The Top 100 Cards of 100 Card Singleton

First and foremost, The Academy would like to thank all the people who took the time to vote on the current 100 Card Singleton Banned list that I posted in my last article (seen HERE for those that like to click links). Kool and I will compile this data, along with comments, and send them down the pipeline with the hopes of being heard. It worked last time, so let’s see if will again!

The vote results are as follows:

Poll-Results

(The percentages represent how many of the total “unban” votes a specific card out of all of the votes cast. It’s a bit awkward in presentation, but it still gives a good snapshot of what the community sees as unbannable.)

Once again, this week’s content will be one of controversy for the 100CS community. If you’re curious what, in fact, this is merely direct your eyes to the title of this article. That’s right, the 100 best cards of the format. Joining me on this endeavor as format peer and potential human shield is esteemed colleague ChrisKool (hi!!! -Chris).

But before we delve into the thick and sticky of this, a few finer points must first be acknowledged:

1.) This was definitely a more daunting task than what Kool and I originally anticipated. Some of the top cards were quite easy to discern, almost irrefutably so, but as we collectively compiled what we deemed the best of the best the lines started to become blurred. Why, might you ask? The main issue was tangential overlap. By this we mean that a lot of these cards were hard to place by their lonesome. This is the crux of “Highlander” formats.

Our solution, as you will see demonstrated below, was in grouping cards that were comparatively close. Yes, one could argue the varying degrees between some of these comparisons, and most definitely some of you will, but after careful consideration we felt that this was the best and most conclusive way to proceed.

2.) Although we managed to cheat, in a manner, by the aforementioned grouping, paring down our initial list proved to be mind-racking. Many candidates were simply comparatively inferior, but still worthy of some commendation, hence our “Honorable Mentions” (or, “HM” as they’re displayed below). These are the cards that fell just short of the mark, but deserve a round of applause anyway.

3.) After adopting the aforementioned comparative grouping philosophy, the final and most brutal obstacle was in the actual numeric valuing of each card on the list. We had a lot of cards to cover, especially under such microscopic, public scrutiny. There were many factors to consider when ranking these cards: frequency of play, demonstrated as well as potential power, utility, versatility…

Once again we were forced to make a concession of sorts: we only ranked the first twenty-five cards in what we deemed definitive order. The others are bracketed (alphabetically) as such: 26-50, 51-75, and 76-100. A primary motivation behind this was providing a wider scope of interpretation rather than pitting each and every card against one another. It merely made for a matter-of-fact mess, not our intended goal of giving accolades to the lynchpins of our beloved format. Do note that all of the cards ranked and/or mentioned will be given a brief explanation as to how and why they deserve praise.

Kool nor myself are unimpressed with the notion of creating unnecessary suspense regarding this project. So we will merely just start with the best of the best and work our way down.

So, without further ado, we present to you:

THE TOP 100 CARDS of 100 CARD SINGLETON!!!

Top 25

#1. Senseis Divining Top — There’s no sense in arguing it: this card goes in any and every deck out there. It’s ability to smooth out your draws, especially in tandem with all the shuffle effects in the format (fetch lands, tutors, etc.) make it a vital tool for keeping up in a game that’s slipping between your fingers or staying ahead in a game you’re already winning. Undeniably, a universally powerful tool for combating variance!

#2. WastelandCrucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam are banned because of it. It makes any and every player with a decent nonbasic mana base looks at their opening hand and think to themselves “as long as they don’t have Wasteland…” That’s right, folks. The card you love to hate. Whether it’s mana and/or color screwing you, putting you off curve, or taking out a land with an activated ability, Wasteland (which for all intents and purposes is almost a Strip Mine in this format) picks up the Silver on our list.

#3. Fetch lands (Arid Mesa, Bloodstained Mire, and pals) — A basic tenet in many formats is “you’re only as good as your mana base.” This is most definitely the case in 100CS. With decks this big, often straddling three of more colors, fetches get where you need to be at the basement bargain price of a measly 1 life. The fix, they thin your deck, they shuffle, they double up Landfall triggers, they’re insurance against our number two card in those early turns, heck, they even help towards something as seemingly off the beaten path as putting you in Threshold. They’re a format fundamental and worthy of our third slot.

(HM: Thawing Glaciers & Mirage Block fetch lands like Rocky Tar Pit — speed is an issue in this format, and while these cards are seemingly similar at appearances, the difference in tempo is a substantial one.)

#4. MED2 & MED3 Dual lands — The coveted lands of yore no doubt belong at the top of our list. Not only do they provide pain-free access to two colors, they do so while maintaining two basic land types, an added incentive when using the fetches or multitudinous land search’rs out there.

#5. Mystical Tutor — The only card with a colored mana symbol in our Top 5. Oddly, Mystical’s real power comes from its ability to access other cards. As with many of the Mirage Block tutors, placing its what you’re after atop your deck doesn’t really provide you with the immediate access of more powerful tutors. Luckily, one of Blue’s many fortes is in drawing additional cards, making Mystical’s drawback negligible if not nonexistent. Think of it as skeleton key to any potential problem in your path, which is why many decks dip into a Blue as third, fourth, or even fifth color.

(HM: Personal Tutor — Limited to finding sorceries and at sorcery speed… close, but no cigar.)

#6. Armageddon & Ravages of War — Magic is a game of resources, and denying a player access to the core resource mechanic of the game is a very short and straight line to victory. Although severely underplayed, these two cards are by far some of the most powerful spells in not only 100CS but in any format in which they’re legal. Inappropriately regarded as a “Control-only” sideboard foil, the ‘Geddons are a weapon against every deck. In fact, they’re even better against Aggro decks, which play less land, have little to no draw power, and tend to play out their resources as fast as possible to optimize their threats. Remember, these cards require some set up. But “‘Geddon early, ‘Geddon often” are words both Kool and I live by.

(HM: Boom Bust — with fetches and the like the Boom portion of the card can be a quick wrench in your opponent’s game, but the Bust side is a too bit expensive to make this card playable in anything but the most dedicated of mana denial decks.)

#7. Mind Twist — A one-sided golden oldie! The two important factors here are as follows: the “X” in its cost, followed by the word “random.” The speed, cost, and efficiency of this kind of disruption are just entirely unparalleled.

