Article - High-Range Staples: Are They Worth it?

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Enjoy! Discuss!  Feedback is greatly appreciated.
I do believe this is the best article you've written so far. While I will disagree on several points, overall standup job! Sidenote: hyperlinks do not work.

Let's get to the discussion...

Sensei's Divining Top
I will catch flak for this but, this card serves it's best purpose in red or green decks. Generally with blue, or black just tutors or draws the cards it needs. Drawing several cards is nearly always more powerful than stacking your draws. Still I believe it's worth picking up.

Demonic Tutor
I think this guy is worth it. He's not that expensive and he's still arguably the best.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Great card, but I really don't believe it's the most tutored for land. I'm pretty sure the biggest offender for Land Tutoring was a giant by the name of Primeval Titan and I know from first hand experience that he always gets Gaea's Cradle first.

Doubling Season
While I think this card is insanely powerful, I don't think it's even close to call it a staple. It goes into a handful of decks. Whereas the above cards get played in nearly every conceivable deck. I personally think that Parallel Lives is just as good unless you literally need both effects.

Wheel of Fortune
This card is worth every penny you spend. I've only made 1 red commander deck that didn't make ample use of it and all of it's ilk. Consider also Wheel of Fate and Incendiary Command.

Maze of Ith
Excellent card. Excellent point about old guard and the young turks. I still don't think it's power is that great. It does well against a handful of voltrons and a few like Kaalia. Overall I'd say don't bother buying a copy.

Bribery
Is it a bit of a jerk. You betcha! Should you buy one...probably. Especially if you're playing mono blue.

Mirari's Wake
I think this is my least favorite card on your list. Not because I don't like the card. Heck, I have 2 decks that make use of this gravy train. But I don't think it's worth picking up unless you have a specific deck for it. It certainly doesn't go into every g/w deck. Gaddock Teeg anyone?

Cryptic Command
The best counterspell in magic. Yes I know that Counterspell is cheaper. Yes I'm aware that Force of Will is the counter-standard bearer. But for raw power in a counterspell, this has all the bells and whistles. Unless they reprint it, it's going to continue to go up in value. Legacy and Modern decks are still playing it and it's scarcity is only going to continue, even with the textless version printed.

Tooth and Nail
TNN needs no introduction. The most powerful creature tutor in the game. The only argument I have is that alot of the decks that play TNN can benefit just as much from also playing Defense of the Heart in addition to TNN.

Damnation
This is the card on the list I most wish I had. I just keep putting it off thinking it'll drop a few bucks...but it just keeps going up.

Karn Liberated
Amazing card. Must be dealt with. But I just don't think he fits into every deck. Maybe I'm wrong...but I feel like he just wants to go into certain decks. He seems to just go into certain "good stuffs" deck.

Well that's my 2 cents...but I think it's worth a nickel.

Crystal Ball isn't tagged right.

I like this article's format.  Including cheaper alternatives for people who don't quite have the money to plop down on some cards is a great way to show that 'money doesn't rule' in this format.  Explanations were solid as well, and the verdicts reasonable. 

One minor nitpick I would point out is for Karn Liberated.  While the -3 ability is powerful(having been on the receiving end more than once myself), even if you're not planning to ult, his +4 is its own merit, making him EXTREMELY tough to kill, even if you do deal with him right away.  Unless you're playing R/B and drop a Dreadbore, it's gonna be hard to deal with a guy who can ramp himself so effectively.  And I'm just wondering...you mentioned Karn going best in R, B, or U decks...and any combination thereof.  So why not mention Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker as another cheap alternative if one's playing Grixis colors?  He provides a similar overlap with destroying non-creature permanents, and has considerable survivability, plus the nifty perk of plucking creatures away from your opponents.  I can see the differences, but since you mentioned all three colors, I figured Bolas should have been at least mentioned as well.
Crystal Ball isn't tagged right.

I like this article's format.  Including cheaper alternatives for people who don't quite have the money to plop down on some cards is a great way to show that 'money doesn't rule' in this format.  Explanations were solid as well, and the verdicts reasonable. 

