Magic’s Masters 25 has been out for a few weeks, and after careful consideration I have finally compiled my list of the Most Interesting cards in the set. In general, the set has a much higher ratio of interesting cards due to what it is celebrating. You see, Magic has been around for 25 years, and this is a set that is chock full of cards from the game’s past in a bid to make us remember all the good times. Remember I did, a pure shot of heartwarming remembrance that ever so briefly quieted the calamitous din of this world we’ve somehow created, and in that moment I felt a fleeting sensation of what it means to be young and free. And that is what I call magic.
Here are all the most interesting cards from Magic: The Gathering’s Masters 25.
I love a good story that’s told through a combination of art and mechanics, and Promise of Bunrei is exactly that. Are you in need of some allies? If you strike this samurai down, then they shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine. Or, well, they will become four spirits. It’s a wonderful little self-contained story about someone sacrificing themselves so that they can bring allies back from the afterlife with them. It’s good!
I love cards that have choices baked into them, and Primal Clay is a great example of a card that can literally be molded to the situation you need to use it in. Need a good blocker so that you can make a big play next turn? Shape that clay! Want to get really aggressive? Make that clay do what you want it to! I also love that the art is positioning the clay in some kind of museum setting, suggesting that it is just waiting for the right moment to strike.
The Kobolds of Kher Keep are some silly little ineffectual dudes who have been kicking around for the past 25 years of Magic, so it makes sense that there might be some kind of giant creature who preys on them. Wonderfully, when Prossh arrives on the scenes, a bunch of kobolds scramble up out of the ground. “Look,” they scream, “that big ole fella is flying around again!” Then, one by one, Prossh gobbles them up to get supercharged with vicious attack power. It’s a good image.
This is literally a treefolk ambassador. It’s like if Treebeard had to show up at the United Nations. The treefolk is so well-liked, however, that it’s got an elf just living up in its branches. A buddy elf, as it were, to make up for the lack of hobbits in the world of Magic: The Gathering. It’s a powerful card, of course, and it makes for some great plays, but really this card is all about the story of a well-liked, walking, talking tree.
Ringo Starr. Questlove. Phil Collins. Emerson or Lake or Palmer. Larry Mullen Senior’s Son. [Kid Millions.—Ed.] There are a great many well-loved drummers in the world, but all of them have failed to play the most important drums of all. These, I argue, are the Goblin War Drums, which get your friends so amped up to fight that they become the rhythm itself. They get powerful. This is before all of that electronic crap. This is real music! Goblin music!
This is one of the best cards in the history of the game, and I’m glad they brought it back for this set. What if you could setup the end of the world on your own terms? Doomsday is a card that’s about figuring out the game state, determining the five cards that will allow you to win the game, and then allowing you to break all the best practices of the game in order to achieve it. It’s a card that can go sideways in a really brutal way, but if you just need one card to win, then it’s a way of closing up shop in an excellent way. Worst case is that it’s a gamble and a fast way to lose!
This is another great story told through mechanics. It’s an assassination plot, and anyone can get involved. Want to chip in some resources? Go ahead. Maybe that’s covering an alleyway in the fiction, or providing a knife. At the end of the plans, though, the person who set the whole thing up makes the call about who goes down, and you’ve gotta respect the planning mind.
Imagine this: a flying horde of crows makes its way over the city. They spy a weak enemy below. They swoop upon this enemy, a lowly kobold or ghost, and peck it to death. They just completely kick this enemy’s ass. After they’ve won their battle, they pick through the ghost’s pockets, leaving some things and keeping others. Then they see another body from some other battle that they’re not related to, and they rifle through those pockets as well. Mechanically, that’s what is happening with this card. This card is good.
This card makes a lot of angels appear. Like, a LOT of angels. It’s so many angels, seriously. Depending on how you play it, you could have DOZENS of angels.
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a weak little creature. You’re a goblin. You’re about to get in a big, raucous fight with someone literally double your size. It’s a bear. That bear is charging you, jaws open, ready to fight, and you’re cowering. You’re good at cowering. You’re a goblin. Then, suddenly, a giant tree behind you erupts in cheers. A whole village of people lives in this giant tree, and they’re all into you. They think you’re a winner! They are screaming, “Go goblin!” You swell to the size of a bear, and you fight that bear, and you win. That’s why this card is the most interesting one in the set.
Cameron Kunzelman tweets at @ckunzelman and writes about games at thiscageisworms.com. His latest game, Epanalepsis, is available on Steam.