I'm writing this as Visit Week here at The Estate is winding down. Visit Week has become a small tradition here over the last few years as one friend decides to visit, another gets wind of it, then another, and suddenly all the guest rooms are full. Original Virginia EDH Group member Justin Norris and fellow RC member/L5 Judge Toby Elliott have already departed. DCI Tournament Manager Scott Larabee is currently playing something, probably Ascension, on his tablet while I put the finishing touches on this article. We'll then run a game of Twilight Struggle before heading to the airport. If you're a board game fan and haven't played Twilight Struggle, you're missing out on one of the best ever.
Visit Week is actually Visit Two Weeks, as today, original Alaska EDH Group member€”and when I say original, I mean one of the Original Five€”David Phifer lands for a stay through the weekend. David doesn't play much anymore and has only one deck, so I think we'll spend a good deal of time over at Armada Games reminding him of what he's missing. I predict by the time he leaves, he'll be dreaming up even more decks.
Visit Week also featured adding a new member to the household.
Some of you know that Gretchyn, my wife, runs a rescue called Cat Crusaders. Part of the rescue is to arrange foster families for cats while they're waiting to go up to the adoption center (the local PetSmart has been a great partner to the rescue). Usually, we don't foster cats or kittens ourselves, but this one was a short-notice deal. To make a long story short, she stayed (which is why we don't foster often€”they tend to not leave). Her name is Vixen, and she's awesome.
I've previously done two articles on cards that you can't get mad when they get blown up. The first was in November 2010, and the second was in February of 2011. I noticed that there are a few cards that either didn't make it to the list or have been printed since then€”reasonable since it's been a year and a half€”so I decided to add 25-ish more cards to the list. These are cards that are really strong, and when someone nukes them, you just can't get upset about it.
While I encourage you to go back and read those classics, here's the consolidated list:
Chainer, Dementia Master
Defense of the Heart
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Herald of Leshrac
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Leyline of the Void
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Rings of Brighthearth
Sensei's Divining Top
Survival of the Fittest
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Venser, the Sojourner
It occurred to me to do a third edition of this list because Seedborn Muse isn't on the first two. There have certainly been enough cards printed since that last article to warrant going on the list, plus a few others that are list-worthy but might not have been in the Top 50€”or simply, like Seedborn Muse, got glossed over.
Note that there is a now-banned card, Emrakul, on the list. The list came about before Emrakul got banned. I don't want anyone to read anything into that. There are no cards on the following list that are being even remotely considered for banning. They're just really good cards that you can't whine about when someone blows them up. There's no crying in baseball.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride: This is the third of the planeswalkers that has a loyalty greater than its mana cost (Sarkhan the Mad and Gideon Jura being the other two). The primary thing about this Ajani is that it can come back with Sun Titan. The -3 ability to give flying and double strike can certainly be a game-ender coming right out of nowhere.
Akroma's Memorial: Some people will consider it 'safe' because it costs seven mana and doesn't do anything by itself. It does indeed cost seven mana, but it also has seven abilities tacked onto it. Protection from the best color of targeted removal is highly significant, as are all the combat-specific abilities. Even if you don't have creatures when you resolve it, you're going to eventually get them, and the Memorial makes them ridiculous.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope: Significantly reducing the number of ways people can get rid of your stuff, Avacyn often becomes a polarizing focal point in the game. Your guys block and survive (unless wither/infect are involved) and are there to counterattack. They live through nearly everything that isn't All is Dust, Final Judgment, Hallowed Burial, Terminus, Black Sun's Zenith, or Mutilate; the last two needing a pretty big pile of mana. Death Cloud would work, I suppose. There are also less-common answers like Kagemaro and Ichor Explosion. The point really is that it's difficult with a single card to undo Avacyn's impact, so when she's the target of Swords to Plowshares, you can't moan about it.
Brine Elemental: One of the griefiest of griefer cards, the problem with Brine Elemental is that by the time you see it, it's probably already done its damage. Like with some other things€”Mindslaver, for example€”once is probably reasonable. Recursion is just worth getting you killed for.
Deadeye Navigator: The infinite combos (like with Palinchron) notwithstanding, the amount of chicanery you can get yourself up to with the Navigator is amazing. I retract my B+ rating of it in the AVR set review and declare it super A+. If you're playing against it and the other player is foolish enough to resolve it with no mana up, Murder it faster than you would Rofellos.
Doubling Season: It's interesting that the card existed for a while before people really started using/abusing it. In the era of absurdly good planeswalkers to go along with large piles of token creation (besides more than just Avenger of Zendikar), Doubling Season can get out of hand quickly. Adding Cathars' Crusade to the mix means the game shop will be running out of dice pretty quickly.
Extraplanar Lens: The Lens is on the list conditionally. If you don't have a Snow-Covered Land, you're probably okay (since it looks for the name of the card), and if you're not playing a mono-colored deck, you're probably good. Otherwise, you deserve it to be turned into Saprolings with Artifact Mutation.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight: Kind of like with Emrakul (although Emrakul is obviously much worse), it's not a single ability here, but the combination of abilities that makes Gisela quite strong. I wouldn't be so scared of it if it had one or the other.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor: Not sure how this didn't make it onto the earlier list, but it's every bit as good in Commander as it is in other formats.
