A lot of Magic: the Gathering pros and prominent community members have been posting their Top 8 Magic cards of late. Seeing as how I’m going to be covering Magic here at We The Nerdy, I thought I’d do the same. Our favourite cards help define us, after all, so consider this our introduction! Some of these cards were picked because they’re powerful and exciting to play, others were picked for sentimental reasons. When the stars align, a card is all of the above. Without further ado, here are my Top 8 Magic: the Gathering cards:
#8 – Kird Ape
Back in 1994, when I opened up my very first Starter Deck of Magic: the Gathering’s Revised Edition, I was fortunate enough to have one of these hairy fellas staring back at me. I’ll be honest, my initial impression of him wasn’t very favorable, because my fledgling card evaluation skills preferred the much larger base stats of the Dragons and Wurms in my collection. Then it happened: I began a game with an opening hand that included both Kird Ape and a Taiga, and immediately learned the true value of both. Over the following months, I opened and traded for more Apes (and Taigas, too!), and brewed a Red/Green deck that dominated my high school friends during lunch breaks. The deck remains unchanged to this day, save for the sleeves that keep it safe. And while it may be woefully under-powered compared to more modern decks, it’s still fun to dust off from time to time, if only for sentimental reasons. Besides, attacking with a 2/3 Kird Ape on turn two is still pretty great, especially if it’s the one I got signed by Richard Garfield!
#7 – Voice of Resurgence
Like any seasoned Magic player, I like getting value out of my creatures, and very few creatures offer as much value as Voice of Resurgence. It’s cheap, it replaces itself with a creature token when it dies, it forces your opponent to play their Instants at Sorcery speed, and perhaps most importantly, it can be a significant distraction for your opponent. Against control decks, Voice of Resurgence punishes players for using their counterspells, reduces the value of their removal, and even leaves something behind after a Wrath effect. When facing aggro and burn decks, he punishes your opponent for using combat tricks and removal during your turn, and can make them rethink their strategy. Voice of Resurgence is a huge headache (for your opponent) with a low cost. How can you not love that?
#6 – Remand
I wasn’t always a fan of blue mana, and truth be told, I used to hate control and permission strategies with a passion. It wasn’t until I was a much more experienced player that I began to appreciate them. However, even as I began to embrace the so-called dark side of Magic, I still felt uneasy about using hard counters in my decks. The reactions of my friends during casual games certainly didn’t help. Then along came Remand. More of a tempo play than a counterspell, Remand allowed me to play Control guilt-free, and still let my friends play with their big, fat creatures at the casual table. Just a turn later than they were hoping to. And on top of all that, I even got to draw a card! So much win.
#5 – Sakura Tribe-Elder
Ahh, Steve, my old reliable friend! That’s right, we’re on a first-name basis. You see, when discussing deck construction back in the Champions of Kamigawa days, my friends and I would often abbreviate Sakura Tribe-Elder’s name to ‘STE’, which later became Steve. Longer, sure, but friendlier! Besides, “I’m gonna sac Steve during your End Step” has a certain ring to it.
Admittedly, Steve used to be a lot better back when combat damage still used the stack. If you dropped him early, he could deal lethal damage to another small creature, and while the damage was waiting to resolve on the stack, you would sacrifice him to fetch the land. These days, he can still chump block for you, effectively gaining you life, but you have to sacrifice him before he can deal any damage. That certainly makes him a less attractive choice, but he’ll always have a little snake elder-sized spot in my heart!
#4 – Gifts Ungiven
Instant-speed card draw: Check! Choice of cards drawn: Check! Playing mind games with your opponent: Check! Not only is Gifts Ungiven a great Magic card, it’s also one of the most fun cards in the game to play. When cast, the game of Magic stops, and a battle of wits between you and your chosen opponent begins: You reveal the chosen cards with an air of indifference, as if you don’t really care which ones you receive. Your opponent moves cards from pile to pile, studying your reaction, thinking, “I’ll give them these two, and put these two in their graveyard. Wait, what if they actually want those two cards? What if they actually want two of these in their graveyard?” It’s this level of complexity and interaction that makes the card exciting. Being incredibly powerful helps, too!
#3 – Vendilion Clique
Man, what doesn’t this card do? It’s a threat with evasion, it can be cast at instant-speed to block an attacker or at end of turn to give it psuedo-haste, it can help disrupt your opponent’s hand or cycle bad cards from your own, and it arms you with the knowledge of what your opponent is holding. It’s one of the best creatures in the game, and arguably the best for its converted mana cost. And despite its Legendary status, it’s still very common to see the full compliment of four copies included in decks, because it’s so easily traded off with value. Furthermore, it’s rarely ever a bad draw. While most of the cards on this list were selected for sentimental value in addition to their power level, Vendilion Clique takes the third spot solely for the latter.
#2 – Kokusho, the Evening Star
I have loved everything about this card from the moment I first saw it. The art, the name, his abilities, and his overall power level relative to his cost. I opened two copies in my first Champions of Kamigawa booster box, one of which was foil, further solidifying my obsession. I jammed four copies into the cruelest, most vile mono-black control deck I could conceive of, and my friends quickly grew to despise it. To make matters worse, we often played multiplayer formats, like Two-Headed Giant, or Emperor, in which Kokusho’s impact was amplified. The deck has seen many incarnations over the years, with other cards coming and going, but there has always been one constant: Four copies of Big Daddy K. Oh, and my friends saying, “Oh god, that’s not the Kokusho deck, is it?”
#1 – Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant is a powerhouse. And prior to the arrival of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, she was probably the most powerful Planeswalker to date. However, this card makes the list for an entirely different reason.
When my wife was seven months pregnant, she wandered into the dining room one evening to find me reorganizing my Magic collection. The entire dining room table was littered with cards, with several boxes and binders strewn about. Having only played Magic a few times, she picked up a handful of cards to read, settling on Elspeth, Knight-Errant.
“Elspeth. I really love that name! We should add it to the list of girl names to consider, if we have one!”
I wasn’t sure if she was serious at the time, so I nodded in agreement and went back to work, relieved that I didn’t get in trouble for the mess I had created. Two months later, my daughter was born. Her name is Elspeth. She cost us 2WW to summon.