One minor nitpick I would point out is for Karn Liberated.  While the -3 ability is powerful(having been on the receiving end more than once myself), even if you're not planning to ult, his +4 is its own merit, making him EXTREMELY tough to kill, even if you do deal with him right away.  Unless you're playing R/B and drop a Dreadbore, it's gonna be hard to deal with a guy who can ramp himself so effectively.  And I'm just wondering...you mentioned Karn going best in R, B, or U decks...and any combination thereof.  So why not mention Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker as another cheap alternative if one's playing Grixis colors?  He provides a similar overlap with destroying non-creature permanents, and has considerable survivability, plus the nifty perk of plucking creatures away from your opponents.  I can see the differences, but since you mentioned all three colors, I figured Bolas should have been at least mentioned as well.



Thanks to you both for the kind words.

About Karn, in my previous article, I had plced Karn as my number 1 Planeswalker for EDH, so i didn't want to go too deeply into an explanation about him (not wanting to repeat myself - I probably wrote 400+ words on him the week prior).  I didn't include Nicol Bolas because 1) he only fits in Grixis or 5-colour, and 2) Karn's versatility is the fact tht he's colourless removal (something fairly unique and needed in certain colours/combinations).

I've been refining my writing style based on feedback I've received here and on other forums, and this is one of the first articles where you've seen some of those changes implemented.  Thank you all for making me a better and more informative writer!
Now here's a good idea.  I really dig the article.  An interesting idea and the perfect length.  Good stuff.  Also, when did Karn Liberated get so expensive?

University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, Class of 2016

My Peasant Cube: A Cube for the Commoners

I actually really enjoyed this. I've read a couple articles of yours in the past and this was the best. I'm holding off on building an artifact EDH deck, my only EDH deck, before I take a break from buying magic cards, until I'm confident in a deck list and this helped. However, i will probably be buying Karn.


But the alternatives worked. Thanks you.  
I actually don't think top is staple-caliber as an addition to most budget/new player decks. It's still helpful, but in the wrong home its value barely exceeds the card/mana investment. It really needs shuffle effects to shine - eg: tutors, fetchlands, land-fetching ramp, etc - things that budget decks tend to be short on. Decks that would use it to typically see only 1 card more than they saw last turn aren't getting much value from it. And since you mentioned it, I consider sylvan library to be a better card than top due to the ability to pay life for extra draws. If you never use that function, you're not fully utilizing sylvan library.

Demonic tutor is also miles better than diabolic. Think of the tutor's cost as its flexibility-cost. Sort of like how cryptic command 'costs' an extra color requirement over dismiss for the other modes, demonic tutor is worth paying the extra 1B for the flexibility of it being anything in your library. At 2BB though...the efficiency hit becomes really high. I'm happy to pay 5 mana for eternal witness if I really need it right now, but am I happy to pay 7 for it? That's stretching things....as a value-play, it's just too much mana. You'd need to be getting something really special (aka, a game-winning combo) for any card to still be appealing with an extra 4 mana tacked onto its mana cost.

Also, you kinda forgot to mention mana drain. It's so expensive that I wouldn't tell anyone they *need* to go out and get one, but it is the best counterspell in the format, not cryptic. You could also have mentioned arcane denial as a budget alternative...it's pretty close to being as good as dismiss in terms of effect in a multiplayer game where the cards you give the opponent may not be something that affects you too much, and at half the cost I consider it a better card.


Now here's a good idea.  I really dig the article.  An interesting idea and the perfect length.  Good stuff.  Also, when did Karn Liberated get so expensive?



Shortly after Bloodbraid got banned.  Jund players switched to the deck that consistently beat them(Tron), and lo and behold, Karn makes that deck even more sick.
How about you actually post something, other than a link? Oh wait, you want the traffic to go to your site so you can get paid for your adspace, right?

Reported for advertising.



