10. Jester’s Cap

Back in my day, taking actions that advanced the game state forward took a distant back seat to literally Twiddling one’s Scepter. As such, decks didn’t exactly tend to boast a multitude of win conditions. For the low low price of six mana, one could therefore quite easily turn a “pick three” into a “gg.”

9. Silt Crawler

If you think that a 3/3 with a drawback for 2 or 3 mana is the going rate for middling-tier Limited filler, take a gander at these here Spectral Bears. With apologies to MichaelJ and his legendary Gnarled Mass, Mr. Siltastic was the Constructed Trained Armodon of choice during the entire Masques Block season, bridging the gap between activating Rishadan Port and burying your opponent in a flurry of Wumpi (Hunted Wumpus), Saprolings (Saproling Burst), and whatever the hell Blastoderm is.

8. Phyrexian Colossus

“Do you REALIZE that if you Tinker this out AND also have Voltaic Key it’s like it has NO DRAWBACK?”

“But what if you don’t have Voltaic Key?”

“Just pay 8 life and block their guy! Card advantage AND Tempo Advantage!”

“But what if they have removal?”



“…What is removal?”

7. Suq’ata Lancer

Remember them Spectral Bears? They tore up a format where not one but two of the top 4 decks were excited to jam this guy: a MIGHTY 2/2 haste for 3. But lest you think our boy here is some mere Goblin Chariot, take a look at what happens *if* the opponent dares to block!

This legendary combination of statistics (“stats” being the common piece of terminology) and abilities (“abils” being the common piece of terminology) merited its inclusion in the top-8 of a tournament where Tolarian Academy, Necropotence, Time Spiral, Yawgmoth’s Will, Windfall, and Manta Riders were all legal.

6. Gerrard’s Wisdom

A common endeavor in the early days of Magic involved an attempt to ascertain the ideal exchange rate between cards (“card advantage”) and life (“life advantage”). Would you take a six-card hand to start at 25 life? 28? 69? The powerful Gerrard’s Wisdom obliterated that dichotomy by asking, “Why not both?”

5. Cognivore

Many early Magic decks included the powerful but symmetrical enchantment Oath of Druids to ‘cheat out’ expensive, game-ending creatures like Spike Feeder, Spike Weaver, and even the mighty Phelddagrif.

A common ‘trick’ was to include Gaea’s Blessing in your deck, enabling you to (say) sacrifice Feeder for an irrecoverable 4 life points and continue the Oath train with only 2-3 creatures in your deck. Cognivore, however, enabled an entirely different path: flip your deck into the graveyard (ideally milling a copy of Anger, typically provoking an analogous sentiment in one’s opponent) and just killing them.

4. Chimeric Idol

If you thought Big Silty Silts was the zenith of exchanging a tappy tappy for a slappy slappy, you got a whole thing coming. “Above-Rate” creature? Can’t Wrath it? Play it in any color? Lets Veteran Brawlers block?! ::large string of alternating heart-eye and starry-eye emojis::

3. Aquamoeba

While it’s more well-known cousin Wild Mongrel briefly held the title “Greatest Two-Drop Of All Time” for its prismatically-refined capacity to dodge powerhouses like Strafe and Ghastly Demise alike, Aquamoeba offered players the over-statted option of either a 1/3 or a 3/1 for the low low price of two mana and a measly card a turn. Also there may have been some mechanic called “Madness” involved, but with manabases like this one, let’s be real: none of us were actually casting our spells.

2. Scalding Tongs

The art of sideboarding in Magic involves selecting from amongst the hundreds of cards in the format fifteen of the best spells for a given particular matchup—even of those spells might not be generally good across the distribution of the metagame. Occasionally, however, as in this example from Pro Tour Los Angeles, the power of a sideboard card might be so overwhelming as to merit its inclusion in the maindeck.

Scalding Tongs is clearly such an example, pairing overwhelming rate with clinical efficiency. In case it wasn’t clear, the low curve of the deck (with its decided lack of inclusion of three-mana activated abilities that require cards in hand as well as the total absence of four-drops that require you to sacrifice lands) ensures you don’t ‘strand’ cards in your hand, which would sacrifice the game-altering ‘inevitability’ secured by such a powerful accumulation of damage over time.

1. Morphling

Morphling held—for years—the title of unequivocal and unparalleled best creature in the game. You can’t kill it. You can’t block it. You can’t attack through it. What isn’t there to like? Oh btw: ready to put damage on the stack? Aaaaahahahaha lol yeah don’t ask.

Zac Hill is the Chief Operating Officer of The Office of American Possibilities, a venture studio for civic moonshots. OAP’s projects have included initiatives like Welcome.us, the COVID Collaborative, and 24/7: The People’s Filibuster for Gun Safety. A Pro Tour mainstay for a decade, Zac scored a Top 8 at Pro Tour Honolulu 2009 before heading in-house to become a Lead Game Designer of Magic: The Gathering and Magic: Duels. He returned to the Pro Tour in the broadcast booth from 2011-2014. Zac’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Believer, The Huffington Post, DailyMTG, StarCityGames.com, and The New Atlantis. He lives in Washington DC.

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