The Top Ten Most Reviled Magic: the Gathering Cards, According to Gatherer – Part 2
Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls! Step right up and see design so terrible, so strange, so singularly miserable, that I urge those of you with a weak constitution and a penchant for fainting to avert your gaze and engage in a less thrilling amusement, like the roller coasters further into this park. In part one of this two part series, you were exposed to some of the basest card in Magic the Gathering, as voted upon by the fine folk who glean Gatherer. Today, however, we step beyond the merely horrible, and launch ourselves into The Design of Darkness. For those men and women among you who are manly enough to gaze into the maw of madness, I peel back the curtain to reveal…
Number Five: Bog Hoodlums
Community Rating: .776
Hoju and I are both in the Myriad Games Podcast and participate in the same Magic: the Gathering league. We open a pack a week and add it to our collection, making decks based on what we opened, and reset every season. Hoju likes Lorwyn, and has opened a disproportionate number of Bog Hoodlums, opening one in every other pack. The card makes him furious, and his hatred of it only grows over the years. Whenever someone attempts to convince him there are worse creatures in Magic, Hoju rejoinders with “Sure, that’s a bad card. But at least that card can block.”
It turns out that, although you win Magic by attacking, being unable to stop yourself from losing because you can’t block is very frustrating. The fact that this card pretends to hide it’s terrible power to toughness casting cost ratio behind a fun mechanic only annoys people even more. When you win the clash, instead of getting a 4/1 that can’t block, you get a 5/2 that can’t block. Whoop-de-frickin-doo. That’s like going to a concert, paying twenty bucks for a bottle of water, and getting to play a little side game to win a package of peanuts. You already insulted me. Stop making it worse.
Best comment, made by Demonic_Math_Tutor: I think they just dont know how to do anything but zerg rush with other bogarts…
Number Four: Sorrow’s Path
Community Rating: .776 (While Bog Hoodlums has the same community rating as Sorrow’s Path, Sorrow’s Path’s rating is considered more accurate, and is therefore worse by virtue of the fact that more people have voted on it. 172 versus 161 for Bog Hoodlums.)
Sorrow’s Path. A classic terrible card. Let’s break this monstrosity down.
1). In order to properly use Sorrow’s Path, you first need two creatures that can be blocked, and your opponent needs to have two creatures that can block.
2). Now, attack with those two creatures.
3). Your opponent says “Sure, I’m game.” and blocks with his two creatures.
4). At this point, you need to look at the state of combat. For you to consider activating Sorrow’s Path, there needs to be an advantage to switching which creature is blocking which creature.
5). Activate Sorrow’s Path. Deal two damage to yourself and each creature you control.
I know a lot of pieces of cardboard, but this is the only one I suspect of being high. In order to profit with Sorrow’s Path, you need a rare circumstance to take place. Once it happens, if you activate Sorrow’s Path, you need to, somehow, avoid wrecking your board. Oh, and by the way, the board wrecking doesn’t happen as part of the card’s activation cost. Your opponent can help you out by tapping your Sorrow’s Path, mid-combat, with a Twiddle. Or maybe he wants to tap your Sorrow’s Path every turn, by using Icy Manipulator?
On top of all that, what in Gabriel Angelfire’s name is going on with the art in this card. That is one of the goofiest pieces of artwork I’ve encountered. Am I supposed to think that that soldier would have been fine if he had to fight two warriors, a dwarf and a dragon? Man, I feel bad for that javelin-wielding wizard-killer up there. He was primed with his special wizard’s-bane javelin, but now he’s forced to fight his secret weakness: a midget. Well, at least the wizard hunter will get the last laugh when the volcano behind the hill erupts and deals two damage to everything.
One of the most common strategies that I’ve heard that includes Sorrow’s Path is casting Donate, giving it to an opponent, then tapping it to deal damage to the opponent’s team. It can’t be a good sign, when the best use for a card that you can come up with is “Force my opponent to use it.” Well, at least you can tap this thing for mana while you wait for…. Crap!
Best Comment, made by car2n: If Wood Elemental is the “Plan 9 From Outer Space” of M:TG, then Sorrow’s Path is the “Manos, The Hands Of Fate”
Number Three: Purelace
Community Rating: .768
I chose the Fourth Edition printing of Purelace to point to the fact that this card was reprinted a total of five times. The third worst card in the history of Magic, and we have five chances to get our hands on it! Oh joy!
Why is this card rated so low? Well, pretend its 1995, and you’re new to the game of Magic. You open up a bunch of packs, and flip through the cards. Someone points to the Purelace in your hand and says “Oh, I’m pretty sure that’s a rare.” You got a rare in your pack! Well, okay, there’s a rare in every pack, but you got Purelace, and it’s a rare!
So what does Purelace do? Hmm… it makes a card white. Why does it do that? The game’s about attacking your opponent with creatures… but, okay. It’s just a narrow rare with an ability that doesn’t come up that often. There’s probably a level of strategy where this card becomes important later on. Maybe it’s best to just put it in your deck and figure out how to apply it later.
So you play a few games with Purelace in your deck, and you recognize a couple of cool things about it. It’s cheap. Cheap cards are good. You figured that out fast. Later, you find out it’s an interrupt. That means it’s fast. REALLY fast. This card is cheap and fast. Purelace is looking strong.
