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By: dangerlinto, Mike Linton
Dec 10 2007 2:56pm
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People looking to get into classic have a daunting task ahead of them. With the largest card pool to select from, the format where everything is always legal doesn't mean it's ever going to be worth having. In fact, if you were playing only classic (as many people eventually will) you'll want to try and pear your collection down to only the things you need for classic. 
 
I've actually been doing this for the past two years, and it's not an easy chore. For one thing you have to be fairly invested in long-term thinking if you really want to get the jump on things. You also have to be willing to put some money down on cards you know you may not use for a year or two (or more!) but are sure will see play. You also need to learn to part with cards that you might enjoy in some way, or perhaps are good in Extended or Standard.   I've divided up the chore of preparing your collection for playing classic in the long term into three categories:
 
Staples
These are card you simply should not be without if you want to compete in classic. Generally, a large number of decks will use his card, or the card is part of an archetype that is very likely to remain consistently in the upper-tier of the classic meta game, regardless of what comes out in the future.
 
Sleepers Buys
These cards are of a couple of different ilks. Sometimes, a sleeper card is one that you know could be powerful, but is simply underused and underpriced. Other times, a sleeper buy is something that won't really be useful until something else is printed that it combos with. And yet still, sometimes a sleeper buy is good against a whole type of decks (often combo decks) that simply aren't prevalent yet in the classic meta game, but will likely become so in the future. Personally, I like getting Foils of sleeper buys because they can pay off in the future – even in the very short future. Ask me how much I paid for the foil Flash I sold for $50 a couple of months ago.
 
Lose it
These are cards that you should probably cut from your collection for a number of reasons. Sometimes (ok quite a few times), an older card exists that will be printed that is strictly better than these cards. Other times, the cards are priced very high and have little to no use for classic. Of course, with these sections of cards I'd like to remind you all that I'm writing from the perspective of someone thinking long term to eventually playing only classic – don't come back to me a year from telling me I gave bad advice about losing a card that you now need to play deck XYZ in extended!
 
In order to keep the length of this article from becoming insane (and possibly to keep my self from going insane as I write it), I've limited myself to one card of each type from every set, with a few exceptions.   I've gone in order of the sets as they appear in the MTGO binder, and I've left Lorwyn out as something just a little too new to consider.
 
Skip to:
# Editions & Master's Edition Invasion Block Odyssey Block
Onslaught Block Mirrodin Block
Ravnica Block Time Spiral Block
(w/ Coldsnap)
 
Mirage Block
 
 
 
7Th Edition
 
Counterspell
DuressStaple
As people are finding out with Thoughtseize, the vast majority of the time you don't want to bother with the creatures anyway. They are easy enough to deal with in play.   Duress reigns as the gold standard of 1st turn anti-combo control cards. To boot, it won't be printed again for years until Urza's Saga is online.
 
Arcane Laboratory - Sleeper
The further into the card pool we get, the more storm becomes a threat. Arcane Lab is a definite pick-up at it's current price for the long term. It also combo reasonably well with Erayo, Soratami Ascendant to form a hard lock that becomes easily achievable when even the cheapest of fast mana.
 
CounterspellLose it
Tempest block has Counterspell as a common.  Since you an often make due without the actual counterspell by using alternates, like Delay, Remand, Spell Snare and – uh… what's that other one? Oh yeah – Force of Will - and you can sell your 7th Counterspells for enough to make it worth your while, might be a good idea to go ahead and do it.
 
 
 
8Th Edition
 
Sadly this set is a complete non-factor for classic. There is essentially nothing you need from this set to play in the long-term for classic.
 
 
 
Counterspell
 
9Th Edition
 
Hypnotic SpecterStaple
OK… I'm actually really stretching with this one… 9th has no real staples except maybe that Kird Ape is the quintessential Zoo creature, though zoo often isn't going to cut it in most classic Meta Games. At least the Specter has been known to last for some time as a creature that can really harm your opponent if your deck goes for resource denial, such as deck's like Chris Pikula's Dead Guy Ale. 
 
Jester's Cap - Sleeper
The thinking is this…when things start to get restricted, it's gets much much easier to pull three really important cards out of an opponent's deck – like, say Tinker, Burning Wish and Yawgmoth's Will.   The real key is to have a cap running with a Goblin Welder , so this is pretty long term, as that card won't be out for years. Still, who knows when it will see print again?
 
Cruel EdictLose it
Tempest block has Diabolic Edict as a common, which is strictly better. Cruel Edict was never really highly classic worthy in the first place, but was at least slightly useful in getting rid of problem untargettable creatures.
 
 
 
10Th Edition
 
Squee is simply combo goodness. Whether it's just using his ability to feed Solitary Confinement or later to feed Survival of the Fittest, or at best, helping with the uber-powerful Bazaar of Baghdad, Squee will be used in classic decks, that much is certain.
 