Karn Liberated: Although I haven't seen it go ultimate too often, getting stuff put into the "Trophy Case" is bad enough. You can't really expect everyone to let the game get reset and you have a huge lead. It was pretty funny the time I put Brooding Saurian under it€
Mana doublers: There are a few cards I mention by name on the lists, but in the trim, all mana doublers are trouble. Nirkana Revenant. Mana Flare. Heartbeat of Spring. Don't even get me started on Liliana of the Dark Realms. It's fine if you try to keep them around, but you can't really blame anyone for wanting you to not have three times the mana as everyone else.
Martyr's Bond: I love playing this card so that I can have some control over what stays around, and I'll never whine when it gets nuked (at least it costs everyone an enchantment!). When it's on the battlefield, it keeps folks from playing stuff (at least if they want to keep it), so you should expect it to not see the light of day very long.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed: Mikaeus is not bros. I play him in three different decks, and I never really expect him to survive long. Hopefully I can get some use out of him (like with already having a Greater Good and a fatty in play), but I rarely count on it.
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind: I'm not even talking here about as a Commander; I'm talking about being one of your 99. Even if he's not built around, you know that that blue deck is going to draw piles of cards, and that's going to hurt your face.
Palinchron: If you're playing Palinchron, you're doing so for the infinite mana combo. You really can't get upset when someone interrupts you from going infinite, which with Palinchron isn't that easy to do (assuming the Palinchron player has left up the extra 2UU just in case). The window is small here, so expect hard fights over it€”to include someone Wastelanding your Izzet Boilerworks.
The Praetors: In order of "need to be blown up fastest," Vorinclex comes first. Strangely enough, I think Sheoldred, Whispering One might actually be the one that you can let survive the longest, especially if you can remove the player's graveyard (or better yet, everyone's). Sure, it's still a 6/6 Swampwalker, but in the realm of things in Commander, that's nothing awful. Urabrask is sneakily good more because of the enters-the-battlefield tapped part than the haste. Elesh Norn's constant Wrath-like effect is the super-annoying part until you realize all that player's creatures are even better (I've gotten kills with Commander damage via Karador + Elesh Norn). The less said about Jin-Gitaxias, the better.
Psychosis Crawler: Like with Niv-Mizzet, huge card draw isn't far behind. Windfall. Mindmoil. Greater Good. Psychosis Crawler will kill people fast. The fact that it's all opponents makes it orders of magnitude more dangerous.
Rafiq of the Many: We usually use Biorhythm as an example of a card that can be unintentionally broken, and I think in many ways Rafiq falls into that category as well. To be sure, there are folks who are bent on getting Rafiq kills on turn 3 or 4, but they deserve a fiery death anyway. I'm talking about the players who don't realize (until they play with it once or twice) that Rafiq can be an "oops, I just killed you with my one guy" card, providing a level of tension around a table. I always think of the Farside cartoon with the bear in the crosshairs, pointing at his buddy.
Rhystic Study: Free anything is good; free card draw is one of the silliest things ever. If you draw a single card off of Rhystic Study, you've gotten your investment back. The second and subsequent cards are gravy.
Seedborn Muse: How this got missed initially I cannot explain. It's one of the best cards in the format. It effectively gives its player an extra turn for each other player in the game. Add silliness like Vedalken Orrery or Alchemist's Refuge and it's just bonkers.
Sun Titan: I love Sun Titan, especially with being able to bring back Bone Shredder over and over. The number of cool things you can do with him are many, and that flexibility is what good players like to use against the rest of us.
The Swords: I obviously mean Sword of X and Y here, not Celestial Sword or Zelyon Sword. Ever since Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Light and Shadow appeared, they and their kin have been dominating board states, pinging dudes and drawing cards, making Wolves and milling cards, and much, much more. Be glad when you get to equip one and have it work for a turn or two, and don't get snarky when it goes away.
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage: I've seen a Tamiyo player get the emblem, and it's wholly unpleasant. I've played it myself a little, with no intention of ever getting the emblem, but just to use one of the first two abilities and then have it draw a bunch of removal and/or damage that was headed for other stuff (in the cast of that damage, my face).
Tidespout Tyrant: I played Tidespout Tyrant a fair amount in the olden days and then put it in my original Intet, the Dreamer build (it's since gone out), and I always felt dirty when I did. I know friend of the show Brian David-Marshall gleefully plays it in his Momir Vig, Simic Visionary deck. Somehow, we're still friends anyway.
True Conviction: I don't even think the card is particularly good€”except when it's working. It's super expensive and kind of a good example of the Timmyest cards in the format, but you simply can't let it stay around (unless you have a way to repeatedly kill all the creatures). Just one or two attacks, and suddenly a life total exceeds 100.
Thanks to Scott, Toby, Justin, and some folks around the web for throwing ideas for this list to me during their visit. It's certainly neither complete nor definitive. There are even more cards that could go on it€”which I suppose means an Episode 4 down the road. Until then, keep Embracing the Chaos.