This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Technology

By Aaron, AKA Uncle Landdrops

 

Outside of Magic, I love popular culture – film, books, sportz, TV, some art – and the best explanation I have for my Netflix binging and critical thinking about the nonsensical is that I memorized a ton of facts from BrainQuest cards and Trivial Pursuit as a kid, which led to me sounding smart, which led to advanced placement classes, and the development of overwhelming analytical skills about silly things, like my theory about the end of Inception, or the theory that the X-Men was an allusion to the civil rights movement in the 1960s. 

 

Although I sound smart, these days there’s not a whole lot of places for all my pop culture nonsense to go – until now. Today, I’m happy to kick off a brand new, pop-infused series of Top 5 lists here on CommanderCast, and if it’s met with even half the enthusiasm of my five person focus group, then I think it’s gonna be sweet.


We’re gonna start easy today with an obvious childhood classic. Five cards that I think would fit easily into any episode of one of my favorite shows growing up: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

 

C’mon, we’ve got some work to do now. Don’t split up on me. #BadDadJokes

 

Picks

 

#5. Gargoyle Castle – Every episode has to have a wacky setting – something way off the beaten path, where a bunch of late teens or twenty-somethings (AKA the gangly crew of the Mystery Machine) might want to go in case they want their van to break down.

When it comes to Magic cards, this is one area where we are not in short supply. There were many cards in contention, but I ended up picking Gargoyle Castle, and I think it’s a great fit on this list for several reasons.

Having so many, I had to come up with some functional flavor criteria. Names and language were the first ones I used for eliminating potential locations. Not only did every card on this list have the visual appeal, but it also had to “sound” like a place Scoob & and the Gang would visit. This is where something like Haunted Fengraf got axed. I could never see Shaggy saying, “A-like Scoob, it’s the Haunted Fengraf!”

 

Then Scooby’s all like, “Ruts a Rengraf?”

 

 

Not that Shaggy’s a complete idiot (not far off), I can’t believe the show’s producers would use that word in a kid’s show, even though it sets a strong mood.

The next requirement was that each card had to be whimsical in function and flavor. Anything visually or functionally that was too gritty or semi-religious was instantly cut. Think Stensia Bloodhall, or Vault of the Archangel. Although cool, spooky, and all things haunted and/or great settings for mysteries, they felt more like places The Winchesters (ya know, Supernatural? Basically the live-action Kerouac-ian version of Scooby Doo?) would hunt monsters, and less like the place for a van full of hippie-nomad investigators to go snooping around.

 

 

 

That still left me with a lot of good choices, but I really liked the Castle. It’s a little topical, as the additions of Grove of the Guardian and Foundry of the Consuls give Loam decks and people who like to pimp out manabases (like myself) some cool emergency creatures and a mechanical guideline to start shaping a deck design. Most importantly, I felt it kept this list nice and cohesive, grouping the cards together nicely in one article, as one collected mystery.


As an individual card, I honestly would love to see more Gargoyle Castle. In fact, I would love to see more people play Gargoyles in general, and it’s my hope to that our Orzhov Commander 2015 deck just might be cool enough to have a Legendary one.

 

#4. Witch Hunter – coming in at number four on my list is Witch Hunter, a creature that’s either a red herring or a prime suspect. Overall, it’s definitely a weird one. The art looks like a drawing I saw of a character from a Renaissance play about a female that dressed like a man and robbed people. I don’t know if that’s just so terrible it’s awesome, or just terrible, but the decision to create ambiguous gender lines here was a risky choice by artist Jesper Myrfors (Fun Fact: this dude is also responsible for the art on CommanderCast’s favorite jank, Boris Devilboon), and totes progressive, whether you look at it by mid-90s societal standards at the time of its commission, or you’re examining it from the 1700s or whenever my irrelevant and unnamed play came out.

 

 


Despite all the cool historical allusion and hidden political undertones, it is the rules text that makes a card awesome, and Witch Hunter is tits-deep (quite literally) in color pie violations, having not one, but TWO abilities that are considered part of White’s immediate enemy wedge. To someone like me, who craves less color pie symmetry and more space for zany enemy colored nonsense, I play it, and I love it. For purists, like the guy that used to write “Savor That Commander Flavor,” (AKA William **cough**cough**),  I have a feeling this design might make him want to scream, which would be justified. It’s a glorious fail if this thing was designed top-down, but I still think it’s awesome enough to play if you’re looking to windmill slam stuff your opponents have probably never seen before.

