The Wish List: 8 MTG cards I long to see reprinted

There is a scene at the end of The Return of the King – I’m thinking of the Hollywood interpretation here, so forgive me, purists – wherein, having saved the known world from the menace of Sauron, several of the major characters take to an Elvish ship to begin a voyage to the Undying Lands.

The characters whom they are leaving behind, choked with emotion, wave them off from the jetty; and we understand, misty-eyed ourselves, that those ships can never return. This is not a voyage, but a metaphor for death. Our valiant friends are gone, destined to live on only in our sunlit memories.

I don’t want to diminish the emotional punch of this image, but… it’s pretty much how I feel about rotations in Magic.

I have been… and always shall be… your friend

When (like me) a player tends to adopt pet cards, it can be gut-wrenching to wave them goodbye.

Even when a card is nominally legal in eternal formats, its power level can be such that no realistic chance of successful migration exists. I like to play unusual decks, but not to the extent that I will register something completely unable to compete: I have learned to accept that the hits of standard past will not always find a good home in Modern (and Extended before it).

The last hope that I’ll be able to relive the glory days with some of my old cardboard companions lies down the narrowest of paths: the route to reprinting in a standard-legal set. In  some cases, the likelihood is smaller than in others – but on the off-chance that Wizards of the Coast decides they are prepared to indulge my personal nostalgia, I’m going to lay out my top-8 candidate list below, shut my eyes and cross my fingers.

As Susie (of Calvin and Hobbes) once famously said, as long as I’m dreaming, I might as well have a pony.

#8 – Blazing Specter

This card is a source of constant frustration for me, because it’s eminently reprintable. Each time we’ve visited Ravnica, I have watched the Rakdos spoilers on tenterhooks… but each time, I’m left forlorn.

An additional reason exists for my frustration. If I wanted to, I could play this card in precisely the same environment in which I discovered it: Kitchen Table magic. But, thanks to my awareness of the format system, I can never again happily compete in environments without reasonable shared boundaries.

We had some good times, though. The Ol’ Blazer here was a great mid-game top-deck in every black/red pile I built for years, coinciding with a rich period of deploying resource-denial which Chrome Mox and Stone Rain had lured me into. I can still hear the frustrated grunts of my opponents as their sandbagged, bomb-creatures unexpectedly hit the bin time after time.

Unlike many of the cards from that era in my card-slinging career, I feel that Blazing Specter remains a respectable play in potential Standard landscapes of the future. It’s not overpowered, but it’s solid enough to find a home with anyone who likes their card advantage quick, dirty and unexpected.

#7 – Vindicate

A victim of the contemporary policy which forbids land destruction cards being printed at 3 mana, Vindicate is the iconic utility card.

I’ve used it frequently in cube to eliminate pesky monsters, stop degenerate Academy Ruins loops and un-pacify my game-dominating win conditions. It feels great.

Some may point me toward Maelstrom Pulse, but to those people I say: sometimes it’s good to murder the opponent’s real estate. Land death may be considered un-fun by many, but losing to Urzatron, Karn – or a great big meaty man-land –  is pretty un-fun too.

Is it too much to ask, that one of the great swiss-army-knives in the game’s history be given another roll of the dice?

#6 – Everflowing Chalice

The perfect mana-rock, Everflowing Chalice holds a special place in my heart due to its interaction with Proliferate, a mechanic slated to return by Wizards at some unspecified future date.

With a counter-bearing chalice in play, repeatable proliferate effects quickly spiral into an abundance of colourless mana, which in turn allows the resolution of large, colourless planeswalkers* and ridiculous X-spells.

Of course, the chalice doesn’t need such shenanigans to be good. At 2 mana, it is the picture of efficient acceleration. At 4 mana, it catapults the board position forward and provides something useful to do when conventional 4-drops are posted missing.

The problem, of course, is that this card cannot return without the general reappearance of Multikicker. I don’t know how likely Wizards is to resurrect the mechanic, but I think the chances are slim that it will ever share the standard environment with Proliferate again, thereby limiting the potential fun to be had.

Still, this is one of the more realistic cards on my list. Here’s hoping…

* Yes, in the last entry I condemned Karn as un-fun. Yes, I’m now touting him as a great thing to do with a lot of mana. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. Move along.

#5 – Wildfire

If the last card on my list ever makes it back, I expect it will end up hanging around on street corners with its dangerous older friend, Wildfire.

