This entry is part 281 of 323 in the series CommanderCast

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of CommanderCast! This week Mark and Adam break out the rocking chairs and have a good time reminiscing about the old days. The days when we got terrible sets, cards were weird, and we liked it. Prepare to go over some of, if not THE, worst sets in Magic’s history. So site back, relax, and come join us on the porch as we tell you of a time when men played real Magic!


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CommanderCast Episode 270

Posted: Jan. 30, 2017








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What is the worst set in Magic History for Commander?


Adam –


Mark –

  • M14
    • No Legends
    • Meh set
    • On the bright side: introduced Shadowborn Apostles
  • Legions
    • Only three Legends (Mistform Ultimus, Akroma, and Phage)
    • No nonbasic lands
    • Thumbs up: the Muse cycle
    • Thumbs down: practically every other card in the set.




The case for playing sub-optimal cards



Old weird stuff people might not expect


Adam – mystic remora, koskun falls, tawnos coffin, alchor’s tomb


Mark – Riptide Shapeshifter naming “Eldrazi,” Seedtime, Hunting Grounds, Monsoon




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Mark – Email: mahlerma(at)gmail(dot)com


Adam – (at)squire9999


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And a big thanks to everyone here at the CommanderCast Network. We’ll see you next week with more community, strategy, and technology. Until then, LET’S GET IT!

Series Navigation<< CommanderCast Ep 269 – Ae(no)ther Revolt(ing) Set ReviewCommanderCast Ep 271 – Enchantress’s Presents >>
  • ggodo

    My Teysa 2.0 deck desperately wants forcefield as a part of my “Don’t Hit Me” package. Synergizes well with her No Mercy ability, too. Chronicles ruined a great many dreams, but my wife got a $0.50 Johan from it. So i guess there’s that.

    M14 was lame. Especially for Commander. Archangel of Thune and Rise of the Dark Realms are basically all I think it added. Not a ton of utility players, and overall a pretty dry set.

    Fallen Empires brought us Thallids, and Hymn to Tourach, and neither of those are great for our format but I love them. At least Homelands had some Legends, and Eron the Relentless is always entertaining. I built the Thallid deck, too.

    I disagree on Legions, but I might be blending it with other sets from its block. The muses are sweet, Gempalm Zombie Guy is a board Wipe that draws cards, and Akroma, Phage, and plenty of tribal support I think there’s way more for it to add than something like 9th edition. I mean, if we can count Core Sets that added nothing that 8th didn’t and took out a lot of the toys that 8tb brought to the modern era.

  • ggodo

    Don’t know if you listen to Pat Rothfuss’s podcast, but one of the earlier episodes revealed Pat’s rap name will be “DJ Fuck Beats” after a particularly bad beats experience.

  • Jeremy Parsons

    Let’s just call me Jeremy. And then wait for me to do something actually horrendous in order to require pulling out the fullname.

    It’s hard to fault sets for issues between Chronicles and Fallen Empires that almost led to the demise of M:TG. I will say that I got a playset of Rainbow Vales plus some spares. I once had a 60 card deck that played lots of effects my opponents could use. So a land that bounced around fit the theme. But I occasionally forget to retrieve it, so spares were useful. I did once try to adapt this deck to EDH. But I got too distracted by Mass Polymorph. And thus the deck lost all the fun, hey play this, or this or this from my deck, and just settled down as my rarely pulled out combo deck.

    I prefer the play of not the best cards. I see enough of the best cards. Honestly, there’s more variety out in the world of M:TG. I want to see some of the out there cards turned into win conditions. One card I use that’s a touch out there is Brutal Expulsion. Weird 4-mana bounce/reman/burn and exile something. That’s also colorless. I normally use it as part tempo and exile a scary utility creature. But just so flexible. And caught someone by surprise when they tried to Diluvian Primordial to wipe the board with my Chandra’s Ignition. So I expulsed the Ignition right off the stack and back to my own hand.

    • Adam Traas

      But you are not just any old Jeremy. You are a unique and individual flower. I agree with the best cards this. Good stuff decks are no fun. That said I think that there is room for staples while maintaining the random fun cards.