That is a fair criticism, and one I've faced elsewhere.  I'll tell you what I told them.
I do not get compensated for writing articles.  As far as a "hit-count" goes, the most benefit I personally see is bragging rights as a writer.  With that in mind, I spend 6+ hours a week on each article, and it's gotten to the point where, in order to make my deadlines, I need to be very conscious to the amount of time I allot for each article.  I thankfully work 2-3 weeks ahead, because working full time, as well as being very active in the local (and provincial) Magic Community, I have to be vey strict with how I budget my time.  Any time I comment on here or on other forums, I do so during breaks at work.
As far as posting the article itself on these forums, I don't do so for three reasons:
1) Often times my word count exceeds 4000, sometimes 5000, and it's a tough proposition for someone to open a forum post and see a full page post to read it all.  Posting the link duplicates this just as effectively, and closing a window takes no extra effort than hitting "back".
2) In an effort to look as professional as possible, I include graphics whenever I can, something that cannot easily be duplicted in the forum medium.
3) Most importantly, the format that the website my articles get posted on to autocard is different than this forum uses.  Though some articles have a minimum of cards to make this change, others have dozens.  The fact is that I simply cannot afford the time to format the article to be as informative and, frankly, useful if I were to copy/paste it.

I write these articles to help contribute to the EDH community in my own way.  If this is a problem for you, I ask you to simply not read.  If this is a problem for the moderators, they will inform me, and I sadly will have to cease contributing in this manner.  For the rest of you, I hope you can forgive the extra mouse click it takes to reach my contrbutions.
Well then maybe you should simply rely on the traffic that your site gets, or post it here. Because in my opinion, you are simply exploiting this site to promote yourself and your exmployer/site/whatever, not to contribute to this forum. I for one, probably would have read your article had it been anything but blatant advertising, not discussion/contribution. I did not follow your link however.



I don't know, i feel like this article in particular contributed greatly towards my EDH building, all located in one easy-to-find link. I now know of viable alternatives to overpriced cards that I can use and I have seen what other posters on this forum believe to be valid reasons for the inclusion of these "staples" within their decks. So it's given me something to ponder while I work on my all artifact deck.

You really need to relax. The Magic Community is massive, relying on the insight of its players to grow and develop, which is used by Wizards to continue to develop this card game we all enjoy. If this is the optimal way in which TyGuy42 can contribute to that development, let him be. 

This is not blatant advertising as you describe. Before you posted, a small discussion was brewing. And on these forums, where discussions quickly die off regarding any topic other than Standard format, a burgeoning discussion is welcomed.   

I've found Darksteel Pendant to be a really, REALLY cheap alternative to the Top.

Current EDH Decks: Radha Timmy, Oona exile/mill, Edric aggro, Marath tokens, Uril Voltron, Ertai counters, Sek'Kuar sac engines, Ezuri elf tribal, Oloro life gain, Zedruu tokens, White Mikaeus indestructible, Riku allies, Ghave synergy, Momir Vig Simic to a fault, Zur pillow fort/extort, Cromat artifacts, Rafiq aggro, Nekuzar zombies, Prossh creature beats, Roon ETB/bounce, Garza Zol vampires.

 

 

 

Like you said, you are exploiting this site for exposure, to further your writing career.

Why else would you be so reluctant to simply post your article here?

After all this a text based message board... but that doesn't meet your criteria for posting an "article"?

I'm not going to follow your link, because I shouldn't have to. Therefore, this thread has nothing to offer and is nothing more than advertising an for outside site. Just because you are the author of the thread and the author of the article does not mean your post is anything short a lazily assembled post containing nothing more than a title and a link to an outside site, designed to direct traffic from this site to yours.

Post your information here, so that way I can read it and discuss it. Otherwise, please stop using this site for advertising.

Sidenote: This is my feedback. Hope you appreciate it.


Wy are you hating so much on Ty guy?  All he has done is provide articles that have increased the a discussion on this board.  That in itself promotes more people to post on this forum. The articles are well written and always relevant to my interests, and they always promote discussion.  

