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Sorry We... Put Brainwash Online Instead of These Cards (Part 10)


And we come to it at last, the great battle of our time (to get these cards onto Magic Online). After uncountable words and innumerable digressions and even some light libretto work the last of the 150 cards I set out to make individual fun of has arrived. Of course, there'll probably be more articles with other bad cards, but this feels like an accomplishment. An utterly bizarre and mostly random accomplishment, but one nonetheless. If you've stuck with me for the past 9 articles, give yourself a pat on the back too! Or maybe like a Field Day participation ribbon for "Article Reading Endurance."

10) Piracy

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Piracy is maybe the only card in Magic that does something completely different than what it says it does. I'm not talking "the Oracle text is different than what's printed", which are all over these Portal sets. I'm talking "the Oracle text doesn't mention what the card actually does".

  • What it says is "Until end of turn, you may tap lands you don't control for mana. Spend this mana only to cast spells."
  • What it actually does is "Tap all lands your opponents' control. Then attack and cast spells in your 2nd main phase without them messing with you."

Because unless your opponents have guppy-levels of inattention or moose-levels of overconfidence, they'll tap their lands while this is on the stack, and then you get nothing. NOTHING!

So... programming what Piracy SAYS that it does would be enormously complicated, especially considering that no player in the history of Magic (at least since mana burn went away) has gotten to actually use it to pay for actual spells. Pretty sure MTGO shouldn't even try tapping opponent's lands as if they were your own, because you just know that suddenly every time you cast a hybrid spell or a split card or something you'll be able to tap your opponent's lands to pay for it. Bugs like that would absolutely creep up. But on the other hand (I sincerely hope) it'd be super simple to program "Tap opponents' lands." Even though, yes, that's not TECHNICALLY what the card does, it's actually what it does.

If Wizards had ever printed "UU, Sorcery, Tap all lands your opponents' control" then there'd be no need for Piracy to come online, or show it's smock-over-quilt-shirt face ever again. (What kind of pirate is that? A fabric pirate?) But that card doesn't exist. Drain Power is a better version where you actually get some of your opponent's mana, but only works on one opponent. Drain Power, incidentally, is so complicated it has its own section of the rulebook (106.12), so Piracy is riffing on one of the most rules-intensive cards of all time to make a simpler Portal version. Doesn't sound like a great place to start. Of course, to the surprise of absolutely no one if you've been reading this article series, Wizards took a rule-anarchist card and beat it black and blue with "simplicity" and ended up with one of the most unintuitive and common sense-breaking cards in the history of Magic - one with its own unique host of problems. Cards have needed Oracle updates JUST BECAUSE Piracy exists! Oopsie.

So, that leaves Piracy in the same awkward place it's lived in for most of the past two decades: A card that sounds like it does a really cool thing that it doesn't do, but does a different less cool but still unique thing. It's the Dippin' Dots of Magic: It's not actually from space or the future, and legally isn't ice cream, but, ya know, it's not terrible.

9) Warrior's Oath

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

According to the flavor text they played by old school Mafia rules back in ancient China. Everyone makes mistakes and fails sometimes, but not everyone gets the cement overcoat for it. I wonder how far this Warrior's Oath against failure actually extended. "I see that you failed to decode this Sunday's Jumble, please report to the executioner ASAP. Sorry, oaths are oaths."

This effect took a 16-year break between Seventh Edition and Amonkhet, so I would have thought it wasn't in mono-red anymore, or in Magic in general anymore. But Glorious End and Chance for Glory prove one thing: Boy, they are really, really desperate to find more red effects that "feel mythic". They turned a series of old unplayable cards into a series of brand-spanking new unplayable cards. So Mono-Red CAN get extra turn effects... but only if you immediately lose the game. Thanks for that!

According to the "flavor" of this card, YOU are the warrior taking the oath to some "lord' who granted you an extra chance (and turn). To which I say "Hey, if you can give me extra turns, just like, keep doing that. I'll succeed eventually! Don't give up on me, boss!"

