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Sorry We... Put Brainwash Online Instead of These Cards (Part 4)


And we're back! Today, we'll be covering cards #55-41 (in no particular order) from Fallen Empires, Ice Age, Homelands, or Alliances that aren't online, but maaaaaaaaaaaaybe should be. Why 55 instead of 50? Well, there's a bunch of bad legends that wouldn't otherwise be on the list and I found 55 cards I want to make fun of - I mean, endorse! If you're OCD feel free to skip past these first five.

55-51) Wow, These Homelands Legends

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*Takes a deep breath* Hello, old friends. Back to make fun of you for another round!

All five of them are among the worst legendary creatures of all-time. No real debate there, they just clearly are. Magic design back then puzzlingly costed "legendary" as an advantage rather than a drawback. No one's really sure why, since they're the ones who wrote the rules about only having one legend on the battlefield and even restricted you to one per deck for a while. Yet they decided that costing it as an advantage was the way to go. Tacking 2 colorless mana onto every spell is a choice they made for Homelands in general, so they fit right in.

Here are Daughter of Autumn and Hazduhr the Abbot's oracle text:
W: The next 1 damage that would be dealt to target white creature this turn is dealt to Daughter of Autumn instead.
X, T: The next X damage that would be dealt this turn to target white creature you control is dealt to Hazduhr the Abbot instead.

Notice anything (besides those being useless abilities)? While Wizards has never confirmed it, rumor is that both of these cards came from a single playtest card, and they literally forgot they already gave it a name and flavor and then went ahead and did it again. And when the error was discovered, they just kind of shrugged, tweaked a few numbers, and went back to doing whatever Homelands designers did in the 1990s... Cry themselves to sleep? I'm not sure.

Daughter of Autumn is now multi-color-(identity) thanks to that white mana symbol, so that's new! She's still the same 50-year-old hippie, though. These days I'm pretty sure she lives in a tiny house commune behind someone's organic kale farm. The worst part is that her own flavor text says that she's part of some kind of level-5 vegan cult and there's lots of these so-called "daughters of autumn" running around. How does that square with her being a LEGENDARY creature, exactly? Isn't legendary a "there can be only one" Highlander kind of thing? Isn't that the point of being legendary instead of a normal creature like (to steal an example from the exact same set, rarity, and color) an An-Havva Constable? That is a card about a specific dude named Joskun, but it acknowledges there's other constables out there. Somehow he's not legendary even though he's quoted in 5 other flavor texts and the "daughters" get zero quotes. She's legendarily the least legendary legendary creature (formerly legend) post-Legends.

Hazduhr the Abbot is Magic's first, and for a long time only, fantasy pope. Mikaeus, the Lunarch finally took up the mantle on Innistrad. The thing I love most about pope Hazzy is that his own flavor text tells you that he's a useless Magic card and you should replace him in your deck or you're going to lose the game. "Soon, Serra (a planeswalker like you) will return and choose the Abbot's successor, else we are lost." He's a frail old man who's on death's door without any help from the Tarmogoyf barreling down on him at top speed. I'm pretty sure 99% of us would rather be eaten by zombies and become Mikaeus, the Unhallowed than be gramps here.

Rashka the Slayer is not Raksha Golden Cub. Nor is she Rakshasa Deathdealer or Rakshasa Vizier. Or Rashida Scalebane or Rashmi, Eternities Crafter. Or Rashkashasaka the Unpronounceable. Maybe Magic could lay off giving out rashes for a bit while we sort this linguistic tangle out. So, Rashy here is strictly worse than Serra Angel (who had 5 printings at that time) EXCEPT when your opponent is attacking you with exactly a 4-power black flyer. That's the only circumstance in the entire frickin' universe; she can block a Sengir Vampire while Serra would have to trade. Did I mention that Sengir Vampire was the only 4-power black flyer in Magic when she was printed? There would have been one other, but they gave Hyalopterous Lemure that -1/-0 specifically to taunt Rashy here. That's so mean. Her ability was originally printed as "CAN BLOCK SENGIR VAMPIRE GOOD".