Hurkyl's Recall - Sleeper
This card is only a sleeper if one of two things happen – either the moxes appear online, or Mishra's Workshop appears online. With the moxes, it is often used to build a huge storm count, and against Workshop decks, the card is such a large swing in tempo (against the workshop player) it becomes a fine sideboard card
  
PainlandsLose it
I think by now, most people have figured out that the painlands are generally inferior to the RAV lands, which are strictly inferior to the actual Dual Lands promised to be coming out with MED II. Right now, you can hang onto your RAV lands, but hanging onto painlands is a poor idea.
 
 
 
Force of Will
Master's Edition
 
Force of Will Staple
It's frickin' Force of Will. It defines every format it is legal in. If you think the current price tag is too high, just wait. Considering WoTC officials have already said it won't be in MED II, I'd really think that if you are going to start with something, start here. That being said, there are number of staples in this set ( Pyroblast, Mishra's Factory, Lightning Bolt, Hymn to Tourach to name a few) but Force of Will is the staple amongst staples.
 
Animate Dead - Sleeper
It doesn't matter that animate dead is generally only ever used to do one thing – create an arbitrarily large loop with Worldgorger Dragon – it's still a card and a combo that can win the game on turn one and is remarkably easy to play. There are a number of sleepers in this set to – Chains of Mephistopheles and Berserk to name a couple cards that aren't currently being used to their full classic potential.
  
Nevinyrral's DiskLose it
I know how good it looks, and how well it blows everything up, but generally, if you are looking for a blow up everything solution in classic, I'd guess within a year, you won't be able to tell anyone about it the turn before you are actually going to do it. At four mana and coming into play tapped, disk is generally an unacceptable solution. Engineered Explosives is much better at most of what you'll need to do, anyway – like say, coming down for nothing and for two, blowing up 28 Empty the Warrens tokens.
 
 
 
Spiritmonger
Invasion
 
I should preface the entire Invasion block by saying it might be prudent to wait until 2008 to pick most of these up, after they have rotated out of extended and no longer hold the same value they would otherwise. 
 
Fact or Fiction Staple
Fact or Fiction is, quite simply, the best card advantage card of all time. Even better than Ancestral Recall, because often you get use all five cards anyway – though of course Ancestral is much much much (is that enough much's to stress this point) cheaper mana-wise and therefore better in the early game. 
 
So even if this card is eventually restricted – so would all the Power nine – and would you pass any of them up? Get one.
 
None - Sleeper
There are really no sleepers to talked about in Invasion. I was going to suggest Disrupt - It's odd to think about in the face of all the free counterspells ever printed (Force of Will, Daze), that this one counterspell is the only one that is actually card advantage that doesn't cost at least four mana. It's a force spike that it wholly useful in any meta game where the first spell isn't a creature or artifact. The first happens a lot in eternal formats, the second – not so much.
 
However, the thing about disrupt is that it's a common in Weatherlight.
 
Pretty much everything else Lose it
Wow, it feels weird to say this, but the entire invasion set is far overpriced (like Spiritmonger) and pretty much all of it is very poor fare in constructed classic in the long term. Even things like Aura Shards and Armadillo Cloak – getting a Green White deck to click even as early as the release of Tempest next year will be hard. Everything else is very well balanced for standard and extended but nothing really shines through. And since they are all worth $$$ now, I'd be tossing them overboard if I owned any of it.
 
 
 
Orim
Planeshift
 
Meddling Mage Staple
Two mana beaters that say "you can't play Tendrils of Agony or Empty the Warrens or Tinker or whatever happens to be the combo du jour" are pretty good - always. The only problem with this thing is that it's just as good in extended, which means it's very, very expensive. I recommend getting it after 2008 rotation, however, of all the expensive IPA cards, it is at the top of the classic heap.
  
Rushing River - Sleeper
Why Rushing River? The answer is simple – two is better than one, and sometimes, you really really really need to have an answer for something that doesn't cost 1 or 2 cc. Chalice of the Void and Counterbalance can kill you on just those two mana costs. For the couple of cents this will cost you, it's worth picking it up now.
 
Orim's Chant Lose it
This is a little odd, because I'm sure you are thinking “but it's such a good card!” And that's true - it is. But a lot of it's power comes from slapping it down on an Isochron Scepter, and that particular play isn't very strong in classic even now. It will become much more difficult to establish that kind of a lock on turn three when the cricitcal turn is quickly becoming turn 2 (if it isn't already), or perhaps even sooner if artifact acceleration becomes more prevalent.. Since you can easily get $50 for one of these guys, it's best to drop them (like a lot of other overpriced IPA) if you are only considering classic. Also, when Goblin Welder is released... well it's generally accepted that this one card so completely ruins Isochron Scepter... so it's not a long term type of card for classic.
 