When it’s good, Wildfire is literally the most powerful thing you can imagine doing in a Standard Format. Ramping to 6 has been fashionable in recent years, when Titans bestrode the landscape, so we know that it’s a readily achievable threshold – but Wildfire is an even better payoff, if you ask me.

If I throw down an Inferno Titan against an aggressive deck, it’s a favourite to dominate their strategy… unless they have a removal spell, or a couple of burn spells, in which case, I may find myself staring down my likely demise at the hands of several small men.

The great thing about Wildfire is that Doom Blade can’t undo all my good work. In fact, short of a counterspell, I’m going to absolutely ruin the board position of my opponent whilst simultaneously removing their ability to cast spells in a meaningful manner. While they scrabble around to find lands, I’ll typically be recovering at pace with the help of artifact mana, or racing ahead thanks to a Planeswalker I already had in play before the apocalypse arrived.

I’ve tried to make Wildfire work in Modern, with mixed results. My instinct is that, at 6 mana, it’s a natural apex predator for standard; but like Tyrannosaurus Rex, it will inevitably die out in more evolved formats.

Still, the dream of blowing up the world is one I’m not quite ready to let go of yet.

#4 – Rude Awakening

To explain why I love this card so much, I need to tell a story.

Back in Mirrodin/Kamigawa standard, I was getting back into the game and playing in tournaments regularly for the first time. Affinity was the boogeyman and I hated it, like many others.

At one particular FNM I found myself back-to-the-wall, at low life, facing down a tapped, post-combat Ravager wearing a Cranial Plating, accompanied by about three tapped artifact lands. I had stalled my way through the game, blocking earlier creatures with Sakura-Tribe Elder, oxidising threats, witnessing back Elders and Oxidises… but here I was, close to death. I had a mess of lands and one card in my hand.

“Can you play through this?” my insufferably smug opponent asked me, flashing two copies of shrapnel blast.

“Yes,” I told him, untapping, drawing a blank and resolving the Rude Awakening (with entwine) which had been my solitary card. A mixed, 11-strong band of Islands and Forests danced across the table to claim his life total.

As I reached for the poisonous stack of artifact hatred that was my sideboard, smiling sweetly, I watched my opponent’s face. Burned into his features was the legend: BUT YOU DID NOTHING ALL GAME AND SOMEHOW I AM DEAD AAAAARRRGGGHH.

Please, Wizards. I speak for all durdlers everywhere when I say please, please give me back that feeling again.

#3 – Eternal Witness

Oh, my.

I have walked the dark path more than once in my life. I have used this young lady to return a recently resolved Plow Under to my hand, as my opponent rolled their eyes and dropped their hand face down onto the table.

I have held her in my hand, hidden from view, as nervous young men agonised over how to divide my Gifts Ungiven piles.

I have stayed in touch throughout games in which I should rightfully have been steam-rolled, as she helped me to recycle Remand over and over again, until I could draw the action I needed.

I want to do these things and more – and I want to do them in standard again. Come on, Wizards – is my gal-pal here really so overpowered?

#2 – Cruel Ultimatum

There is always a greater power.

It’s pretty appropriate, on the basis of this classic flavour text, that Cruel only makes #2 on my list… even here, there is one card which has a greater pull on my heart-strings.

That card will wait, however. For now, let’s reminisce about all the things which made this card wonderful.

  • Value – I’ve heard this card estimated at a nine-for-one, on the basis that the life swing is equivalent to a consume spirit or similar. Sometimes it’s less, for instance when no creature is available in the caster’s graveyard, or the opponent has less than three cards; sometimes, against a red deck for instance, those five life points are priceless.
  • Power – The power to flip a game completely on its head; to turn a war of attrition into a one-sided thermonuclear combat, or to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
  • Iconic status – Just look at that casting cost. What card could be worth seven mana, all coloured, in such a demanding arrangement? THIS ONE. THIS ONE CAN.

Cruel can’t win from every position, but supported with the right friends it can create a mountain for opposing players to climb.

  • It can’t win through a board full of creatures – but if you damnation away the opponent’s team, it will handily dispose of their follow up threat.
  • It can’t stop an opponent from Cruel-ing you straight back if they had more than 4 cards in hand – but if you run pinpoint discard, you can guard against such situations.
  • It can’t hold the early game to stop you from dying before you hit 7 mana – but that’s why you should design your deck around keeping parity (or better) and drawing the game out until it becomes the ultimate stall-breaker.

