Anything But Magical – The Worst Cards Ever
Magic the Gathering has a long and storied history.¬† A history rich with creativity and cutting edge fantasy game design.¬† That is not to say there haven't been some stumbles along the way.¬† Every great card idea has it's mirror terrible one. ¬†¬† However, those terrible ideas are not what I am referring to here.¬† This is about those special few cards that are described as the worst ever.¬† Cards so bad when they hit the table they inspire more than laughter.¬† They make your opponent truly worry about your sanity.
When judging a terrible card there are many things to consider.¬† How unreasonable is the casting cost, mana and otherwise?¬† Do the drawbacks out-weigh the advantages?¬† The bigger the gap, the worse the card.¬† Also, is the card useful?¬† Niche cards are nice, but some go beyond anything I would call 'useful'.¬† Finally, what is the rarity of the card?¬† Commons are often fillers in a set, but rares are expected to be good every time.¬† Opening a booster to find the Skull of Orm is a rusted WotC knife in the back.
Now that we have our criteria let us get to the countdown.¬† First, there are many tough omissions from this list.¬† Cards like Leeches, Security Detail, Wellgabber Apothecary, North Star, and Jandor's Ring are putrid.¬† Even without a ranking they are still shameful.¬† These next cards, however, are the worst of the worst.¬† The five least playable cards ever printed.¬† Presented in reverse order:
5. Chimney Imp, Mirrodin common - The worst creature from this decade comes in at number five.¬† Having a 1/2 flyer is cool and there is a mildly useful ability.¬† It's the casting cost that makes Chimney Imp so awful.¬ Look what you can get for the same cost in the very same set!¬† If it cost four, it would only be bad.¬† At five mana Chimney Imp is tragic.
4. Phyrexian Tribute, Mirage rare - Only three black cards that destroy artifacts have ever been made.¬ One of them is pretty bad and another only destroys your own.¬† Phyrexian Tribute is the last and the worst.¬† ¬† Do you really need to get rid of an artifact that bad?¬† If so, how desperate to play mono-black are you that you can't splash any of the three anti-artifact colors?¬† These questions should be rhetorical, but thanks to Phyrexian Tribute they haunt me.¬† As a kicker it is a rare and sorcery-slow to play.
3. Aysen Highway, Homelands rare - Homelands has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the worst expansions in Magic.¬† Aysen Highway has the dubious distinction of being the worst card in Homelands.¬† All the criteria are present with this one.¬† A stupid ability that will help your foes at least as much as you.¬† (Yes, it is likely that if your opponent has plains they also have white creatures!)¬† If you have to pay white mana for it, why not endow swampwalk, or mountainwalk?¬† Also, the six man casting cost is insane.¬† At least it is a rare, and thank god for that.¬† It means you might never have to see it again.
2. Aladdin's Lamp, Arabian Nights rare - The craziest part of Aladdin's Lamp is actually not the casting cost.¬† No, the craziest part of Aladdin's Lamp is that is was included in the same core set as Demonic Tutor!¬† Ten mana for the opportunity to basically choose what you draw each turn.¬† No, actually it is worse than that.¬† Really it's ten mana for the opportunity to spend more mana to maybe find a card you need.¬† It is hard to imagine the dream scenario here.¬† Spend ten mana, wait until your next turn and spend five more to find your¬†Serra Angel and use your final five mana to play her.¬† If you're scoring at home, that was twenty mana for one 4/4 flyer.¬† In the immortal words of Stan Lee, "Nuff Said."
1. Wood Elemental, Legends rare - It should be hard to choose any creature as the worst card in MTG history.¬† After all, creatures can always be counted on to serve a simple purpose.¬† However, the less than under-whelming Wood Elemental made that choice easy.¬† Take a look at the criteria.¬† It has rare availability, and every deck can use at least one creature.¬† So why is it so unplayable?¬† Take a closer look at that casting cost.¬† Pay four mana and all you get is a 0/0, dead as it hits the board.¬† Lands are needed to give Woody bite.¬† Not just any lands mind you.¬† Only. . . untapped. . . forests.¬† WHAT!?¬† To make a 2/2 creature with no abilities we need to pay four mana and then sacrifice two of our remaining forests.¬† The irony is that not only was Legends based on big beaters, but green was supposed to have the best.¬† Wood Elemental should never have seen print.¬† The prosecution rests it's case.