Now if the price drops WAY down on the Chant, it might be worth picking one up – say in the $10 or $15 range, just so you can use it to stop an opponent from playing any response to your combo. But at current levels you are holding onto stock in Enron, if you know what I mean.
 
 
 
Fire / Ice
Apocalypse
 
Fire/Ice Staple
The versatility of this card is through the roof. For one thing, Fire can get rid of pesky critters you don't like to see on your opponent's board – like Dark Confidant or Goblin Welder or Goblin Lackey, not to mention a lot of current creatures used. But even if you aren't facing creatures, you can use Ice to tap a Sol Ring during the upkeep step or a blue land at end of turn to force out the possibility of a counterspell (or worse, a Mana Drain on your fat drain target) while drawing a card.
 
Oh – and it's blue, so it pitches to Force of Will. Handy, huh?
 
None - Sleeper
There aren't really any cards that are sitting around at a small price waiting for you to take advantage. Gerrard's Verdict comes to mind, but it fits in a very narrow deck and is actually slightly overpriced.
 
Vindicate / Pernicious Deed – Lose it
This is pretty much the same deal as Orim's Chant. These cards are worth too much and do too little in classic - especially in the future - for you to be keeping them at their current going rates. Built into Deed's price particulary is it's ability to hammer Affinty, which continually slips down the totem pole of classic competitive decks – not to mention that Null Rod does the job much more effectively anyway.
 
 
 
Skeletal Scrying
Odyssey
 
Entomb Staple
By the time you get to the point of realizing how powerful Yawgmoth's Will is, you'll realize that Entomb is basically an instant tutor for any card that costs one mana. It also helps that it's the driving card behind the turn one Worldgorger Dragon combo, though it helps a lot of combos sing. It's not restricted yet, but it will be. However, you should still have one of these, if not more, in your collection.
 
Skeletal Scrying continues to surprise me that it doesn't show up in more decks in extended. Here is a black card that essentially says, for each mana you spend, draw a card. So, for example, if you have a bunch of mana out, you can as an instant, draw five cards for six mana. Sure you have to get rid of five cards from your graveyard (often you get rid of the Onslaught fetchlands in there) and pay five life, but as Necropotence and Yawgmoth's Bargain have shown, one life for one card isn't a bad trade at all. No it's not as good as those cards, but it can refill your hand in a pinch.
 
TerravoreLose it
It's funny to think about – against some decks in Vintage – like 0 land or 1-land Belcher, there might not even be enough lands in the entire game for Terravore to be a 20/20. I'm surprised this card remains so high priced - must be an altnernate format thing. Drop it like a rock. 
 
 
 
Torment
 
Cabal Therapy Staple
Even if you don't have a creature in your deck, this card is still good. But in decks like Ichorid, it's power is insane. It's price has recently dropped off as extended moved away from a lot of graveyard strategies, so it might even be a good time to pick it up now.
 
Cabal Ritual - Sleeper
There are a number of storm decks that require this card to go. And you can often find it priced very reasonably. Sure it's a common, but it's a common you'll want to have in a year or two.
 
Cabal CoffersLose it
A Cabal trifecta! This stupidly high priced uncommon has no place in eternal formats. There are no 6 or 7 mana cards you need to play where the acceleration on the 4th turn is worth it. Acceleration, even now has to come much earlier than that. Use Dark Ritual instead!

Worldgorger Dragon
  
 
 
Judgment
 
Burning Wish Staple
Defintely pick up one. And really, only one. This card is numero-uno on the restricted watch (right above Mystical Tutor and Entomb ). It's ability to tutor for all the most powerful sorceries in the game (why they thought this should only cost two man is beyond me) allows you to run all sorts of tricks, particularly with Yawgmoth's Will.
  
You can get these for less than a buck and you can make one very powerful combo with other cards that are likewise, less than a dollar. Worldgorger Dragon is already good enough to play – it's not getting worse.
 
GenesisLose it
As much as the graveyard is used, you will never, ever want to use it this way and you will never, ever want to put a creature from your graveyard to your hand at the cost of three mana. You will want to put Darksteel Colossus from your library directly into play for the same cost, without all the hubbub of getting a creature into your graveyard first.
 
 
 
Polluted Delta
Onslaught
 
The 5 FetchlandsStaple
Even at their current price these are a must. And, of course, they fetch the real Dual Lands promised in MED II. You have to have these.
  
Smother - Sleeper
Practically every creature you'll face that's not an artifact (and some that are – Hi Phyrexian Dreadnought) fall into the kill zone of smother. It's not a bad card to have around.
 
The idea here was you could recover all your Goblins from Wrath of God. With Goblin Recruiter and Goblin Ringleader, you usually never have to worry about that – you're drawing four goblins a turn anyway.
 