Sadly, I fear we are never likely to see Cruel grace a standard table again. It is, by its very nature, part of a very unique cycle – and I question the willingness of Wizards either to reprint that whole cycle or to give us Cruel as a standalone. Perhaps I will simply have to make it work in Modern… wish me luck.

#1 – Etched Oracle

Oh, Etchy.  Will we ever again shuffle up together, my faithful companion?

There are so many things right with the Oracle.

  • He has a respectably-sized body, provided one can meet his multi-coloured conditions; I am already predisposed to playing decks with four or more colours, so that sounds just fine to me.
  • In addition, he has a magnificent upside once in play: a colourless Ancestral Recall, which I like to think is represented by the beautiful poly-chromatic orb he clutches in his filigree fingers.
  • Finally, he has the most gorgeous artwork I have ever seen on a Magic card. Gaun Yersel’, Matt Cavotta.

But there are also things which count against the Oracle, from a reprinting perspective.

  • He is only viable in an environment with plentiful colour fixing… and despite visiting such places several times, Wizards have historically chosen to overlook him.
  • He carries the Sunburst mechanic, which is thematically linked to Fifth Dawn, the specific set in which he was first printed. To create a world where Sunburst felt appropriate would take slightly more bending-over-backward than I expect Wizards to indulge in.

All of this is more painful, because I feel that he missed out (if you’ll pardon the pun) on his time in the sun.

When the Oracle first arrived, standard was a mess. Affinity reigned supreme and all organised play twitched helplessly in its iron grip; in such an environment, if a card wasn’t Oxidise at one end of the cost spectrum or Molder Slug at the other, it probably wasn’t getting played in any decks lining up against the artifact menace.

Eventually, bannings fixed standard slightly. For a brief period, I was able to play actual games with the paragon of good, fair creatures – and lo, he was glorious.

In the days of ‘damage-on-the-stack’, Etchy was the absolute stones. He was a house against attacking weenie creatures, a solid man to trade with larger animals… and if played correctly, he always came with an ancestral absolutely free.

  • Block your X/4 guy
  • Damage on the stack?
  • Pay 1, sac the Oracle, draw 3 cards
  • Damage resolves, your guy dies
  • Set off the party poppers, rig up a piñata, etc

If getting a 4-for-1 with my creature felt amazing, the 5-for-1s were even better. Sometimes, my fire-slinging opponents would swing their weenie team into my Oracle… I would block a small man… and they would hurl in a burn spell to finish him off. Naturally, I would cash him in, untap and go bananas – not difficult when the other guy is hurling good resources after bad, while I’m drawing into sweet spells and Eternal Witnesses by the boatload.

Ah, Etchy. Our time was so short, but so sweet. I struggle to fully express my feelings on this matter, but Whitney can pick up the slack.

It’s not all about me

That was my list, but different opinions provide life with a lot of its wondrous variety.

If you ran Wizards for a day, what would you throw back onto the printing presses?

Lightning Bugs


Having just enjoyed myself an almost indecent amount, as I watched Michael Hetrick’s bemusement at facing down a Nightveil Specter from his Daily Event opponent, I’ve been inspired to share my latest pet project with you.

When I set out to build a deck for my amusement, I have a few objectives:

  1. I like it to contain interactions which other players aren’t really exploiting…
  2. …or some degenerate but improbable combo…
  3. …and I like the deck to have lots of ‘play’ to it.

This last point is pretty important.

To be clear: what I mean is that even if the deck is under-powered compared to the top strategies, it has enough trickiness and flexibility that I have the chance to outplay my opponent anyway. I may not always do so, but by building in lots of options, I open the door to some memorable matches. That’ll do for me.

This particular brew has tricks right up the wazoo, as some peculiar folks are known to say.

From shambles to Shark

I really like playing in my opponent’s turn. On a scale of 1 to FUN, the best-rated times to resolve spells are during someone else’s Combat phase or End of turn.

Earnest young hellkite

This deck plays 35 non-land cards, 19 of which can be resolved at instant speed and 10 of which can be conditionally granted this benefit. That equates to pretty high fun rating, let me tell you.

