Cards That Time Forgot: Part Three

Posted in Serious Fun on August 25, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Magic has been around longer than some of you have been alive. While the recently released cards are exciting and offer all sorts of diversity and deck building options, many of the older cards continue to be amazing. A great many of these cards are simply lost to time. These older cards were often created in a time before the color pie was solidly established, giving colors access to abilities they don't get any more. I asked for your older, forgotten favorites on Twitter and received so many responses. Thanks to all who helped me out! These were just a few that caught my attention as cards I haven't used in a while, or cards I had never seen!

Gate to Phyrexia

Gate to Phyrexia is one of the few ways for black to destroy artifacts. That it has to be on your upkeep and it can only be done once per upkeep are drawbacks, but you'll be able to work around that. Asking you to sacrifice a creature is practically a benefit in black now, so this should work out.

Part of the reason I like cards like this is how innocuous they can be. You can play it and choose not to use it for several turns. It is easy for your opponents to forget it is there, or assume you will be okay with their Chromatic Lantern since you haven't taken out someone else's Temple Bell. You'll be amazed how often someone will play an Eldrazi Monument then attack someone else, all while promising not to attack you.

This is hardly a cure-all. Being restricted to just your upkeep is like having sorcery speed removal when you need something gone now. However, most players aren't expecting black to ever be able to stop an artifact, so something is definitely better than nothing.


Sword of the Ages

Sword of the Ages has three purposes: It's an emergency removal spell, a response to a mass removal spell, or a way to win the game. Sword of Ages makes a weak creature removal spell. You have to spend six mana, then wait a turn, then you can sacrifice it and enough creatures to do damage to another creature. There are better ways in every color to do this. The better way to use the Sword is as threatened removal. Cast the Sword then don't use it. Your opponents will know that you can use, but will only do so if you are threatened. As a deterrent, this can work moderately well.

In response to a mass removal spell, Sword of the Ages is amazing. If someone is feeling threatened by the creatures you have on the battlefield, there is a good chance you have more than 15 power's worth of creatures out there. If someone is going to remove them all from play, you should get some benefit, and Sword of the Ages gives that to you. The Sword lets you put a real hurt on the player who chose to cast Day of Judgment. The Sword makes people think carefully about their plays and your responses to their plays. That is something I love in a card.

Finally, it can act as a big kill spell. The Sword gives you a way to take a player right out of the game. Decks running a lot of token creatures might have a problem dealing with decks that run Propaganda effects. Sword of the Ages opens another option.


Transmute cards

Transmute cards are selective tutors that allow you to either use the card as is, or let you tutor for a card that costs the same as the transmute card. A card like Clutch of the Undercity lets you bounce a permanent to its owners hand and make them pay three life, or pay the transmute cost to find a card in your library that costs four mana. This either/or versatility can really open things up for decks that include black and blue.

I have three transmute cards that I particularly love. Dimir Infiltrator gives you a 1/3 unblockable creature that has proven very handy in decks that get a benefit from doing combat damage to an opponent. It also only costs two mana, and a 1/3 with evasion for two mana is solid. That I can spend three to find another two-mana card is great. I often search for artifacts that give me more mana or a combat trick that I want everyone to know I have and could use at any time. I've even searched for a Demonic Tutor, just to find any card in my deck and keep that card secret from my opponents.

Drift of Phantasms is a 0/5 defender for only three mana. When you need a blocker that can stop pretty much anything until the mid-game, Drift of Phantasms is great. When that isn't what you need, there are so many other options at three mana to find. Amazing creatures with abilities that can do something beyond blocking are just a few of the options available.

Tolaria West is my favorite of all the transmute cards. It taps for blue mana, but unless I'm having serious mana issues, I'll be transmuting for three. This lets you find any land you need. Maze of Ith, a bounce land, or maybe a dual land to give you the colors you are missing. Perhaps you need that Kessig Wolf Run to finish an opponent. A land tutor can be very valuable. This also finds the Pacts when you need them, so Tolaria West can go beyond just tutoring for any land you need.