Irini Sengir is goth-dorable. Still Magic's only Vampire Dwarf (Whaaaaaat? you say in shock, I know), Irini is one of those "screw color pie" color hosers that uses White's taxing to hose Green and White enchantments. Sure, whatever. She's the only one of these 5 whose ability sort of does something, even if it's extremely niche, so she gets a pass there. Let's take a closer look at the art.

Vampire Dwarf

Yup, she's wearing a head cape. She's down with the vampire thing and wants the traditional vampire cape, except it attaches to the back of her head for some reason. Missed by about 6 inches, dearie. Or you put your veil on backwards and no one told you.

And where the heck is she standing? The hive from Aliens? That's some serious H.R. Giger stuff going on the background. Hmm... could a vampire dwarf defeat the alien queen? I'd definitely read an Aliens vs. Homelands comic, get on that Wizards.

And then there's Veldrane of Sengir. No ones knows what the deal is with Veldrane. He's got a cool name. He's got an eyepatch. He's got an awesome emerald-studded sword. He's got two wolves as bodyguards (that's what wolves look like, Master of the Hunt). He looks exactly like Keith Richards. He hangs his laundry to dry on random trees in the woods. He's a black creature with activated forestwalk that makes him weaker for some reason. He wears shimmery green thigh-high boots. He works for badass vampire lord Baron Sengir (but isn't a vampire himself) and seems totally cool with all that. An image of his giant disembodied head follows him around everywhere he goes. Wizards has some amazing story here that they're not telling us! We get story after story about how Jace is feeling about his self-confidence today, but we've never had a single story about Veldrane. I'd much rather check in on Veldrane than learn more about how Gideon doesn't like evil things.

Yeah, these cards are terri-bad, but if these are the only creatures preventing us from having every Commander available online (and they almost are), wouldn't we want to eventually get them online? They're probably better than vanilla creatures, right? Right?

50-49) What, More of These Homelands Legends? You're Kidding Me, I Thought We Were Done.

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Ha! Not so fast. I promise these are the last two, but who could forget Chandler and Joven.

Now, something that was subtext in the 1990s can be just regular text. These guys are almost certainly Magic's first gay couple. I'm not going to spend time convincing you that my gaydar is spot on or anything, just look at the cards and make up your own mind. Chandler wears collar shirts and snazzy tiger-print hats, and his name is "Chandler." Joven wears leather with buckles and eyeliner and works at Snarg's House of Sin (no, really). As evidenced on Ebony Rhino, they're partners in thieving (at least), and the thing they most want to steal is a jewel-bedecked rhinoceros statue, probably for the ironic ambiance.

I also wanted to mention that Joven runs a ferret breeding and training program, as seen on Joven's Ferrets, which to this day is still the only ferret in Magic. For some reason, they decided Bronze Sable was not a Ferret even though "Ferret" was hanging out there doing nothing for 20 years, they instead added yet ANOTHER new creature type that also doesn't have any other members. I know creatures types are hard, but did we really need to dig so deep and split up Family Mustelidae?

These two guys are the only common legendary creatures ever printed in the history of Magic. It is literally just this pair of hunks. (Or Twink+Bear? I'm not sure.) So they would be Pauper-legal if they get online. I guess I'll also mention their abilities, which are only semi-overcosted and complement each other perfectly. One might even say they "complete" each other.

Magic has come a long way in terms of inclusion and representation, and, you know, it gives me an odd comfort to know that after almost 25 years Chandler and Joven are still living together as a couple in the common slot in the many pallets of unopened Homelands booster boxes.

48) We're also done with World Enchantments, I swear

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Koskun Falls is the original black Propaganda! Well, just like Propaganda they didn't actually know what color this effect was supposed to be, so I guess they're both more like Ghostly Prison's weird uncles. For only a single colored mana more, and one of the weirdest upkeep costs in Magic, you too can moderately slow down your opponent!

