This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom
Posted by ‘FRED COLE’ aka ‘OLD MAN FRED’
Old Man Fred’s General Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. What I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere.  If some guy in your play group uses Brass Man in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, you’ve been warned.
Arabian Nights was the first ever Magic expansion.  It came out in late 1993, and was pretty much created ground up by Richard Garfield himself, sitting there with an Arabic dictionary and a copy of 1,001 Arabian Nights.  By, the way, I suggest reading the source material, aside from Aladdin and Ali Baba, there’s plenty more cards that make cameo appearances in the text.
We’re lucky that at the last minute he decided to keep the card backs the same as they were in Alpha, or we might not be talking about this right now.

Some Ground Rules
This list is about ten cards from Arabian Nights you should be playing in EDH.

I set three criteria for this list:
1. They can’t be too high end.  I’m not going to suggest you go out and buy a three hundred dollar card to play in EDH.
2. They can’t be too obvious.  Some of these will be obvious, but I’m not going to list Library of Alexandria (especially since its banned).  That wouldn’t make for an interesting article.  These are cards that you should mull over, maybe give them a second link.  So, while the cards I’m going to list aren’t obscure, they aren’t Juzam Djinn.
3. Availability.  Most of the cards I’m going to list have been reprinted after Unlimited and/or shouldn’t be too expensive.  That being said, I don’t keep an eye on prices, so if for some reason Rukh Egg has spiked in price, well, my bad.

On to the cards!
Here they are in no particular order:

1.  Brass Man
This card has a special place in my heart.  Consider the virtues of this card: Its costs one mana for a 1/3.  It’s colorless.  It essentially stops any two power guy or a guy with protection from the color you’re playing with.  Early he stops early hits, later he makes a great sacrifice victim.

2.  Cuombajj Witches
This card has an interesting mechanic for mono lack: a repeatable pinger. Once upon a time this card was part of a Legacy metagame deck called Witch Tech.  But consider how the politics of this card could play out in a multi player game:  Yes, I’m killing your dude, but consider that you get to ping that other obnoxious dude someone else has.

3.  Desert Twister
Any deck running green should really be running this card.  This is one of those few cards that say “Destroy target permanent.”   Yes, the price is steep, but that kind of flexibility, in one card, in EDH, definitely worth a spot in any deck.

4. Oubliette
This is an amazing and amazingly flavorful card.  This is Journey to Nowhere in mono black. Oubliette lets you have that ability without having to splash white.

5. Eye for an Eye
Consider the surprise value of this card.  That monster coup de grace, the one-shot kill, this is sweet revenge.  Think of Eye for an Eye if your opponent is one-shotting you with poison counters.  Yes its sour grapes, but they won’t make that mistake again.  Think of the deterrence.  The interactions of this card can be very interesting.

6. Rukh Egg
Old Man Fred’s Fun Fact:  Rukh Egg was the first Magic card ever to get an errata.  It was a cool card back in 1993 when lots of Lightning Bolts were flying around, its much better now in 2011 when we have instant speed sac outlets for a benefit.  I’m looking at you Vampire Aristocrat!

7. Serendib Efreet
I know this card from is famously misprinted Revised cousin.  But this is a Bolt-proof flier in blue for three mana.  This is a good way to get early hits and have style points.  You’d be surprised the props you get for playing with Arabian Nights cards.

8. Unstable Mutation
This is a way, in mono blue, to make a creature fatter in a very unexpected way.  I used to play this card early and often back in 1995 (Merfolk deck, anyone?), but in 2011 we have the addition of cards that can eat -1/-1 counters to do things.  But in the short term, it’s a way to make your Air Elemental into a 7/7 and beat with it for only one mana.

9.  City of Brass
My introduction to this card came in 1995 when it was reprinted in Chronicles.  That was the height of pain lands, and this one fit right in.  It was reprinted several times after, but fell out of favor towards the end.  It’s still perfect for EDH.  You start at 40 life, so the ping hurts half as much, and it’s perfect for those odd three-color enemy-color decks that have slightly fewer good options when it comes to non-basic lands.  This is a solid card, and don’t get distracted from its utility value because it pings you.

10.  Aladdin’s Ring
During Invasion-Odyssey Type 2, this card was a powerful one-of in the Mono Black Control decks of the era.  Now, this card is classic EDH fodder.  This is a repeatable colorless four damage.  We all know that massive mana generation is not difficult in EDH and we all know that obnoxious four toughness creature that seems to come out every game (you know the one I mean), so here’s your chance to get ride of him, and his friend next turn.

So, there it is.  There are ten cards from Arabian Nights and why you should be playing with them in your EDH deck.

Fred’s Bonus: Honorable Mentions
Arabian Nights is too flavorful and interesting set to let things go at only ten.  So I’m gonna briefly include a few more honorable mentions:

Mountain-This card is excellent.  It counts as a basic land and it produces red mana.  It’s good against Ruination or any other cards that wreck non-basic lands.

Aladdin’s Lamp-This card is pretty horrible, but its noteworthy for two reasons: First, it was the first card ever to cost ten colorless mana.  Second, since they didn’t have a ten colorless mana symbol, in the Arabian Nights printing they used two five mana symbols for it.

Ali Baba-This card is just plain neat and it’s a good way to shock the hell out of that dumb kid who plays with twenty walls in his EDH deck.  Keep a few extras on hand because that same kid will also be so amazed that he’ll want to trade for Ali Baba then and there.

Giant Tortoise-We used to say that this card stops Sligh decks cold.  If you don’t know what Sligh is, it was a mono red aggro and/or control deck (there’s debate, it started as control, then became red aggro) popular in the late 1990s.  Anyways, this is a two mana 1/4, so yeah, it’s gonna put the breaks on red aggro.

Wyluili Wolf-This card is named after Mrs. Richard Garfield, also known as Lily Wu.  Go read up on the story of how Richard Garfield proposed to his wife.  It’s cute.  Then tell your girlfriend and she’ll melt.

Ring of Ma’Ruf-This card is the father of all those Wish cards they started printing later, around Judgment.  It was a novelty for a long time.
Old Man Fred’s Fun Fact: It used to say in the rules for Magic (they might have changed it, I don’t know) that any non-Magic cards are textless in a Magic game.  This card and [card]
Death Wish[/card] are the only cards that could get you an Ace of Spades or a Pokemon card or a Fluxx card.  Just know that your Jackpot card from Fluxx has no text in a Magic game, but nice try.

Bottle of Suleimen-Part of my process for doing these articles is to go through the set list of the set in question and pick out cards.  I used to play with this card in 1995 and we had a lot of fun with it.  But, frankly, I forgot it existed until I went through the Arabian Nights spoiler in preparation for this article.  That means I’m going to be putting it in a deck.

City in a Bottle-Just in case this expansion set thing, quickly designed and barely tested, turned out to be a total train wreck shitstorm, they built in a safety valve in the form of this card.  They made three more of these: one for Antiquities, one for Homelands (in case the power of Homelands got out of control) and one in Unhinged that can be set for any set.  I’m just mentioning it because people might not know they exist and it’s a fascinating function that we never see anymore.  They stopped printing them (Unhinged excepted) because they were too narrow and they didn’t want people to not play a set because they existed.

Series Navigation<< Ancient Wisdom 05 – My Time Is Valuable, Please Don’t Waste ItAncient Wisdom 06 – Ten Cards From Antiquities You Should Be Playing In EDH >>