#8. Damnation, Day of Judgment, & Wrath of God — Although two of these cards are in one color, one of which doesn’t answer regenerators (irrelevant), they’re easily lumped in at the tail end of our Top 10 as one of Control’s primary competitive tools. Let us not forget that this is a creature-based format, meaning that sweepers like these at this cost are just entirely obscene.

(HM: Hallowed Burial — with Rec-Sur looming as a format stalwart, this could soon prove to be the Wrath dujour… but not just yet, folks.)

#9. Dwarven Miner & Dwarven Blastminer — The lands fleshing out our Top 10 are paralleled with multiple mana denial cards. Much like our #2 card, these little buggers are potentially game ending if they hit early against an opening hand fueled by nonbasics. Despite their gradual decrease in play due to the more hyper aggressive Gobbos and RDW builds, these have and will remain format staples.

(HM: Avalanche Riders, Fulminator Mage, & Goblin Ruinblaster — Sometimes killing one land, the right one, can be enough to tip a game in your favor. Add a little recursion into the mix, and these guys get nasty fast. Hats off to these gents… and whatever Fulminator is, for applying the heat with dust on their feet.)

#10. Ravnica Block shock duals — Once again, mana matters. The damage attached to these cards is often not an issue, but it’s enough to put six slots of disparity between them and the original dual lands.

(HM: 2010 pain-free painlands — Dragonskull Summit, Drowned Catacombs and the other three lands are welcome additions to 100CS, gladly taking the reins from the Ice Age and Apocalypse painlands in all cases where you don’t require the color on Turn One- a.k.a. you’re not playing Elves/Bops/etc.)

#11. Survival of the Fittest — Already making a substantial splash in the meta, Survival has successfully circumnavigated its first month of potential banning against much criticism. The backbone of the Rec-Sur package, it’s a forced to be reckoned with by its lonesome as an onboard dude tutor. Also, it’s immensely fun to play!

#12. Eternal Witness — If you’re playing Green, then you’re playing Witness. If you’re not, then it’s one of many incentives to do so. Regrowth as girl wearing a bikini made of Baby Spinach… Sold!

#13. Tarmogoyf — Without a doubt one of the most cost-efficient two-drop threats ever printed. With the wide and wonderful variance in the format, it’s easy to big up this guy to the roof and start cracking ribs and making enemies.

(HM: Wild Mongrel — One of the former best two-drop aggressors in the game (*tear). A little dated by today’s standards, but brutal nonetheless.)

#14. Maelstrom Pulse & Vindicate — Alright, here comes the first of many questionable pairings. Vindicate nukes anything on the table, while Pulse plays the roll of treehugger with its unfortunate “nonland” clause (it’s ability to hit multiples rendered moreover irrelevant in this format). But let’s not split hairs here; these two are sat the top of their game of the best, versatile removal spells out there.

#15. Blood Moon & Magus of the Moon — We hearken to mana denial once more, this time in the form of total and utter shut down for many of the greedier mana bases out there (you know who you are!). The Moons are two sides of the same coin: one in dude form, the other an enchantment. Blood Moon is harder to answer- enchantments are definitely more off players’ radar than any other form of permanent. The Magus thereof is easier to kill, but doubles up as a threat. Either way, the proof is in the pudding, as these are two of RDW and Gobbos most one-sided blowouts.

#16. Upheaval — Once banned, yet rarely played in today’s meta, this is by and large one of the best blowouts in Magic’s long, long repertoire. Paired with mana acceleration (preferably in the form of warm bodies) Upheaval is more than just a board-reset spell; it’s a one-sided one.

#17. Force of Will — Ah, how could we forget Control and Combo’s quintessential nightmare solution to problems big and small? It’s almost as if it was designed specifically to soil an opposing player’s surge of Carpe Diem when you tap out. Gross, bro. Just gross.

(HM: Pact of Negation: Another freebie (well… kinda) and a good one, but not on par with FoW.)

#18. Lightning Greaves — Hands down, this is the best equipment out there. You get in there ASAP, and without the worry of pesky targeted removal or abilities. And for two-mana, and no cost to equip, this is a godsend for any deck that leans on creatures to get the job done.

(HM: Mask of Memory & Mask of Riddles — Two more small equips that don’t affect those precious combat steps but add immense value to your duders. Now if they only had an equip cost of zero too…)

#19. Swords to Plowshares — For its cost, STP (not the band) is the best at what it does: answer a creature… forever. Play it aggressively, play it defensively, however the urge so strikes you. No matter how much life they gain, the dude that runs face first into this spell won’t be coming around for seconds.

#20. Baneslayer Angel — She flies. She has first strike and lifelink. She’s not a fan of demons and dragons. And she’s one of the best creatures in current circulation. Were she to have facial hair, we would brand her “King of the Swings” for her ability to turn games on their ear, but alas the less catchy moniker of “Queen” will have to work for now.

(HM: Exalted Angel, Rhox War Monk, & Vampire Nighthawk — Fellow lifelink’rs in different shapes and sizes, all of which can play a handy second fiddle to Baneslayer in the right deck.)

#21. Goblin Recruiter — This is the creature that turns Gobbos from an Aggro deck into a Combo deck in one fell swoop. Albeit relegated to this single deck for optimal use, it’s ability to end a game the turn(s) after its filthy little feet touch the ground make it a Top 25′er, no doubt.

#22. Elpeth, Knight-Errant & Garruk Wildspeaker — These two ‘walkers find their way into many players’ decks time and time again. Why? Just read the text below the picture, folks. Fixing/accelerating mana, generating/improving upon threats and/or defenders, or simply ending the game in a fastidious manner, these two are top tier indeed.

(HM: Ajani Vengeant, Liliana Vess, & Sorin Markov — More powerful ‘walkers with a wide breadth of insane abilities, but not quite the rivals of Lady Elspeth and Dirty Ol’ Garruk when it comes to power-to-efficiency.)

#23. Moat — Typically the decks that play this card have guys that take the fight to the sky or don’t really bother with creatures at all. Either way, any creature without some frequent flier miles won’t be doing much more than admiring the pretty water as long as Moat‘s in play. As mentioned about Blood Moon, solutions to enchantments run in far shorter supply than other permanents in the format. And if you don’t like being beaten down by guys, you’re probably packing the counter-magic to protect it.