 
 
Legions
 
I'm skipping Legions since there are literally no useful cards in it, (well ok, Akroma can be used, but only in one deck and it's not moving in price), and the prices of the cards are so low whether you have them or not isn't much of a problem. As an aside, I consider this set the worst set ever produced.
 
 
 
Xantid Swarm
Scourge
  
StifleStaple
This card changed a lot of things. Suddenly it was possible to do some crazy stuff that you'd never been able to do before.   Nowadays, Stifle is a two card combo with Phyrexian Dreadnought that puts your opponent on just as fast a clock as Tinker/Colossus, and it also can double as one mana blue land destruction for all those crazy fetchlands. There is no way you should be with out 4 of these. There are actually a couple of other staples you should have – namely Tendrils of Agony and Brain Freeze, but neither is quite as universal as Stifle.
 
Xantid Swarm - Sleeper
This little guy is like an unstoppable uber-counterspell every turn it attacks. Which is really handy when say, you want to put a Worldgorger Dragon into play with Animate Dead or play a bunch of spells and not get your Mind's Desire stifled into uselessness.
 
Decree of Justice Lose it
If you want an alternate win condition that involves a bunch of uncounterable little men, you'll find Empty the Warrens at four mana is far more effective at making those men then trying to pay 4 mana just for just one little soldier. At almost $10, it's time to drop this one from your collection.
 
 
 
Chrome Mox
Mirrodin
 
It's a simple concept – the more the format slides into using a small subsection of cards, the more Chalice is going to affect that format. Chalice is very big in Vintage, but that has a lot to do with moxes which we may never get. Still, you should try watching a Tendrils of Agony deck try and fight it's way through a Chalice set to 1. It's not pretty. Even at $1 these are a definite “might as well pick them up now for later” cards.
 
Draw 2 cards (total) as an instant. Bring the Mindslaver you dropped in your graveyard directly into play with Goblin Welder. Rinse and repeat. 
 
Chrome MoxLose it
Now when I say lose it on this card, I want to remember that we are talking about classic play only. I don't think the price on this card is going down after 2008. It may actually go up. But I can tell you that it's likely the classic will evolve into a format where the cards in your hand are much better in your hand than as a single, permanent source of mana. For example, when your cards are say, Duress, Mystical Tutor, Land, Land, Stifle, Force of Will, Chrome Mox – guess what card isn't helping you at all? Exactly – you want to play all those cards, not burn through one just for the extra mana. The hand is just an example of how much more powerful all your classic cards are than the one mana extra they could become.
 
Now, even in the face of that, Chrome Mox is still a good card. But it's acceleration properties are outclassed by Lotus Petal, which we'll get sometime next year. 4x Lotus Petal is much better as an accelerant for everything but a pure aggro deck, and although this article doesn't cover it, trust me when I tell you that pure aggro decks generally can't win in eternal formats generally due to the ability for each and every deck to have a combo that simply wins the game. Hence, it would be prudent to toss your Chrome moxes the instant Tempest arrive with their replacement. 
 
 
 
Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel
 
Darksteel Colossus – Staple
Making Tinker into a one card combo (since all you need is another artifact – ANY artifact) is good. The only things that stop Colossus are Swords To Plowshares and a good bounce spell, or a very specialized removal spell. Well ok, and I guess (Phyrexian Dreadnaught) does too..
 
Sundering Titan - Sleeper
Hi Goblin Welder – absolutely ravaging your opponent's mana base is wicked - especially if your mana base is made up mostly out of Mishra's Workshop's. Not that they are necessary to pull this off, it's just it makes it very easy to lay down more artifacts.
 
Arcbound Ravager Lose it
You will not be playing affinity in classic. As the card pool expands, combo and control gain more and more tools - not just anti affinty tool, but better tools altogether and affinity gains nothing.
 
 
 
5th Dawn
 
This is generally the defacto choice for blowing a lot up. Especially if you can arrange it to blow most of their stuff up and keep your on the table. As I mentioned with Nevinyrral's Disk, it's generally a much more cost effective plan for nuking what ails you.
 
I don't know how much of a sleeper this card is. It already does some cool things. But I can tell you one thing it doesn't do yet – destroy one non-basic land per turn. Hi there, Wasteland. I'll see you in 2008.
 
Eternal WitnessLose it
It's odd that even though Regrowth is restricted in vintage, Eternal Witness isn't used there. It's probably the double green casting cost that turns Vintage players off. At any rate, while Witness can be used in Worldgorger Dragon combo, it's not really necessary. I'd recommend letting the extended people mess around with Witness – you won't need it.
 
 
 
 
Gifts Ungiven
Champions of Kamigawa
 
Gifts Ungiven Staple
This card was once a staple of standard – it's job was to tutor essentially four counterspells, and let your opponent cringe. But since that's not really a great play in extended, it's fallen off the radar.
 
