Blast from the Past: Eternal Conflict – A Complete Classic Checklist

(This article was originally published on December 24, 2009. spg spent countless hours and braincells developing a comprehensive Classic checklist, and it’s worth highlighting since it’s about to change- MEDIV is almost here! Tomorrow, MTGO Academy will feature two exclusive previews from the upcoming Masters Edition IV set! Check back to see what gems will finally be joining us from Magic‘s glorious past.)

In many ways, the words you’re reading function as part two of my “Brief History of Classic” article. While that one focused on painting a high-level picture of the Classic format, today’s article is getting right down to where the rubber meets the road. I’m going to do my best to produce a comprehensive list of cards that a player should acquire if he or she is interested in participating in competitive Classic.

Compiling this type of list is not easy. I read and analyzed a few similar efforts across formats in order to develop my technique. If you check out the appendix at the end of this article, you can see a reference to some articles that have come before this one. Honestly, the main reason I’m compiling this list is that I’d love to have it and it doesn’t exist yet. Someone has to make it, so I decided to give it a shot.

Hopefully this list will serve multiple purposes. New Classic players will have an idea of which cards they should pick up, established players will be able to argue over the virtues of the cards on this list, and all players will be able to peruse this list for ideas and inspiration. I learned a lot putting this list together, and I’m sure most players can learn something by reading it.

For this article I’m dealing with the Magic Online card pool up through Exodus. I’ve leaned towards inclusion rather than rejection when it comes to cards on this list. Not every card here is currently played in Classic, but given certain developments in the format – I feel every card on this list could be. I’ve drawn on a combination of tournament performance, knowledge of other eternal formats, and personal opinions on how strong certain cards can be to make my decisions.

The format I’m going to use is very simple. Cards under the “Must Haves” titles are either very commonly played across a variety of decks or a key component of a metagame heavyweight. Cards under the “Niche Roles” titles are a bit less commonly played, fill niche roles, or are key components of a narrow deck. There’s also a number associated with each card, which is the quantity you’ll likely want to own. Again, by necessity there’s a lot of personal interpretation in this list – but I feel it’s a pretty strong effort.

I’ve organized the list in two different ways. First it’s simply divided by color (Land, Artifact, Gold, White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green) and then in a separate section I’ve used the same color divisions, but also subdivided based on function. This functional subdivision was particularly difficult, but I feel that I did a decent job. Check out both lists and see which seems more useful to you.

One final note: I know that I’ve messed up a bunch of stuff on this list. I’ve included cards that should have been left off and forgotten cards that should have been featured. I’ve misclassified cards. That’s what happens when you make a list like this. Let me know in the comments! I plan on maintaining this list as time goes forward.

Enough talk, let’s get down to it!

The Complete List, Sorted by Color

Show Lands by Importance »

Classic – Land by Function

Show Artifacts by Importance »

Classic – Artifacts by Function

Show White by Importance »

Classic – White by Function

Show Blue by Importance »

Classic – Blue by Function

Show Black by Importance »

Classic – Black by Function

Show Red by Importance »

Classic – Red by Function

Show Green by Importance »

Classic – Green by Function

Show Multicolor by Importance »

Classic – Gold by Function

Whew! That wraps it up for today. Thanks for reading!

Steve Gargolinski
th1ckasabr1ck on MTGO


The following articles were absolutely crucial to the development of the one you just finished reading. Check them all out!

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  1. The reason why we seperated the lists in two distinctive areas is that Steve’s amazing work managed to “overload” our table capacity for one article! Talk about comprehensive data collection….
    Good job Steve and we hope that we can use your “stress test” to further improve our tables and lists.

  2. Nice list of cards although I do disagree with some of the picks and the amounts it gives players interested in the format a sense of direction for collecting. One major card I noticed that was missing was Vampiric Tutor. I am sure its easy to miss cards along the way I myself didn’t have enough time to go through all of them. I think it would be nice if there was a place we could sticky this and add cards to the list as things come along. Well done!

  3. We are planning on moving all of the lists to our “Resources” page when things are set up. I am sure there are a few glitches and oversights which is not surprising taking into account the amount of work that went in here.
    If we get enough input and discussion we can improve the list “Wiki style” and keep it updated.

  4. I believe he prefaced this labyrinthine compendium with a disclaimer. But do point out any oversights, as this is such a useful and thorough tool for members, as well as would-be members, of the format!

    Great job, Mr. G!!!

  5. KillerOwen – Thanks for the feedback and keep scouring the list for missed choices! Vampiric Tutor is under the black functional section, but it didn’t make it into the section sorted by importance.

    If an editor can fix this, I’d appreciate it!

  6. I have to say that you guys did an amazing job getting this article into something readable. I just sent a gigantic list of cards and the editors turned it into something awesome!

  7. Hello Steve,

    your article was a good test for some of the features of our decklist generator. You actually reached the limits for some of the parameters and we had to find a way to work around them :-)
    We are going to makes sure to further improve the layout and move all the lists to our “Resources” page where it will be available for updates and easy to find. Most of the hard work with the lists was done by ChrisKool who spend a lot of time to make it easy to read. Thanks Chris!

