Too-Specific Top 10 - Like Arabian Days
Cool Story, Shahrazad
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know thatis the only mono artifact that costs 10 mana?)
Given a rare moment to breathe between the constant firehose of new sets and previews, I decided this week I should look back to a Top Ten I'd done last year and see if I couldn't get an update on it.
Looking back through my lists, however, I only made it as far as February and my pet list of the Top Ten Worst Cards out of Alpha! Which immediately got me all gung-ho to continue on the impossible quest that I will absolutely never finish, and push on to the next constructed set. Which would be Beta, except that's all reprints. As is Unlimited. But in the same month as the second reprint set in a row of the original set, we also got an insane departure that would absolutely never fly today, and that deserves celebrating!
Top 10 Worst Cards from Arabian Nights
That's right, the first ever expansion set in the game was based off of the classic tales from Arabian Nights, and is possibly the most out-of-place and strange set in Magic's history as a result. But the real question is this: what are the least-played cards from this old, mostly forgotten set?
Before we get to that, however, we should at least take a moment to look at the cards from the set you might actually know the names of:
Top 10 Cards from Arabian Nights
Well, those all at least fit a niche of playability. How bad could the rest be?
Criteria: Cards originally printed in Arabian Nights that are legal in the Commander format. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, only this time we'll be going by lowest scores!
The classic archetype of ultra-efficient creatures with absolutely crushing drawbacks has not reared its head much in modern Magic, but back in the day it was absolutely commonplace.actually even saw a bit of play in the Stompy decks of yore, although the presence of in the same set had people exploring alternate means of beatdown quickly, what with the existence of . As for , a four-mana 5/6 flier is a pretty darn good rate, but combine that with having to sacrifice a land every turn that might also you and a $350 Reserve List pricetag, and it's actually a wonder that there are even 14 decks deigning to find a spot for this wanna-be genie. As for the decks that are playing either of these? They appear to all have a loose theme best described as "old cards", with no other glue holding basically anything together.
Still, perhaps one day we'll get acommander that has green as an option, unlike and , and will have it's time in the sun!
Islandhome is yet another callback to a bygone era, and perhaps no other creature displays it as iconically as. This pre- stand-in for the fantasy trope of a gigantic living island is essentially nothing but drawbacks stapled to what was considered a high power and toughness in 1993. I suppose if you're trying to play on hard mode, you might want to use its untap ability as an alternative to that you can only use during your upkeep, but honestly I'm not sure that a pet format with rules hardcore enough to have you looking at exists or ever could. Old School Mono-Color Dollar Commander? I'm not sure even that would be enough, which really makes you wonder what could be worse?
8., , &
A $200 dollar card with a bad wish mechanic that doesn't work in Commander, an Islandhome'd boat that doesn't meme as well as the legendary, and an efficient Wall-hater in search of a meta, that's what. Although I honestly think of the three, only deserves the "worse than " award. No matter how you swing it, 10 mana to go get a card is bad, even if it is the best card you own and your playgroup actually lets you do it. At least and have conceivable-if-underwhelming rates and abilities that could possibly come up in weird jank deck themes. Don't get me wrong, it's unlikely that you'll ever want to run blue lifegain or creature hate, and if you did I'm not sure these cards would actually make the cut, but they are at least conceivable for a jank player that is ultra-committed to their craft.
In similar fashion to, I actually recall a time when saw play. After all, you needed something to slam down on the table prior to having mana if you didn't draw into your . I cannot say the same of , however. Even back in the nineties, four mana for a 3/3 trampler didn't make the cut, even in a color not known for trampling over. But really, the reason that neither of these are seeing play is simple: They're not only bad, they're boring. Human Warriors and Knights with bad stats? Who would ever want that?
6., , &
Which is why I'm confused as to whyand are seeing more play than the cards in our #6 slot. Granted, it's only one more deck, but these cards actually have some character to go with their awful rates! is a meme-brewers dream, has one of the more unique artworks in the game with its watercolor style, and has huge tracts of land along with a power that is actually greater than her mana value.
Sure, those are all a bit of a stretch. But when you're talking 12 total inclusions, it doesn't take much!
Which brings me to my next question. How didget the ultimate meme status when exists? I dunno, maybe I'm just showing my Foglio fandom here, but is there anything more joyous than this 1/2 flier for three?
At first, I thought I'd found a real diamond in the rough forplayers out there, but it turns out that the curse of white in EDH was true even back in Arabian Nights. One little word--"blocking"--took this from a niche playable to a worthless old common, as is the tradition when it comes to drawbacks and the average EDH player's least favorite color. Still, the dude does have a rockin' beard, and it's nice to see that Wizards was once a company with the guts to print a line from the Qur'an into a game whose main market was the United States of America.
's day has long passed, and it was never much of a day to begin with. With that said, I do wonder if might still be waiting for theirs. With the Desert land-type being heavily featured in the popular Amonkhet block, it is entirely conceivable that the type could one day take off in similar fashion to how Gates have, and equally possible that the damage-dealing theme put upon the archetype from the original could make a resurgence.
Until then, however, it's hard to see where the relevance for either one of these mono-red creatures lies, even though I do think they easily pass thebar.
The original lifelinker,doesn't even come close to living up to the most basic of black common creatures from today. While much of its -like wording was cleaned up with erratas so that it operated as the pre-lifelink wording we saw prior to it being keyworded in Future Sight, even the ability to double-dip on lifegain and respond to the trigger on the stack comes nowhere close to making this a playable card. It even comes close to being worse than the itself, although I must say that if I saw the two side-by-side in the dregs of an Arabian Nights draft, I'd easily be sigh-taking the hyphenated guy.
Poor even with the only 25 available options for Efreet tribal. Just to beat the broken record, however, I think I'd still want to play it over a seven-mana 6/8 that doesn't untap and mostly can't attack. It is a 3/3 flier for three, after all.. Not just bad, but also forgotten. I'd say we hardly knew ye. I played a lot of Arabian Nights cards, and I've never even seen this one. I wouldn't have played it then, and I wouldn't play it now,
There are still quite a few terrible Arabian Nights cards to be had, despite the set having only 78 cards total. That said, it's easy to dunk onand for being six mana and $350, but that doesn't mean there aren't way worse options out there.
could also be utilized with , but other than that two-color one-time-use "combo", it's hard to imagine where you'd want to play this two-mana 1/1 with an entirely irrelevant ability.
Darude theme decks aside, this is a combat trick of sorts that could be devastating against a token deck under the right circumstances. That said, who's gonna wait around for those specific circumstances?
I'm not gonna lie, I absolutely love bothand . That said, they're the definition of a parasitic mechanic, and 's list of targets is decidedly limited. Still, maybe we'll get a more expansive version of someday.
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
There's no doubting that this is a list of bad cards. So, the real question is: can you ever see yourself playing them?
And finally, what are your favorite cards from Arabian Nights? Are they terrible, expensive, both, or neither?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the stereotypical tent in the desert from all the old Hollywood movies.
Actually, on second thought, maybe just at the LGS?