- Invisible Stalker
Claude Rains here (Google it) is certainly not the heaviest-hitter on this list. He never had much of an impact on Standard, or the non-rotating formats, but he was a powerhouse in Limited. Suit this little fellow up with any Equipment (most notably Butcher’s Cleaver) and he’d often run away with games.
Fortunately they discovered just how bad of an idea it was to put “Can’t be blocked” together with Hexproof on a single creature before they made anything really powerful. This is the very definition of a dodged-bullet.
- Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Meet the kitchen sink of creatures. They slapped almost every evergreen keyword of the time on one amazing piece of art featuring that sweet, sweet purple hair, and called it a day. Strangely, Mark Rosewater has said that he wasn’t very happy with Akroma, because while she was powerful, and memorable, she didn’t really convey any story elements. While her mana cost has kept her out of any real competitive play, and she’s outclassed now by some of the other entries on this list, she’s still a fantastic Legendary Angel, and can still more than hold her own, if you ever get the chance to cast her.
- Leovold, Emissary of Trest
While he’ll never have a chance to shine in Standard or Modern – and thank the gods of Theros for that – his printing in an ancillary set gave him immediate entry into Legacy and Vintage, where he’s done more than his bit for king and country. The fact that he immediately replaces himself no matter how you try to remove him, and that in Legacy you can tap out on turn 3, and still have Force of Will available to protect him is vulgar, to say the least. The Sultai player won’t have a much better time, though, than watching their opponent cast a Brainstorm into a Leovold, forgetting that they’re not allowed to draw additional cards during their turn.
- Iona, Shield of Emeria
If the Fun Police have a commandant, it’s Iona. I have often played both with and against this lovely party crasher. In fact, in my very first Grand Prix, I was playing mono-Red burn. My first round was against Reanimator, who – in our first game of the match – went Turn 1 Entomb dump Iona into the Graveyard, Turn 2 Exhume Iona onto the Battlefield naming Red. GGs? She still sees play in Legacy and Commander to this day. Definitely one of the most memorable Angels in the entire game.
- Death-Rite Shaman
To the untrained eye, poor little Death-Rite might not seem like much. It’s a fragile 1/2 with no real protection. But in any format with Fetch Lands, this guy definitely punches above his weight. Having 3 mana available on turn 2, in formats where most spells have a CMC of 1-3, you’ll be wreaking all sorts of havoc. His late-game ability of life drain (which doesn’t target) will close out games when board stalls are achieved. His ability to interact with the Graveyard will disrupt strategies like Dredge and Reanimator, and his incidental life-gain will slow Burn decks down just enough to give you the advantage. It’s really no wonder that he’s banned in almost every format.
- True-Name Nemesis
Let’s not mince words, this card was a mistake. Even the folks at Wizards admit that. Luckily, it was only printed in a Commander product, so like the Emissary it will never have the opportunity to blight Standard and Modern with its presence. And why the hell is it a Merfolk?! For the love of all the Blind Eternitys, stop giving Merfolk busted creatures, Wizards!
OK, now it’s time for the Top 4. The biggest, the baddest, the bestest that Magic has to offer. These are the real heavyweights of the Multiverse. Creatures which will often end games just because they hit the battlefield.
- Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
What can we say about the grande dame of New Phyrexia? All of the Praetors were fantastic, and game changing, but Elesh Norn stands head and shoulders above all the rest. She will often wipe your opponent’s board when she lands, and then allow you to attack for lethal. She’s bold, and beautiful, the only card ever to be printed in Phyrexian Blood Script and a critical part of the most hilarious ever clip from a MTGO stream.
Yes it has protection from everything.
Does that mean Enchantments?
Are Enchantments things?
Does that mean Instants?
Are Instants things?
Does that mean my Creatures?
Are Creatures things?
Yes, “Everything” means “Every Thing”.
What do you do if you’re Wizards and you print a broken card like Necropotence? A card so utterly busted, that it had an entire, degenerate, constructed environment named after it (Necro-Summer)? Why, reprint it in a better form attached to a 7/7 lifeliker, of course.
What can you say about the Griselgrim? He’s big, he’s bad, he’s one of the demons with whom Liliana made a deal. And he’s dead. This guy pushed Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur out of Reanimator as soon as he saw print, and is still an essential part of several, highly-competitive decks.
AND IN THE NUMBER ONE SPOT…………
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
For certain, there is no creature other than Emrakul who could top this list. All of the OG Eldrazi were badass, and Newlamog certainly sees his share of play, and Emrakul, the Promised End was banned in Standard. But when it comes to a true WHAT THE FK, crap-my-pants, pick-up-and-read-it as it hits the stack, oh-shit-I’ve-lost moment, Emrakul is hands-down, without peer, queen of the heap.
It’s not bad enough that she can’t be countered, but take an extra turn – ON CAST, protection from colored spells, flying, and if all that’s not enough, Annihilator 6. Holy cheezballs, Batman! And for a little icing on the cake, her “drawback” of shuffling in when she hits the bin, has actually become “a feature, not a bug” with the printing of Nahiri, the Harbinger.
And most devastating of all, this fine looking lady could be cast in Limited formats. How fking sick is that?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little romp through Magic’s history of printing stupidly broken cards.
I’m Tweeting now @23rdPlayable. I’m also occasionally streaming on Twitch as 23rdPlayable. And, as always, you can find me on Facebook in the MTG Arena Players group, where I’m a mod.
Have fun, Play on, and Be kind to one another.