This is the only extra turn effect not online. And while this effect is certain to make jank mythics now and in the future, we need all of them online for the inevitable Final Fortune, Last Chance, Warrior's Oath, Sundial of the Infinite, Day's Undoing deck that Seth will put together someday and go 1-4 with. Possibly with Gideon of the Trials and Angel's Grace. C'mon, you KNOW you want to see that. I know my audience.

8) Zhuge Jin

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ok, he's not great. He's a legend that does less than this:

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

But is only mono-colored and has more... flavor text, so that's a thing. And having tap: unblockable as a commander isn't nothing. It's exactly worth being the 5th-least popular mono-blue commander of all time! Ok, the other 4 below him are also blue P3K legends, but that's a supply issue, right? Not just because they're all terrible. Right?

As for the real guy, he was the less charming and less intelligent older brother of Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon". The Danny DeVito to Kongming's Ahnold, basically. Despite this, he had "loyalty", so he ended up being a top advisor and general for 20 years anyway. He indeed ended up being a terrible general and also a pretty terrible diplomat as mentioned in his flavor text, but he was allegedly very good at politeness and court decorum.

Sometimes you're the Luke Skywalker and the story's about you, and sometimes you're the C-3PO and you know protocol. Either way, you still get into the history books with all the action figures and merchandising you can handle. Or, more directly in the case of everyone from P3K we've discussed, you still get your own Dynasty Warriors character. And here's his:

Zhuge

Dang, the card for Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist makes him look like a vampire elf who wears sports jerseys over his bedsheets, but Dynasty Warriors really sexies him up nicely.

You should probably just paste that over the art on the card.

7) Mobilize

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is the rare bad card that actually has a deck waiting for it. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is sort of a real deck in Commander (including 1v1), and this card probably makes the cut. It's also playable with other Commanders like Seton, Krosan Protector, both Selvalas, and fill-in-Elf-dork commander of your choice. It's the third cheap "untap your creatures " effect green has, along with the instant speed Vitalize and the cantripping plus some trinket text Benefactor's Draught, which are better, but you know, third. There's definitely some shenanigans to be had with this group.

And it's got amazing rarely seen Rebeeca Guy art! Of the most laid back "mobilization" in the entire history of the world.

Chill

This appears to be more like a forest brunch than a military muster. I don't think anyone in this picture has the slightest idea what "mobilize" actually means. Remember the guy on Marshaling the Troops with his possibly cardboard soldiers? Cardboard or not, that dude knew how to mobilize. Here, some people are sitting down, some people are slowly wandering in from the trees, people are bird-watching, people are casually leaning on their staffs, etc. Casual leaning!

AND THERE'S DEER JUST CHILLING IN THE BACK. I know from personal experience that deer are super-skittish, and yet there's no less than three deer calmly wandering by. I think it's fair to say your "mobilization" has completely failed to make an impact if random passing deer are gawking at you from ten feet away.

The flavor text also doesn't make a lick of sense: "A rested mind is the sharpest weapon." Um, you just tapped your guys to do stuff, now you're deliberately using magic to untap them and make them do more stuff, they are very specifically NOT rested at all. They JUST tapped. What the card does is literally the opposite of what the flavor text says.

I seriously wonder if this card was originally called "Organize Brunch" and had the text "Creatures don't deal combat damage, for like, at least the next three hours." Both the art and flavor text feel way more like a Fog or Lifegain effect than anything to do with what was printed. I guess if you have some 'Becca art lying around, you're not too picky what card it actually ends up on, even if it depicts the fantasy version of Netflix and Chill. I mean it's not a monkey assassination, so in Portal 1 it all could have gone much, much worse.

6) Temporary Truce

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't know which plane has armies of neon Arabian Knights fighting armies of Dragon Men in the desert, but, uh, I'd like Magic to visit there? It's certainly less weird than Dinosaurs vs. Pirates vs. Vampires vs. Mayans, which actually happened to us and isn't just a bad Mad-libs meme. But probably no one at Wizards knows what plane this is, since this is from Portal 1 and it had no "setting" or "story" or "continuity" or "coherence" or "intelligibility".