(HM: Humility & The Abyss — Different approaches to the same problem: creatures. While these cards are very good at what they do, they usually can’t measure up to Moat.)

#24. Price of Progress — When a card can end a game by itself, especially based upon something as vital this format as implementation of nonbasic land, it’s better than good (especially at two mana). If you doubt the power of this card or its place on this list please refer to the numerous lands and/or cards that deal with them directly above.

#25. Oblivion Ring — Another incredible answer to many a problem, and once again in the oft-ignored form of an enchantment. And where some of these answers just take something in play and put in the ‘yard, this one punts it out into the Ether. Definitely one of the best and most versatile removal spells available, and the last card on our prestigious Top 25!

Top 26-50

Arc-Slogger — This fatback’s penchant for deck munching is a negligible one in 100CS, making him a mono Red monster capable of machine-gunning an opponent into loss with enough mana.

(HM: Siege-Gang Commander — Another five-drop Gobbos and/or RDW gem that likes to hurl damage into the face of those that would scoff at his campy artwork!)

Aven Mindcensor — At the worst, this guy is usually just a flying, instant-speed Stone Rain in response to a fetch land cracking. At best, he puts a painful limitation on the highly valuable deck manipulation every deck uses in 100CS uses (in one form or another). By virtue of overall awesomeness, this fella nearly made it into the Top 25, but fell just short of the mark.

Cataclysm — If people aren’t playing ‘Geddons and Upheaval, then they’re definitely unaware of the power of Cataclysm. But they shouldn’t be. This a card that doles out giant steaming blowouts like bad advice from good friends. Expect to see this making some craters soon.

Cryptic Command — In the realm of Control, this card does it all. What failed to be countered prior suddenly is back in your opponent’s hand on the coattails of a cantrip or a freshly countered spell. If not that, then it’s gassing out an alpha strike and buying the Control player some borrowed time. An absolutely incredible card. It’s only drawback being those three little tear drops in its mana cost.

Eladamris Call -This is the go-to tutor for many a creature-based deck. Bypassing the whole “top of your deck” clause is well worth dipping into two colors rife with some of the best dudes the format has to offer.

(HM: Congregation at Dawn & Worldly Tutor — Tutors they are, but a bit lacking due to the clause mentioned directly above.)

Elves, Birds of Paradise & Noble Hierarch — By “elves” we are referring to: Elves of Deep Shadow, Fyndhorn, and Llanowar (specifically). BoP and Hierarch obviously have different stats, as well as some ability incentives, but on the whole these five one-drop mana men are the acceleration hub of many a deck. High fives across the board to these gems!

Enlightened Tutor – Despite carrying the dreaded “top of your library” clause mentioned a few times thus far, E. Tutor rustles up a battery of abusive cards from equipment for Aggro decks, win conditions for Combo, and support cards for Control.

(HM: Idyllic Tutor — While it puts the card directly into your hand, this more limited and expensive sorcery-speed parallel is better suited for enchantment heavy builds.)

Fact or Fiction — The conundrum this card presents to the person separating the two piles is always a tough one, every stinkin’ time. FoF generates absurd card advantage at the best exchange rate out there: instant-speed.

Fireblast — If you’re on 4 or less life and your opponent’s lands only produce Red mana, don’t be surprised if your face suddenly feels flush from the sudden salvo being hurled at you in the form of toppled Mountains. That’s right, folks, the mana cost at the top of the card is just there for the sake of cruel, cruel irony. Long live the Red scourge!

Flametongue Kavu & Shriekmaw — These two killahs are the at the top of the food chain in their respective Blocks. Sure, Maw can be cost as a Terror in a pinch or, worse yet, with recursion, but FTK functions on an equivalent plane with regard to offing opposing dudes.

Grim TutorDemonic Tutor for one more Black and 3 life is still a Demonic Tutor, friends. The only thing bad we have to say about it is the art.

Kitchen Finks, Loxodon Hierach, Ravenous Baloths — Another little cluster of goodness! Abusive with recursion, formidable at their costs, these three creatures are almost always side-by-side, applying pressure and bandaging wounds. Sadly, Baloths suffers from the updated Combat Rules, but on the whole this proves unproblematic.

Imperial Recruiter — Red’s second best living, breathing creature tutor in Recruiter form. While something of a wimp, his ability to muster Goblin Recruiter, Magus of the Moon, Eternal Witness or any other desirable body within its conditional limits makes him good, good, good!

(HM: Ranger of Eos — Some of you must be scratching your head, convinced that we got this one backwards. Here’s our logic: Ranger shines in a handful of decks (Elves, GW, RW, WW, and Naya). Even though he grabs you a duet of critters, these one-drops will be usually be comparative chaff to a single “2 power or less” creature like some of the ones mentioned above.)

Knight of the Reliquary – One only needs to reference our Top 10 to get a general idea of how this card cuts the mustard. It’s ability to access abusive lands, big up itself, fix/accelerate your mana, and shuffle/thin your deck make it downright repulsive!

(HM: Countryside Crusher & Terravore — Like Kool and Travis, these guys big fans of ‘Geddons and the like. A bit more of a tailored fit, but worth a nod of the head, a tip of the hat, and pat on their muscular backs.)

Lightning Bolt — This card has lacquered the halls of Magic history with the stench of burnt hair for a long, long time. So long in fact, that we feel it needs no further explanation as to why it’s this high up on our list!

(HM: Burst Lightning, Chain Lightning, & Firebolt — More proxies from the Burn Community, but not quite the firecracker ol’ Bolt is.)

Living Death — Another mutual favorite of ours and staple of Reanimator/Rec-Sur style decks. Mass recursion with a Wrath effect to boot!

Mana Drain — While we are profoundly disappointed at the gradual extinction of Control and Permission-based Combo, Drain is by far the sexiest of all the two-mana counter-magic out there. Saying, “No!” on their turn and then using the mana to play a spell while leaving your own to keep countering is as impolite as it as amazing!

(HM: Counterspell, Mana Leak, Memory Lapse, Negate, & Remand — Perhaps it is blasphemous to honorably mention the card to which all counter-magic must pay homage, but we simply wanted to give a shout out to all the two-mana Permission spells in the house!)

