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Cards You Should Own

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This is going to be a list of cards that would be worth getting your hands on. These will be staple cards that can fit in many decks. I’m going to keep them separated by color and approximate price. This will give you more of an idea of how much you would need to spend and what priorities you can put on getting them. There is no way this list could ever be complete so if any of you feel there is something important I left off this list (and there will be), mention it. I left important cards like Duress, Hymn to Tourach, and Rancor out of the first draft so I’m positive I left off many other important cards as well. If you think of any (or just want to mention some of your favorites), leave a comment.

Before I talk about the cards themselves I want to mention a few good places to get them.

Cardshark: This is by far the cheapest place I have found for practically everything. Be aware that not everything comes from the same sellers so if you can’t find what you want all from one seller the cards will be arriving separately. I’ve been using this place to order my cards for about 6 months now and is hasn’t really disappointed me yet. Some sellers take longer to ship than others but it still isn’t any worse than ebay. Shipping is also reasonable unlike many ebay sellers. I actually found this site by accidentally clicking on a random add when reaching for the close button on Magic Workstation.

Ebay: I’m sure everyone understands how this one works. The prices on cards are still as good as ever but it seems as though lately people are charging ridiculous amounts for shipping. $2.50-3 to ship something that technically only should cost the price of a stamp is quite absurd. Shipping in padded envelopes usually costs slightly over $1 but never $3 like some people charge. That said not every seller charges too much for shipping and sometimes this is the only place you can find a card.

CardKingdom: This place ships faster than any other place I’ve found and some of the prices are quite reasonable. I always seem to get my cards something like 3-4 days after I order them which is amazing. I haven’t used this place as much since I found cardshark though.

StarCityGames: The prices are high. The shipping is high. It can sometimes take a while for the orders to arrive. Why would I even mention them? They seem to be the standard for online magic stores even if they aren’t a good place to buy cards. They said going premium will help them lower prices. We shall see.

Londes: I mention this place just to say that they suck. I’ve ordered from there once and never got my cards nor any replies to emails. hey do have a nice collection of crappy magic articles to read though.

Oshkosh Magic: I won an ebay action of theirs and got stuck on their mailing list. The prices are nothing exciting but I did manage to get a lot of 4 of each Apocalypse split card for $4 which since at the time Fire / Ice alone was $2, was a good deal.

For the format I’m going to have everything split into three sections per color. The first will be cards that according to cardshark you can get for less than $1. The next section will be cards that will coast you between $1 and $3. The last section are cards that cost anything more than that. In each section will be a card followed by an explanation of why that cards is useful. In the next column will be alternatives. These alternatives do not necessarily fit in the same price range as the other card. It may be a more expensive and better version or it may be a cheaper alternative. This was a way I found to fit more cards on the list without taking up too much space. It also provided a more aesthetically pleasing way of organizing the list as each row represents a certain type of card. The Honorable Mentions are there because there were too many important cards in the color to fit them or because the cards was unique enough to not really have any worthwhile alternatives.

Now On with the List: (prices according to cardshark)


Cheap (less than $1):


An obvious staple, Disenchant has been a solid choice for any white deck as long as Magic has existed. As for alternatives I find having a large variety is key. Mix it up and find the version you like best.

Seal of Cleansing
Aura of Silence
Orim’s Thunder
Dismantling Blow

Order of the White Shield

The pro-black weenies have been making those Terrors dead cards for many years.

Order of Leitbur
Soltari Monk
White Knight

Silver Knight

The pro-red weenie. These are usually more useful than the pro-black versions nowdays since the printing of a decent amount of non-targeted black removal.

Freewind Falcon
Soltari Priest

Leonin Skyhunter

Other weenies.

Longbow Archer
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Suntail Hawk
Lantern Kami

Wall of Swords

White has always been known for defense and what is more defensive than a big wall? While not the best of choices for a tournament deck, walls are a good way to hold off an aggro deck or to divert attention away from you in multiplayer.

Wall of Nets

Medium (less than $3):

Swords to Plowshares

Every deck needs a way to deal with creatures. This is the best targeted creature removal spell ever printed. I listed a few alternatives but there is nothing even remotely close to Swords.