It's white card draw! Two cards for 2 mana with a drawback is what Chart a Course gets us, and that card's great. But Temporary Truce's drawback is a bit more... notable. Most of the time, it becomes a sorcery speed Vision Skeins. But it's white, so hey it's all you've got! (Except now they printed the crazy good Dawn of Hope, so... yeah.)

Needless to say, the only chance this card has is in a mono-White deck, because the other colors have actual card draw of various kinds. Temporary Truce conveniently has a drawback for every occasion:

  • If you're playing White Weenie or Prison or a Death and Taxes-style deck, your opponent might often need the 4 life more than 2 cards that they probably can't cast (or can't cast in time).
  • If you're playing a Mono-White control deck, god help you, because this card won't with its -1 card advantage. That's the best case.

No matter style of white deck you're playing, this card has a drawback that'll infuriate you and make you want to rip it up. But hey, that's the price of white card draw!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I should mention it's partner in crime, Slightly-Longer-Than-Temporary Truce, which is the exact same effect on a card that trades 2 mana for 3 mana and sorcery for instant. It also trades Dragon Men for fur-cape and arm-bangle goblins and the desert setting for... two shades of green. Poor trades all around, like that time [SPORTSBALL FRANCHISE] traded [FAMOUS SPORTSBALL PLAYER] for [UNFAMOUS SPORTSBALL PLAYER].

5) Omen

$ 0.00$ 0.00

Hey kids, it's Ponder! But it costs one more to do the exact same thing! Considering Ponder is restricted in frickin' Vintage maybe paying one more mana isn't really that crazy...

Just like Strategic Planning and Opt eventually made it into Standard, I feel Omen will too someday. There's only so many "cheap blue draw that looks at the top of your library" effects you can do without repeating yourself, and it's got a nice short and flavorful name. So I look forward to seeing you in Core Set 2021, Omen!

And I hope they keep the art, because this artwork is off the hook. Or possibly off the chain? I'm not sure what things are supposed to be "off of" in 2018 to be cool. You know what, I'll just start a new one. This artwork is off the towel! An original yet classic wizard outfit, great lighting and background, nice wave-crashing and hair-blowing effects, it's totes awesome. I mean, towel awesome.

I didn't realize I'm an Eric Peterson fanboy, but apparently I am. He also did the artwork for the amazing Odyssey lightning plains, which have $15 foils and hey maybe we should just look at it blown up to maximum size for no reason.

 

Lightning!

As long as we're looking, here's a few more classic pieces he did:

$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00

Wizards liked his Rain of Tears so much they put it into 10th Edition just for the artwork. It's one of the few Portal cards to make it into a modern Core Set with art intact (maybe the only one ever, but my Scryfall-fu isn't strong enough to set that one up).

Also, in a true-life Magic mystery the artist apparently dropped off the face of the earth around 2003 after painting Cathodion in Mirrodin and isn't this guy (whose website mysteriously vanished in the past month), who Wizards once linked to in an article. He's also not this guy, who's art style is more... differenter. Or this guy. Or this guy. Or this guy, either. According to a 5-year-old comment thread I found, always a highly reliable source, no MTG player or employee has any idea who or where he is. Spooky! He could be... right behind you! Painting awesome artwork!

Besides "Who is Eric Peterson", my one question about Omen is this: why is the wizard choosing to scry at midnight on very slippery rocks in the middle of the ocean when his castle is like a kilometer away? Couldn't he bring his crystal ball back to a nice sitting room or something?

4) Zhang He

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The very last of the near endless P3K legends, and we saved the best for last. I mean, duh, that's the way these countdowns work, if I didn't save the best for last I'd totally be doing it wrong.

He's another card where it's just way easier to parse if we translate the text.

  • Oracle text: Horsemanship (This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with horsemanship.) Whenever Zhang He, Wei General attacks, each other creature you control gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
  • Actual text: Unblockable. Battle cry.