Meloku, the Clouded Mirror — A fine example of aggressive/defensive at work. Meloku is Control’s Arc-Slogger: turning mana into a means of winning the game. It marginalizes LD, helps to stem the bleeding from aggressors, and can churn out an alpha strike at your leisure. Insanely powerful, even at 5 mana.

Mystical Teachings — A tutor capable of conjuring up Blue’s finest and trickiest spells and creatures (twice, no less) makes for Top 50 in our book, no questions asked!

(HM: Merchant Scroll — A pat on the head, now off you go back into the binder, little one!)

Path to Exile — Think STP, only with a bit more steep of a drawback in most cases.

Recurring Nightmare — The other half of dreaded monster that is Rec-Sur! Recur generates nauseating synergy with 187 creatures, turning your worst men into your best with no window to remove it when activated.

Ruination — Yet again we find ourselves on the topic of mana, more specifically that of the nonbasic variety. For any deck packing a lot of boring old basic land, this is a lopsided “Geddon.

(HM: Boil — Let’s flip this one around a bit and stick it right between the ribs, Control! Take that!)

Sylvan Library — Oh how badly we wanted to situate this next to our Number One card, but it’s just not the same, is it? And even though it finds itself outside the Top 25 it’s most definitely runner up when it comes to smooth out draws and generating card advantage in a color entirely bereft of draw power.

Tainted Pact — With the number of decks forgoing basic land altogether, Pact is a format must for many. Even in a two color deck, there are enough viable mana options out there (snow-covered alternatives, pain lands, etc.) to make this card read: A Black and one colorless — grab any card in your deck.

Trinket Mage — Often responsible for the inclusion of an embarrassing assortment of unnecessary situational utility belt toys, this guy’s worth is boundless in the right deck (ie: Painter/Grind). He can, after all, snatch you our Number One card. And at long last maindecking cantripping graveyard removal artifacts is justified with Rec-Sur new to the meta.

Volraths Stronghold — Recursion in the form of a land, even at the cost of a draw step, is grossly powerful ability. Stronghold finds itself in many and any deck with a bevy of bodies waiting to be barfed back to life!

(HM: Academy Ruins — Ideally suited for artifact-based Combo, Ruins mimics Stronghold to a ‘t’. )

Top 51-75

Ankh of Mishra & Zo-Zu the Punisher — With the inclusion of enemy fetch lands, Ankh and Zo-Zu effectively read: play a fetch land, lose 5 life. It gets even grosser if they go for a shock dual and take that extra 2 damage.

Brainstorm & Ponder — Godsends for smoothing out draws at the low cost of a single Blue mana. While Brainstorm is obviously the better of the two (playing nice with fetches unlike the two cards directly above), Ponder is no slouch. These easily and often find their way in any deck of the Blue persuasion.

Diabolic Intent — Another in our long list of tutors, but this time at the cost of a little blood on your hands. Obviously it’s an auto-include with many of the recursion-based cards mentioned thus far, putting a body in the ground and the right card in your hand.

Engineered Explosives & Pernicious Deed — The disparity here is beyond noticeable, but both are sweepers nonetheless. Deed finds it way in less decks by virtue of not playing nicely with mana critters and the like, while Explosives encourages some of the greediest mana bases imaginable to maximize its efficiency. Still, we can sum these up with a single word: BOOM!

Figure of Destiny — Any threat that can evolve through stages of the game is a threat worthy of pause. Figure’s ability to come down Turn One and increase the beats without need of a helping hand makes it our favorite one-drop aggressor out there.

(HM: Wild Nacatl — Sorry, kitty. A 3/3 for one mana is impressive, but it still is just a vanilla cat.)

Flash Flood, Hydroblast, & Pyroblast — At their cost, these are the best solutions to color specific problems out the sideboard a player could want.

(HM: Anarchy, Chill, Guttural Response, Mind Harness, Perish, Seedtime, & a billion other hosers — This list is a long one, so we’ll just issue our collective gratitude for your collective ability to screw color-specific strategies.)

Future Sight — When Control taps out for a 5 mana spell, 3 of which is Blue, what should you expect? Exactly! While this card does pose the paradox of garnering you counter-magic on top of your deck, it’s still entirely obscene (especially in tandem with our Number One card).

Genesis — Here comes another Rec-Sur reference, people… Beyond that, a gigantic weirdo like this that provides a recursive engine just by chilling in your graveyard is awesome sans the aforementioned deck.

(HM: Buried Alive — Well, it fuels said recur engine, as well as providing the set up for a number of other potential abuses. That makes it good, right?)

Hermit Druid — While we’re on the subject of enabling Recur engines and dead stuff, the Dirty Jesus demands your praise! That’s right, this guy is an entirely underrated, graveyard fueling, mana-grabbing maniac! If you’re not playing this in your Death/Rec-Sur deck, start, like, now!

(HM: Avenging Druid — If this guy connects, he’ll be providing more burial services for people than that entire family on Six Feet Under. Another oft-ignored darling of the recursion community.)

Karakas — Legendary creatures have gotten a nice bump with the induction of the mythic rarity in Shards Block. And let’s be honest here, folks, there are already a crapload of good ones before this. Karakas is a fantastic foil for any creature that’s into shameless self-promotion.

(HM: Pendelhaven & Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale — Entirely different by all accounts, but worth a ribbon at the county fair.)

Mishra’s Factory & Treetop Village — The two most prolific “man-lands” in circulation are deserving of a slot among the best!

(HM: Ghitu Encampment, Mutavault, & Blinkmoth Nexus — Almost there, guys. Almost there.)

Mortify & Putrefy — If this seems like an acid flashback to our Top 14 cards don’t be alarmed. Yet again we are lumping two great, versatile removal spells together.

Natural Order — This card’s ability to metamorphose something as innocuous as a Llanowar Elves into something as magnificent as a Woodfall Primus or a Progenitus as early as Turn 3 makes Natty Order top notch!

Naya Charm — This card’s versatility is through the roof! Removal, a Regrowth, or tap down your team?! It’s like Aggro’s slightly less anemic Cryptic Command.

Oath of Druids — Okay this is entirely based upon speculation. Oath dominates in other formats, so we can’t imagine why that doesn’t translate to our corner of the format globe. Landing a Progenitus or Iona as early as Turn 2 is an exciting prospect we hope to see further explored.