  8. I assume this was just a function of the transition from the original spreadsheet to your the online presentation, but: Is there any way to get the “by importance” lists to actually be organized by importance instead of alphabetically. Perhaps load the spreadsheet as a googledoc and link to it? Or just allow us to download it?

  9. We actually got the list as text and not in a spreadsheet. I think there is no intended ranking within the “Must Have” category. It would be very hard to assign a strict ranking to cards as they obviously change in value depending on your build and metagame.

  10. Yeah the lists were not ranked in any way within the * or ** importance levels. That type of ranking is pretty much impossible since it depends so much on metagame/deck context/etc. The simple * or ** breakdown seemed like the most useful categorization.

  11. Ah OK, perfectly understandable that they wouldn’t be ranked – though ranking are always interesting to look at.

    However, the label “lands by importance” implies that the cards within the list are actually organized “by importance” (i.e. ranked) so you might want to change that for clarity’s sake. Maybe just “X worth owning”.

  12. A couple of other comments:

    1) It would be awesome to have a similar list organized by type (artifact, creatures, enchantment), but irrespective of color and have similar breakdown with regards to their function.

    2) Some of your numbers are interesting – and indicate that I have a lot to learn about the format. For example: 2 disenchant, but 4 seal of cleansing?

    3) Eternal Witness is a threat, not a combo enabler? I guess it depends on the deck.

    4) It is Samurai (not Samarai) – I’m not a stickler for this kind of thing, but the broken link made me go off site to double check the wording on Samurai of the Pale Curtain.

    5) I would love to see some of your notes on why certain things were classified “everything else”. Isn’t rancor a threat? Isn’t LftL a combo enabler? I know parsing these things ad nauseum becomes an exercise in futility… but black is parsed substantially further than green is. It would be interesting (for me) to hear about some of the process and decisions that went into compiling this great resource.

  13. Hi Ronin. To be honest, a lot of the points you made are solid and there are lots of different ways to classify this list. I wanted to get this out there and collect feedback, I’m definitely up for the update and reorganization of this list in the future. Thanks for the feedback, I’ll definitely take your ideas into account for the future. To address your specific ideas.

    1. You’re definitely right about this one, and originally I had a third organization by card type. I ended up removing it since even just the list organized two ways was pretty overbearing.

    2. Disenchant should definitely be a four-of along with Seal of Cleansing. The Seal isn’t even played much these days.

    3. Eternal Witness is a card that straddles functionality. It’s a threat and also provides recursion, that can be used for a million different purposes (including certain combos). Tough call.

    4. Good catch!

    5. As stated above, the functionality classification was particularly difficult. Rancor might be a threat, but it’s not by itself. Life From the Loam can be a combo enabler, but it can also be a card advantage engine in Aggro Loam (which you may consider a combo?) – this one is really hard to classify.

    Thanks for the feedback man, love to hear it!

  14. More corrections: “Slivergil Adept” isn’t one of the evincar’s experiments. “Propoganda” should be Propaganda, although Wizards may have spelled the card itself wrong. “Vendillion Clique” only has one ‘l’. You have a “Cheiftan” that should be a “Cheiftain” in the goblin section. And “Keldon Maurader” should be plural.

    I had a sneak peek at this list so all of my comments about inclusions/exclusions are already accounted for. Pretty much everything anyone could think of is in here. Something cool about this list is that it inspires me. I can’t just type “graveyard hate” into the Gatherer or MWS, and I can’t search for “tier 1 finishers in WU”, either. But with this list, problem solved! You might come to this list looking for graveyard hate, see Yixid Jailer, and say “*gasp* I forgot he existed! He’s perfect for my deck!” And then you click over a tab to the “reanimation” category and you realize that you’ve never had a chance to play a reanimation strategy with Bazaar before. You think it might be good, so you start looking for black cards tagged with “disruption” or “affects the board state” and then you’ve spent an hour browsing cards. Kind of like tvtropes. Thanks Steve!

  15. Hey everyone! In between eating bowls of conch chowder and fist-fulls of fried plantains, I think that all of the aforementioned errors have been corrected (mostly thanks to Plejades). Let us know if any other typos rear their ugly heads. Enjoy the holidays. :)

  16. Incidentally, has the Ox brought anyone a Season’s treasure for maintaining a celibate, virtuous misanthropic lifestyle? I was rewarded with a single pudding cup for my basement hermitry! (Alas, I am lactose intolerant.)

  17. I would not have written this article so close to MED4

    If Workshop in there, I really don’t see a place for Merfolk, who simply doesn’t win that matchup. And it’s even worse if it was Vintage, since Merfolk take little advanatge of power. A lot of your must have are based on Merfolk remaining viable, and Vintage stats will tell you that’s just not the case.

  18. It still provides a good checklist of a lot of the card you will need to play the older formats. Thanks for reposting this and I do look forward to a post-MED4 update (hopefully because we will need a list of Vintage must haves instead!)

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