Gusse what there are a lot of other sites dedicated to Magic.  I know I was surprised to find that out too.  I even happen to enjoy reading some other EDH forums.  Am I a traitor?  Should I get the ban hammer for reading other forums?  So why are you out for his blood?  He already explained why he doesn't post these as there own thread.  And get famous writing about magic cards I really had a good laugh about that .  Thanks I like to start my mornings with a good laugh. But seriousley the guy writes good articles that promote good discussion.  Discussion that your inflammatory posts can only quell.  So shame on you sir for attacking some one who is only trying to bring knowledge and conversation to a format that is often over looked.  That is my feedback to you. Hope you appreciate it 
@Tremor: I agree that Mana Drain is the best counterspell in magic...in a vacuum. However, in practice I'd still argue that Cryptic Command is better.
I don't see him actually advertising a product. He receives no monetary incentive for writing said articles. I think it's time to go buddy. Let him do his thing.

@Tremor: I agree that Mana Drain is the best counterspell in magic...in a vacuum. However, in practice I'd still argue that Cryptic Command is better.



I agree that cryptic command can be game breaking.  Especially when using it a counter spell and tapping all creatures and swinging for win.  But Mana drain OMG.  Imagine this scenerio.  Your on the draw and you mana drain someones turn five spell if you havent missed a land drop that puts you at 10 mana turn 5  thats time stretch- Eldrazi range turn 5 and that assumes you havent ramped.  Thats entwined tooth and nail to combo out for my Riku deck.  So While it pains me to addmit that Cryptic command is a better counterspell in EDH than Force of will (Still the best over all counterspell ever printed)  Mana drain is the best in the format. 

TO tyguy.  I was curious why Kiki Jiki didnt make the list of over priced staples and cheap alternitives?  I think though you would be hard pressed to find reasons not to play kikijiki unless you do not want to combo build with him.  Even if you do not.  SO many EDH creatures have powerful EBT effects I think you would be hard pressed to find a deck that he doesnt fit in.  I Run a rainbow progen deck that runs 23 legandary creatures.  I still find a place for Kiki Jiki,  becuase the non legendary creatures I run in the deck are amazing

I agree with most of the assemnt on this list.  and I would like to second that I think this is the best article that you have written.

Lastley I would like to mention Chord of calling as a cheap budget to tooth and nail.  Now while not the exact effect.  I feel it merits a mention.  In a riku deck does a really good impression of tooth and nail. 

I would like to sugest a topic for you.  Underrated cards in EDH.  There was a lengthy thread on here about the subject and it got a lot of posts.

Keep up the good work

Mox
I'm aware of possible situations. That's why I said in a vacuum.

Imagine this scenario. Your opponent just cast Wit's End on you. Your next draw is Mana Drain. You follow your following turn by whiffing and drawing a land.

Now in this same scenario with Cryptic Command you can Dismiss and hope to draw additional action. You can pseudo-fog, to buy time if you're on that sort of clock. You can Boomerang Aurelia, the Warleader/Oblivion Stone/The Abyss to the opponent's hand. I'm sorry but there's just so many more situations that this card is amazing at. This is kindof redundant. This card is strictly better in real world applications. Yes Mana Drain is going to be bigger, splashier and just better some of the time. But most of the time Cryptic Command is better.
I'm aware of possible situations. That's why I said in a vacuum.

Imagine this scenario. Your opponent just cast Wit's End on you. Your next draw is Mana Drain. You follow your following turn by whiffing and drawing a land.

Now in this same scenario with Cryptic Command you can Dismiss and hope to draw additional action. You can pseudo-fog, to buy time if you're on that sort of clock. You can Boomerang Aurelia, the Warleader/Oblivion Stone/The Abyss to the opponent's hand. I'm sorry but there's just so many more situations that this card is amazing at. This is kindof redundant. This card is strictly better in real world applications. Yes Mana Drain is going to be bigger, splashier and just better some of the time. But most of the time Cryptic Command is better.



