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.