However, my obsession with the expression in response was not the genesis of this deck idea; rather, it was my attachment to these two cards:

When Zegana was first spoiled, a tiny klaxon began to sound in my brain – accompanied by a clipped, militaristic command to play these cards together. For the uninitiated, here’s a walk through of how they interact:

  1. Corpsejack Menace sits in play, ready to double any number of +1/+1 counters which might be placed on one of your creatures.
  2. You place Zegana on the stack, poised to enter play and draw 5 cards (one for her base power and one for each point of power the Menace possesses).
  3. But wait! As she enters the battlefield, Corpsejack Menace doubles her counters and she arrives as a mighty 9/9, drawing 9 cards.
  4. Unless you actually are dead on board, you suddenly find yourself a pretty big favourite to win the game.

Time passed.

Eventually, I found myself with some spare tickets on MTGO. I decided to create something – and discovered to my delight that Zegana was a measly 3 tickets per copy from my preferred chain of bots. Having already had a small amount of speculation success on Thundermaw Hellkites (can you believe that guy was ever 7 tickets? He was, believe me), I decided to pick up a set of the Prime Speaker with an eye both on deck-building fun and future funding of my hobby.

Of course, 4 Zeganas and 4 Corpsejack Menace does not a decklist make. I started looking around for other cards which would play nice with them.

In doing so, I began to see the evolve mechanic in a whole new light.

When I have evolve creatures in play, I really want to be able to play larger men to help them grow. Zegana, at the high-end of a deck, does this brilliantly because she always arrives bigger than the rest of your army. But Corpsejack Menace (CJ to his friends) is actually the ideal enabler, because when it hits the ground, it will double the effect of any evolve triggers.

I quickly grabbed playsets of what I thought were the most likely evolve partners for CJ, on account of being smaller than he:

Curving these creatures into a Corpsejack Menace seemed pretty appealing to me. I chucked them into the rough list that was developing, alongside this gentleman:

I then added some more goodies and chucked my little brew into the tournament practice room. While it’s not really a good representation of an actual tournament environment, it’s certainly a place where players are actively trying to be competitive – and a good way to start identifying whether a deck works in principle, or just does nothing and falls over.

Here’s what I learned over the course of a few games:

  • Playing an Experiment One was almost always better than playing a Raptor on turn 1… to the extent that I started to curse starting hands with both of them, because I would end up stranding my Raptor for several turns whilst beating down with and evolving the Human Ooze.
  • Playing a strategy which relied on playing out progressively greater numbers of creatures was, predictably, an absolute dog to decks with Supreme Verdict.
  • Curving evolve creatures into a Corpsejack Menace was absolutely INSANE.
    • In fact, throwing down CJ onto a board with two Experiment Ones transformed my position against Verdict decks. Suddenly, I had two men who could survive a board-sweeper, potentially at 2/2 or bigger; that was nothing to sniff at.
  • It was amazing to cast Zegana with a decent sized creature in play, even better with CJ… but because I only ran two, it rarely happened.
    • As a curve topper she seemed promising, but the reality was that I was winning games before she came online, or losing them without seeing her.

I started to play with the deck, reducing the numbers of Raptors and going to a singleton Zegana. At the same time, I started to look quizzically at my 3-drop column, which had but a single occupant:

I’m sure you can follow my reasoning for including this cheerful chap.

He hits hard, evolves my smaller aggressive creatures and has a late-game interaction with the Corpsejack Menace; nonetheless he was lonely, pining for a 3-drop to call ‘friend’. As I was slotting other tweaks into place, I decided to add a singleton companion for him as a test… and inspired by the fun I’d been having flashing down Shamblesharks, I chose Wolfir Avenger.

Then it was back to the battlefield.

A new era

My word, the deck was better.

This is largely attributable to my drawing the singleton Wolfir Avenger in an unrealistic percentage of matches. He was exactly what I wanted in all the scenarios I had previously found difficult:

  • If the opponent was playing counterspells, I could cast him at awkward times when their mana was pressured.
  • If they were blowing up the board, I could regenerate him.
  • If they were more aggressive than I was, he was the perfect surprise blocker to ruin their attacks.

In addition, he added new depth to my proactive plan:

  • He almost always evolved my army.
  • He proved to be the perfect aggressive partner for Dreg Mangler: end step Wolfir, untap, Mangler, bash was the surprise swing that ended quite a few games.
  • He wasn’t half bad with Shambleshark either. Flashing down the shark, followed by the wolf was another popular aggro package.

I added another, then quickly went up to three.

Once I was on the Wolfir train, it was an easy next step to throw in a couple of Yevas.