If only the card did something. All the card does is hang out in your hand and threaten to stop something from happening sometime in some theorhetical situation which never comes up. I mean, it kind of combos with Circle of Protection: White, but your opponent either isn’t playing white, which makes the circle useless, or is playing white, which makes the Purelace useless. The same problem applies to White Ward. It combos with Black Knight. Kinda. But then you would need to pack a creature that requires a heavy black commitment, and then it… counters a spell that targets the Black Knight I suppose? Makes it so one creature can’t block Black Knight? That’s good? It can make your non-white creature get +1/+1 when Crusade is out, which is more depressing than cool. It kind of works with Gloom, and it’s cool that you can use these two cards to stop a card from coming into play for a while, but a friend later told you that, while, yes, this card is an interrupt, you can’t cast it before your opponent casts a spell. By the time your opponent casts his blue spell, it’s too late to Purelace it and make the card more expensive. What the heck?!
Well, okay, the card’s just ahead of it’s time, right? Someday, in a later expansion, a set will come out and break Purelace. Man, you can’t wait until that day comes…
Best comment, made by jfrei81: Bam! I turned your Blightsteel Colossus white… HERE I RULE!
Number Two: Razor Boomerang
Community Rating: .763
Did Wizards recently print a card that’s reviled more than Sorrow’s Path and Purelace? And in a set that features the most sought after Planeswalker in Magic’s history? Bully, Wizards. Bully to you.
Razor Boomerang has picked up a lot of heat since it’s been printed. Despite that, I once came in second in a draft with this card hanging out in my slow, controlling green/white deck. Pay five colorless mana to do a damage to a creature or player. Gee, that doesn’t sound so good, but that’s not the worst thing I’ve heard of. Why do people hate this card so much?
My guess is that, of the few people who have picked the boomerang up, all have been disappointed. They didn’t realize how often they wouldn’t have a creature to equip when they needed it (or how often a creature would be blown out, just when the Boomerang was equipped to it). Or, they didn’t realize how much of a pain it is to keep replaying this thing. Or it didn’t occur to them that, you know, maybe they didn’t really need the direct damage after all, and stared longingly at this card, wishing it just gave one creature +2/+0 or trample or something.
But I’m going to blame the artwork. Franz Vohwinkle is a great artist, whose done pieces like the Tenth Edition Evacuation. But, in this piece, the ugliest minotaur you know is eyeballing a mysterious computer graphic that was rejected from Final Fantasy VII, which, for some strange reason, is flipping out all over your card. I don’t want to equip this to my creature, I want to spin it into a trashcan. Even the flavor text makes fun of the card, telling you that if you choose to wield this weapon, it will come back and stab you.
Best comment, made by Kurhan: “Few can catch it without losing a finger.” Even less can play it without losing the game.
Number One: Viashino Skeleton
Community Rating: .760
That’s a .760 rating out of a possible five stars, people. This card was voted on by 194 Magic players. .500 is the lowest these people could invest (with many not realizing that you could give a half star rating). This card is just .260 stars away from a perfect goose egg.
But, why this card? As Hoju would point out back in Boggart Hoodlums, “At least he can block.” Granted, those are some terrible stats, and the activation is off color, but at least regeneration is strong, and there are a few cards in Alara you’re happy to send to your graveyard, so why this card? Why not, say, Takeno’s Calvary, which comes in at number 11.
I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the reason is that, in order to regenerate this creature and stop it from going to the graveyard in combat, you must discard a card that is better than it. That is, unless you discard another Viashino Skeleton. Why? Because every card in Gatherer has a better rating than this card. There are 12,412 other cards in the game of Magic that you can discard to protect Viashino Skeleton. All 12,412 of which are better cards than Viashino Skeleton.
So this is a bad creature, with confusing and ugly artwork, whose flavor text tells you the creature should be extinct, and dregs up thoughts of other older inefficient Magic cards, whose ability is off color and asks you to discard something of greater value to keep it around… I… I want to strangle this skinny lizard skeleton’s neck. My hands hurt from smashing them into the computer monitor in an attempt to tear this virtual card off my screen.
Best comment, made by VoidedNote: The only thing this card has going for it is that it’s strictly better than shooting yourself in the foot.
So, what have we learned? While many of the top ten most reviled cards make me want to hold myself while I cry in a corner, there are obvious patterns in the madness. If we’re willing to see past the terrible whole of these cards, we see some interesting terrible features leap at us over and over again. Among them:
- People don’t like drawbacks. Even when the drawback is an option that makes the card more playable, it also makes the card less fun. Eight of the cards on the bottom ten list started the party wrong by asking players to do something that they don’t want to do.
- If you’re going to give a card or mechanic a drawback, make sure there’s some other quality about the card that gives it specialness. Not being able to block may make players upset, but they will get over it if the creature in question has value. Making the card worse, however, fills the trash can. Players don’t like tearing up cards that they paid money for.
- If you design a card or mechanic for your game, make sure there is a type of player that would enjoy it. As with Thermal Blast and Security Detail, don’t assume that, while many players will hate the card, some person will make the card their pet. There are a number of well-loved underpowered and appreciated cards. Knowing why people appreciate those cards can lead to stellar design. Not understanding why those cards exist can lead to disappointment and rage.
- Don’t hate on the little guy. Just because someone is new to the game and needs limited options in order to remain invested, doesn’t give you the authority to double up on that player’s frustration by designing low power into their cards.
- Oh, and if you design a weak card, be cautious giving it an ability that asks you to give up other resources to make it work. You may be designing the next Sorrow’s Path, or Viashino Skeleton.
Oh, hello there! I made a follow-up article to this one based on The Top Ten Most Desirable Magic Cards. Feel free to click on the link to go read it.