Technically this list should be easy to write. Five Magic cards? Surely you just take Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall and Time Walk, chuck in some of the Moxes and you’re done, right? But that’s not really my goal here. I don’t want to pick five cards that make sense to have because they are a good financial investment, or because their power level is through the roof. Some cards in Magic don’t have to be completely broken to be awesome (although often it helps). Sometimes cards are just, well, they’re just fun. They might not be the most optimal choices or they might not be very reliable. But they sure do give you that giddy feeling of anticipation when you cast them.
5. Venser, the Sojourner
There have been exactly two versions of Venser in Magic’s history, and the first one, Venser, Shaper Savant, is largely considered to be the better one. Spending four mana to gain a 2/2 body and bouncing something back to your opponent’s hand before it even lands on the battlefield is a great tempo swing. And if you’re fortunate enough to hold a counterspell in your hand and some mana untapped, or, if the other player has a token in play, then you’ve just arrived in value town. But it’s the five mana planeswalker card that holds a lot more appeal to me.
Five mana planeswalkers tend to be the least powerful ones, and his middle ability seems to be at odds with what the rest of the card wants to do. The +2 ability however is some of the best fun you can have in Magic. There’s a ridiculous number of permanents in Magic that have an effect when they enter the battlefield. And notice the key word here – permanents. Not creatures. You can bounce any land to have it untap at the end of your turn, you can bounce a Thragtusk to gain a 3/3 and 5 life. You can bounce a Clone and have it copy something else. And the ultimate? Any spell I cast exiles a card? Sign me up!
OK, so this card is obviously busted. On turn two you can legitimately make 19 mana. Sure, it will cost you 19 life, but who cares about such trivialities? 19 mana is enough to win you the game or at least give you enough of an edge to ensure the inevitable victory. So why don’t we see this card everywhere? And why does it only cost a couple of bucks? Well, for one, it’s pretty much banned in every non-casual format, bar vintage (where it’s restricted). But it’s a great addition to any cube or just kitchen table Magic (as long as everyone is on the up and up on what kind of cards you’re playing with).
My favourite thing to cast with Channel? Emrakul will obviously win you the game but I quite like to slam down a Blighsteel Collosus. And sometimes it’s nice to go old-school, hit your opponent with a lightning bolt and then go Channel + Fireball. Just make sure they don’t have blue mana untapped. Having your Channel countered and still losing all of that life is not where you want to be.
3. Daretti, Scrap Savant
Sure, you could say that Daretti is just Goblin Welder’s big over-costed brother, but Daretti is a planeswalker and that makes him a lot more awesome. Think of him as a reanimator for artifacts, but unlike Reanimate and other similar cards, Daretti is a one man package. He puts artifacts in the graveyard and then brings them back. Imagine discarding a Myr Battlesphere, then bringing it back. Now you have four more artifact tokens to sacrifice and make even more shenanigans! There are so many ridiculous artifacts in Magic that the sky is the limit. You can bring back Wurmcoil Engine just to sacrifice it for something even better. Now you have two tokens and a bigger meaner thing. You can cast Mindslaver EVERY. SINGLE. TURN. How would you like to have permanent control of everything your opponent does? I know I would.
2. Tooth and Nail
Ramp is an awesome strategy to begin with. There’s nothing quite as fun as spending your early game getting way more mana than your opponent just so you can cast a big dumb thing. And that big dumb thing is going to win you the game. But you know what’s better than casting a big dumb thing? That’s right. Casting two of them. But more importantly, Tooth and Nail lets you search out your library for a combination of any two creatures in your deck. And that spells out “Game Over” to your opponent in big green mana symbols.
In fact, the cards you fetch don’t even have to be huge. You could, for example, find a Deceiver Exarch and Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker and make infinite tokens with haste. Or, you could find an Emrakul and something that gives him haste, like Lightning Mauler. And my personal favourite combo – Myr Battlesphere and Kiki Jiki. It makes two Battlespheres (one of them with haste), eight tokens. The copy has haste, and if you tap the eight tokens when you attack with it, you deal your opponent eight to the face and attack with a 12/7. You can even tap the original Sphere for some extra value. So much win.
1. Craterhoof Behemoth
Whilst you could call every card in this list a “build around” card, the others aren’t quite as linear as this one. For Craterhoof to be most effective, you have to have at least three or four other creatures in play. Or twenty. It’s really at its most amazing when you have twenty. And there’s one creature type that lends itself best to cast the big beastie – elves. They make green mana, they are generally broken and the strategy is so good that it’s become a format-defining legacy deck. Which makes this fella a tad more expensive than the other cards on this list but certainly not out of the price range of most Magic players.
But you don’t need to have a very expensive legacy deck to have fun with Mr. Hooferson, as long as you have creatures on your board and you can cast him – job done. Naturally, this card forces you into a strategy that leaves you open to board wipes, but the effect of pumping your entire team even for just +5/+5 and giving them all trample is irreplaceable.
So here you go. That’s my five awesome Magic cards. They make me feel warm and fuzzy inside when I cast them. But to be honest, that’s just my list. I wanted to pick five cards that are affordable and are great for building a deck around. In fact, four of them you can pick up under ten bucks. That doesn’t mean that they’re your five awesome Magic cards. With literally thousands and thousands to choose from – everyone can find their own favourite thing in Magic. Leave a comment and let me know what your Top Five is.