Ban Jace! This was the cry from magic players across the Twitterverse after the amazing showing JTMS had at the Grand Prix in Dallas. If you haven’t heard by now, 32 copies of Jace the Mind Sculptor were in the top 8 (yup that’s four copies per deck). The top 8 included various Caw-Blade and RUG builds all sporting the mightiest of Planeswalkers. Personally, I don’t feel that it is necessary to ban Jace at this time. The last time a card was banned in the middle of it’s Standard heyday was the super powerful Skullclamp. Many people have been comparing ‘Ol Blue Eyes with the clamp but I feel that this comparison doesn’t hold water. At the time when Skullclamp was running rampant everydeck was running four copies no matter what color. “But Justin, every top deck at the Grand Prix was running Jace.” That’s true, but this is only the most recent tournament. Is Jace an incredibly powerful card? Yup. Are Mythic Rares supposed to be really powerful? Yup. Did Wizard’s not realize how powerful JTMS would be? Yup. Is Jace more format defining/powerful/broken than Skullclamp? Not really. I want to leave the discussion to those who are more qualified, but I feel that this topic will ignite debate until Jace is a small speck in Standard’s rear-view mirror. All of the debate started to make me think about Mythic Rares.
Wizard’s went to the four tier rarity system in the Alara block and since then 158 cards have been printed at or reclassified as Mythic Rare. With the release of Duel Decks and the From the Vault series (not FtV Dragons) many cards were pushed up to Mythic status; that’s right, Aether Vial is considered a Mythic. For the purpose of this article however, I will not include the special promo releases. I know that the term “worst” is very subjective. I am basing my assessment on tournament impact, casual experience, and limited applications. I am also influenced by the flavor and complexity of the card. If you disagree just let me know in the comments below.
The “fixed” version of Lord of the Pit never had any impact on Standard and his drawback was difficult to mitigate in Limited where loosing a creature every turn is devastating. I feel that the biggest problem with the Demon was that his casting cost did not allow him to fit into Jund, the most dominant Type 2 deck at the time.
Obsidian Fireheart has a very unique ability. His ability is quite expensive for the return you get. Blaze counters do not stack so your value drops mid-to-late game. 7 mana is a large investment to have a small amount of return over time. The triple red in his casting cost almost ensures that the Fireheart will have to be played in mono-red which seeks to maximize resource development and generate advantage through sheer power. Obsidian Fireheart causes the mon-red deck to loose tempo because of the awkward activation cost. At 1RRR I would rather cast Cyclops Gladiator. At the time Obsidian Fireheart was released it was just too slow to compete in Standard. Fireheart does have the coolest reminder text ever.
A 6 mana, life-gain, artifact (life gain for all intents and purposes). I have seen this card get used in EDH hand in hand with Necropotence. EV can make you near unkillable under the right circumstances. The problem with the vessel is that it just prolongs the game without impacting the board. It is a safety net. EV is a good card, but it does not deserve the mantle of Mythic Rare. For one thing, you can never gain more life than you had when the vessel came into play making it very awkward for Standard play. I think EV will be seen casually in Commander but not very often.
When I first saw this card I thought it screamed Commander. It is obvious from the casting cost that this 8 mana spell will never see serious play. For 8 mana I want win now. What the Praetor’s are Counseling is to wait until late in the game to get back some powerful spells. The problem is that while you are spending your turn getting stuff from the yard, you are not actually doing anything to change the board. The secondary ability of not having a maximum hand size for the rest of the game will not matter very much because it will probably be towards the end of the game when it is necessary to cast the Counsel. Maybe in a G/R EDH deck with Lands Edge and Life from the Loam….
Good Stats and one very risky ability. This Demon wants to be able to combo with something. I have seen a casual Hellcarver list and it looked pretty fun. My biggest problem with the Demon is to potential to totally wiff and take yourself out of the game. “Free” spells are powerful but consistent library manipulation is necessary in order to make it work. If only there was something in Standard that let you have a Brainstorm effect every turn…. All kidding aside, Hellcarver would still have a rough time even if he was paired with JTMS. The 3BBB casting cost is prohibitive in an environment without vivid lands and Reflecting Pool. I want my Mythic Rares to advance my end game without the potential to end my fun. OH! How about Praetor’s Counsel to counter-act the sacrificing? We might have something there.
Some of you might remember that I am not a fan of “level up”. Very few creatures are worth the trouble. At first glance the Master seems pretty sweet since his level cost is only 1, but you need to get him to level 6 in order for his fist ability to take effect and he needs to hit 12 before he turns into a beast. That is a fifteen mana investment. 9/9, lifelink, indestructible is nothing to sneeze at but the master is still too slow for Standard. What would I rather have for 15 mana? Emrakul, the Aeons Torn seems good. I know that it is not a fair comparison but the point still remains. You need to be able to maximize you resources throughout a game of Magic and the Master is far too slow to have the impact you want outside of kitchen table play.
Yeah, he swings for nine. He can gain some life if you need to be on defence. You will probably need to be on defence if you are relying on this Sphinx to end the game for you. 4WUUB is not a very friendly casting cost. The biggest problem with the Sovereign is his big brother Sphinx of the Steel Wind. 5WUB is a tad bit easier but look at the abilities that impact the game. Steel Wind is offence and defence. Steel Wind also shrugs off the two colors that hate on artifacts the most. Sovereign just doesn’t compare to the other Mythic Sphinxes (Sphinxi? Sphinx?) available.
Junk Mythic Rare? Every time I saw someone open this card they looked sad. “Awww I wanted Emrakul.” A 4UUU enchantment that does not impact the board right away. What do you really want to have rebound in blue? Card drawing? Maybe. Bounce? Seems better. It doesn’t work on Jace. I would almost rather play anything than this card. Red gets the most mileage out of rebound but the tripple U in the casting cost makes that a pipe dream. $1.99 on SCG.
This guy could easily be in the #1 slot. His ability was largely irrelevant when he was released. In sealed he was a picked up only as a big flying body. There was never a home for him in Standard when Jund was running wild. He could not deal with the best cards in his own block: Bloodbraid Elf. The Defiler was more of a Mythic fail. His art is really cool (glass half full).
I am always reminded of when I was trying to get Final Fantasy one to start up in the old Nintendo. You had to keep hitting the Reset button over and over again until it worked. This seems like a good safety net, right? You get to start all over. You don’t loose! So what’s the problem? Think about it for a second…. I know you need to ready the card again…. Yup. Your opponent is still at the same game-state that killed you in the first place. Yup. Sword equipped Hawks, Titans, Valakut and whatever else are still sitting across the table and you have nothing in play. That turn one Inquisition of Kozilek aint looking so good now.
#1 Worst Mythic Rare
What’s that? His expansion symbol is gold and not orange? That’s right. Protean Hydra got bumped off of the Mythic squad. In M10 Wizard’s felt that this hydra had strong Mythic potential. Then they realized that it was just a very complex creature that required players to do extra math and need to remember to manipulate counters. This was a Mythic in the same set as Baneslayer Angel! I like the idea but Protean Hydra fell flat.
I know that there are some other Mythics that can make a good case for being on this list (Mirror-Sigil Sergeant comes to mind), but these are all cards that have disappointed me in the past. I know that Wizard’s can’t make all of the Mythics at the same power level as Jace and the Titans but these really fell short of the mark. Some poor Mythics just never found a good home. Remember Novablast Wurm? What about Comet Storm? Let me know what you think should have made the list.
The spoiler for New Phyrexia just popped up as I was finishing this article. Which mythics from the newest set have the best chance to make it on this list?