Primal Command — Nine times out ten, you’re gonna dig for a dude with this card, but the other included ability is entirely dependent upon on the game state. Primal Command offers up an array of interesting and situational uses that put in the Top 75 percentile.

(HM: Plow Under — were there only more versions of this card out available (beyond Primal Command), it may have just made it to our Top 100 unscathed.)

Pyrokinesis & Contagion — More “hands-free” spells courtesy of Alliances! In a world of fast beats, these cards help stem the bleeding.

(HM: Fiery Justice — While it can knock the life out of multiple critters in a single pass, the life gain at Woolly Thoctar prices make it more of a sideboard option.)

Qasali Pridemage — One of the best “bears” to date. Modifying another attacker from the get go and blowing up annoying artifact and enchantments in all there many forms make it stellar feller.

(HM: Trygon Predator — Blue-Green is hardly in the same color combination league as Pridemage, but Trygon’s ability to munch stuff turn after turn make him mmm, mmm good.)

Reveillark — Another recursive threat, but this time with an in-built way to trigger its ability. Not bad when attached to a 4/3 flier that no one really wants to send elsewhere but in play.

Sakura-Tribe Elder- It took a knock with the Combat Rule Update, but who are we kidding? Tribe Elder never killed a guy in his life! Improved Rampant Growth finds a home in a slew of decks.

(HM: Wall of Roots — Far better at holding down the fort than Tribe Elder, this… plant(?) holds a special place in our strategic hearts.)

Swords of Fire and Ice & Sword of Light and Shadow — While the meta has sped up to the point that these cards aren’t nearly as lethal that they once were, the community refuses to give up on them. This means that they deserve a place on the mantle as the second and third pieces of the three total equipment on our list. Their ability to turn games entirely around is hard to ignore and definitely worthy of praise.

(HM: Godo, Bandit Warlord & Stonehewer Giant — Obviously these guys are fans of the aforementioned cards, so a round of applause for the these two big lugs that so graciously fish out weapons of mass destruction to be wielded at your strict designation.)

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir — He shuts down your opponent’s ability to play spells outside of their mainphase. He’s an unanswerable surprise blocker. He turns all your other guys into unanswerable surprise blockers. And he can even be tutored out with Mystical Teachings. Take your place among the immortals, Teferi. You earned it!

Thirst for Knowledge — For Combo and Control decks packing a bevy of mana artifacts and silver bullets, this draw spell’s drawback is rendered moot. To date, it’s one of the best draw spells, even for decks that don’t pack much in the way of heirlooms to ditch.

(HM: Ancestral Visions & Compulsive Research — Two slower but awesome draw spells that didn’t make it to Hollywood. Sorry guys, not everyone was meant to be a star!)

Tivadar of Thorn — With Gobbos (specifically) and RDW still running rampant in the meta, Tivadar graduates from bad draft rare to sideboard superstar! If you haven’t tried him, give him a whirl and marvel at his smooth, sleek exterior in action.

(HM: Burrenton Forge-Tender, Engineered Plague, & Sphere of Law — A few more great ways to fart directly in Gobbos or RDW’s face.)

Winter Orb — Another classic mana kill switch! Any card featuring a globe of raw meat is bound to attract the affections of a die-hard metal fan like Kool! (It’s true. And the polar bear makes things only that much more sinister… -Chris) It’s probably worth mentioning that WOrb’s colorless status means any deck can play it- even the Geddonless colors can still play ball.

Top 76-100

Animate Dead & Necromancy — Two of the most played single shot reanimation spells out there, both oddly in enchantment form. Necromancy obviously has a few more “dirty nickels” up its sleeve than old school fav Animate Dead, but both so what they do well enough to warrant a spot our list.

Bloodbraid Elf — One of the best aggressors printed in recent Magic. The variance of the format does add a certain crapshoot factor that’s can make for an occasional lackluster Cascade, but that’s just part of the fun, isn’t it

Borderland Ranger, Civic Wayfinder, Hunting Cheetah, Solemn Simulacrum, Yavimaya Dryad, & Yavimaya Elder — Long story short, these are some of the best ways to ensure mana attached to creatures that the format (and the game) has to offer. Therefore, we threw them in the same limo on the way to the nominations to save on travel expenses.

Bribery — Players have learned that throwing in a top end bomb or two can spell “Judas” in their own blood thanks to this card. Though it sees less play than it has times prior, its a build consideration for veterans to the format to this very day.

Call of the Herd — As far as spells that generate basic dorks for Aggro decks go, CotH remains at the top of toolbox to this day. To quote, “an elephant never forgets a friend.” (Am I the only one that finds this incredibly cute? — Chris)

Doran the Siege Tower — Another incredible cost-efficient threat that shouts, “fat bottom girls they make the rockin’ world go round” with every brutal swing. If he’s good enough to brand a color combination archetype with his name, he’s good enough to be on this list.

Duress & Thoughtseize — Not only are these cards good against Combo and Control, they’re nice little tools for them, as well. In the world of cheap disruption, these two sit at the front of the class, providing insight while chucking a kink into your opponent’s plans.

Eternal Dragon & Weathered Wayfarer — Two of White’s better solutions to mana stability. E. Dragon helps out early and helps out late; Wayfarer sends opponent’s into the tank for fear of what kind of real estate your deck may be packing. Solid cards, for sure.

(HM: Land Tax & Tithe — Some might argue that these belong on our list and not in the footnotes, but after some consideration we based this cut on frequency of play and immediate impact.)

Filter lands (Sunken Ruins and ilk) — Let’s go over this one more, a strong reliable mana base in 100CS is ticker box numero uno. These are yet another way to cushion potential snags with regard to multiple mana symbols, and great ones at that.

(HM: Ravnica Block karoo lands such as Dimir Aqueduct — Yes, these essentially turn one land into two, but at the cost of coming into play tapped and returning a land while being entirely prone to the worst-case-scenario of LD. They can be a real gamble, folks. That’s for sure.)

Gaea’s BlessingPainters Servant/Grindstone players must always take this car into consideration after sideboarding. Blessing foils milling shenanigans at no cost (meaning you don’t even have to have Green mana to play it), without the need of ever drawing it. It’s other obvious merit is in tandem with Oath of Druids. By far our favorite sideboard option out there!

