Worst Fears | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
There have been a ton of different Magic cards created since the game’s inception in the ‘90s. There are currently well over 25,000 unique cards! They’ve also all had the benefit of being printed at different time periods over three decades, meaning we’ve started to see power creep take its toll when comparing our newest toys with the cards we might’ve inherited.
Within those 25,000 there are certainly plenty of bad cards. And I’m not just talking about Draft chaff or mediocre uncommons you play in your Sealed deck. I’m specifically talking about the bad cards in the game. Cards that have no upside, are far too specific to be useful, or just have terrible problems with mana cost.
Ready to see how the worst cards in the game rank, from least-worst to the most worst? Let’s gets started!
What Makes a Card Bad?
Grizzly Bears | Illustration by D. J. Cleland-Hura
Determining whether a card is “bad” or not can be tricky. Lots of cards are just generally bad for the amount of mana you’re paying, while others are just (seemingly) entirely downside. It’s important to have some kind of scale or metric to judge cards, so I’d like to direct your attention to Grizzly Bears, a 2/2 for two mana.
Grizzly Bears will act as my baseline for this list. Anything included is obviously going to be worse to have than the Bears in a general, isolated setting. That means that I’m not going to take into account the possible infinite combos or insane synergies cards may have with other, specific cards in the game. We want to look at each card individually.
The reason I’ve picked Grizzly Bears is that it falls in the middle ground between some of the first creatures and the most recent ones. It wouldn’t be fair to judge a lot of the cards from Magic’s first few sets to something from All Will Be One. A 2-mana 2/2 is still good in Limited, and it wouldn’t be broken in Unlimited either.
In terms of how the rankings are organized, the card in the 30th place slot is designated as the “best” worst card, meaning that it’s the most playable. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the card in the #1 spot is the absolute worst card of them all.
#30. Storm Crow
Oh, Storm Crow. I know a lot of people like this card ironically, but I think it’s a great way to start the list and have another metric to go by. Everything else is worse than this card, and it’s pretty easy to compare cards to a cheap, small flier in most instances.
Is Storm Crow always better than the other cards? Absolutely not. If you need a really, really bad piece of removal or something other than a cheap flier, then a cheap flier isn’t going to be better.
Remember, I’m judging these based on general scenarios and in most situations. There may be times when a 1/1 flier is better than this 1/2 flier, but it’s still objectively worse and less effective overall. Now that I’ve drilled that into your head a few times, let’s continue!
#29. Lotus Guardian
Lotus Guardian costs too much and does too little. Seven colorless mana for a 4/4 flier usually means you’re getting some kind of useful ability or keyword on top of the vanilla creature. In this case, you just get a mana dork ability.
Why would you want to use your 4/4 flier as a mana dork? You’re not only already at a high amount of mana but this is meant to be a strong attacker or blocker, not a passive mana resource.
#28. Security Detail
Security Detail just doesn’t seem good in really any scenario. It’s a 4-mana enchantment that can produce a 1/1 Soldier on the condition that you don’t have any other creatures for . That’s a grand total of six mana for a 1/1, and you can’t even go infinite since it’s a once-per-turn deal.
This just doesn’t do enough, and the restrictions are weirdly bad.
#27. Dispersing Orb
If you’ve ever wanted to pay a total of nine mana and give up a permanent to bounce something else, then Dispersing Orb is the card for you. I don’t think I’ve ever been in that scenario.
There are just so many bounce and flicker effects that work far better than this card. I like that you can bounce your opponent’s lands, don’t get me wrong, but the overall cost just isn’t worth it.
Mudhole has some really nice art. It’s a 3-mana instant that forces a player to exile all lands in their graveyard. This effect absolutely isn’t worth three mana, especially since graveyard hate is so prevalent, even as an ETB on something else.
This is far too specific to include in something like a Commander deck, and there’s infinitely better sideboard tech out there for other formats.
Avizoa is a 4-mana 2/2 flier. Not bad, huh? Well, the ability on it sure is. It allows you to give it +2/+2 if you skip your next untap step.
Now, a 2/2 flier for four is only mediocre when it comes to vanilla stats, but I wanted to include this card because of how poor the ability itself is. Skipping an untap step is about one of the worst things you can do in Magic, and +2/+2 is just such a poor trade off.
#24. Withering Hex
Withering Hex is a 1-drop enchantment aura that gains a plague counter whenever a player… cycles a card. Then the creature it’s attached to gets -1/-1 for each counter.
This is just terribly inefficient removal. You’re going to be paying around three mana and having to cycle two whole cards just to kill most early threats. Now, I see some combo potential with certain cycling cards and creatures that benefit from -1/-1 counters, but that’s not what this is about.
#23. Takeno’s Cavalry
Takeno’s Cavalry is a 4-mana 1/1 with bushido 1 and the ability to tap to deal damage to a spirit creature in combat.
Terrible stats aside, this card’s two abilities don’t synergize as well as you might hope. The tapping requirement to deal damage to a spirit (not the most common creature type) isn’t really relevant when you have to tap to attack anyway. And what’s the point of holding up a 2/2 blocker for four mana?
#22. Elvish Pathcutter
Elvish Pathcutter is pretty darn bad. It has poor stats for a 4-mana creature, and three mana to give an elf Forestwalk isn’t going to be worth it in most scenarios. Even if you’re playing elves tribal the strength comes from the many creatures you’re attacking with more often than a single bruiser, so you’re going to need to generate and spend far more mana than it’s worth to get a worse version of unblockable.
#21. Thermal Blast
Thermal Blast does what Lightning Bolt does, but for five times as much mana. Even if you get the threshold you’re still paying a terrible rate for the amount of damage you’re getting.
