Cards n’Flux: Best Cards of 2011
Well everyone, 2011 has come and gone leaving us with 2012. I am so excited for this year and the promise it brings. New experiences, new friends, all just a few moments of time away. However, before we rush off with the new 2012, let us remember the awesomeness of 2011 by looking at some of the best cards of the year.
Before we get started with the list, a few qualifications. First, the cards have to be from 2011. This means Scars of Mirrodin is out, but Besieged up to Innistrad are in. Second, the cards cannot be reprints. This just seems like a good rule. Let the new cards have their day in the sun, instead of some repurposed older card. Third, these are all my opinion. If you do not like my selections feel free to voice them below instead of paying an assassin to try and kill me. It won’t work. I will also take this time to voice my opinion about a few other cards, which I am sure will also spark much debate. With that said, let’s get going.
First up, the best Instant. I chose this card because it gave the color a fun way of removal that can used to either destroy a big threat or help end the game. Beast Within gives Green not only a removal spell, but also a token producer. I love this card. The versatility of either eliminating my opponent’s best guy or killing off one of my own 1/1s or an artifact you do not need to make a 3/3 in time to help bash face is just a fun. I hope to include this in many more decks in the future. Now the worst instant of 2011 is also a removal spell. Dismember is a great removal spell. Being able to fake out your opponent by only leaving one mana up and paying four life to kill their creature is useful and vindictive. It has amazing flavor in a Black deck where you have to make sacrifices for ultimate power. However, by being able to pay four life, now every deck gains the ability to destroy any unwanted creature. Dismember take Magic’s color wheel and breaks it over a rusty spike. Thanks to Dismember, great cards like Hero of Bladehold, Hero of Oxid Ridge, even Urabrask the Hidden were not played. The standard format became, either protection from black or at least 6 toughness or it is not worth playing. I like Dismember for its flavor, but I hate it for the effect it had on Standard. As of recently this trend seems to have switched with decks like White Weenie, Token Town, and Wolf Run, Dismember is not as prevalent as it was.
Next we have the best Sorcery. I chose this sorcery because I liked the flavor of it. It is a card that sets a precedent, a personal hope to see more cards of this color combination in the future. Unburial Rites is Rise from the Grave, but has a fun little four mana flashback ability that gives it a whole new kind of usefulness. I am not going to lie; I love Black and White decks. There is a certain joy I get out of the idea of having to make sacrifices to achieve power and strength in the community. Unburial Rites has this kind of flavor of raising the dead to bolster and protect the community. I love it and I hope and pray to see more White/Black cards in Dark Ascension and beyond.
Third we enter the category of enchantments, those fun, powerful spells that can really bring the damage in so many ways. However, they also have the potential to be dead cards when someone drops a Naturalize or a Doom Blade on your enchanted creature. Before the big reveal, I do want to give one honored mention to Curse of the Stalked Prey. The additional +1/+1 counters can lead to an absolute beatdown and makes even your smallest threats something to worry about. I really like this card and I can only hope for a standard deck to use this effectively. Anyway, back to the winner. Angelic Destiny is by far probably the best enchantment I have seen in a long time. Not only does your creature get +4/+4, but it also gains flying and first strike and if the creature enchanted with Angelic Destiny dies, you may pop Angelic Destiny back to your hands removing the ultimate issue many players have with enchantments. I just love this card. Not only does it have great artwork by Jana Schirmer and Johannes Voss, but it has some great flavor to. The wings in the mirrors is a very subtle part of the image. Easily the best enchantment of 2011.
Now we come to a very hard category, best creature. There are so many I wanted to put on this list: Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Chancellor of the Dross, Mirran or Phyrexian Crusader, even both heroes were on the list but I just did not feel they deserved the reward. In the end I did come to a decision and I chose, Geist of Saint Traft. After reading the “Savor the Flavor” column concerning Saint Traft and how he battled against the darkness of Innistrad throughout his whole life, I fell in love with the card. With the backstory in mind, the Geist of Saint Traft becomes a beautiful card as the solemn look of Traft is off set by the presence of the angel. It is a really great piece of art, which is fitting because it is such a great card. A 2/2 for three mana with hexproof and whenever you attack with him, his angel friend comes out bringing the total of pain to six. Add in an Honor of the Pure and it becomes eight. I would love to see this card combo with Angelic Destiny, how cool would that be? Geist of Saint Traft is in fact such a good card, the sheer power of this card took Craig Wescoe all the way to the top eight of worlds. I really cannot wait for whatever comes our way in Dark Ascensions because I just know something is going to come out that will make this card even more of a bomb.
The next topic is one that I don’t think I have ever done before, the best land. Yeah this is kind of a new one, but we did get quite a few fun lands this year so it only seems right to pay some respect. I was originally going to give the award to Contested War Zone for its flavor and the potential it had to help any deck get that last bit of damage in. However, seeing as its flavor is what ultimately holds it back from being truly useful, it did not seem right to give Contested War Zone the reward. I mean a land cannot exactly win the best land award if it does not stay yours if someone makes it through your defenses with a 1/1. As such, the fight descended into a five way battle between the Innistrad power lands. As such the winner of the best land award is Gavony Township for its great flavor and power to help Green and White decks really bring on the pain. I really like this land and I know it will see more play with time.
Now we come to a rather interesting category, this year’s best Planeswalker. This year we had quite a lot of entries, some better than others. You can all probably guess the Planeswalker at the bottom of my list (hint: Garruk Relentless), however, none of you probably know which one will be my favorite. This year we saw a Karn Planeswalker, which is very cool, however I am kind of disqualifying him because he lost his spark and so stopped being a Planeswalker for a bit meaning he effectively left the planeswalking club. Sorry Karn. I would have loved to give Venser, the Sojourner the spot, but unfortunately he came out last year. Koth could have been a contender if he was not so narrowly focused on mountains. Jace, Memory Adept just seemed too weak though I still think his future is bright once we get more flashback cards. Garruk, Primal Hunter was definite contender, really showing off the power of Green, but his second ability, though awesome, kind of disrupts the pure Green energy. So close, but missed the mark. This leaves Lillana of the Veil and Chandra, the Firebrand to battle it out for the final spot. If only we could have a cat-fight to find out…. Anyway, in the end I had to make a decision. My favorite Planeswalker of 2012 is, Lillana of the Veil. Chandra, the Firebrand is a close second with all her fiery glory, but Lillana of the Veil is pure Black magic. First ability grants power through sacrifice by forcing both you and your opponents to discard. The more you sacrifice, the more powerful she becomes as she prepares to tear apart half of your opponent’s field. Her second ability is also rather useful if your opponent happens to just have one creature on the board. I really like Lillana of the Veil and with Dark Ascension already being spoiled, I cannot wait to see how good she will be.
With all the categories decided I believe it is time to close out the article. Feel free to leave your own list below and describe your reasonings for each. I eagerly welcome it. I just ask that as you think up your lists as we wave goodbye to 2011, just remember, “Etherium is Limited. Innovation is not.” This is Corlando signing out.