Yeva doesn’t regenerate, but she does all the other great stuff that the wolf does – lightning blocker, unexpected attacker, an all-round tricksy hobbit (or elf).

Charmed, I’m sure

As I thought about Yeva’s lack of regeneration, it struck me that this might be the perfect deck for some charms.


As a creature deck, my major problem is removal.

Removal of the targeted kind is uncomfortable, but with some counterspells and regenerating men, not fatal. Mass removal, however, is a big problem in this format – it tends to be uncounterable:

What I really needed was a way to stop Supreme Verdict. Golgari Charm does exactly that, thanks to its regeneration mode, so I decided to slip a couple into the list. Simic Charm was less compulsory in my mind, but I elected to try it out because I was already in the colours and all of the modes are useful.

The charms have been mixed  but generally positive in their effectiveness. They’re always functional; sometimes they have too little impact to turn a game I’m losing, while in others they create a game winning blowout.

Golgari Charm has generally been the better of the two, because winning a combat or surviving a board sweep is sensational. As a bonus, blowing up an Oblivion Ring or detention sphere can be pretty handy, especially when it returns a creature who evolves your team and becomes the difference between an ineffectual swing and a lethal one. The -1/-1 mode is the most variable in terms of value, but when it’s good… my word, it’s ridiculous.

Against a red aggro deck, I managed to dig my way out of a slow start (too many tapped lands!) with the perfect Golgari charm moment. My opponent played a Legion Loyalist, then a Lightning Mauler, then a Stromkirk Noble over his first three turns. With Rancor on the stack, I killed his team.

If you manage to resolve a better Golgari Charm than that, please send me a screenshot and I’ll be happy to award some kind of prize.

The bitterest pill

I played with the deck a little more, noting the situations in which I was winning and losing, before finally coming clean with myself: as much as I loved her, Zegana was not right for this deck. With regret, I was forced to wave her goodbye… in the maindeck at least. Still, at least there was some upside:

Zegana Price

I’m telling you, folks, this speculation lark is easy.

  • Wait a couple of weeks after a set releases
  • Note which degenerately powerful Mythic rares aren’t seeing play yet
  • Buy some
  • …wait…
  • Sell them to pay for your ongoing adventures in deckbuilding

What could be simpler?

DISCLAIMER: The Author is lucky, not good. Do not try this at home.

The end… for now

After all of the building, tweaking and flashing-in-monsters-on-the-end-stepping, here’s where I arrived (click to enlarge):

BUG Flash Deck

A few observations about the current state of this monstrosity are warranted:

  • My manabase still feels shaky. I seem to mulligan a lot because I can’t cast early spells, although I’m not sure precisely the best way to tweak it at present. I shall probably need to invest some time in analysing it a little more scientifically, although I can’t think of a less appetising way to blow the precious minutes I get to spend thinking about Magic.
  • Disciple of Bolas does a nice Prime Speaker impression whilst padding out your life total, but it’s difficult to know exactly when to play it – frequently the best play is to preserve your high-powered creatures on the board, ensuring that you keep pressuring the opponent. I tend to hold him back against control decks when I have regeneration available, since my men will live through removal, whereas I’ll cash in a 4/3 Shambleshark much of the time to keep the cards flowing. Perhaps the deck can live without him, but I wanted to have some card advantage available.
  • Ultimate Price should really be Abrupt Decay, an oversight I intend to remedy next time I have some spare MTGO tickets. Rakdos Cackler, Burning Tree Emissary, Boros Reckoner and Loxodon Smiter all need to die… and Ultimate Price falls woefully short of dealing with them. Killing Lilianas and Domri Rades is just gravy.
  • My sideboard plan needs work. At the moment, it has all the hallmarks of a ‘more of what you like’ strategy, which isn’t ideal. I’m also playing with a transformational package, which sees us side into Thragtusks and Prime Speakers to win grindy midrange wars. Is it good? I don’t know yet… ask me in a week.

These details aside, though, I’ve had great fun mucking around with the deck. If you get the chance, throw it together and have fun making your opponent guess what the hell is going on when you pass with 5 open mana.

Monty Python had the right of it: Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition, nor do they expect a regenerating Wolf Warrior in their Declare Attackers step.

Author’s note: Patrick Chapin has, THIS VERY DAY, ninja’d me with a post on SCG which touches on the CJ and the Prime Speaker interaction. I suppose if I had to be beaten to publication by anyone…