Im not saying cryptic command is not amazing.  It certinely is.  I feel its most prohibitive drawback is the UUU in the casting cost.  And cryptic command is not always game breaking and mana drain isn't always game breaking but far and away the best two counter spells in format.  The UUU makes cryptic command a harder splash for decks that can not afford shock-dual-fetch lands.  Now if you can't afford those the likley hood of affording a mana drain is low.  So because of avilbility and money cost and game state affect should cryptic command be run in every deck that has blue?  I know I do.  The same goes for mana drain.  If you can run it in a deck that has blue go ahead.  But as I have played it It usally ends up being a dismiss that costs one more U to cast. (However I never run dismiss)  The other two options on mana cryptic are what pushes it over the top into game breaking.  It has saved my life sevral times by tapping an opponets creatures down when they are about to swing for leathel. It is amazing but not every time I cast it does something amazing happen.   When I cast mana drain I almost alway have an epic next turn. 

I would also like to add about arguing over wich one of these cards is better is silly.  They are both incredible
Cryptic is far better than mana drain.  Poorer counterspell, better card.  In situations where I can cast both, I'd rather have cryptic.  They're both situational, though. 

Mana drain has led to pretty solid follow-up turns, like Mox has said.   
Cryptic out shines mana drain when your deck isn't capable of using the free mana and winning.

In almost all respects I find arcane denial better than both in the average blue deck.

3DH4LIF3

Cryptic out shines mana drain when your deck isn't capable of using the free mana and winning. In almost all respects I find arcane denial better than both in the average blue deck.



Ohh you and arcane denial.  I do love that card.  I think it is really underratted and it is one of 5 counterspells that I will run in EDH, and I will always defend its honer to nay saysers.  But to mention it in the same breath as mana drain?  Really? I know the 1u hard counter is amazing and it is eaiser to hide from you opponets but better than cryptic or mana drain....  I have my doubts, only because it allows your opponet to draw two cards.  Sure you get to draw one too.  But Ive never had a game get blowen wide open or win outright off an arcane danial. 

And if you are playing mana drain chances are your deck is capable of winning with the free mana. 
I can only assumed you guys have never played with mana drain. One of the perks of playing online, I guess (when I got my drains they costed about 12 tix a pop).

I really don't agree with both disturbed185 and niheloim's assessments. Mana drain is not just good in 'some' situations. How often does an opponent do something you'd rather they didn't? EVERY TURN. How often do you wish you had more mana available? EVERY TURN. In the obscure example disturbed185 gave (who plays wit's end in multiplayer? Seriously?), any more expensive card with a bigger effect is going to look better than a smaller counterpart. [C]Relic crush[/c] would be preferable to nature's claim, even though it's a worse card overall. [C]Thran dynamo[/c] would be better than sol ring. [C]Opportunity[/c] would be preferable to ancestral recall, etc....you get the point. A situation where you have lots of mana and nothing to do with it is not a position you should be in very often....and if you are, you should be doing some deck tuning to prevent that from being the case.

I'm not bashing command - I love that card. But the mana surge you get from drain is far more powerful than you're giving it credit for, AND you're ignoring the fact that mana cost is very important to countermagic. It's debateable whether or not drain's effect is more powerful than cryptic (the mana generation is stronger than any of cryptic's modes, and the flexibility is what makes it debateable), but at half the mana cost it's a no-brainer that it's the better card.

Commander is an interesting format, both in gameplay and in the out-of-game discussion.  Because of the variety of deck possibilities and card choices, each deck ends up being very unique – in strategy, in execution, in theme, etc.  With 100 cards, the possibilities are endless (well, not endless, there are only so many unique Magic cards, so the possible combinations are finite, but rest assured that the exact number would have a lot of zeros).

Some cards, however, make their way into more decks than others, and for good reason.  The cards I’m talking about – “staples”, as they are known – have a proven track record of being well-worth the card slot they take up.  These staples also have a huge variance in their prices – some, like Rupture Spire or Ashes to Ashes, you can pick up with pocket change.  Some are more mid-range, ranging from $4 to $10, like Duplicant or  Swords to Plowshares.  Some still are more expensive.  It is the last group of cards that I will be talking about today.


