Welcome back readers. I got a lot of good comments about my last article regarding Portal. I thought I'd do something along the same lines, this time from the original "expansion sets" (as they were known at the time), i.e. The Dark, Legends, Antiquities, and Arabian Nights. Recently I've been playing EDH and Legacy almost exclusively (and mostly EDH), which has me in an EDH mindset.
I have a competitive Oona, Queen of the Fae deck meant for those SCG Opens and other events in which I expect cutthroat competition. But my favorite EDH memories are when everyone has to read a card and someone says something along the lines of, "Wow I didn't know that existed."
So without further ado, here are some cards I bet you didn't know existed. After each card I will add a little note explaining my recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Keep in mind that some of these cards might not be good cards to acquire at retail prices, but excellent if you can locate them in binders.
The Forgotten Gems
As if those [card Sharuum, the Hegemon]Sharuum[/card] players needed yet another way to recycle artifacts. I came across this one while perusing a store's eBay page, where they listed this little gem for around 6.50.
Buy -- Artifact and combo decks are an EDH mainstay and often constitute the competitive archetypes.
One of those only-once-printed legends, from Legends itself. His ability is pretty ridiculous, and as a tri-color commander he makes for many interesting applications.
Buy -- This guy is very hard to find and is on the reserved list so you won't see him reprinted. As we can expect EDH to continue to grow as a format, good generals should always be in demand.
All Hallow's Eve
The predecessor to Living Death, another harder-to-find and fun card. The artwork reminds me of something from an old cartoon.
Sell -- This card, while iconic, is similar to many other cards. For one more mana you get the effect immediately rather than after a delay, which makes it easy to play around.
While probably not the best general, I can see this card being good in a heavy artifact environment. The fact that her ability isn't a sacrifice means that if your opponent isn't playing white she can act as a reusable Stifle for artifacts (good if you have a lot of Arcum Dagsum decks in your area).
Sell -- Her ability, while having some use, is too minor to be a mainstay general so she's more likely to only see play as a support card in an artifact-infested metagame.
His name is Boris (so that right there means you need to get the art altered to include a giant sinister mustache), he makes minor demons (the only card in MTG to do so) and he's R/B, which is not a bad color combination in EDH.
Sell -- Cool ability and a fun name, but there are far too many generals better than this guy.
Caverns of Despair
One of the earlier versions of red screwing with attacking. Great against those swarm/token decks people tend to love.
Sell -- EDH players tend not to like it when people screw with their ability to attack and this is one of those cards that will put a target on your head, even if it's actually helping a majority of the players.
Gotta love those conditional wrath effects. This one destroys all black creatures, (presumably) leaving all yours alone.
Hold -- Given EDH is heavily about card advantage (it's why you don't typically see Doomblade/Go for the Throat/Terror in decks, as they are all one-for-one's), wrath effects will always be in demand. Although this one is conditional enough that it'll most likely be a metagame-dependent addition, it's a very good one in certain metagames.
Dance of Many
A great Clone effect that kills those stupid hexproof generals for the low low cost of two mana. You can also just clone stuff so long as you're willing to keep paying UU during your upkeep.
Hold -- This card has a low price tag and its last printing was 5th Edition. While it's not a strong hold, there is little value you can extract from it currently.
The perfect "group-hug" deck card. I really want one of these myself, as I can't think of a more fun way to piss off a super competitive player than cast this bad boy and stall the game.
Hold -- This is the only card with this ability and seems very much in the spirit of EDH; it hasn't been reprinted in anything and I can see demand going up.
Drop of Honey
You might recognize this ability (see Porphyry Nodes), but you may not have known it was originally green. On a fun side note, this was one of the "treasures" the guy next to me opened at the Zendikar prerelease.
Sell -- Unforunately, green decks tend to play mana producers or tokens, both of which will most likely be the first to die to this spell, limiting it's power greatly.
For those mono-red EDH players looking for yet another burn spell. This one can get brutal if the game goes long.
Sell -- Mono-red decks don't tend to run a lot of burn and one that hurts the player, while flavorful and potentially powerful, is less desirable than Fireball or one of its many cousins.
An old-school wrath effect perfect for a mono-black deck. The damage to yourself is often mitigated by the fact that black has a lot of drain effects that steal life from opponents.
Hold -- This one is too flavorful and too good in a mono-black EDH deck not to be played. I imagine the reason many haven't seen it is simply due to it's rarity (both age and the fact that it is indeed a rare).
In the Eye of Chaos
This one is amazing when you hate having your cards countered. The fact that it's blue, however, often means you'll need a different strategy than normal. I could see this being used in a tri-color deck that doesn't play a lot of instants and sorceries or conversely in a heavy blue deck that uses activated abilities as counterspells, like Ertai, the Corrupted or the original [card Ertai, Wizard Adept]Ertai[/card].
Hold -- This ability is very powerful in certain metagames and can single-handedly ruin some EDH decks. It's hard to find in trade binders and demand will continue to go up, as people hate having their spells countered.
This one is a double-edged sword. It makes every land into a 1/1 creature, which should discourage players from using wrath effects, but if they do anyway, things get ugly fast. I could see this one used in a deck with lots of artifact mana. You can also use it to lock your opponents out of the game with [card Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] (or just one opponent with Curse of Death's Hold).
Sell -- Cards that affect all players can be really good or really bad. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the fact that you could potentially lock yourself out of the game is a good enough reason to choose not to play this card (unless you yourself plan on doing the locking).
Sword of the Ages
A colorless Fling effect. It exiles the creatures you sacrifice, but the fact that you can sacrifice any number of creatures allows you to easily one-shot a player, even through a lot of defense.
Hold/Buy - I have never seen this card in a trade binder, but its "rattlesnake" ability is amazing to keep those wrath heavy decks at bay. Being colorless, it can theoretically go in any deck, though most likely only in ones that play a lot of creatures (aka tokens) or big creatures.
A colorless blink effect which can be used to either exile an opponent's creature or blink one of your own, saving it from any number of kill spells or even just to trigger ETB abilities.
Hold/Buy - Being the only colorless blink effect and the fact that Wizards seems determined to make creatures with better and better ETB abilities means this stock should continue upward.
A Tinker for two mana that requires you to pay the difference in mana if you try to go up. Ironically, Tinker ended up being the broken version of this, despite the fact that it was printed later.
Sell -- While EDH players love tutoring, let alone cheating cards into play, the card's drawback is enough to not guarantee it a slot in which you have 10,000+ options and only 99 spots.
For taking out those players whose general is their main win-condition. I want to pick one up just to use against our Heartless Hidetsugu player.
Hold/Buy -- This is an ability almost exclusively reserved for blue (though red can steal creatures for a turn and occasionally black can steal them with some sort of drawback), so getting it in a color not known for stealing means it's unlikely that Wizards will print anything similar ever again.
While some of you may already be familiar with some of these cards, I do hope a few were pleasant surprises. These can add a lot of color to your EDH games, and they're worth being aware of in case you happen across one in a trade binder.