Friday, March 11, 2011

Favorite Magic Cards of All Time: Sorceries

When I first taught Luke how to play Magic in Pittsburgh, one of the first things he asked me was "What are your favorite cards?" In a game like Magic, which has been around for 15 years, this is a tricky question. There are just so many cards to choose from, that I just told Luke it was impossible for me to pick. A week later, I ended up writing a draft post on my favorite creatures of all time to post on the Canfield Science and Law Review, but I never got around to actually posting it.

I've been looking over my magic posts over the past month or so, and besides all of the training videos, most of my magic posts have been highly technical. These kinds of posts basically alienate everyone except maybe Zach and Andres, so I wanted to scale back on the tournament based or technical magic articles. Since I still wanted to talk about magic some, I decided to revisit Luke's original question and write about my favorite cards of all time. I will be doing this in installments based on card type, as thats the easiest way for me to be able to narrow down cards. As an added bonus of doing this, you get to see how mean of a player I actually am (which Zach hinted at in this Origin of Species article).

Today, I will starting with Sorceries. Why sorceries? Because I was reminded of an awesome one today that I used to love, so I figured it would be a good starting point. I'll be presenting 12 to you, since I couldn't narrow it down further than that. I will be going in alphabetical order, since its too hard for me rank each of them.

Buried Alive: This is one of those awesome cards that looks like complete crap when you are new to the game, but is actually really powerful. I remember when I first looked at this card I thought to myself, 'why the hell would I want to do that'? Eventually, I realized that black is full of cards like Zombify, which really depend on you actually having creatures in your graveyard. Buried Alive puts a slew of creatures of your choice into your graveyard to re-animate. I've seen Zach do so many sick graveyard combos with this card its not even funny. Its a combo enabler at its finest.

Cataclysm: This is one of white's weird balancing cards that is totally broken in half if you play it correctly. Whenever I used to play cataclysm, I would cast it after I had a good creature and piece of equipment out, and at that point there really isn't anything your opponent can do, since all lands are basically destroyed along with their defenses. Just be sure that you have a winning position out when you cast it or else things can end very badly for you.

Decree of Justice: I can't count the number of games I won after playing this card. Its one of my favorite white finishers of all time. Sure, its expensive to make a bunch of angels, but honestly, I rarely use that part of the card. I usually just put soldier tokens into play ... lots of soldier tokens into play ... at instant speed ... uncounterable... and I get to draw a extra card. Ridiculous.

Jokulhaups: Let me be honest here, I mostly just like the card because of the name. This is one of Red's super annoying wipe everything clean off the board cards. Whats cool about it though, is that it doesn't kill enchantments. So its pretty easy to cast this spell with a couple of super powerful enchantments out and just win the game right there. Also, this cards gives me flashbacks of playing magic in my neighborhood, with my friends and I chanting 'Jokulhaups' when we wanted Richard to wipe the board clean.

Life From the Loam: Like, Buried Alive, Life from the Loam is one of those cards that leave newer players scratching their heads. This card makes less sense than Buried Alive though, since how many combos can you possibly do with just land? A lot it turns out. This card is nuts with cycling lands, giving green a consistent draw engine, it combos with Seismic Assault (a Zach favorite), cards with discarding drawbacks like Solitary Confinement, and it just works well with all of the amazing non basic lands out there. Damn, that card is good.

Living Death: To be fair, this is more of a Zach card, but its so awesome I had to put it on here. Its such a unique effect and there are so many ways to abuse this card. Pay a Buried Alive, dump a bunch of amazing creatures in your graveyard, exile your opponents graveyard, and then play Living Death. Now you just wiped the board, and brought out at least three amazing creatures. Give them haste somehow and you just won the game. Urrrghhh, I just had Altar of Dementia and Penumbra Wurm flashbacks...

Pox: This card is just like Cataclysm, except with more style. Its a weird balancing board wipe that makes it easy for you to come out on top and win the game. There really isn't that much to say about this one, except that its another one of those cards that show off my past asshole playstyle. Also turn one Dark Ritual into Pox is hilarious!

Plow Under: This is the card that inspired me to write about sorceries today. I fucking love this card. It sets your opponent far back on mana and forces them to draw nothing for two turns. Its like a green time stretch, but for half the mana. Things get even more ridiculous when you take into consideration that green is the best color at recurring spells. Now imagine casting Plow Under on your opponent every turn with a Stampeding Wildebeast/ Eternal Witness combo. LOL

Rude Awakening: This is one of those cards that no one ever sees coming and it just kills players out of nowhere. Its also a card that doesn't really seem all that powerful, until you actually use it. With just 8 lands out (which is required to cast the spell and entwine it), you can attack someone that turn for 16 points of damage. That does not include anything else you may have had out. I love this card so much that I basically made an entire EDH deck based around using it effectively.

Time Spiral: As with many cards from the Urza block, every time I look at this card I think to myself, 'WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING WHEN THEY MADE THIS?!'. Cards that refill your hand have historically been very powerful in Magic, and they allow people to combo off and kill everyone pretty easily. The reason Time Spiral is so fucked up, is that not only do you get a new hand, but you have mana open to keep playing all of the stuff you just drew. I've taken my share of 20 minute turns abusing this card over and over again. Also, High Tide ... that is all.

Wheel of Fortune: This card has a lot of the same uses as the card above it, but its obviously a lot less powerful. The upside is that Wheel of Fortune is in a color that doesn't get a lot of card draw, which makes this spell more useful in non-combo decks. Red notoriously runs out of steam quickly, so cards like Wheel of Fortune are a huge boon to the color. Too bad the mechanic is usually too powerful to see print on modern magic cards.

Wildfire: Step One: Play a bunch of artifact mana. Step Two: Play a fat dragon using said artifact mana. Step 3: Cast Wildfire, wiping the board of all creatures except for your dragon and destroying all of your opponent's land in the process. Oh, and you can still cast things afterwards since your artifacts survive. For added lulz, drop a 3-sphere post wildfire. I'm pretty sure this card is the reason people stopped playing Magic with me after a while. Everyday, I get tempted to add it to my Bosh deck, but I have to remind myself that I should be playing fair.

And there you have it, my favorite sorceries of all time! If I had to pick one of these as my all-time favorite, I would have to pick Wildfire. That card is just so near and dear to my heart. Next week: Instants!


  1. One of the more underrated things about Living Death is the card's wording. Creatures in play are "sacrificed". Not destroyed. Not buried. Not dealt damage. It circumvents so many countermeasures.

    Also, it allows me to sacrifice my creatures to Greater Good right before casting it = funnest turn ever.

  2. I have absolutely no patience to read this.