sculptor
… Remember that Planeswalker rule, guys?
This was the topic of some debate between Joel and I when we came up with this list. Once we realised the way that Planeswalker priority worked, we realised this already ridiculous card just topped the list. Oh and to make it better, this card was originally banned, but has since come out of the ban list on every format that it’s playable in. This is mostly due to a couple of blocks coming out with new ways to deal with Planeswalkers.
However, play cards from other sets and you limit your potential to deal with these nasty cards. Sure, you can counter them and sure, creatures can kill them, but let’s not pretend that makes Jace a push-over. With a base loyalty of 3 and with its first ability being a +2, it’s no wonder this guy can survive pretty well. However, if anyone gets to that -12, it’s definitely game over.
Remember that bit where I said “… That aren’t banned!”? I do too, so let’s talk about two fun examples of banned cards that are ridiculous. One of them is the undisputed king of power; the other isn’t a card, but it’s something we really do need to discuss, as it’s a well known part of Magic…
The undisputed most powerful card in all of Magic: the Gathering; the ability to get a lot for absolutely nothing. You get 3 mana of any one colour just by tapping this 0 mana artifact and sacrificing it. There’s a really easy way to describe how powerful this card is…
Remember earlier how we mentioned Lightning Bolt was 1 mana for 3 damage to any target? Imagine on turn 1 playing that card, converting all of the mana to red mana and then doing three of those in one hit. Oh, but then you may have played one mana that turn and you may potentially have your fourth Lightning Bolt in hand. That means, on turn 1, that’s theoretically possible to do 12 damage to your opponent, just because you had this card. Another 8 damage and you win in a one vs one game. Naturally this is an extremely unlikely scenario, but it’s not impossible.
The power of Black Lotus is insane. However, this card is outright banned across the board, with the exception of a Restricted status in Vintage.
Oh – And this card is rare and expensive as hell.
Emrakul the Aeons Torn
The power of Emrakul is legendary… And the only way for her to not be a threat anymore was for her to be banished to the moon.
Anyway, ignoring the actual implications behind the card, this cthulhu-esque creature is effectively the most powerful card of the Eldrazi. These otherworldly beings are absurd with their Annihilator keyword, allowing them to force you to remove permanents from your side of the field, just when they attack. This means that they’re removed before anything else happens, so you can’t even defend with something that’s about to evaporate.
Emrakul did come with a hefty cost at 15 CMC, but that’s not the end of her world. What made her truly terrifying was how easy it was to summon Eldrazi Spawns. Couple this with the powerful and versatile enchantment Doubling Season, Emrakul would have all of her Spawns sacrificed and she comes in, uncounterable. She gives her user an extra turn and she has protection from coloured spells. Basically, Emrakul is power.
However, we were going to add her to the main list, until we discovered she was banned from Commander. Following our own rules, we couldn’t have a card even this absurdly powerful in our main list, as it is banned in a format.
This is our End Phase, for we’ve checked out some of the most powerful cards in Magic: the Gathering. Whilst this list wasn’t grounded in factual evidence, a lot of the above is through our knowledge of the game. Yes, there are more powerful cards out there, such as the whole of the Power Nine, but these are real game-changers. Now, it’s time for you to change our game by voting for next week’s Top 10.
Another week has passed and hoo boy, am I ever exhausted? I think I’m tapped out. Perhaps I’ve spent all of my mana this turn. So tell me, what is your CMC and what are your favourite powerful cards in Magic: the Gathering? Perhaps you play a similar Trading Card Game which has equally absurd cards? Share your thoughts and comments below, or over on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Can’t afford the millions of cards required to get competitive at Magic? Don’t have space for a collection, or friends with decks? Well why not play Hearthstone?
I kid, I haven’t played Hearthstone either. I hear it’s free, but I look at a multiplayer game that big and I’m immediately put off, and to be honest I haven’t been enthralled by a Blizzard game in decades, the lore is lost on me and their style doesn’t draw me in like it used to when I was younger.
I had been dipping into Mojang’s card-game analogue Scrolls for quite some time, it had some great mechanics, but like everything that they try and do that isn’t Minecraft, it vanished in obscurity. Gwent sits firmly on my to-do list, but it does so along with the rest of the Witcher trilogy which I keep trying to get back into, alongside a few dozen other computer collectable card games that ought to be tried at some point, one day. (more…)
There are a lot of companies out there that promote gaming in all shapes and sizes; from video game companies, to board game companies, tabletop wargaming and oh so much more. Recently, Jake and I went for a trip to Cardiff, as we were just sight seeing, but we wanted to go and find a shop as per the suggestion of a friend through Facebook. We decided to seek out Firestorm Games, a shop that’s out of the way, but within a short walking distance of Cardiff station – and boy oh boy, was it ever worth the visit?