Overall, I had the most success with it in a Darien, King of Kjeldor EDH, where I could really maximize its Prodigal Sorcerer ability while also keeping the bigger threats off my back. Support and the ability to get multiple uses out of it in a turn, like a Brion Stoutarm deck that plays untap support, is where I think this card could also do well.

 

#3. Haunted Plate Mail –  HELL. YES. Definitely a card that would make ol’ Scooby shake and/or jump into Shaggy’s arms.

 

 

I have been playing it for fun in my otherwise non-fun Obzedat Insta-Wrath deck. I’m not justifying this as a good card, but I do play it, and the guys and gals in my playgroup can’t avoid smiling when I do. I consider this a strict upgrade from Ensouled Scimitar, not only in playability, but also in being much easier to pronounce (If I hear someone say “Skimitar” one more time…).

 

#2. Uncle Istvan – …and he would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids! Uncle Istvan is all parts a bad card, but it is a glorious and strange design fail, which is why I love it. In relation to our Scooby Doo story, he’s got the perfect hokey charm and unique fortune of being printed when Magic didn’t make sense. But seriously – if you can’t hear the gang cry out his name in unison when they capture the Gargoyle (Ya know, from Gargoyle Castle) discovering that he’s the one that’s been scaring tourists away, than maybe my name isn’t Uncle either.

 

Note: I really wanted to use the print of this card from The Dark, but the colors from its reprint (Yeah, no one else can believe it either!) in TimeShifted has just a little bit more to offer.

 


Even if you think this card sucks, it’ll make your day if you read any of the comments on Gatherer for any of its printings. They are hilarious and insightful, like this fun fact: before the great creature type conglomeration, Uncle Istvan was a creature with types “Uncle” and “Istvan,” which was great for Mistform Ultimus, who was made out of science and immediately had a family (and a name).

 

Another one: user SuperLlama12 in the Gatherer comments points out that the only thing cooler than “Summon Uncle Istvan” on its printings in Fourth Edition and The Dark would be if he were a “Summon Legend” from Urza Block, giving him the awesome-yet-obligatory rules text of “Uncle Istvan counts as an Uncle Istvan.”


Which brings us to the ultimate question: “Uncle Istvan, Y U No Legendary?” I don’t know the answer(MaRo wasn’t even around in those days, so we can’t hear him talk to himself about it in his car), but our friends in the discussion section had some great theories. They are as follows:

 

  1. Gatherer user avimkv believes it’s a regional (Most likely Eastern European, as another commenter explained that Istvan is the Hungarian equivalent of Stephen) colloquial moniker used for your everyday village hermit (which actually makes sense),

    -OR-
  2. Because multiple users in the thread (VampireChild85 and hattreman) have Uncles named Istvan, the conclusion was made that there were one too many people in the world named Istvan for it to be “Legendary.”

 


Regardless, I will be starting a social media campaign to get Uncle Istvan the Legendary supertype, or at the very least, just start playing it as my Commander regardless of restriction. Because I believe in him, and this lack of errata WILL NOT STAND, man! So follow my campaign at #IstvansALegendMan and together, we can hope to accomplish something that’s not really important to a majority of people, even those who actually love Magic.

 

#1. Mirror-Mad Phantasm – So, we needed a good ghost for the list, and this is the perfect fit. A favorite of CommanderCast OG-turned-GatheringMagic Editing Master Carlos, Mirror-Mad Phantasm is certainly a card that tickles my psychographic at its most inner-Johnny.

 

 

I don’t think Mirror-Mad Phantasm’s done much in a very long time (Is it even an occasional assistant to Laboratory Maniac combo decks?), but it was once a regular player in Bruna, Light of Alabaster, serving as a great chump-blocker while also pulling out value for the mid-to-late alpha strike.

 

Personally, I enjoyed using Mirror-Mad in a Damia Combo/Loam/Graveyard deck I called, “The Heap,” where I would basically dump most of my library into my graveyard, recurring Nevinyrral’s Disk and Oblivion Stone via Academy Ruins to sweep the board until I could win with the world’s biggest Worm Harvest.

 

Of all the cards in the list, I think Mirror-Mad probably has the artwork that is most likely to slot into an episode of Scooby-Doo without any problem. A ghost lurking along a hallway with creepy old paintings (AKA the inside of Gargoyle Castle) is the perfect artistic whimsy to rival the card’s functionality, which makes this a Scooby-Doo card through and through.

 

Alrighty Gang! That’s my list! What’s your Top 5? Does it want to split up from mine? Feel free to Tweet your list, or any cards I’ve missed to @unclelanddrops, or post them in the comments below!

Pass Turn.

 

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