It's a different matter in eternal formats, though. Along with the Odyssey card Recoup, Gifts Ungiven can practically ensure you can get two spectacularly powerful cards. It's recent Vintage restriction probably shouldn't worry you until Yawgmoth's Will is online.
 
Sure, it's not a bad card even on it's own – a rainbow land that gives your opponent 1/1 dorks is nothing to worry about if you are going to win on turn two or three anyway. But where Orchard really shines is in the company of one Oath of Druids. Now you aren't doing any favours for your opponent… your doing yourself a favour by letting you search your deck every turn and cheat the biggest fatty you can into play.
 
Cranial ExtractionLose it
four mana is a lot of mana to play just to get one card out of a deck. It's unlikely you'll be able to play this card ahead of the combo card you'd want to snuff out of existence – for example, you won't be able to snuff out Flash or Mind's Desire, since those cards are generally being played before you'll get the chance to Extract (sometimes even with Dark Ritual ). It's not like this is an expensive card now, anyway, but it's not really worth keeping in your beinder.
 
 
 
Betrayers of Kamigawa
 
Sadly, this set really has very little to offer classic, and what it does have ( Threads of Disloyalty, Umezawa's Jitte, Ninja of the Deep Hours ) are pretty slim picks. It's not going to matter much what you have from this set.  Maybe get a Jitte.
Kataki, War
 
 
 
 
Saviors of Kamigawa
 
Pithing Needle Staple
Stopping things from working is good - in any format. There is always, ALWAYS something that simply needs stopping.
 
When I say sleeper with this card, I don't mean the value will go way up but that it's value in classic is hidden away for a while. When Lotus Petal comes online, having enough mana to get a 1st turn Erayo with some gas left becomes possible. For example, Land, Ritual, Petal, Erayo, Duress will flip the Erayo, take a card out of their hand to battle the erayo and still leave you with a couple of cards. This is one of those places where Chrome Mox really fails to help.
 
Kataki, War's Wage Lose it
For one thing, there are other effective means of handling artifacts. Like Null Rod and Hurkyl's Recall. Secondly, Affinity is the only deck running a full suite of artifact lands, and in case I hadn't made that clear yet, affinity just gets worse and worse. 
 
 
Ravnica: City of Guilds
  
Hallowed Fountain
Dark ConfidantStaple
As classic moves ever toward more powerful spells and combos and control mechanisms, the less and less creature control the opponent can pack into their deck. It's hard to make room for four Swords to Plowshares when you have to pack Duress to stop Counterspells, (Xantid) Swarm to protect your combo and a bunch of acceleration to make sure you don't fall behind.
 
Dark Confidant helps draw cards quickly, at (most of the time – you can reveal a Force of Will for some pain) a good cost. And that's good in any format.
 
Where Suppresion field really helps is to make people pay for things they don't normally have to pay much for. For example, forcing Goblin Welder, Psychatog or Skirk Prospector to pay – or even just making them pay more, like for Mishra's Factory. This is a card you may want to keep in your back pocket.
 
The RAV Duals – Lose it
It's simple – when there are strictly better cards, you don't want the worse ones. The Duals that should be in MED II are strictly better. That being said, you'll have to hold onto your RAV duals until then to play in classic. This applies to all ten duals throughout the block.
 
 
 
Guildpact
 
I still think this card was improperly designed. The fact it affects only your opponent's graveyard is very nice – I thought it should have affected both, though. As you might have noticed, a lot of eternal power comes from the graveyard. Turning your opponent's graveyard off before the game starts for FREE is incredible. There is no way you shouldn't have four of these.
 
Where Shattering Spree excels is that it's the only way to get rid of a Chalice of the Void set to one with a card that actually costs one. Sure you have to pay for one replicate activation, but it works. And low and behold if your opponent is playing an artifact heavy deck, then you can take out some other stuff with any other extra red mana you have lying around.
 
 
 
Hide/Seek
Dissension
  
Spell SnareStaple
Countering a two mana spell with a one mana spell is aces in terms of keeping pace with the tempo of the game. And, quite honestly, there are a lot of cards that cost two in classic, and there always will be. 
 
Hide/Seek - Sleeper
Hide is just really handy. You can read it as “Try and Tinker out that Darksteel Colossus again, mate”. There are obviously other uses, but often , putting something on the bottom of the library is far more handy than putting it in the ‘yard. 
 
Seek is simply a wonderful card to have in a format that uses restrictions. Only one Flash? Try getting it now.   One of the reasons this card is used over something like Extract is that, with the Hide part, it's almost never a dead card. Oh and removing your opponent's Darksteel Colossus from the deck with Tinker on the stack? It's like a counterspell that get's you 11 life!
 