EDH is a format that is both cheap and expensive, all at the same time.  It’s expensive because some of the staples can be pricey (ranging anywhere from next-to-worthless to upwards of $40).  It’s also cheaper, on the other hand, because you only need one of each card instead of a 4-of playset.  It’s all in how you look at it.


IS [FILL IN THE BLANK] WORTH IT?


Let me first say that any card being “worth it” is entirely subjective – I only can say what I have found from my experience.  Also, today we’ll only be talking about regular EDH deckbuilding – pauper has its’ own rules, while every edge (no matter how small) is “worth it” for Duel Commander.  Once you start looking at cards that improve your deck by a matter of percentage points, you start getting into the highest value cards.
Let’s take the Legacy staples for an example.  Cards like the ABU dual lands (Plateau), Force of Will or Dark Confidant.  These cards are all the best at what they do – and their price tags reflect this.  In the end, though, as great as they are, getting yourself the Ravnica shocklands,  Pact of Negation, or Dark Tutelage instead will save you a ton of money, and you’ll get nearly the same functionality for your EDH deck.  Unless you’re able to get one of these cards cheaply, or through a trade you’re happy with, going out of your way to buy one only gives you a percentage point or two added to your deck’s effectiveness, and to me, that’s just not worth it.  Especially when you could easily spend the $60-$150 elsewhere (each).
So what is worth it?  What should you spend your hard-earned money on?  I’ll take a look at some of the $10+ cards commonly seen in EDH and give you a brief analysis, as well as a cheaper alternative or two, and let you decide.


Here we go!  In no particular or practical order:



Sensei’s Divining Top: ~$12


This is the poster-child for $10+ staples.  As a colourless artifact, it can fit in almost every deck – and it probably should.  It’s functionality is great (who doesn’t have a spare mana half of the time?), it sets up your land drops, it helps you dig when you need an answer, it protects itself (Krosan Grip being its’ nemesis).  The only card really comparable to the Top is maybe Sylvan Library, but Top is almost always better.


Cheaper Alternative;  Crystal Ball – <$1.00
Verdict:  Though there’s the argument that the card is too good – it goes in every deck and reduces the variability of decks (one of EDH’s biggest draws), the verdict is an emphatic “Yes”.  There’s a reason why you see this card in so many decks.  Not only is it that good, its’ usefulness is unmatched by a wide margin.



Demonic Tutor: ~$15+


The granddaddy of all tutors, is also usually considered the best.  There’s no restrictions (Beseech the Queen, Enlightened Tutor), it doesn’t send the tutored card to the top of your library (Liliana Vess), and you don’t have to pay any alternate cost ( Vampiric Tutor).  Still, there are a lot of tutors in Magic’s long history.  Though some cost more to cast, they’re cheaper for your wallet.


Cheaper Alternative: Diabolic Tutor – <$1.00
Verdict:  It’s the best tutor around, but you get the same functionality out of a lot of others, and some of the newer ones tutor for more than one card (Increasing Ambition, for example).  It’s really your call, but here’s a card I feel you can pass over until you find a good deal.



Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: ~$15+


The most tutored-for land in the history of EDH (well, maybe tied with Cabal Coffers – depends on which one you draw first), Urborg is most effective in Black/X decks as a way to fix your mana, and later on, get a really, really big mana pool (through Coffers and cards like Nirkana Revenant).
Because it’s a land drop and comes into play untapped, you lose no tempo.  Sometimes when it comes into play, it’s just a swamp, but others, it makes your deck explode, all without costing you any mana.


Cheaper Alternative: Blanket of Night – <$1.00
Verdict:  Every EDH collection should have at least one Urborg if you play Black at all – it’s miles ahead of any other card that does anything similar.  Just remember that it’s legendary, so it’s a common Vesuva target.



Doubling Season: ~$25


Doubling Season is one of those cards that casual players just love (which explains the price tag, considering it sees no competitive play).  People like getting things, and people like getting double of those things twice as much.  Because Planeswalkers have become part of the game after Doubling Season was printed, it’s almost guaranteed never to be reprinted again, unless it is in a premium product (like a “From the Vaults”, for example).  This card goes into any deck that runs any kind of counter or token as a central strategy – +1/+1 counters, token creatures, and not to mention that Planeswalkers are just busted with this in play.


