I know I’m a little behind the times on this one, but the whole “Top 8 Magic Cards” thing that blew up on Twitter a few weeks ago popped into my head recently, as I was preparing to give a talk to a couple grades’ worth of Magic players at a school in Brooklyn. (I did that yesterday, and it was awesome; I’ll be writing about the experience soon.) But I thought it would be fun to get the kids involved, and that asking them to come up with their Top 8 Cards lists would be a great way to do that. So, of course, I had to make my own! Here they are, in autobiographical order:


1. Force of Nature—This one was hard to choose, but Revised is when I started playing, so I felt like I had to choose a card from that set. Of course, all the black cards were out, as a requirement from my and my buddy’s parents to let us play was that we immediately throw out all the black cards, because of the devil. At any rate, I remember Ol’ Forcey here as being just the biggest, baddest thing ever. And, honestly, it’s not that terrible of a card by today’s standards, either. Sure, the upkeep cost is prohibitive, but you could even theoretically play him on T6, take a hit from him so that you can develop your board more on T7, and then ride the 8/8 until either he or your opponent dies.


2. Orzhova, the Church of Deals—Guildpact is when I got back into the game after a long absence, and man was Ravnica block fun. One thing that really captured my attention, flavor-wise, was the Orzhov Syndicate. I thought that the idea of a church which was actually a sort of morally bankrupt mafia-type organization was just brilliant flavor, and a perfect blend of black and white. Maybe I had some leftover bitterness from my childhood regarding the church, too, which made me take a little gleeful pleasure at the image of the corrupted Orzhov priests.


3. Transguild Courier—This card was the first that got my Johnny-meter pinging. The Nephilim, a cycle of legendary four-color creatures, were in Guildpact, while Dissension had cards like Blessing of the Nephilim and Might of the Nephilim, which gave big boosts to creatures depending on how many colors they were. TC is all colors, so a Might of the Nephilim cast on him produces an incredible +10/+10! I played TC in a casual-ish deck alongside four copies of Quickchange, so that I could turn any of my other creatures into All The Colors, too. I have zero idea whether or not the deck was in any way competitive—it probably wasn’t—but it was a lot of fun to play.


4. Krovikan Mist—I played in the Coldsnap prerelease at Neutral Ground, back in its old location, and at that time prereleases were done more like tournaments, with an eventual winner. I played five rounds of Coldsnap sealed with five-count-’em-five of this illusion in my deck, and man was that sweet; each copy was often a 3/3 or more, if memory serves. I won the tournament at 5-0, and kept the final standings sheet with me at No. 1; it’s still in my land box to this day. My last-round opponent, Damon, was a real sweetheart, and he and I grew to be very good friends. He and I even happened to be playing cards together in my apartment on the night my building caught fire.


5. Acid Web Spider—For a while I played mostly casually, with Damon and other friends. We played at a deli in the shadow of the Chrysler Building, in formats like tribal (I still have my Advisors deck, which was so awesome and frustrating to play against) and 60-card casual/chaos. Then I went to my first Grand Prix, in Toronto, which was during Scars of Mirrodin. On Day One I finished at a disappointing 6-2-1, but on Day Two I played in a PTQ, which in those days (man I think I’m sounding a bit like Grandpa Simpson here) they had on GP Sundays for those who didn’t make Day Two; that was vastly better than the Super Sunday Series, in my opinion.

At any rate, I made a great run with my GW deck in that PTQ, and felt—perhaps for the first time—that I was playing perfectly: calm, collected, cool, in control. The best part of that tournament was when my opponent was beating me down with a Sword of Body and Mind–equipped creature, and a friend of mine was standing behind me watching our match, nervous that I was about to die. Instead my opponent passed the turn back, and I very deliberately drew the top card of my deck: Acid Web Spider. Down went the Sword, and I was off to the races. Though I lost my win-and-in for the Top 8 of the PTQ, this tournament really lit my competitive fire.


6. Dinrova Horror—A couple of years ago, I was in LA for work and to visit some friends, and between the two I was able to draft at Emerald Kings. The shop was really nice, but the competition was soft, and I 3-0’d with basically the most insane Dimir Gatecrash deck I’ve ever had. Literally no one was in those colors, and I got this card, Dinrova Horror, something like 13th-pick. I really enjoyed Gatecrash, which also happened to be the set during which I made my first GP Day Two, on the back of a strong Boros deck. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Gatecrash—I currently have two undrafted boxes under my desk at work—and one big reason why was because of how fun it was to draft the orphan guild Dimir. The deck was maybe objectively the worst guild, but because of that, nine times out of 10, literally no one would be drafting UB, and so you could get some insane decks.


7. Minotaur Skullcleaver—This card comes from probably my pinnacle match of Magic thus far. It’s the finals of a PTQ during the Theros/Born of the Gods season, and I’m playing to go to my first-ever Pro Tour. It’s just me and my opponent, the judge, and the owner left in a shop that previously had about 200 people in it. We’re in a close game three, and I rip Minotaur Skullcleaver to provide the final four damage against my tapped-out opponent—who, it might be noted, tried to angle-shoot me by asking the judge if I had to announce my trigger to get the +2/+0, something that I think the currently seventh-ranked player in the world would know. Ahem.


8. Hornet Queen—Last but not least, my Pro Tour Magic 2015 hero, Hornet Queen. After starting off GW in pack one, first-picking a Triplicate Spirits, I was incredibly passed a second- or third-pick Hornet Queen in pack two. I rode this bad boy and its cohorts to 3-0 my pod, which let me off the hook in Standard, a format I’m not super experienced with. I made Day Two with a 5-3 record and, when I came back to draft again, who was looking back at me for pack one, pick one? Hornet Queen herself. I drafted a strong RG deck and very nearly double 3-0’d the draft portion of the Pro Tour, but alas! My luck ran out in the third round, and I had to settle for a 5-1 finish overall in Limited. Not bad at all, and I got the occasional nickname Hornet King from my run.

Hope you enjoyed my Top 8 Magic cards! I’d love to hear yours, and I look forward to adding more cards—and stories—to this list in the future. Also, see you guys this weekend at GP Atlantic City! If you see me, be sure to say hello!

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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