 
 
Counterbalance
Coldsnap
 
CounterbalanceStaple
Countering spells for free, without actually using any cards, is just about the best thing you can ever do. It's tempo and card advantage – they use X to play a spell, you use one mana to activate Sensei's Divining Top or Brainstorm and stop it. I can't foresee a time when you wouldn't want to have this combo in your repertoire.
 
Jotun Grunt - Sleeper
In other formats, Jotun Grunt is often used as a foil for certain strategies – such as to Tarmogoyf or an Dregde deck. In Vintage, Jotun Grunt is those things, but it's also essentially a 4/4 beat for two mana, because practically every deck is pushing cards into their graveyard so fast, even the cumulative upkeep of Grunt can't keep up.
 
Scrying SheetsLose it
You simply won't be able to run enough show-covered lands (or for that matter, enough powerful snow cards) to ever make use of this in classic. 
 
Special Note: Get the Coldsnap precon “Kjeldoran Cunning”. It will be worth it for the Swords to Plowshares and probably the only printing of Brainstorm we'll get for about five years (when it comes in Mercadian Masques).
 
 
 
Tormod
Time Spiral
  
Tormod's CryptStaple
Depeding on the meta game, Tormod's Crypt is a staple for all the reasons Leyline of the Void is. The difference's are subtle – if you are trying to stop Flash, for example, Crypt is no good. But if you are trying to do away with the other graveyard silliness, Crypt is colorless, free and you don't have to run 4x to ensure you'll be able to play it, unlike Leyline.
 
Wipe Away - Sleeper
Cards with the flash property in eternal formats are simply aces, because of all the counterspells running around. In particular, Wipe Away does one thing – sends an annoying win condition back to whence it came without fear or reprisal. This is important on cards like a 20/21 Psychatog, an animated Worldgorger Dragon (although you often don't have three mana when dragon goes for it – see the next set) or even just putting Darksteel Colossus back to one of the places you generally can't play it from - their hand.
 
Psionic Blast Lose it
Yeah it's blue direct damage from the old days, but just because WoTC doesn't let blue do that anymore doesn't mean it was a powerful idea in the first place.
 
 
 
Planar Chaos
 
ExtirpateStaple
And again, killing the graveyard plays are good in eternal formats – doing it in uncounteralble ways is likewise, very good. The only problem with extirpate is that it kinda shares the same space as Leyline of the Void. Depending on your deck and the meta game, you'll have to decide which one to use.
 
Pongify - Sleeper
Pongify is only good for one reason – it's blue. And in case you haven't noticed, blue is really, really good in eternal formats. As we get more and more pre-Invasion cards, blue just keeps getting better. And this is creature removal in blue. Believe me, you would rather have a 3/3 Ape then a 1/1 Goblin Welder, or a 1/1 Goblin Lackey, or a 1/2 Psychatog – or a 12/12 Phyrexian Dreadnought. The only thing you can't relly hit with this is a Darksteel Colossus. Essentially, it would be worth having these around incase your deck needs creature removal but doesn't want to stretch into white for Swords to Plowshares.
 
DamnationLose it
You'll notice Wrath of God isn't on any of the staple lists. And Damnation is better than Wrath of God in classic, since you can turn two a Wrath with a Dark Ritual. The problem is the creature decks that you are likely to face aren't going to be hampered by a turn two Wrath quite so much – They'll probably just reload and kill you all over again, and meanwhile you've wasted acceleration you could have been using to win the game with a Tendrils of Agony. Essentially, the only things you'll want to try in the vein of “stop all creatures” is something like Moat or Humility
 
 
 
Tarmogoyf
Future Sight
 
Tarmogoyf Staple
Yup – even in eternal formats he's stupidly good. In fact, he's generally a 4/5 or 5/6 on turn 2 pretty much every game. I know you don't want to spend $100 on one, so maybe wait until it leave Standard in 2008 – that might help. 
 
Also, Future sight has numerous classic playable cards – Pact of Negation, Summoner's Pact, Tombstalker, Delay, Slaughter Pact – even Nimbus Maze is not too shabby. I thought it would be worth mentioning how valuable this set has been to eternal formats – those cards are all used in Vintage to greater and lesser extents… especially Pact of Negation – combo's Force of Will #5-8.
 
Tolaria West - Sleeper
This all depends on how many things you have in your deck that cost zero. However, I will point out that for 3 mana, this card tutors for Tolarian Academy, which might be worth it all on it's own.
 
This card sure is versatile.   Unfortunately, even in classic now, four mana is far too much just to pay for versatility. Even now, when you play a four mana, it should probably be a win condition like Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens or something of that ilk.
 