Wing Shards


This is a very powerful card. Casting this after dropping a large threat can often remove all chance of your opponent winning. After all how can he deal with your threat without mana?

Global Ruin


This is easilly the most powerful white card ever printed and also one of the most powerful cards in any color. It does many things any of which would be broken n its own. The fact that it does all this for 2 mana is just ridiculous.

Balancing Act

Expensive (more than $3):

Wrath of God

Probably the strongest aspect of white, Wrath effects are very powerful against any creature deck. The original is a bit costly but there are plenty of usable alternatives.

Akroma’s Vengeance
Mageta the Lion

Exalted Angel

Every control deck needs a finisher and white based control decks are no exception. This angel makes the old school Serra Angel seem downright terrible but its price means that you may have to find a more affordable option. Luckilly there are plenty of other options for a white finisher. Decree of Justice may seem a bit out of place here but it often performs the exact same task as a large flyer.

Decree of Justice
Eternal Dragon
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Serra Angel

Honorable Mention:

Enlightened Tutor
Land Tax
Pulse of the Fields
These cards didn’t make the list but still warrent mention. They are all powerful and very useful at what they do.


Cheap (less than $1):


Countermagic is generally the first thing you think of when you think about blue. It can be powerful and effective. It is also really the only permanent way blue has to stop threats. Many alternatives are given which is good because it gets much better the more you have.

Mana Leak
Force Spike


The second thing blue does best is draw cards. A blue control deck just wouldn’t work without card drawing effects. Options are key here. You want to be able to have a choice rather than just use the same card drawing effects for every blue deck.

Serum Visions
Deep Analysis
Thirst for Knowledge
Accumulated Knowledge
Counsel of the Soratami


The last blue specific ability is bounce. While not always the most effective at dealing with permanents it is often all blue has once something hits play. In the right deck these can also gain tempo which can slow down some decks considerably.

Echoing Truth
Temporal Adept
Rushing River


These are all reusable card drawing engines. They let you consistantly draw more cards or even just better cards than your opponent which is one of the key ways blue gains its advantage.

Thieving Magpie
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Whispers of the Muse
Thought Courier
Treasure Trove
Honden of Seeing Winds
Arcanis, the Omnipotent

Mahamoti Djinn

This is the finisher section. After you have control of the game just drop a big dude and win.

Air Elemental

Medium (less than $3):

Keiga, the Tide Star

More finishers. These ones are much more powerful than the cheaper ones but have prices to reflect that. I also want to note that out of these alternatives Morphling is the best with Meloku as a distant second.

Quicksilver Dragon
Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Mystical Tutor

Tutoring is also a powerful ability. While blue tutors are lacking compared to black there are still plenty of playable ones. I also want to give Tinker and Intuition some bonus treatment since they are both broken cards that do riddiculous things but didn’t make the expensive list.

Merchant Scroll

Expensive (more than $3):

Fact or Fiction

The big card drawing spells. These can draw a ton of cards in one shot.

Stroke of Genius

Force of Will

Counterspells are often good but scary things happen when they are free. This is the defining card of type 1 and with good reason. This is another one of those cards where the alternatives are so far away in power level that they almost don’t belong near it.

Disrupting Shoal

Honorable Mention:

Tradewind Rider
Control Magic
Time Spiral


Cheap (less than $1):

Dark Banishing

Black likes to kill things. It is very good at it. There are dozens more alternatives to what I listed but only listed these for space concerns.

Devour in Shadow
Seal of Doom
Diabolic Edict
Echoing Decay
Horobi’s Whisper
Rend Flesh

Dark Ritual

The best unrestricted mana acceleration in the game. It took a while for people to realize this card was broken rather than just solid. The substitutes for this are generally quite bad so only reach for them if you absolutely need to.

Cabal Ritual
Songs of the Damned

Dauthi Slayer

Black has many good weenies. I also want to make special mention of Hypnotic Specter. Dropping one of these on turn one with Dark Ritual is a play that has been feared as long as the game has been around. It can often singlehandedly win the game.