Cheaper AlternativesParallel Lives – ~$4 and Corpsejack Menace – ~$2 split the difference, though the  two together still don’t add up to a Doubling Season.
Verdict:  Most decks can skip it, but if your deck can use it, Doubling Season makes your deck so much better that you’d be crazy not to run it.  It’s the best card at what it does by a wide margin, and if you have any of the alternatives out along with Doubling Season, you get 4x as many counters and/or tokens.  It’s a fun card, but more importantly, it’s the best card if your deck can use it.



Wheel of Fortune: ~$15+


Until recently, Red had very little in the way of card draw.  For a long time, it looked like we wouldn’t see any more of the “Wheel” effects for Red.  Thankfully, we’ve since seen a few (Dragon Mage, for example), but they’re still few and far between.
Most useful in colour combinations with little card draw (mono-Red, Red/White, Red/Green even), when it’s necessary, it’s very necessary.

Cheaper Alternative
: Reforge the Soul – <$1
Verdict:  If you’re in the colours that need the card draw, you pretty much have to run every Wheel effect you can get your hands on.  Besides the fact that it can disrupt your opponents plans (but can also help them – so it is risky business), it keeps you from running out of steam.  This is a big thumbs up from me – besides being a great card, it’s also a lot of fun to play.



Maze of Ith: ~$26+


Until its’ recent reprint in From the Vault: Realms, the Maze was one of those cards that separated those new to the format from the old guard.  It’s a nearly unique card and has some great utility, but it’s doesn’t produce mana, so you need to cut a land for it (as it takes up a land drop).  It protects you from a big creature or Commanders (especially when you can copy it with Vesuva, and have a Kor Haven and a Mystifying Maze out as well.  Make yourself a “pillowfort” using only land drops!), and it can keep one of your attacking creatures alive when something unexpected happens.


Cheaper Alternative: Mystifying Maze – <$1
Verdict:  Though it is a staple in some decks (Kaalia of the Vast or pillowfort/combo decks), I’d say that this is one you can pass on until you can find a good deal – there’s other effective ways to prevent attacks that don’t take the form of a non-mana producing land.  Great card, though.



Bribery: ~$17


There has been a lot said on the “fairness” of Bribery, so I won’t go into that.  It’s a very powerful card.  For 5 mana, you can often get an opponent’s creature for much cheaper than they ever could.  I feel Bribery serves a great secondary function, though – it keeps people from playing cards like Blightsteel Colossus or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in their decks.  Few want to face those creatures, especially when it came from your deck in the first place.


Cheaper Alternative: Sphinx Ambassador – ~$2
Verdict:  It’s a judgement call, it really depends on your meta.  If crazy creatures are ruling your games, then it might be a good idea to start playing this card.  It makes your opponents think twice about adding an Eldrazi to their decks.  Otherwise, you can probably skip it, though it is almost never a dead draw – it pretty much reads “put the best creature in target player’s library onto the battlefield under your control”.



Mirari’s Wake: ~$15


Whoever has the most mana usually wins the game, and Mirari’s Wake is pretty much the only way for a multi-colour deck to double their mana (and not their opponents, as well (Keeper of Progenitus, I’m looking at you…).  I’m often surprised by how often people will allow opponents to keep their mana doublers – sometimes, there’s a more imminent threat in play, but I’ll still go after the mana doubler more often than not, and you should too.


Cheaper Alternative: Caged Sun – ~$2. Only as effective for mono-colour.
Verdict: If you have G/W in your deck, you’d be crazy not to run this card.  Mirari’s Wake is explosive, and once it lands, it can lead to swift victory.



Cryptic Command: ~$32


All of the Lorwyn “commands” are great for EDH (though the power-level varies), and all can find their place in their respective colours’ decks.  The Blue one, though, is arguably the best – Counter, Bounce, Draw, Tap, all undeniably Blue effects, and each one is quite useful.


