On Thanksgiving, most people go around the room and at least think about what they’re grateful for in life. Online, content creators use the idea as a launching pad to talk about the things they like. And as it turns out this Thanksgiving, everyone here at the Card Kingdom blog really likes Magic cards.
So, while it might be a bit cliché at this point, we’re going to get in the Thanksgiving spirit and talk about the cards we’re grateful to have around. We even asked a few old friends to share in the fun. All we ask is that, as you read our list, you share the cards you’re most thankful for with us on Twitter. Also, have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Yeah yeah, I get it — a Thanksgiving piece where Death’s Shadow guy says he’s thankful for Death’s Shadow. Original, right?
While many of you could have predicted my choice, I picked it because this card taught me a lot about Magic. It is uncommon that a single card can teach you resource management, threat assessment and role assessment. Naturally, I could have learned these things through other avenues, but Death’s Shadow was the first card that really pushed me to understand these concepts beyond the surface level.
Thanks to Death’s Shadow, I know the old saying “your life total is a resource” is more complex than it seems. Running down your life against Azorius Control makes sense because there’s likely no extra damage coming, but what about Burn?
Thanks to Death’s Shadow, I have a much more honed sense of threat assessment. When playing most decks, taking a hit or two from a creature isn’t all that bad. But when you effectively start the game at seven or so life, getting hit by that creature comes at a real cost. Yet while the natural reaction would be to try and kill anything you can to protect yourself, the right path requires more nuance.
Finally, thanks to Death’s Shadow (and the classic Magic article “Who’s the Beatdown?”), I have a better idea of my role in a given game. Death’s Shadow walks a fine line between its controlling and aggressive sides, as you can easily form a stoic wall or close out the game in a couple of attacks. Playing on such thin margins means if you misevaluate your role, you’re likely to lose much more often than you would be otherwise.
In the end, I’m also thankful for many cards, the amazing game of Magic, all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had and all of the incredible people I’ve met through playing this game. I hope everyone has a happy holiday and gets to enjoy time with the people who are special to you.
— Michael Rapp
Aether Vial and Rishadan Port
There are many Magic cards I like, but to be thankful for one? That requires a card that has made the game significantly more fun and interesting to play for me. So with that criteria, I’m thankful for Aether Vial and Rishadan Port.
I prefer games where control of the battlefield is a focus for both players, rather than just resources in hand. I also like it when players have to commit to a course of action early, rather than waiting until they have perfect information every time.
The problem is creature decks, lacking card advantage and instant effects, have a very hard time preventing that kind of no-risk gameplay. If your opponent holds up counterspell mana and you play around that by passing turn, they still win. They get to advance their own game plan with a draw spell instead.
Aether Vial and Rishadan Port are essential tools for board-based creature decks to force uncertainty on opponents who try to play reactively like this. Port lets you both spend mana effectively even if you don’t have spells you want to play right now or capitalize on board control by slowing down further spellcasting.
Vial not only puts you on even footing by giving your creatures flash, it forces opponents to take a risk. Now they have to choose their “response” before they know which creature you’re playing – or if you’re even playing a creature at all!
These cards are huge focal points for skill expression and cool plays in creature decks and I wish there were more like them.
— Tom Anderson
I am most thankful for Wingmantle Chaplain. The best Limited formats not only have amazing core archetypes, but also build-arounds at lower rarities. That’s definitely what the Chaplain offered in Dominaria United!
Defenders weren’t really a core archetype in the format, but the Chaplain gave you an incredible win condition that made you want to stock up on walls. It was especially absurd that you could tutor it up with Shield-Wall Sentinel!
— Jacob Lackner
This year, I’m thankful for Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer — which is at once a fun Commander for the present and a flavorful link to the past.
So much of my enduring fascination with and love for Magic lore goes back to the old line of Harper Prism tie-in novels from the mid-1990s, which I read repeatedly (and entirely out-of-order, dependent on the whims of whoever stocked the shelves at my local Waldenbooks). Yet while those stories are of widely-varying quality and their status in the modern canon is dubious at best, they still hold a special place in my heart, and it’s great to see present-day Magic occasionally call back to memorable characters from that era who haven’t existed as playable cards until now.
Greensleeves is a perfectly-flavored design, with abilities that are both fun build-arounds for EDH and rooted in her character from the novels. I also love that I’ve already played a game with her in which Giant Badger’s blocking ability was unexpectedly relevant.
I hope that more characters from Magic’s forgotten lore get reintroduced to players in years to come.
— Orcish Librarian
I’m grateful for Faithless Looting because it’s a reminder of what once was. Each time it’s cast, it’s like passing by an old, beloved framed picture in a home. It’s a memento caked with dust, along with a favorite Modern deck list. A momentary flirtation with the looting effect in red’s slice of the color pie. A recurring memory of a Planeswalker’s journey cut short.
The latest printing of Faithless Looting brings back the tombstone Flashback reminder icon. I get my own flashbacks to when Odyssey was released. I had just started playing Magic.
Poetically recontextualized, that headstone represents the loss of the Greatest Thief in the Multiverse, or that the card is banned in Modern — or even red settling on wheels, rummages and tutoring-or-looting-but-with-random-discards.
Faithless Looting is popular enough to be among the most played mono red cards in Commander. That means repeated printings, so each preview season resurfaces a warm and pained history. Thank goodness, because I’d rather a Fayden memory than a fadin’ memory.
I appreciate Faithless Looting for helping us remember what we loved.
— Bradley Rose
I don’t imagine you’ll see many people express gratitude for Sen Triplets, as those who admit to enjoying this card are often driven from polite society. However, without Sen Triplets, I wouldn’t have my job as the content manager at Card Kingdom. There are lots of other people (and cards) to thank for my renewed interest in Magic as an adult, but I never would be in this deep without Sen Triplets.
These girls were my first Commander, and the perfect one for me to boot. I couldn’t afford many cards at the time and my collection was starting over at zero, so Sen Triplets offered the chance to make every game of Commander feel different with only a single deck. Plus, cobbling together a win condition from disparate parts made my rare victory all the more satisfying.
And yes, I will admit that stealing cards in game is very much my thing. Esper is the best combination of colors, too. I am openly the monster you expect me to be, but stating the obvious isn’t particularly insightful.
I have a lot of decks now, and most of them don’t make the table shudder with (unearned) fear. Still, whenever I do get to plop Sen Triplets on the battlefield, I’m reminded of why I love Magic so much in the first place.
— Jason Krell