Erg Raiders
Foul Imp
Fledgling Imp
Blind Creeper
Festering Goblin
Carrion Feeder
Skittering Skirge
Hypnotic Specter
Phyrexian Negator
Flesh Reaver


Discard is another major theme for black. It is also a very powerful one and gives it tools to disrupt combo and control decks like no other color can.

Hymn to Tourach
Cabal Therapy

Phyrexian Plaguelord

Every color needs its fat and black is no different.

Sengir Vampire
Fallen Angel
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Visara the Dreadful
Yukora, the Prisoner

Medium (less than $3):


One of the most powerful cards ever printed. This card has possibly spawned more decks than any other. It provides card advantage that no deck can overcome.

Phyrexian Arena
Yawgmoth’s Bargain

Mind Twist

The best mass discard spell ever printed. Generally this will completely empty any players hand. Nothing can swing a game quite like a large early Mind Twist.

Mind Sludge

Oversold Cemetery

These cards are great against control, forcing the control deck to be able to deal with the same threat every turn. They are also potent in any other matchup as well. Recurring Nightmare is admittedly the strongest but carries the largest price tag.

Oath of Ghouls
Recurring Nightmare

Expensive (more than $3):

Demonic Tutor

Black is by far the best tutor color mostly due to the fact that its tutors can generally grab any card.

Vampiric Tutor
Diabolic Tutor
Demonic Consultation
Diabolic Intent
Rhystic Tutor


Mass removal is always powerful. While these don’t quite have the punch of the white versions they are still plenty good.

Decree of Pain
Hideous Laughter

Honorable Mention:

Grave Pact
Living Death
Yawgmoth’s Will
Desolation Angel
Promise of Power / Night’s Whisper
Skeletal Scrying
Drain Life / Consume Spirit
Pox / Death Cloud

I want to mention that black easily was the hardest color to narrow down to the 5/3/2 cards in each section. It was very hard to not have Yawgmoth’s Win or Living Death on the list or for Hypnotic Specter to not have its own category. In the end the only reason these didn’t make it is because of the lack of alternatives. They are admittedly more important than other cards that made the list but there just isn’t anything like them. Drain Life also really wants to be on this list and originally was over the weenie section. I eventually decided that I just couldn’t have this list without a section for weenies plus it was a way to squeeze Hypnotic Specter onto the list.


Cheap (less than $1):


Red has the most land destruction. While a dedicated land destruction deck is often anoying in casual play a few versitile land destruction spells are a nice fit to many red decks. Just try to keep it under 10.

Stone Rain
Molten Rain
Avalanche Riders
Sowing Salt


Red burns hings. It burns them well. Burn is versitile because it can be used in either control or aggro since it can kill creatures and later go for the dome.

Volcanic Hammer
Seal of Fire
Violent Eruption


Variable size burn can also be helpful. It can make an excellent finisher as well as good removal. Just make sure you don’t put it in a deck that doesn’t have enough mana to use it properly (aka a lot)

Rolling Thunder
Kaervek’s Torch
Ghitu Fire

Mogg Fanatic

Red is also the place for small aggressive creatures. While they may not be directly as good as the ones in green or white the aggressive nature of red lets it better abuse them.

Raging Goblin
Mogg Flunkies
Goblin Piledriver
Slith Firewalker
Goblin Warchief
Jackal Pup

Shattering Pulse

Red is the best color at blowing up artifacts. With so many dangerous artifacts floating around you should always have a few answers.

Echoing Ruin
Viashino Heretic
Gorilla Shaman

Medium (less than $3):


Mass removal is always good. Red’s version is no less useful. Red can clear the board of small attackers for less mana than other colors but it may have problems with the larger creatures.

Crater Hellion
Slice and Dice
Shard Phoenix

Lightning Bolt

These are the more expensive burn spells.

Hammer of Bogardan
Magma Jet
Chain Lightning

Shivan Dragon

Here is the red fat. This generally means either a dragon or something that blows other creatures up (or both).