Why do you need to tap a creature during upkeep? Does this roaring waterfall have a hand crank that needs continual turning or it runs dry? I'm somehow not getting the flavor of exactly what that creature is doing to help a 150-foot waterfall stop other guys from getting aggressive.

You would be astonished (I know I was) at the number of Commander decks that run this thing, making it one of the most expensive cards from Homelands. I kind of get King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but Queen Marchesa and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic should be ashamed with their three colors and sometimes running this card. Tsk tsk.

P.S. It's a shame that Rob Alexander's only other snowy mountain scene got wasted on this, because Taiga is super rad.

47-46) Just the types, ma'am

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It's pretty hard to find room on these countdowns for creatures. As we all know, early creatures were terribly overcosted. Early spells were a lot more experimental and niche than today, though often just as terrible. It's just way easier to find unique effects that may find a home online among non-creatures than creatures.

But not here! Both of these are the only examples of their semi-popular creature types not online, so that's worth some slots.

Greater Werewolf (who I call Ren) is the companion to Legend's Lesser Werewolf (named Stimpy). Did you know that werewolves used to be black and put -0/-X counters on creatures during combat? Well, it totally was a thing, you missed it, you're not cool anymore. Strangely, Ren is exactly the same size as his lesser brethren Stimpy, but costs one more and has a worse ability. You can activate Stimpy during combat to lay down some minus counter action, but Ren's ability does absolutely nothing unless he actually survives combat. Templating fail!

The art for Greater Werewolf is nice and grisly, but it's really weird that his mouth is not becoming the werewolf's mouth and they're completely separate. I guess just his ear is a werewolf? I thought it was kind of a package deal, but nope apparently just the right side of his face is lycanthropic. That's got to make for some awkward dinner parties.

Pygmy Allosaurus is Magic's first and cutest dinosaur. I don't count Fungusaur, because that's actually just a colony of fungus that cosplays as a dinosaur. That's more of an Alan Moore Swamp Thing scenario. But Pygmy here is the real dino deal.

pygymy

Scales? Check. Tail? Check. Claws? Check. Feathers? I think so, on his back ridge. Mascara? Check. Bright pink lipstick? Check. Hey, no one knows what color the dinosaurs... preferred for lipstick, it totally could have been this way.

One of the best parts about this card is that General Jarkeld (oh, we're going to talk about him someday soon, just you wait) doesn't understand why dinosaurs are cool in the flavor text. He has zero clue why kids would want a DINOSAUR as a pet. Seriously. I wouldn't worry about that shade thrown your way, Pygmy, there's a whole lot General Jarkeld doesn't understand about life or being a Magic card.

45-44) Alliances Creatures!

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Speaking of creatures, here's a couple from the "good" set, Alliances. Alliances is definitely the grown-up among the mentally-challenged field trip of sets we're examining this time out. Here are two creatures that have interesting abilities that are not 1/2s for 4-mana!

Soldier of Fortune is some kind of cross-temporal mix between 2017 Jason Statham and 1994 Fabio.

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Along with that luxuriant mane of hair, his ability is also pretty unique. Nothing else in Magic can make a player repeatedly shuffle their library for no reason! While it has uses with Brainstorm effects and Psychogenic Probe and against Scry and top-of-the-library tutors, mainly he's all about lots of pointless shuffling that wastes everyone's time. But online, you wouldn't even notice, because MTGO (allegedly) shuffles for us. The one thing I'm not sure of is the flavor here. Does he conk you on the head and your brain remembers facts in a slightly different order? Or just his rugged good looks causes mental palpitations?

