Hello again ladies and gents, Harrison here with another article for you. Today we’re going to be discussing the bricks and mortar of Magic: The Gathering; commons. After almost a whole hour of vigorous research I’ve selected some of the most powerful commons from MTG’s history, and I’ll be ranking them to find the best of the best. So the criteria are as follows:
- The card has to be available at common, in constructed play. It can also be other rarities, as long as it has been printed at least once at common. Supplemental products (eg Planechase or Commander) don’t count.
- The card must be either strong in multiple formats, or very strong in one.
So let’s begin, appropriately, at the beginning with White. Choosing from 988 commons, we have
#4: Ethereal Armor
Ask anyone who’s played against Bogles since 2012 and this card is the real deal. Even by itself it turns a Gladecover Scout or Slippery Bogle into a threat, and if you have multiples you will very quickly close out your game.
#3: Steppe Lynx
The fastest cat in magic, with the addition of fetch lands the kitty can easily connect for 4 or even 6 a turn, with no additional work required. A staple in zoo and domain decks.
#2: Squadron Hawk
The only ring you need to rule them all.
Ah, birds with swords. A 1/1 flyer for 2 doesn’t seem like much, but when you staple ‘draw 3’ to it then you have a card that helped Cawblade dominate for over a year.
#1: Oblivion Ring
Oh, you have a thing? No no no, you mean you had a thing. A kitchen table and Standard staple for as long as it’s been available, this universal answer is, well, universal. Perfectly balanced, costed and flavoured, O-Ring is my pick for the best White common in Magic.
Moving on we come to Blue, with 972 commons.
#4: Gitaxian Probe
Free spells are your friend, and the Git Probe is the most free of them all. Knowledge = Power, and knowing what your opponent has for a measly two life is a really good deal.
#3: Spell Pierce
When your common makes it in literally every format it’s available for, you know you’ve got a good thing. A universal answer for anything you care about in Legacy and Vintage, because who plays creatures anyway?
#2: Delver of Secrets
Oh, Delver. Sure, it dies to every kind of removal. Sure, you have to build your deck around it. But a 3/2 flyer for U that doesn’t require any sort of input other than good deckbuilding? A strong contender for best creature in magic.
So many thoughts and emotions.
Well look, it wouldn’t be a Blue list unless I cheated a little bit, right? Whether you’re pro-Brainstorm or play green, it doesn’t matter. You have to respect the best draw spells in magic, all at the low low price of U.
Moving on we have 976 Black commons, from which I have chosen:
#4: Cabal Ritual/Dark Ritual
I’ve chosen to put the Rituals at fourth because they’re only enablers, but damn if they aren’t the best ones in MTG. Mana is the system by which we control how early you can overpower your opponent, and these break it in half.
You know what else breaks the mana system in half? Taking overpowered creatures out of your graveyard and throwing them onto the battlefield.
#2: Duress/Hymn to Tourach
Attacking the hand is a tried and true strategy for any sort of deck, and these two get it done better than anything. Information, card advantage (or at least parity) and your opponent’s hopes and dreams crushed, all in one neat package.
Hey, at least Doom Blade doesn’t die to Doom Blade.
#1: Doom Blade
Bane of ‘is this creature good’ discussions everywhere, Doom Blade is the Swiss Army Knife of creature removal; it’s really good almost all of the time. Unless a zombie wants to eat your face.
Red actually has the least number of commons, at 963, my picks being:
#4: Slash Panther
My personal favourite red common, this little kitty made a huge splash in two formats; SOM Limited and Vintage, until the advent of Dack Fayden. Coming out on turn 1 off a Mishra’s Workshop and a Mox, AND killing JTMS dead makes this card just beautiful.
#3: Kird Ape
He puts the ‘fur’ in ‘fury’, and has one of the best power-to-mana ratios you can get. An absolute house in zoo.
#2: Empty the Warrens/Grapeshot
When your deck and mechanic is so broken that they name the scale for broken mechanics after it, you’re doing something right. About as interactive and interesting as watching paint dry, but damn if it doesn’t win games.
BAM! And the dirt is gone!
#1: Lightning Bolt
If I didn’t put this here, a team of ninjas would swing through my window and take all my Mountains. THE removal spell, period. So good they printed six worse versions of it and they all got played.
Finally we come to Green, with 989 commons. This section was by far the hardest to fill, but I think I’ve managed.
Honourable Mention: Werebear
100% the best pun in MTG.
#4: Vines of Vastwood
Also a strong contender for ‘most confusing artwork on a card’, Vines is a powerhouse in any deck bringing Forests to the table. Counterspelling your opponents removal, connecting for massive damage, or foiling opposing tricks? Vines does it all.
#3: Sakura-Tribe Elder
Getting lands, blocking dudes, Steve here represents the ultimate in utility.
#2: Wild Mongrel
The Dog dominated its’ format, and with very good reason. A brilliant beater and enabler for more archetypes than you can shake a stick at. Then it will go fetch. Because it’s a dog. The best green creature in magic for a very long time, at least until the advent of ….
Just give it the cheeseburger. You’re not going to win that fight
#1: Wild Nacatl
Meow Meow boys and girls, because this kitty is the real deal. The best creature in zoo and the best creature for G, Nacatl breaks all the rules with an insane power-to-mana ratio that rewards you for playing cards you probably were going to already.
So that brings us to the end of our list of the best commons in magic. Please feel free to chip in with your thoughts and comments and any cards you think I’ve missed.