Welcome back to our retrospective series on every traditional expansion set’s most underplayed, powerful, and unique cards. Today we’re looking at the follow up to Nemesis, and the final set in the Masques block, Prophecy. This is the third and final review for the block, to be paired with that of Nemesis and Mercadian Masques.

Generally speaking, smaller sets can be harder to find hidden treasures within. Still, there’s some pretty sweet stuff in here if you look deep enough. Prophecy, which picks up where Nemesis ends, fairly different than the two previous sets in the Masques block. WotC’s very own Mark Rosewater considers the set among the worst designed in the history of the game, which tracks with the set’s tiny impact on constructed formats during its initial release, and its lackluster limited environment.

Personally, although I’m a big fan of draft, I don’t have a negative opinion of the set. Most very old sets don’t have much power to begin with. Commander isn’t known for having the same desires as 60-card constructed formats. I dove in with no expectations, negative or positive, and here’s what I found!

Only one thing holds back Dual Nature from being a staple of the Commander format: It affects everyone, not just you. Of course, you can still play it, but be careful. This card is still cheap despite being a decades-old rare with no reprints, so consider picking one up!

Five mana might seem like a lot for a creature that isn’t doing anything the turn it comes down. But, one look at the faces of your opponents when they read Greel, Mind Raker will tell you how powerful it is. Considering you already paid five mana for this, you can likely destroy even the most well-stocked hand if you get to untap with it. As a bonus, it’s not restricted to sorcery speed.

If you want land destruction, Keldon Firebombers has you covered. Of course, it hits a bit less hard against artifact ramp, but all land destruction suffers from this weakness. Bonus points if you recur this with reanimation or fetch it out with a creature tutor. Once again, this is a rare without a reprint.

You might be disappointed with Latulla’s Orders at first glance, but look closer and you might think differently. First, you don’t have to control the creature you target with it. Second, even if you don’t control the creature, you still choose the target artifact to destroy. Finally, it has Flash.

You do have to discard two cards, which is a sincere cost, but the reward is pretty sweet. If you consider this can be activated at instant speed and that you can avoid playing into the ability too much, Mageta the Lion is a rather strong piece of anti-creature tech.

This is definitely a good way to punish creature decks, but you can also use this for your own benefit if you’re careful about it. Landfall triggers are one of the easiest ways, but in a set full of spellshapers, having extra cards to discard can be pretty useful. Sadly this one isn’t quite under the radar, as the price tag shows, but Overburden is still pretty cool.

The rhystic cards from Prophecy might not have the best track record, but Rhystic Study is definitely the shining star among them. What is there to say about this card that hasn’t been said? Clearly the designers hadn’t considered multiplayer formats when they put this common rarity card into Prophecy boosters, but given the era when it was printed, I’d hardly call that an oversight.

Longtime fans of Commander might already know what’s up with Spore Frog, but I’ve seen players that just don’t understand until it comes back from the graveyard a dozen times and blanks their attacks every turn. It’s also as generally versatile as a Fog stapled to a creature.

Foil is everyone’s go-to budget replacement for Force of Will, and for good reason: Free counterspells are very strong. An extra way to protect your own combo or stop someone else’s is always worth a look. The cost might be high, you’re using three cards after all, but one hidden benefit is that unlike Force of Will, you’re discarding instead of exiling.

There’s a full cycle of Avatar cards, but most of them are pretty underwhelming. Generally, they’re large, beefy creatures with minor upside and cost reduction. Avatar of Woe, however, is relatively easy to turn on and has an incredibly powerful effect in any game which goes long. It also doesn’t hurt how the rk Post art can stop you in your tracks.

These days Plague Wind is a bit outclassed by boardwipes like In Garruk’s Wake, Decree of Pain, andCyclonic Rift, but it’s still a classic. If you have your own creatures in play and don’t want them dead, Plague Wind has you covered.

If this is only dealing two or three damage to each player, it might not seem like much, but you’ll know when those players still have spells in hand to play on your turn. As a bonus, the mono-blue player holding up a dozen counterspells is going to have a pretty bad time. Looking back, it’s clear that this card was made with mana burn in mind, but it’s still leaving players with a choice to this day: Tap out, or pay the price in blood.

While cards like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots are more direct in how they protect your most valuable creature, Alexi’s Cloak is much more reactive in nature. The biggest downside is that you don’t get to move around the cloak, but the upside is that you do get to hold up your mana and probably get a removal spell out of your opponents.

There aren’t a lot of fully one-sided enchantment boardwipes in the format. But, although you do have to tap all your lands for this one to work, it’s hardly the biggest cost. Of course, if you don’t control any enchantments you don’t have to care about that. So if you’re seeing a lot of cards like Rhystic Study, Authority of the Consuls, Sylvan Library, and/orOppression, this could do some work.

The rate here is a bit harsh, but free spells are hard to overrate. Given that the closest parallel is a card like Force of Vigor, which has always overperformed for me, I’m inclined to say Abolish is criminally underplayed.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. This set finishes up Masques block and paves the way for the Invasion block, which I can’t wait to cover. While Prophecy might not have been as deep as Nemesis, I still appreciated the set quite a bit. The most surprising thing was how few of these cards have had reprints. As always, I hope you have a blast trying out some of the cards covered today. I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and this has been the Commander Corner!

[Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.]

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