Yeah, he's the black complement to Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge. He's especially comparable to Oxid, they're the same stats but Zhangy gains a mana and unblockable and legendary status, but doesn't have haste or "wimp unblockable". He's perhaps a bit weaker, but the fact that he's even comparable to MYTHIC rares as opposed to modern draft commons is pretty special. Almost all of the creatures we've covered so far are worse than some 23rd pick common somewhere. He's an actual non-embarrassing P3K creature. I've cast him in paper and you know what? He didn't embarrass me, which is literally all I can hope for from my cards at this point.

The same can't really be said about Zhang He in other media. This exists. I think every time you deal combat damage with Zhang He, Wei General, you should totally be required to do the Zhang He dance. Ready jazz hands... aim.... fire!

3-2) Ogre Arsonist and Ravaging Horde

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Yeah, it's a cheat, I'm doing two at once. They're the same card except that Ravaging Horde trades "Ogre" for "Human Soldier" and a generic for a red mana. See, creature types have a real cost. Evidence right here!

I wish I could tell Pauper players that Ogre Arsonist would be Pauper legal, but Portal: Second Age was actually the very last Magic set in history to NOT use color-coded rarity symbols. It came out later in the same month as Exodus, the first Magic set to do so, but no one cared enough to go back with some silver and gold markers and color in the symbols for P2. Sorry to say, these are both uncommons.

These cards are great! I mean, only if you like destroying lands, which Magic very much no longer wants you to like. Compare them to nonsense like Survey the Wreckage, Faultgrinder, and Barbarian Riftcutter. I'd show you more recent examples, but there aren't any. We haven't even gotten awful land destroying creatures recently. It's pretty clear how powerful these are compared to land destruction these days, especially blinkable & bounceable & reanimatable LD.

Their main competition is Avalanche Riders, which is in cubes and stuff, and Goblin Settler, and they get +2/+2 for a single generic compared to her, which is a great rate. She's more than $50 now, so they're also a great rate compared to that.

Though I gleefully participated in the 4x Strip Mine era (which lasted WAY longer than I remembered, from March 1994 to October 1996), I definitely understand that land destruction is inherently unfun. It's just a miserable experience for the opponent, and when it doesn't work, it's generally a miserable experience for the LD player. Still, the fact that we haven't had a single main deck red LD spell in a standard tournament deck since Time Spiral(?) feels kind of wrong to me. They cut out a big part of Red's identity and replaced it with... nothing? More burn, I guess? It's one thing to be cautious with LD, and they should be, it's another to go a decade plus without printing a single playable card in a color's core strength.

Anyway, would these two cards see play? Ogre Arsonist slots right into your Ogre tribal deck with zero Ogre lords! Ravaging Horde is a human (sweet!), but Avalanche Riders has already got that covered. Ravaging Horde is also a Soldier, which is a pretty darn weird thing for a "Ravaging Horde" to be. Every other "Horde" creature is a Barbarian, Berserker, or Warrior, but apparently this is actually a well-trained and well-regulated militia. That's randomly looting and killing civilians. I guess if your Ravaging Horde has matching yellow sleeves they're soldiers by default.

So, in conclusion: Uh, what were we talking about? Yeah, put these online. What else are you going to bring online, Dwarven Pony?

1) Control of the Court

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I think I've said enough. So I'm going to do an image and meme only review of this eunuch-tastic card.

Unlike the previous two articles, which contain old cards that due to some arcane rules they won't tell us about they can't seem to put online with their original artwork anymore, there's nothing stopping them from putting all 50 of these online with the next treasure chest update. Everything in this top 10 is a copy of an existing card or a small variation, with the definite exception of Piracy and the maybe exception of Temporary Truce. So programming them in really shouldn't be much of an issue. If it's really that hard to create a copy of Goblin Lore with a new name and throw it into the treasure chests, I greatly fear for MTGO.

And with that, we bid a fond adieu to Port(al)land and all the uber-weirdness it brought us, from hipster time machines to creepy foreheads to the worst legendary title of all time to Zhou Yu giving Griselbrand a noogie to yes, monkey assassinations. But it's not over yet! At some point, I'm planning to write some articles talking about 5th edition, Conspiracy, Planechase, Commander, Battlebond, and whatever-else-I-feel-like cards that haven't made it online yet, either. Till then, stay weird!


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