Stromgald Spy is a great Magic card, it almost made the top 10. It's a 2/4 for 4-mana! That's close to leviathan-sized for black in this era. It has the annoying "once it's snuck through enemy lines and is almost to the opposing planeswalker, this person you sent to attack suddenly decides she has something better to do" clause. This silly clause was all over cards from this era up through Ophidian in Weatherlight. Wizards actually decided it was too annoying to bring back for Coldsnap, and that's REALLY saying something considering the set had Cumulative Upkeep and Counterbalance. Wizards eventually decided letting the creature actually deal damage to an opponent and still get an effect was way more fun and less mentally agonizing than a mini-Sophie's choice of two things you both want turn after turn.

Looking at hands without discarding is completely off-color for black, and Stromgald Spy has a weird triggered ability that sets up a unique ongoing duration (with an escape clause) that may be annoying to program. But I stand by what I said — great Magic card!

43) Forget

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You know what? Forget it, this card is terrible. I just reread it again and I'm not sure how it made this countdown. I mean, it's more or less the only blue draw spell that hasn't made it online, but that's like saying that Ebola is the only major infectious disease that hasn't made it to America - we're fine, thanks. It's like a Tormenting Voice that's -1 card but also can make your opponent's hand better! Geez, that's a double whammy. Did I mention the double colored cost? Also, that the artist thought he was painting an amnesiac djinn for Arabian Nights, because no one else in Homelands dresses remotely like that. Either that guy's an Arabian-themed professional wrestler or this piece got lost in the mail for two years, and then Homelands designers found it and put it on a card and when asked about it, gave one of their famous shrugs.

Forget I said anything. Forget this card exists. Forget! Forget!!!!!!! *spooky old-time radio voice*

42-41) Artifacts from Fallen Empires

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I've been paying much too much attention to Homelands without properly ridiculing Magic's other tragic, almost-game-killing mistake, Fallen Empires. Let's correct that!

Delif's Cone is a 0-mana artifact that does less than nothing. It's Lifelink the card, except it's one-shot and your creature must be unblocked and then doesn't deal any damage. Sure, that's totally worth saving ONE WHOLE MANA. I've always been very confused by the artwork, which shows a mountain(?) encased in wood(?) with other baby mountains growing out of it(?) shooting electricity into the air. There's clearly a mountain in the background doing the same thing, so yeah, I guess it's a wood-armored mountain. I'm not sure how a pregnant mountain is an artifact or what any of this has to do with lifegain or "beasts causing pain," but here it is. It's no Dark Sphere, but it is the last 0-mana artifact not online.

Implements of Sacrifice is part of the absolutely laughable cycle of Fallen Empires card that were supposed to replace the "boons" from Alpha. They did this by downgrading the amount of stuff you get from 3 to 2 and making them cost 2 more mana. It totally worked! (It did not.)

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Aeolipile (which is a real science thing) and Elven Lyre are fine enough versions of Lightning Bolt and Giant Growth - good enough for limited in Master's Edition 2, which was definitely the worst one. Balm of Restoration sucks about as bad as Healing Salve ever did. Conch Horn is a special kind of terrible. It has the audacity to replace Ancestral Recall with a card that nets you 0 CARDS. And then they claimed in the flavor text that it has, and I quote, "awesome powers." Ha!

That brings us back to Implements of Sacrifice, which replaces Dark Ritual. It's easier to wrap your heard around it if you think of it as a Lotus Petal that costs 2 mana. Is that good? I mean, we have Wily Goblin doing the same thing - he's much harder to cast but leaves behind a 1/1 goblin who's really into headdresses. So maybe it's not totally unplayable?

Also, it's really weird that you have to "Sacrifice Implements of Sacrifice" to get your mana. Is that soccer mom committing some kind of unspeakable ritual involving human sacrifice, or did she just drop her mixing bowl? There's kitchen tile in the background of her card, so I lean towards the latter. I think she was just making dinner and broke her knife and bowl and made up a story for her significant other about all the free mana she got.

 

Alright, until next time, keep playing with the bad cards!


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