Delirium

I am the older brother in my family. One of the benefits of being the oldest was my divine right to torture my younger brother. One of the favorite games of older siblings has always been the "why are you hitting yourself" game, where I would hold my brother's arms and make him hit himself. It ranked right up there with "I'm not touching you," and "my half of the back seat." Oh, the good times we had.

Delirium (and its twin, Backlash) are the "why are you hitting yourself" cards of Magic. Delirium taps down an opponent's creature, then the creature deals damage to its controller equal to its power. This one-two punch of tapping down an opponent's most valuable creature then dealing some serious damage is just great. More than once, I've played Delirium, then responded to it with something like Titan's Strength to make their creature bigger. There is something particularly gleeful about an opponent's creature doing the damage to themselves. It brings me back to my youth!


Lurking Predators

If you don't even try, Lurking Predators is probably going to find you a creature roughly 30% of the time. With three opponents each playing only one spell per turn, this means you are going to get one free creature per round. That creature might cost one mana or fifteen mana, but it is free and will be able to attack on your turn, so it is getting virtual haste. Would you take a free creature on each of your upkeeps? And all of this is assuming you have done nothing to optimize Lurking Predators.

If you have a way to set up the top card of your library (Worldly Tutor, Sensei's Divining Top, scry, etc.), this card becomes crazy. If you have it in your deck, you also try to up the percentage of creatures you put in the deck. When your opponent watches you set up the top card of your library, then play a Theros God, do they counter the God, knowing you'll get the creature you set up on your library for free?

Lurking Predators is another fantastic card for multiplayer games. Do you really want to spend six mana for this card in a one-against-one game? In those games, you are probably just better off putting the big creature you want in the deck in place of Lurking Predators. In multiplayer games, where there are more opponents casting more spells, Lurking Predators turns into a card-advantage machine. This is just a great card.


Taurean Mauler

Most of the readers know about Managorger Hydra, the three-mana 1/1 creature with trample that gets bigger with each spell anyone casts. As it makes the rounds in playgroups, players are discovering just how difficult a card like that can be to stop. A 5/5 creature with trample for only three mana (after one round) becomes miserable after two rounds.

Managorger Hydra is the fancy version of Taurean Mauler. The Mauler doesn't have trample, so the Hydra gets a step up there. The Mauler also only gets bigger from opponents' spells. However, the Mauler is a shapeshifter, so it can fit into any creature-themed deck out there. The Mauler and Forgotten Ancient have proven to be a solid combination in several decks, producing +1/+1 counters at an amazing rate. If you find yourself short in a theme deck, or would like a third counter accumulator in your latest red-green Commander deck, Taurean Mauler is your card.


Aura Thief

While there are many Auras and enchantments that don't care who the controller is, there are others that do. Propaganda-style effects now protect you. Card-drawing effects now let you draw the cards. Even in a worst-case scenario, you will still get at least get control of a few cards that will stop the owner from getting a benefit any longer, like taking control of your opponent's Luminarch Ascension, when you don't have access to white mana.

Then there is the upside. Aura Thief is a card that is dependent on what your opponents are playing. When you have only one opponent, Aura Thief may very well be a 2/2 flying creature for four mana. When you have three or four opponents, there is a very good chance that you'll take control of several cards that work for you. Consider just the recent sets' enchantment creatures. Aura Thief was not intended to be a way to steal several creatures, but with Theros block offering regular enchantment creatures, bestow creatures, and Gods, there are plenty of ways to weaken an opponent's battlefield position. You might never have the devotion to activate Iroas, God of Victory, but you get the benefits and take it away from your opponents.

You don't get to move the Auras, but there are plenty of Auras that let the controller scry when something happens. The standard template for enchantments now is to give your creatures some benefit, not all creatures like it used to. This also works to Aura Thief's advantage, since taking control of the enchantment takes the benefit away from your opponents.

I hope I've shown you a few cards that will work in your decks that you didn't know about before. These older cards need love too!

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

mtgseriousfun@gmail.com

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