Siege-Gang Commander
Rorix Bladewing
Shivan Hellkite
Two-Headed Dragon

Expensive (more than $3):

Ball Lightning

These capture a lot of the flavor of red. They almost act more like burn spells than actual creatures but generally pack quite the punch.

Blistering Firecat

Grim Lavamancer

Reusable damage can be a very powerful thing. It can either control the board against aggro or, if it can target opponents, win the long game against control.

Goblin Sharpshooter

Honorable Mention:

Flametongue Kavu
Grab the Reins / Blind with Anger


Cheap (less than $1):

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Green is known for its mana acceleration. These are some of the biggest reasons to add green to any deck.

Rampant Growth
Kodama’s Reach
Explosive Vegetation
Skyshroud Claim
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Yavimaya Elder
Wall of Roots


Disenchant isn’t white anymore.

Viridian Shaman
Uktabi Orangutan
Viridian Zealot
Elvish Scrapper
Elvish Lyrist
Creeping Mold
Wear Away

Giant Growth

Used more as psuedo-removal than to get extra damage to the dome (except for Might of Oaks).

Muscle Burst
Might of Oaks
Bounty of the Hunt
Predator’s Strike

Wild Mongrel

Green has the best small creatures in the game. Not only do its bears get a decent extra ability but 2-power creatures for one mana are plentiful.

Muscle Sliver
River Boa
Rogue Elephant
Plant Elemental
Albino Troll
Pouncing Jaguar
Jungle Lion
Ghazban Ogre
Wild Dogs


Green also has the most aggressivly costed fat. Huge beaters ar a large part of what green does best.

Fangren Firstborn
Weatherseed Treefolk
Kavu Titan
Erhnam Djinn
Force of Nature

Medium (less than $3):

Silvos, Rogue Elemental

Here is the medium priced fat. These are more expensive but hit really hard.

Child of Gaea
Thorn Elemental
Multani, Maro-Sorcerer

Worldly Tutor

While green isn’t known for its tutoring or card draw it certainly isn’t incapable of it. If it is a creature you need green can dig it out.

Living Wish
Commune with Nature
Time of Need
Survival of the Fittest
Wirewood Herald


These give a permanent boost to a creature. No one likes to be facing a creature with any of these.

Blanchwood Armor
Gaea’s Embrace

Expensive (more than $3):

Deranged Hermit

The high priced fat. While not cheap you certainly get your mana’s worth here. The Hermit is basically 9 power for 5 mana and Rude Awakening usually does 16-20 damage.

Troll Ascetic
Verdant Force
Rude Awakening
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Ravenous Baloth

Wall of Blossoms

Green usually can’t outright kill creatures. This is the kind of stuff it needs to use in order to slow the aggro decks down.

Spike Weaver
Spike Feeder
Constant Mists

Honorable Mention:

Regrowth / Revive / Eternal Witness
Sylvan Library
Gaea’s Blessing
Oath of Druids


Cheap (less than $1):

Jayemdae Tome

Artfacts have been used to draw cards for a long time. While it usually doesn’t do it as well as some of the other colors there are still some good cards out there.

Howling Mine
Jalum Tome
Mind’s Eye
Phyrexian Vault

Mind Stone

Mana acceleration is likely the most common use for artifacts.

Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Indulgence
Talisman of Impulse
Talisman of Progress
Talisman of Unity
Darksteel Ingot
Guardian Idol

Icy Manipulator

Icy is an old favorite. While not the powerhouse that it used to be it is still far from bad.

Puppet Strings
Ring of Gix


Artifact fat. These have all seen tournament play at some point in time. Wizards generally things other colors should have better creatures than artifacts but a few really good artifact creatures pop up every once in a while.

Phyrexian War Beast
Darksteel Colossus
Platinum Angel
Karn, Silver Golem
Chimeric Idol

Tormod’s Crypt

If people in your metagame like messing with the graveyard these can put an end to that quickly.

Phyrexian Furnace
Scrabbling Claws

Medium (less than $3):

Winter Orb

These can all form some sort of lock against an unprepared opponent. They have all spawned some sort of Prison deck.