 
 
Lion
Mirage
 
Look, Flash is great, and you can certainly use it – it's being played in Vintage now. Phyrexian Dreadnought works very well with Stifle, but Lion's Eye Diamond is the card from this set you need to have. It works in several different decks, from Tendrils/Desire based decks (you often pop it with a tutor or Burning Wish on the stack) or in Salvagers Combo to create as much of any color as you want. 
Crystal Vein - Sleeper
It's a simple thing really –two mana is better than one. If you are going to either win it or lose it on this turn, what do you care if it costs you two mana? It also combos a little with Crucible of Worlds, but the real reason to have one of these it to both play and use a Chromatic Sphere for use in a Tendrils/Desire based deck.
 
Cadaverous Bloom Lose it
Sorry, but ProsBloom is not very good in classic. You are unlikely to ever resolve this spell in time to perform it's many tricks. And yet, the price stays high – I can only imagine it's because it's useful in some alternate format, or there's just a lot of Mike Long/ProsBloom fans out there.
 
 
 
Vampiric Tutor
Visions
 
Vampiric TutorStaple
It's restricted to one already, thank goodness, because it's price it likely to remain very high. Getting anything you want on the top of your library for one mana and 2 life is very good when you consider that card might be something ridiculously powerful like Yawgmoth's Will.
Chronatog - Sleeper
Chronatog looks stupid, I know. But your opponent will look even more foolish if you can get a Stasis and Frozen AEther into play - if we ever get Stasis online. At which point they'll probably just deck themselves while they take all their turns and you sit there with a nice, full library. I don't know if this deck will ever be tourney worthy, but let me indulge on one sleeper pick and call this the “casual killer' If you really feel you need a sleeper pick, go with Necromancy – it's like Animate Dead in Worldgorger Dragon combo but you can do it as an instant when your opponent tapped out for something.
 
See Cadaverous Bloom in Mirage. Same deal. Even though Resources costs less, using it effectively takes far more leeway then you are ever likely to be given in a classic match up.
 
 
I hope this guide is able to help you with any long-term decisions you might have been pondering over for classic.   
 
 
 

 

 

12 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 80.221.42.129 (not verified) at Sat, 01/05/2008 - 19:53
Anonymous (Unregistered) 80.221.42.129's picture

Good article. It's very informative.

"Fact or Fiction is, quite simply, the best card advantage card of all time."

But I feel you are overrating Fact or Fiction. It's nowhere near as good as Ancestrall Recall. It is after all 1 mana for three cards now opposed to 4 mana for 1-4 cards now (and rest perhaps later). Besides cards like Yawgmoth's Will generate card advantage too. ;)

Abeyance by iceage4life at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 20:56
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The main reason Abeyance is run over Chant in legacy decks is to stop activated ablities.  Top, Fanatic, and Crypt being the most common.

by Jetmox (Unregistered) 202.81.18.30 (not verified) at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 23:26
Jetmox (Unregistered) 202.81.18.30's picture

Great article.

Note LED's can also be a dredge enabler for ichorid.

Jet 

 

by GordonP at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 19:12
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Nice Article. It could prove useful for me.

One other card that could have potential is High Tide

Any thoughts?

Im not really an expert on classic though so i dont know what the possibility of this seeing play are. 

Chrome Mox by dangerlinto at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 16:47
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The problem with Chrome Mox is, as I said, I find it inferior to Lotus Petal for what you usually need it for - two mana on turn 1.  Because I like my colored cards. 

I certainly wouldn't fault you for keeping it. 

As far as Decree of Justice - it's far too expensive to hold on to so you can run it in just one deck.   Nothing wrong with the card in landstill, but I have the feeling classic-only rares that are a 1 or 2 of in just one deck - especially one who's meta game viablity isn't certain - won't remain at it's lofty price by 2008.

Boseiju is an ok card as well.  It's pretty narrow - I'd certainly not have it in my deck specifically in the hopes I'd draw Boseiju + Abeyance + the actual combo you want to protect. 

by dangerlinto at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 10:03
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Worth would have to play a pretty big turncoat to not put in the Duals at this point.  It would be nothing short of a mutiny at this point after what he went through by not having them in MED.  One nice thing about worth - he is not subtle with his hints - the Duals will be in MED II

Sure, Trinispehere is a good sleeper too.  Sundering Titan is much better with welder as far as "really ruin your day" type cards, though.  The problem with 3sphere is if it ever gets really good, it'll probably be restricted.  But hey, you're dfeinitely right - I have some foils and many extras of 3sphere myself. *wink*

Powder Keg is good, but ultimately worse than Explosives for a number of reasons.  For one thing, if you want to smash fish face with it, you can't just pay 4 mana and do it... you have to wait 2 upkeeps (fish decks generally run a load of 2cc cards).  The othe problem is it can't be tutored by Trinket Mage, nor can it be recurred by Salvagers.  Another thing about Explosives that a lot of peopple don't realize is it's immune to Chalice of the Void.  If they have Chalice set to 2 and you want to set Explosives to 2, just pay 2 colors and 1 colorless and you are all set to go.