Glen-Elendra Archmage & Vendilion Clique — Admittedly quite a bit in stature and seeming ability, but they actually both serve a quite singular function that makes them easily grouped with one another: Control. Whether bottoming a vital card in hand, or sitting on an untapped Island with the word “no” pursed on your lips, these faeries are no joke despite being, well, ya know… faeries.

Grim Lavamancer — He makes other creatures extra crispy. He sneaks through counter-magic early and often to add apply a constant source of heat to Control players. Lavamancer earns a slot in the big leagues all too easily.

Krosan Grip — Belcher and Painter/Grind make PE cameos on a regular basis, which makes Grip a reliable answer to Combo (and any other pesky artifact or enchantment). If you need to break something without fear of interruption, this is where we suggest you turn to first.

(HM: Aura of Silence — Another great card for housing heavy artifact/enchantment decks. At worst, it’s a Disenchant, right?)

Maelstrom Nexus — For those of you that have been around awhile, you may remember the two solid months of PE Top 8s (most of which were wins) shortly after Travis published this article. Cascade is one of the most grotesquely unfair (and fun) abilities dreamed up by WotC R&D in a long, long time. So why not double down on your spells, if even at the cost of 5 different mana?

Mindslaver — Ever been ‘Slaver locked before? If not, let us assure you that it’s not much fun. Often a single activation from this card is enough to put your plans face first into the toilet, but coupled with Academy Ruins this card spells a very slow and boring victory for the person in control of it.

Leyline of the Void, Phyrexian Furnace, Relic of Progenitus, & Tormods Crypt — All these graveyard hosers are more than relevant in today’s meta with the glut of graveyard-based tomfoolery taking place. Not long ago regarded as wasted space maindeck, having one of these cards somewhere in your build has become a fortuitous contingency.

Scapeshift — Obviously we are referring not only to Scapeshift but also its partner-in-crime Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Welcome to Magic’s newest Combo, people! Any time a card spells victory all on its own, it warrants merit in a “best of…” list. Congrats, Scapeshift! You made it!

Ohran Viper & Shadowmage Infiltrator — These Ophidian upgrades are great at circumnavigating troubled waters. Finkel just sneaks right by, while Viper prefers to make death threats for the promise of an additional draw. If card advantage is one of the most immediate incremental paths to victory, take these guys for a spin.

Sylvan Safekeeper — An annoying little gentleman, indeed. Safekeeper teams up with cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Terravore to make for some downright nasty turns and offering some life insurance for any pivotal creature in your ranks.

Tombstalker — The cost reduction on this beast has made him an ideal win condition for UB Control decks for quite some time now. Definitely an erstwhile beater in the ranks of Top 100.

Troll Ascetic — As underrated as he is difficult to kill, this is truly the finest example of regeneration we could could think of.

(HM: Mire Boa, River Boa, Spectral Lynx — A trifecta of fine regenerators with a little oomph to boot.)

Man-o’-War & Venser, Shaper Savant — Right at the top of our “Best Tempo Cards” list. Both help to put troublesome cards back in harm’s way of being countered, slow down beats, and get blockers out of the way. Kudos, boys!

(HM: Repulse — It cantrips, and people still love this card to their dying breath, so a shout out we must give!)

Vexing Shusher — Shusher’s ability to put the kibosh on counter-magic make it a nasty sideboard option that doubles up as a dork against rush decks.

Zur the Enchanter — His ability to conjure up the Rec-Sur components in but a couple swings have rebranded the deck “Rec-Zur.” No doubt, every time he turns sideways the view gets a little worse from across the table. Definitely one of the coolest cards on our list, a creature around which you can build an entire deck.

Odd Men Out

The Wishes (Burning Wish, Living Wish, Cunning Wish, Glittering Wish) felt like they should have made the cut, even as honorable mentions, but the truth is they just don’t see any play. As part of the platform to our last petition for format changes in 100CS, we felt that they deserved some consolation. So here were are. Sorry, Wishes. Better luck next time.

In Closing

Here we are, nearly seven thousand words later, out of breath, bedraggled, and spent. Just a couple of things left to relay:

The first is that, once again, we are hosting a vote regarding the content you have just read. Merely go HERE and cast your vote in our Micropoll on the right (on only the Top 20 though… oh, the limitations of technology…). This is something we aim to do from time to time in correlation with our content, so make sure to check out our Resources page while you’re here.

Secondly, our first Training exercise will be up and running by the weekend. Click HERE are more details.

And last of all, comment in the area below. We’re curious how close our list is to yours. What did we get wrong? What did we get right? And what did we forget altogether? We look forward to the exchange, and hope that this list, to varying degrees, proves useful and interesting to newbies and veterans alike.

Thanks so much for reading,

ChrisKool and Travis R. Chance

 
  1. Wow – just wow. Talk about a comprehensive run down of a format.

    I disagree with a few minor points. But assembling this type of list is inherently subjective First, Baneslayer in the top 25. Maybe I am biased or bitter, but I would replace her with the mana accel critters – if mana denial dudes are ranked at #9, Geddons at #6, and *lands* make up the bulk of the top 5 than surely the mana men deserve a top 25 slot?

    I seem to value tempo in all its forms a little higher than you guys, because I would bump Teferi down to the 75-100 and promote Venser and Man o’ War (especially Venser… so sick with Karakas).

    Eladamri’s call – an instant tutor that puts a creature directly into your hand is priceless in this format. I probably would put this in the top 25 most likely in lightning greaves slot. Greaves are great, but better in EDH than competitive 100CS.

    Kudos for the Queen quote on Doran – classic. Now get on your bikes and ride!

  2. PS – As a follow up nitpick – unless an avalanche of voting occurred after I did my analysis (see the comments on the Contraban(ne)d article for those interested) I am pretty sure the “banned list” poll received 114 votes from (probably) 30ish voters, not 114 votes… but that discussion is probably left for that thread.

  3. Great list. I might have placed a few things differently, but not too many. Brion probably could have been an honorable mention under the Finks, Baloth, Hierarch trilogy. Condemn possibly as an HM under Path to Exile. If I spent more time I could probably come up with some more, but overall I think all the important cards were covered.