We’re big fans of Magic: The Gathering here on GeekOut South-West. We play it ’til there’s nothing left of it to play. From a casual game with friends to full blown lore facts, this game has it all and we love it. It frequently appears in our Top 10 articles and makes for a good article too.
But how do you get to the position of building many random decks in the first place? How do people end up with so many cards? Well you may (or may not) be surprised that I myself have over 1,500 MTG cards that I keep in a massive box. Why do I have so many of them and what do I do with them all? I have them thanks to booster boxes and I use them to make casual decks.
Sometimes the decks turn out great, with a lot of character behind them. But more often than not, they become a curiosity for a few games – Something to throw friends off with. I am best known for my white enchantment deck, which I call Keyword Ascension, but lately that’s felt like it’s too much to play with. So, I have built a good number of casual decks. From my Red/Green Werewolves to my Blue/Green ‘Kitchen Sink’, there’s a deck for all play styles.
With this said, there’s a lot of decks that just don’t work out. However, one booster box can turn that deck that just didn’t work into a real thoroughbred. For instance, when I was building my Keyword Ascension deck, I had a Zendikar block booster box. I believe it was Worldwake, which then introduced me to the Kor Spiritdancer – Who I immediately threw into my deck. Not only was she a perfect complement to my deck, she’s one of my main creatures!
This month, we bought another booster box. As a disclaimer, this is not cheap, but it is certainly cheaper than buying individual booster packs. The booster boxes can set you back typically between £70-£90 and you can probably get a better deal from a local games shop. It’s worth looking around, but a booster box contains 36 booster packs. Due to the sheer size and cost of this, I always like to buy a booster box with someone else – In my case, recently I have been buying booster boxes with my partner.
It’s a satisfying experience, opening all of those boosters and finding the rarest cards in there. This month’s booster box was from the Eldritch Moon set, which quickly revealed a card called Lilianna, the Last Hope. Just a couple of days before the box arrived, Jake and I discussed how he needed Lilianna in his zombie deck. As well as the power of the new zombies he got in the new box, he now has a pretty competitive zombie deck. There’s always a flip side to this kind of purchase though…
See, next month, a new block comes out. A block in Magic: the Gathering terms is a group of card sets which make up a theme/story. When I first got into MTG, the block was the Zendikar block, where these monstrous creatures were suddenly appearing. They were called the Eldrazi – and now, 4 years later, they’re back. They’re a lot more manageable now…
… and what about next month? I guess we wait and see what Kaladesh holds for us. Maybe we could do one more booster box..? So what do you think about booster boxes? Are they a waste of money, or is it the real way to collect Magic: the Gathering cards? What about building decks from them? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
So, you’ve decided to finally take the financial plunge that is Magic: the Gathering and you want to know what to look out for when making your first deck. Recently, I invested in my third ever booster box which doesn’t come cheap – So join me as I look at building decks in Magic: the Gathering and some hints and tips I like to share with people.
Love it or hate it, Magic: The Gathering is the biggest collectible card game going. Though it suffers major criticisms such as its’ pay-to-win format and a certain amount of elitism that many games ultimately foster, it has a lot of factors that make it a far more interesting and dynamic game than even the basic rules would have you believe. As with any hobby with a social aspect, the best way to enjoy it is with people who’s company you enjoy and who enjoy the game the way you do.
The basics are fairly easy to grasp, Tim did an excellent summary a few weeks back that’ll let you pick up a deck and start playing, and explains many of the terms I use in this article. Building a deck of your own is one of the hardest parts of the game, much like building a character for a roleplay, but it starts in much the same way – a few basic decisions.
There are five colours of mana in MtG, each reflecting a tactical style. Your first deck should reflect your play-style in other games:
Green – The easiest mana type to get to grips with quickly. Green decks accumulate land fast and use it to make big nasty monsters. The little monsters that get left behind often get the opportunity to become massive later, and gain the ability to trample through anything standing in the way of their destructive power. Any of the trickery other colours can be dealt with by destroying enchantments, blocking flying creatures and recovering lost life.
Red – A short term victory or no victory at all! Red excels at damage dealing with little regard to the long term, its’ creatures have high attacking power backed by haste, first- and double-strike to ensure your opponent doesn’t get chance to fight back. You’ll also have a surprising amount of mean tricks up your sleeve like stealing opponents creatures, and massively multiplying your damage output.