Bribery (and Plow Under) are just awful. Like, plain awful.  5cc cards are not going to make the cut, even on the off chance they can you can steal a Colossus.  The only really good thing from 8th was the aforemention Merchant Scroll, which I had forgotten had no upcoming printings.

Nice article by Javasci at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 14:55
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While I don't agree with a few of your choices (decree and chrome mox, hi landstill and Merchant Scroll -> Flash), I see a lot of value in this article.

A further word on Chant: Xantid Swarm and Abeyance are basically always better.  Swarm because it's harder to counter (if they have a wall of counters, which is all you ever want chant in combo for, they'll use one on chant), and Abeyance because it can be played off of Boseiju, Who Shelters all.

By the way, get Boseijus if you plan on playing combo.

by WiseGreen at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 17:52
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Are the Alpha duals confirmed in MED II? This is new to me ^^

by urzishra14 at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 23:00
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it was a good read...

and while I know Worth on the official boards "mentioned" that "maybe kinda" Alpha Duals will be in MED 2.. it isn't guarenteed until its in the online store so I wouldn't count on them being in just yet... i just wouldn't be able to just 'give up' on the RAV lands just yet.. (but I understand where you are coming from)

The chrome mox thing surprised me.. as did Ravager.. and I agree with most of the points presented.. in the hand you mentioned (Duress, FOW, Stifle, land land, mystical tutor, mox) I don't know that a mox would hurt you say, you draw a second control spell off the top (say random counter) as depending if it was a play first or draw first hand, its hard to count out.. the reason why chrome mox is better than mox diamond (i know we're talking "extended" here more then "classic") is you get to play with more "spells" rather then playing more land but as with diamond you're setting yourself up for a 2 for 1 with all the available cheap artifact kill... so i'm not going to disagree with you there.. I'm not disagreeing with your statement, its just a card if we are never going to have P9 may not be worth "losing" right now.

I thought you'd see more resistance to the "holy" IPA cards... I agree they do nothing and you're money is better spent throwing at other cards.

you failed to mention Powder Keg as another cheap way to fend off Warrens tokens that will be coming "sometime in the next 3 years" I imagine...

I love most of your sleeper cards.. the only other card I can think of out of 8th that could maybe be ok is Bribery.. only because you get their Darksteel colossus .. but it probably costs too much.. (but the games go on a little longer when you are playing control..)  I failed to see Trinisphere which is at an obscenely low price right now and is effective against mulitle "cheap" strategies and will only get better when Goblin Welder, Metalworker, and Smokestacks come online..

great article a lot of the cards I had to make sure I checked to see if I had.. love it.

Don't forget - classic only by dangerlinto at Sat, 12/08/2007 - 15:44
dangerlinto's picture

As I warned in the begining , some of the lose its are if you are planning to excise yourself from the other formats - hence, RAV duals should be out of your collection come MED II if you are trying to do that.

Good call on Scroll - I'd forgotten it was 8th only. 

And Tolaria went does cost 1UU to Tutor Academy, but then, you are playing Academy.  You're probably tutoring for it damn quick since you are playing lot's of artifact acceleration.

And yes, Squee is one of the the best repeating combo enablers of all time.  However, I probably should have labelled it a sleeper, as it isn't making anything tier 1 - yet.

by under_the_hammer at Fri, 12/07/2007 - 10:28
under_the_hammer's picture

Firstly as someone looking to play Classic Long-term I found this article to be a brilliant read.  Packed with information.  I wont take most of the "lose it" advice as I want to play the other formats, BUT I will certainly check I have all the "Staples" and take a gander at the proposed Sleeper Rares.

Just a few comments really.  Are the Ravnica Duals really a "lose it" - I cant see them dropping further in value due to Extended playability.  Surely they will see play even with the Med Duals in two colour decks?? even as 2-3-offs.  I dont know but I can see these being playable beyond dual land release.

Is Squee really that good? it is a card I have never considered from Classic.

I still cant bring myself to pick up 4 LED's although I know that I should. Do you think there is potential for this to be restricted in classic? 

Im not sure the tolaria transmute will be fast enough for classic and the CIP will hurt but they are cheap enough and worth getting.

Id perhaps suggest merchant scroll as a sleeper from 8th???

The classic quarter have some hidden writing talent appears! I love this artice and the odd ball series by iceage4life also excels.  Keep up the good work.  Is there a plan to write an article on the tempest block cards that could impact classic??

 

As I have noticed, a lot of by jackM23 at Thu, 04/04/2013 - 02:41
jackM23's picture

As I have noticed, a lot of eternal power comes from the graveyard.

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