    Since you mentioned Oath of Druids, I wanted to mention I placed 9th just barely out of T8 last PE with a poorly built Oath of Druids/Enduring Ideal deck. I think the deck has some promise, I might take the Oath part of the deck and combine it with a different shell than Ideal, we’ll see. I sideboarded incorrectly vs Kool in our round 5 match and would have won if I brought in the right creature for Oath, but was planning to give him the win anyways since it was his B-Day.

    If I am understanding the percentage chart correctly for the banned list it seems a tough sell to WotC. Using Imperial Seal as an example, if 114 people voted and only 14% of 114 votes were cast to unban it, it seems a poor decision for them to do so. Unless it means 14% of the total votes for every card which would be 114×15 or 14% of 1710 votes, but that just seems like an odd statistic because one card doesn’t really relate to the other.

  4. Hello Platipus!

    The analytics of the poll are a bit odd I have to admit. We used an available tool from the web for the polling and it seems that the percentages are indeed not a reflection of the fraction of users that voted to unban the specific card but rather an indicator of relativ votes compared to the other cards. We will try to find a poll that gives more flexibility to define the math but I think that we can use the poll as raw indicator how desirable unbans are for each specific card.

  5. @ Platipus – See the discussion in the Contraban(ne)d article (http://www.mtgoacademy.com/100-contrabanned/comment-page-1/#comments) for what some of those numbers really mean. Suffice it to say that at least a majority of voters are in favor of unbanning Imperial Seal.

    Also, good call on Brion. I probably would have simply grouped Path with STP in the first place (as they did with most other very similar cards) and given condemn the HM.

  6. Great article… I think as far as polling goes that you could do an evaluation with each individual card on a 1-10 scale (10 being to unban). Because there’s a small number of people actually voting (30), this may be a better implementation. With a 1-10 scale, you could do a weighted average of each vote (lets say 10 for 10), (2 for 8), (6 for 7), (12 for 1)… =((10*10)+(2*8)+(6*7)+(12*1))/(10+2+6+12)= 170/30= 5.66666 (which would generally lean toward unbanning). In this way you could get a relative feeling for each card’s particular unbanning, rather than each card compared to the other cards on the list (I believe if you add together each cards’ percentages it sums around 100%.

  7. *I noticed that with a scale you’d have to have zero be on the scale as well for a weighted value of 5 to mean 50% against, 50% for unbanning.

  8. I agree with Ronin that the mana critters should have a place in the top 25. Maybe they should be bundled and added. I have seen them in so many top decks and there are widely played in many archetypes.

  9. The mana critters are not the same in 100CS as they are in other formats. Yes, if you mana to hit one early on they’re great, but later in the game, not so much. Remember, people, variance. We are not talking about an “ideal world” or, more specific to this article, “ideal draws and/or game states.” 9 times out of 10, Turn 1 mana critter eats removal.

    Remember as well that we took into account frequency of play/popularity. “There’s no accouting for taste.” I, too, am sort of dumbfounded about the popularity of Baneslayer. And then when I put one in play and understand the hype. This list, which was actually a brain-altering endeavor, is our best summation of not only our conceits, but the community’s. Electing something like Slayer to our Top 25 is a reflection of that. Undoubtedly, as we knew when we took this project upon ourselves, there will be lots and lots of disagreements. While I fancy myself an authority by virtue of a strong track record, my word is by no means tenet. That, and yeah, we missed some stuff and had to enforce some parameters. For instance, Condemn doesn’t deserve any mention in my opinion. It’s a defensive card, therefore lacking the versatility and overall utility of Path. Were we to extend honorable mentions to cards like these, where would stop?

    Hopefully this will prove useful and, at the least, a gathering place for the community to discuss the format, the above list, and get to know one another a little better through some healthy debate. :)

  10. I agree the 1cc mana guys can lead to some pretty sick openings but they got much worse with the banning of skullclamp, so yeah I don’t think they should be rated highly at all.

    Nice to see upheaval hanging around near the top.

  11. Only because not enough people are playing geddons. Mana guys (and you can play enough 1 drop men to avoid high variance) accellerate you and allow you great flexibility in conjunction with mass land destruction. Not that you want to ramp into an early ‘geddon, as that is useless. However, you can ‘geddon with board parity if you have mana bugs and the opponent does not.

    Maybe current usage does not justify them in the top 25, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong.

  12. In a Singleton format, with this many cards, they come with no guarantee(s), therefore making them good, but most def not worthy of top spots.

  13. The argument that a singleton card comes with no guarantees is somewhat specious, since it applies in some measure to all cards. Mindtwist is amazing (and I don’t argue its place) but it can easily be a dead card or a mere 1 or 2 for 1 if drawn too late.

    100 cards = ~61 non lands or about 65% more non-lands than normal 60 card decks. You can easily play 7 one drop guys maindeck to get to the equivilant of running for llanowar elves in a standard deck that want to skip to the three drop fairly regularly. You have even more option if what you really want to do is get to a four drop. Yes, they are dead draws late – such is the curse of most 1 drops.

    Even if you didn’t want to highlight all the mana men Hierarch and Birds are effective enough, and played enough that they deserve more pub than they got.

  14. I don’t think the Twist example you used was at all in the vein of my argument, or, for that matter, even within the realm of comparison, Ronin. And, at their best, do the mana men equate to the optimal power of one of the best disruption spells ever printed? Sure, lots of cards are better or worse depending on game state. I said this in my last comment. In a field predominantly composed of aggressive decks with heavy and cheap removal, these guys lose their luster, even if you ran seven, which I would strongly not recommend.

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, indeed. But they didn’t make our list, nor would I expect anyone to agree with all the cards on said list.

  15. xD,plaf!plaf!plaf!plaf!

    Nice job guys. I like the article very much and can help people to find solutions to decks they have or give ideas to people starting playing 100 Card Singleton, I have perhaps 1-3 card favorites you don’t mention here, but well it is a matter of taste but I have to point out one missing card – the most powerful critter ever:

    Sakura-Tribe Elder” – It took a hit with the combat rule update, but who are we kidding? Tribe Elder never killed a guy in his life! Improved Rampant Growth finds a home in a slew of decks.”

    Sakura is the best critter ever! Orhan Viper doesn’t draw cards when he blocks, you can fix color screw and Jitte did not get counters.
    For those reasons I vote Sakura for a top 10 spot xD xD

    Other then that very nice job and thanks.