Cheaper Alternative: Dismiss – <$1 gives="" you="" the="" two="" most="" common="" choices="" for="" same="" converted="" mana="" cost="" br=""> Verdict:  Though some will disagree, I feel that Cryptic Command is the best counterspell in EDH.  You have unmatched utility for four mana, and I’ve seen this card win games – not many counterspells can make that claim.  If it’s in your budget, you should definitely pick one up.  That being said, there are literally dozens of counterspells to choose from, so only make the choice to buy this one if you feel you’re at the point where you don’t mind spending that much money on one card.



Tooth and Nail: ~$12


Every deck needs a win condition or two, and Tooth and Nail is one such card.  Imagine tutoring-into-play an Avenger of Zendikar and a Craterhoof Behemoth at the same time, stacking their Enter the Battlefield abilities the right way – you’d have a bunch of giant creatures.  Or, you could tutor in Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts for the combo-win.  This card can win the game once it resolves.


Cheaper Alternative: Defense of the Heart – ~$10 – you know that this is a powerful effect when the only comparable, cheaper alternative is still worth $10.
Verdict:  This one is your call – it depends on how competitive your meta is.  Be warned, though, that there are rumours that the “powers that be” are keeping a close eye on this card.  Where it was once merely powerful, with creatures’ power level ratcheting up every year, it is bordering on broken – don’t be surprised if Tooth and Nail sees the “banhammer” in the next 2 or 3 years, and then it’s value will plummet (like Primeval Titan‘s did).



Damnation: ~$30


Around the time of the Time Spiral block, it was decided that Black should have its’ own Wrath of God.  Though most of the experimenting with the colour pie didn’t leave many lasting changes to the game, giving Black boardwipe is one change that has stuck around, and Black has seen more boardwipe cards get printed in recent years.  Damnation is still one of the cheapest (mana-wise) and arguably the best.


Cheaper Alternative: Life’s Finale – <$1
Verdict:  Though it’s the best Black boardwipe, I feel that there are enough other, cheaper options that you can wait until this card inevitably gets reprinted.  It may not be until a premium product or Modern Masters, but I personally believe that Damnation is a prime target for a strategic reprint.  Of course, I could be wrong, in which case, it’s not getting any cheaper.  This one I leave up to you.



Karn Liberated: ~$35


Finally, I’ll be looking at the only Planeswalker I’ve included on this list.  I remember picking my jaw up off the floor when I first saw his ultimate, but after some time, I realized most of his usefulness would be his -3 ability – exile target permanent.  Because he’s colourless, Karn can go in any deck, but where he really shines is mono-red, mono-black, and mono-blue, and any combination thereof.  Those three colours have the hardest time dealing with non-creature permanents (namely, Enchantments, and to a lesser extent, artifacts).  Karn allows these colours the ability to deal with troublesome permanents in a colourless way.


Cheaper Alternative: Spine of Ish Sah – <$1
Verdict:  Once Karn hits the battlefield, he must be dealt with.  The level of control he gives you is often too much for your opponents to cope with if he isn’t handled swiftly.  Unless you’re playing White or Green in your deck, Karn is pretty much an auto-include in your deck.


These are all cards I have played with personally, so each of these recommendations I give from experience.  Most of these cards will never again see a mass reprint, so picking them up now (if they can fit into your decks and/or budget) could save you a lot of money in the long run.  Others, you can wait until you can start picking up the $10-$15 cards to “finish off” your decks – some of the older cards on the list won’t go up in value much in the near future.  The older the card, generally speaking, the more stable the price.
For those of you playing with a tighter budget, fear not!  I’ll have a similar columns for low and mid-range staples in the future.  You don’t have to run expensive cards to be able to win in EDH, as I’ll also discuss in future columns – my “best” casual decks also happen to be my cheapest.


Until next time, keep turning cards sideways.


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Thanks, Tyguy.  Good stuff.
 I do like the article you write Ty.  Thanks for contributing to the community!
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