  • youknow

    really nice podcast you know, some card picks are great you know. i hope you keep up the good work you know, umm you know! any way to get you know andy back you know? have a good, you know one.

  • Kinghonkey

    I shall recall my experiences with Homelands. As a 19 year old college lad, breathing in the icy air of October, 1995, I cracked open my first pack of Homelands.

    I literally threw my first pack on the ground into the snow after seeing Leaping Lizards, Roterothopter and Ironclaw Curse as my rare. “What is _this_ shit!?”

    Being a poor college student at the time, I picked it back up, dusted off the snow and kept the pack. It was not a proud moment in my life. Baron Sengir was flavorful, Merchant Scroll was useful, Memory Lapse was alright. Most of that set was so incredibly bad.

    Old Weird Cards I Use:

    Sunstone: Apparently, I’m one of the ballers that have enough snow covered lands to run 4 out of my 5 mono color decks with them. It’s a ridiculous deterrent to combat, especially late game. They have to find an answer or you just Constant Mists them every turn.

    Sword of the Ages: Like Soul Blast? Why not 2 Soul Blasts? It’s an odd, old card. There’s probably much better things I can do with my time, money and mana, but for token decks that can’t seem to punch through defenses, just aim everything at their dome and fire. You kind of get that ultimate “Kamehameha” feeling that most glass cannons give off.

    Telekinesis: The look on a player’s face when you play it, they have to read it, then read it again when you inform them it’s _two_ untap steps.

    Surge of Strength: A Mark Mahler favorite pick. So stupid, but I can’t seem to part with it in my Surrak instant speed deck.

    Also, Forcefield isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s like playing something like Felidar Sovereign. You become the focus of every piece of removal and attack phase as the turn passes around the table. I traded in a bunch of copies of modern stuff I wasn’t using and bought some old cards with the money. I thought “Yeah, this is going to be awesome.” I played it, let it sink for the other players, it was Disenchanted the very same turn. $150 card destroyed by a five cent common. Sad trombone music.

    • Mark Mahler

      I do have an irrational amount of love for Surge of Strength…

      I’ve always wanted to try Sunstone, too. I don’t know why I haven’t, as I’ve used Glacial Crevasses before and that’s even narrower. I shall echo Andy’s long-standing sentiment here and say that WotC needs to just print more snow lands already.

      And your Disenchant story is why I’ve never been able to pony up the cash for Forcefield, sadly. I’m sure it’s probably better for the format as a whole that your $.50 common can beat the big money artifact every day of the week. This is also what keeps me from being able to spend $$$ on my mana bases, because Strip Mine is a thing.

      • ggodo

        Can I steal this last bit and twist it into my problem with the current state of design?

        Doing it anyway. I’ve made a couple brief attempts to get into Standard over the past couple years, and gave really been burned by the trend of primarily printing playable removal at Rare. Hero’s Downfall was the most obvious of these, but the trend against having answers that are cheap in terms of real money has been going for a while. Anyone else remember Doom Blade at Common? Yeah, it probably wasn’t the best for limited, but it meant that any new player could spend $0.50 and have a playset of cards to kill whatever broken thing the hardcore folks were running. Compare to Theros where Hero’s Downfall is a $10 rare. Heck, BFZ’s knockoff version might’ve been unplayable as a 3 CMC Sorcery, but it was still a rare.

        I know we can’t have common Doom Blades again because it would break Limited, but can we at least have more tournament-worthy uncommon removal? I miss having affordable staples.

        • Mark Mahler

          Billy, I think I’ve found your problem: “I’ve made a couple brief attempts to get into Standard over the past couple years”


          • ggodo

            The one victory I have is that I built a budget version of Mono Black Devotion a week before it exploded all over everywhere. I’m not the biggest fan of rotating formats becauae I really hate the treadmill aspect, but at least Innistrad and RTR Standard had some cracks for rogue decks to slip through. Now, I just built a deck from a pilebof Assorted Standard Stuff so I could get the participation Trophy Mage.