Static Orb
Tangle Wire


These are good against aggro, especially aggro with small creatures. Cursed Scroll gets extra mention because it also dominates the game against control.

Serrated Arrows
Cursed Scroll
Skull Catapult

Expensive (more than $3):

Nevinyrral’s Disk

Make the world go boom. Disk is quite possibly the best mass removal spell ever printed. It deals with practically everything for little mana and since it is colorless it can go in decks that would otherwise not have access to mass removal. It is also artifact/enchantment removal for colors that wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

Oblivion Stone
Powder Keg
Engineered Explosives

Sol Ring

The heavy duty mana acceleration. This stuff can be very powerful.

Chrome Mox
Mox Diamond
Thran Dynamo
Mana Vault
Grim Monolith
Gilded Lotus

Honorable Mention:

Jester’s Cap
Sword of Fire and Ice
Ensnaring Bridge
Null Rod
Solemn Simulacrum


Cheap (less than $1):

Darksteel Citadel

The artifact land may be banned in Standard but is fine elsewhere. It is nice for doing things like fueling Shrapnel Blast or Thirst for Knowledge without any drawbacks. Darksteel Citadel is also Indestructable which is relevant from time to time.

Ancient Den
Vault of Whispers
Seat of the Synod
Tree of Tales
Great Furnace

Invasion Tap Lands

These are the cheapest playable dual lands.

Coastal Tower
Elfhame Palace
Salt Marsh
Shivan Oasis
Urborg Volcano


These lands all can tap for more than one mana. They can enable you to produce large amounts of mana.

Temple of the False God
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors


These lands can kill creatures. Land that doubles as removal can be a powerful thing because it is free, colorless, and uncounterable and if it also produces mana doesn’t set you back at all manawise.

Cabal Pit
Keldon Necropolis
Barbarian Ring

Medium (less than $3):

Strip Mine

These all see constant tournament play in the formats they are legal in.

Dust Bowl


Better than the tap lands but not as good as the original dual lands but the price also reflects this. Getting a set of these should be a goal for averyone who find collecting the originals to be an impossible goal.

Karplusan Forest
Sulfurous Springs
Underground River
Adarkar Wastes
Caves of Koilos
Battlefield Forge
Shivan Reef
Llanowar Wastes
Yavimaya Coast

Mishra’s Factory

Manlands are great because they are uncounterable and most are immune to sorcery speed removal.

Treetop Village
Faerie Conclave
Blinkmoth Nexus
Nantuko Monastery
Stalking Stones

Expensive (more than $3):

City of Brass

5-color lands are also quite useful. They can help make those 3+ color decks much more consistant.

Reflecting Pool
Gemstone Mine
Undiscovered Paradise
Mirrodin’s Core
Grand Coliseum

Fetch Lands

These completely revolutionized the way mana bases were built in Vintage. They are great for any deck that can run them and even in a few mono-colored decks for extra deck thinning.

Bloodstained Mire
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

Original Dual Lands

The original and still the best. These have quite the heafty price tag though.

Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Volcanic Island

Honorable Mention:

Thawing Glaciers
Rishadan Port
Kjeldoran Outpost
Tolarian Academy
Gaea’s Cradle

Split Cards:

Spite / Malice
Wax / Wane
Life / Death
Assault / Battery
Fire / Ice


Cheap (less than $1):

Hull Breach

Expensive (more than $3):

Pernicious Deed
Undermine / Absorb / Mystic Snake
Shadowmage Infiltrator

Since gold cards don’t quite work in the format I used for the other colors I just left it as a list of the best cards at each budget level. There was’t much at medium so I just made the expensive section a bit larger. I left off explanations because most should be obvious but I will mention that Psychatog and Pernicious Deed are very good and worth picking up.

I hope this list helps give you a few ideas od which cards to pick up. Many of these will end up going in practically every deck you can fit them in and many are also very cheap. Getting commons and uncommons for $0.05-0.10 or rares for $0.25-0.50 is easy on Cardshark. Getting new cards is also a good way to inspire new deck ideas.