  16. But this isn’t the Kamagawa Block, and , let’s be honest here, basic lands are far less useful to multi-color decks than there regular ol’ alternatives (in a lot of decks). There’s no Jitte (at the moment), and if there was, it’d be a single copy. We didn’t say “best cards of all time;” we said best of 100CS.

  17. Also, I’m bummed about the low vote on Greaves. It’s such a ridiculously powerful, efficient card for so many decks. I know ppl are slow to give up the Swords of, but man are they slow as all-get-out now and waaaay worse with the high volume of maindeck artifact hate ppl pack.

  18. @ Travis – “I don’t think the Twist example you used was at all in the vein of my argument, or, for that matter, even within the realm of comparison, Ronin.”

    Interesting. I thought it was exactly in your vein of argument which hinged on game state and timing. Sometimes hyperbole is needed to make a point. Mindtwist > Llanowar Elves, I’ll concede that point ;).

    @ el_fake – If it makes you feel any better: Travis’s recent T8 decks have included many more copies of STE than they have lightning greaves. :D

  19. PS – Yes, I’m fully aware that context is everything in deck design. My ragging on greaves is at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

  20. Heh. No worries. I think you have to have something like 26 plus guys to make Greaves better than good, but for sure it’s an amazing card that has won Kool and I more games than we can recall.

  21. Ronin,

    I’m confused about the “more copies of STE” comment. I have played two decks in like four months; both decks had Greaves and Elder.

  22. I disagree with alot of the rankings, but as a general overview its not a bad starting point.

    Biggest miss for me was the lack of signets/mana artifacts which give non green decks an option to ramp/fix whilst also providing protection from mana denial straegies (miners, moons, geddons, orbs etc). Essentially their the mana dorks of non aggro decks.

  23. Well, I will feel not bad about your argument with Sakura Tribe Elder (so pretty name to write only STE) because you give me a part of reason, and i know if Jitte is unbanned Sakura will jump back into the top 10 xD. It looks for the land you need in every moment, and if you play green you always play it, so we must assume that it is one of the most used fixers.

    Regarding Swords to Plowshares there is only one way that Greaves can be better than Swords; in a mono red hyper fast deck. In all the others i resume with this sentence: “if you have a Greaves on a critter, you have a critter that can’t be a target. If you have a Swords on a critter, you have a terminator, and your opponent a problem.”

    xD I feel well when i say something like that xD xD xD

    P.s Sorry to all for my bad English. Travis and Chris know I don’t write very well. xD

  24. I would argue that signets and mana ramp, even for their deck archetypes, are worse than mana men. On the obvious, they don’t attack, block, and work in conjunction with cards like Recurring Nightmare, etc. Sure, they help against ‘Geddons, Miners, and the like, but they’re still dead draws on the whole once the ball gets rolling.

    To me, this is a fundamental issue in this format. Example: Aether Vial is ONLY good if you play it in, I would go as far as to say, the first three (if that) turns of the game. Same with Vinelasher Kudzu and Elvish Vanguard; these cards are pretty much only optimal early (especially in Green, which has an ability to dump its hand quick.) Otherwise, they’re going to be as close to a dead draw as you can get. Again, we can’t bank on ideal game state/ideal draws. At the top of their game, how well do these cards measure up. This is the point of honorable mentions.

    These cards just don’t function the same way as they do in other formats where decks are smaller and you can run full compliments. And, in a sense, doubling up on them to ensure density almost makes your deck worse. Playing signets and elves isn’t the same as RDW and Gobbos playing burn and throw away creatures. It’s just not. I don’t mean to bat every comment away, as I am not disregarding them. I am merely explaining our thoughts behind these decisions. It’s tough. For those of you interested in attempting such a feat, feel free to post your Top 25 in sequential order in the comments below and see what kind of feedback you get. But bring an umbrella.

  25. I disagree, but then i definately value speed, consistancy and redundancy more than the average player. Honestly surprised that signets didn’t make your top 100.

    Not going to list a bunch of random cards in order as an arbitrary top X because i honestly don’t think there is such a thing. Cards fluctuate in value based on the other cards that are around them.

  26. My reasoning against the average mana artifact:

    Two mana Signets/Talisman often open up a control deck to vulnerabilities against Blood Moon/Miners. The also dilute the overall power level of the deck in most cases- since the creature mana guys have combat relevance they add additional value. I like Moxen(Chrome/Diamond)/Coalition Relic in Blue/Control decks a lot more than the 2 mana cost alternatives, but many times I am happy with the one land per turn rule. The only time I want the 2 mana facts is in prison (which I think is unplayable right now).

    As far as mana men and Sakura-Tribe Elder go, I think that Travis hit on the head as to why they are not incredibly high. The cards are great- work well in Aggro with Geddons, hold equips or high five Elspeth. The issue is that they lose value as the game continues. Also, they require a heavy Green base to fully utilize (which isn’t always what a deck wants). I love the mana men, but they are not worth of a prestige of the infallible Top 25. :)

    I agree with Kha that it’s hard to denote numeric rank values to cards (as many are ‘it depends’), but we tried to capture the spirit of the relative power levels by lumping cards into 3 classes after the Top 25. The Top 25 itself was well thought out, but I could concede that Spots 20-30 could blur.

  27. I preach consistency from the pulpit, and have for as long as I have been holding this digital mic. But, redundancy on low impact cards that only really work great if you have something to push out earlier than norm is not really an example of that, in my humble opinion. My last comment on mana accel cards is this: in addition to the already mentioned reasons why they are not Top 25 material, take into account how often having an accelerator doesn’t even accelerate you into anything substantial. I can’t count the times I have played and seen other players go Turn 1 elf, Turn 2 attack with elf two drop or go. Turn 3 they may power out a four drop, but that’s far from optimal. This happens all the time, esp. in a format like 100cs with randomness factor on crack!

  28. Now surely I thought this feat of feats would get as many if not more comments than the Banned list!!! Sadface x 23986492!

  29. Hi Travis,
    I am looking to push my 100cs and just browsed by, and I have to say.. nice collection! Definately got some ideas in upgrading my current list.
    After nearly 3 years have past, maybe its time for an update? *wink

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