Over the weekend, I was discussing some commons and uncommons from Magic’s earliest sets—namely Legends, The Dark, Arabian Nights, and Antiquities. He was sharing a simple photo of a bunch of singles he picked up from a seller on eBay. Nothing too exciting.
But then I saw one of my all-time favorite cards in the bunch. No, he wasn’t purchasing Shahrazad. There were no Jaya Ballard, Task Mages in the lot, either (I’m still gunning for 1,000 copies and am closing in!). Instead, he had a copy of Hissing Quagmire. Stop and tell me if you’ve ever heard of this card.
Why do I like this card so much? Are there other random, obscure cards that people may appreciate for one reason or another that most players probably never heard of? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Why have I owned a copy of Hissing Quagmire for years now, and keep it aside as a card I would never sell? There are two reasons, and neither has anything to do with the card’s rules text. In fact, despite looking at the card every time I open my binder, I couldn’t recite from memory what it does or its casting cost. Those features have nothing to do with why I find the card amusing.
First of all, there is the card’s name. I’m not much of a Family Guy fan, but I’m sure there’s a large overlap between Magic players and folks who are familiar with the quirky character named Quagmire on the show. I vaguely recall that Quagmire has some sort of goofy, probably offensive, theme song. But all I can remember is, “He’s Quagmire, he’s Quagmire. Giggety giggety goo!” That’s the ditty that runs through my mind as I read the card’s name. Every time.
Secondly, there’s the goofy artwork. You may ask why a picture of a guy sinking in a soft, boggy area of land that gives way underfoot is amusing. It’s because, for some unknown reason, the guy is doing the dance from Michael Jackson’s Thriller as he’s sinking. I mean, doesn’t it look like that to you too?
Whether or not you can see the similarity may impact your thoughts on the card. However, the truth remains that this is no longer a worthless, bulk Magic card. Despite the fact that this uncommon sees virtually no play, it can still be buylisted to Card Kingdom for $1.50. I’d wager this card won’t ever be reprinted (who would want to open this card in any booster pack nowadays?). It could be worth grabbing a copy if you have the same appreciation for 1982’s Thriller as I have.
Presence of the Master
What do you get when you cross Albert Einstein with Magic? The answer: two distinct Magic cards from the Legends set.
One of those cards is Eureka, which is a high-profile and valuable rare that depicts Einstein’s famous equation, “E = MC2” on the artwork.
The other is a far more obscure and less-often played enchantment that actually includes a prominent likeness of the turn-of-the-century scientist.
Once again, I couldn’t tell you from memory what this card does. But I can certainly picture Phil Foglio’s unique artwork for the card in my head without too much difficulty. You’ve got Einstein in the center with a bunch of planets surrounding him. I want to say it’s a picture of the planets in our solar system, but there are ten pictured so I have no clue what that means. A quick Google search didn’t drum up any explanations, either.
What I can say about the card is that it has a special piece of artwork and has occasional utility in play, locking out other enchantments. It may come as no surprise that the card buylists to Card Kingdom for $13 as a result. The card is more iconic and more useful than Hissing Quagmire and deserves a higher price tag.
What is surprising is that this enchantment was actually reprinted once, back in Urza’s Saga. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint), the reprint’s artwork did not include Albert Einstein. As a result, copies of that version buylist for a nickel. Because of the reprint, I’m not going to come out and declare this card will never be reprinted again as I did for Hissing Quagmire.
What I will predict is that no card will ever depict Albert Einstein in the artwork again...unless they do some sort of Secret Lair series with famous scientists. I think there’s a higher likelihood of winning the lottery twice, though.
I’ve seen multiple videos and articles citing Sorrow's Path as the worst Magic card of all time. This is tough to prove in an absolute sense, but it’s clear this land has very little going for it.
The circumstances in which this card’s ability will be beneficial to use are so narrow. Combine that with the fact that this land doesn’t even tap for mana, and you have a card I would never play in a deck. Seeing how awful the land is, you may assume it is equally worthless. But this is not the case.
First off, this land is on the Reserved List (thank goodness…I don’t think anyone is clamoring for a reprint of this card). That makes it rare and limited in quantity. Secondly, the artwork is pretty funny. You’ve got the wizard zapping the poor, helpless knight in the foreground and then a battle on a bridge with a cool dragon spectating in the background. The art is clearly the best thing going for this card.
Thirdly and most importantly, this card has earned some notoriety for being one of the worst. Believe it or not, that may make this card iconic enough to be collectible.
As you combine all these factors, you end up with a card worth about $10. Who is paying $10 for this card? Certainly not me—I grabbed my copy many years ago, and have kept it in my binder ever since. But there are copies selling, even recently, on TCGplayer. So there must be demand coming from somewhere!
I’m not going to sit here and encourage anyone to buy this card for any reason other than owning a copy for the laughs. That said, it probably won’t be any cheaper one year from now, simply because it’s on the Reserved List.
Other than a couple of Magic cards depicting guns, Rocket Launcher is arguably one of the most anachronistic cards in the hobby. In a world full of dragons, wizards, elves, etc., who would ever think a full-blown rocket launcher should exist? This card seems like something out of Doom. Yet it does, printed as an uncommon in Antiquities and reprinted at rare in Revised.
Unlike the previous cards I mentioned, I do remember playing this card as a kid. The ability to do a bunch of damage to multiple targets was attractive to a relatively new player. The fact that Guardian Beast allows you to use the artifact, again and again, is something that comes to mind now, but never entered my mind as a kid.
In any event, this is another card that’s not on the Reserved List but has an extremely low likelihood of being reprinted. The concept of a rocket launcher doesn’t really fit in with the modern-day aesthetic of Magic. Come to think of it, it really didn’t fit in back in 1994 either. And is it just me, or does it look like Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is firing the launcher? I don’t know what Wizards was thinking when they printed this card.
But it exists and it is definitely not bulk. Original black-bordered copies from Anqituities buylist for $4 to Card Kingdom. Even the reprinted, white-bordered copies aren’t bulk anymore, buylisting for $0.26. If you ever come across either printing in a giant box of bulk, remember to pull this interesting piece of Magic’s history aside, either for your personal collection or to sell.
Wrapping It Up
These are just a few of the strange and bizarre cards from Magic’s history that are worth knowing about. There are surely more, and everyone you ask will probably name a different card. A couple I thought of that didn’t quite make the cut include Frankenstein's Monster (another reference to the “earthly plane”), Sylvan Paradise (provocative piece of art), and Heaven's Gate (religious reference).
Normally I focus my time tweaking my Old School decks and touting the Reserved List. It was a fun exercise this week to go off-script a little bit and touch on some of the more oddball cards from Magic’s past. These aren’t about to dominate a metagame or make waves in a tournament anytime soon, nor are they going to spike due to rampant speculation. They are more under-the-radar anomalies from the early years of the game, worth grabbing for the personal collection.
Are there others I missed that are worth mentioning? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Old School Discord, or send me a message on Twitter (@sigfig8). This is one topic I’m always happy to engage on, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback on some of the quirkiest cards from Magic history.