White – A white deck plays the long game very well, it ensures you live long enough by massively increasing your life total, protecting it with vigilant creatures, and negating your opponents’ ability to attack. It’s major attack power will often rely on flying birds and angels, or vast numbers of soldiers that overwhelm enemy defences. White decks at their outer-limits become potentially devastating, wiping the board of any obstacle whilst leaving yourself relatively unscathed.
Black – Black decks have vicious strategies that often come with a price. If you’re prepared to lose life, fill your graveyard with your own cards, and generally risk everything early game, you’ll find the benefits to be monumental. You can control a great deal of what your opponent does, steal life from them in large quantities, and generally make life miserable for everyone but you. In the late game you can empty your graveyard onto the battlefield, or pull similar dirty tricks.
Blue – Blue is weird. Blue decks are filled with complex and winding tactics; creatures that fly, or failing that ignore defences altogether; manipulating enemy creatures; manipulating each player’s decks; and generally denying your opponent the ability to cast spells. Blue plays the long game better than White, constantly keeping your opponent on the back-foot while you build towards something… well, weird. Victory for a blue deck is often as alien as their overall strategies.
Most decks are built of one or two colours. A monocolour deck will pursue one tactic relentlessly and highly effectively, but leave it somewhat vulnerable to a more flexible deck. Two colours can compliment each other’s strengths, or offset each other’s weaknesses. For example, Red/Green does big very well, massive monsters that deal a lot of damage, where Red/White can balance attack and defence in fairly equal measures.
Due to the way mana supply is built, three colour decks can often be impractical – even impossible – to play unless you have a supporting cast of cards that support the concept. In fact decks are possible that support all five colours at once, most famously the Sliver deck. Some decks can be colourless, like an Artifact deck, they often support simplistic but insanely potent tactics, like flooding the field with basic creatures.
It’s quite simple to start a deck in theory.
If you only have a small collection then it may be worth rooting through it to find common strategies. This is especially sound planning if you’ve only collected from one or two of the various sets, as each will often offer new or unique strategies, like Bolster from the recent Tarkir block, or Infect from Phyrexia.
If you already have an oversized collection, then your first cards should be your favourites. Say you pull from a new booster a card that you really want to play like a new Planeswalker or some mythic rare card that’s just too tempting not to try. The rest of your deck should build around it, support it, but most importantly NOT depend on it, unless you’re building a Commander deck which can be pretty fun.
Drafting a deck is a great way to get started. The first few cards you pull during the draft will usually determine which colours you pursue from that point on, and of course building a deck from the same set will usually result in supporting strategies.
Filling The Deck
The final deck should include a balance of cards. first and foremost getting the right mana support from your deck. Depending on how many high cost spells your deck has, or abilities that bring mana to your hand, you’ll want an average of one third mana, at the very least one quarter.
The deck should have a balance of spell costs. Most spells should cost between two and four mana to cast, with high mana cost items being kept limited to very few. The best way to check your balance is to draw a few opening hands; if you can cast a spell straight away in most cases then you’re off to a good start, if you can draw a few more cards and cast most turns then even better.
After that it’s time to get into some real games. Some things to look out for: If you rapidly find yourself emptying your hand and ending your turns with lots of untapped mana, you can probably stand a few more expensive cards, or cards that have mana abilities that keep your opponents engaged.
You may never have a finished product, after all M:tG is a constantly changing game that releases new sets on a regular basis to sucker gullible consumers like me to keep buying more. Still it keeps things fresh and interesting for people who play the game regularly.
Not all games are made to include everything in the box. Not all video games are made with all of the content ready. But all games have one thing in common: They’re generally pretty damn fun! However, is it really fun to have games that don’t have all of the required components in the box, or is it just a massive waste of money? We’d argue it’s not always that bad spending money on games that you’ve already poured money into for the base game, I mean some of our favourite games are some of the most expensive games in the world.
Today we want to take a look through what we think is the Top 10 Collectable Games! Join us as we throw all of the cash out of the window as we collect more pieces in the already expensive game of collectable gaming!
Any MTG players in our readership?
Well if you’re not, I recommend jumping on a draft as a great way to learn. With a quick intro to the rules you can use a draft to put together a simple deck and get a few games in with people who are on a similar footing as you. For those who don’t know, this is how you draft:
- Each person starts with three booster packs (15 cards each)
- Everyone opens a pack, takes a card and passes the rest on
- Repeat until all the cards are gone
- Repeat for the other two packs
- By the end, everyone has 45 cards and builds a deck of 40 cards (including lands) and plays
Simple and effective. There’s no spending a fortune on amazing cards, everyone has had the same chances and it’s a great way to learn and play with friends without feeling too keenly for your inexperience.