            Have I mentioned I really like that Trophy Mage?

        • Jeremy Parsons

          There’s an interesting corollary to this. In early Magic, the removal was amazingly cheap in terms of cost, mana, and rarity. On top of the creatures not having all the abilities they do now, that meant to make a creature playable it had to have at least 4 toughness so it didn’t just die to lightning bolt too.

          • ggodo

            Oh, know that issue. And they’ve done wonders for the power of creatures. I’m not saying they need to bring back Lightning Bolt, but I’d like to see more Ultimate Prices, or Go For The Throats or even Murders over Hero’s Downfall. I’m planning on going to Game Day in a couple weeks for the Trophy Mage, and I’m really wishing I had a Terror, or something. Giving us back Shock is nice, but I don’t know if Red has enough support to be aggressive. Fatal Push is great, maybe a little too great, and I hope it’s a sign that Wizards has figure out just how hard it is to kill things in Standard.

            I’m always the underdog in Constructed Tournaments, and I’m fine with it for the most part. This current Standard is in a place where it’s too expensive to effectively deal with threats, and that really hurts the casual Standard player, who in previous times would’ve at least had something.

          • Kinghonkey

            My first tournament deck I ever played was black-green and had terrible stuff like Ernham Djinn and Derelor. The idea being you couldn’t Bolt anything. The threat was real.

            I’m so far removed from Standard, but the last good cheap removal at common that I remember was Tragic Slip and Murder, and that’s now almost five years ago.

        • Adam Traas

          Last FMN I played I borrowed monoblack devotion and won. I just hate playing it. I agree that everything for standard is expensive. I try to wait till after rotation for cards in EDH. It is disappointing because I like playing with the new hotness, but cheaper this way.

  • Josh Jurgensen

    As someone who’s played MTG since ’93 – alongside a few other CCG’s, the secondary market is a HUGE reason that this game has not gone the way of other (arguably better) CCG’s.

    (Collectible Card) Games that cannot develop a secondary market are almost universally doomed to fail or -at best- reside in obscurity.

    • Jeremy Parsons

      And people, stores, have invested heavily into those old rare cards. Here pony up your entrance fee in this big tournament and maybe you’ll win this mox. And since it’s a big prize mox, people notice less that the entrance fee is large and they spent a small fortune on their mana base. Because that is all still less than the value of the Mox they might win.

    • Mark Mahler

      Your point about secondary markets is well-taken, sir. I wonder if Fantasy Flight’s LCG suffer from this, too? (I’m probably the only person who cares about LCGs…)

      I’d like to have a finance person on the ‘cast one of these days so that they can explain this to me. I’m really interested in the economics of these decisions and how they impact legacy formats like ours.

      If anybody has some recommendations, feel free to give me a shout!

      • Josh Jurgensen

        Any of the Brainstorm Brewery guys are pretty good about it – and no, you’re not the only one into LCG’s.

        I’ve been a part of the community and even R&D for a old-but-still-kickin’-butt LCG called Shadowfist. I actually prefer it to Commander to the point where if I could ever cultivate a regular Shadowfist group, I’d likely leave magic for good.

        • Josh Jurgensen

          Just finished up listening from where I left off yesterday. I’m not saying there’s causation, but the price of Coffin jumped the week I wrote the ‘Something for Everyone’ article on the coffin for y’all back in May 2015.

  • Kinghonkey

    Also, I’m not a huge Ron Spencer fan either, but the fact that he’s Terese Nielsen’s brother is kind of cool, since she is one of my top three favorite illustrators. They teamed up to do the Reflection cards in Shadowmoor.

    Cliff Nielsen, who did stuff like Spirit of the Night , is her ex-husband.

    • Mark Mahler

      This all kinda makes sense now, albeit in a very strange and nepotistic way. Too bad for Ron that all the artistic talent in the family went to Terese.

      I actually like Cliff’s work, though. Spirit of the Night is one of those old, trippy watercolor pieces that you just don’t see in Magic anymore.