#20. Dragon Appeasement
Dragon Appeasement is a massive 6-mana Jund () enchantment that starts off by letting you know you’re not getting a draw step anymore. Fantastic!
The way this is supposed to make up for that terrible downside is that you can draw a card whenever you sacrifice a creature. There are dozens of ways to draw cards from sacrificing creatures, and most of them are far, far better than paying six mana and skipping your draw step. Dragon Appeasement doesn’t even give you a way to sacrifice anything!
#19. Nine-Ringed Bo
Nine-Ringed Bo is a super sweet 3-mana artifact that can tap to deal a whole one damage to a spirit creature. If that creature would die, you can exile it instead!
This card just sucks. It does so little for three mana that I can’t find myself ever wanting to play this, even if spirits were the most commonly played creature type in all formats.
Rakalite is a 6-mana artifact with an activated ability that costs two. It prevents the next single point of damage dealt to target player or creature that turn, but it also then returns to its owner’s hand at the end step.
That end step bounce is weirdly bad and really takes this card down from mediocre to just bad. It doesn’t matter in the scenarios where you’re going to combo off, but I can’t think of many combos where an expensive artifact that just prevents damage is going to be an efficient, effective part.
#17. Razor Boomerang
Razor Boomerang is a unique and interesting way to design a Magic card, but it also really, really sucks. It comes in at three mana and then attaches for two, only to be bounced to your hand the second you actually use it.
That’s five mana and tapping a creature just to deal one single damage. It can’t even really go infinite.
#16. Blood Funnel
Almost halfway now! How’s your head? Blood Funnel is next, and it’s basically all downside, but its purpose is to provide a sacrifice outlet.
Obviously it has some combo potential with Guile, but a card that’s basically all-downside is what this is really all about.
#15. Merchant Ship
Merchant Ship is a 1-mana 0/2 that gains you life through attacking unblocked. Oh, and it can’t attack if your opponent doesn’t have any Islands, and it’s destroyed if you don’t have any Islands either.
To top things off it has no incentive to be left unblocked, since it has 0 power! Terrible. Just terrible.
#14. Wood Elemental
You’ve probably heard of Wood Elemental before, and that’s because it sucks. It’s a 4-mana elemental that requires you to sacrifice any number of untapped Forests to give it an equal number of power and toughness. The tapping of the Forest is really hurtful here because you aren’t able to squeeze any extra mana out of them before getting your creature.
It’s just bad, plain and simple.
#13. Razor Pendulum
Razor Pendulum doesn’t do nearly enough to make me want to play it at four mana. It deals two damage to players if they have five or less life, which is an interesting idea, but it hits both players and is too expensive.
It’s a totally cool and unique design, but it’s also pretty bad.
#12. Obelisk of Undoing
Obelisk of Undoing is a pretty well-known card, and that’s mostly because it’s really common and also really bad. It only comes in at one mana, which is honestly a breath of fresh air compared to previous cards.
But paying six mana and tapping this to bounce one of your own permanents is just bad, even for Magic’s early days.
#11. Ice Cauldron
Ice Cauldron comes in at four mana and has a lot of text on it. In brief, you can pay mana and exile a card from your hand and then cast that card whenever you’d like. Then you can remove that charge counter to get exactly the mana you paid back and use it to cast that card. It allows you to pay for a card in advance, but you won’t get anything extra out of it. No mana fixing here.
This doesn’t do anything extra, is very easy to predict and keep account of by your opponents, and the scope of its benefits is far too narrow to be useable. Great art by Dan Frazier, though!
#10. Coma Veil
Coma Veil is a 5-mana enchantment that goes onto a creature and stops it from untapping during its controller’s untap step. This card is especially bad for two reasons. The first is that it doesn’t actually give you a chance to tap down the creature, meaning you have to either wait for its controller to tap it or use it while the target is already tapped.
Second, this card costs five mana! These freeze effects that prevent creatures from untapping, which almost always tap them in the process, rarely ever cost more than four mana. Pair that with the lack of tapping and you realize just how bad this card is.
#9. Juju Bubble
Juju Bubble is notoriously bad, and it’s also infamously common in older collections. It’s a 1-mana artifact with a cumulative upkeep that’s also destroyed whenever you play a card. Pretty great, huh?
Its amazing upside for these costs is that you can pay to gain one life as many times as you’d like. That’s obviously some great combo potential, but boy is that not enough. This card is just too limiting and expensive to keep up with that you’re never going to play it except for the last card in your combo process.
It’s expensive, it’s awkward, and it’s bad.
#8. Pale Moon
Pale Moon is a blue instant that costs and forces nonbasic lands to produce colorless mana over anything else until end of turn. But your opponents can just tap their lands in response!
Even split second can’t beat lands in terms of speed, so this really just isn’t that good.
#7. Jandor’s Ring
Jandor’s Ring is a 6-mana artifact that allows you to discard your most recently drawn card to draw a new one if you pay two mana and tap it. This is really bad, but it also requires you to either hold your most recent card in a second pile or have a judge watch the card you drew.
It’s too expensive, too awkward, and just doesn’t do much at all anyway.
#6. Aladdin’s Ring
We’ve got another ring, and this one is unsurprisingly worse. Aladdin’s Ring costs eight mana not just to play, but to also activate its ability! That’s 16 mana to deal just four damage to a creature or player.
This makes Lightning Bolt look like the best card in the game.
#5. Break Open
Break Open is a 2-mana instant that turns facedown creatures face up. There are very few cards or mechanics that have facedown creatures in Magic, especially outside of morph. They’re very uncommon and, in the case of morph, are usually better faceup!
Just terrible. This feels like it’s for a totally different game.
#4. Sorrow’s Path
Sorrow’s Path is honestly a really neat and interesting card. It swaps which creatures are blocking when you tap it which then deals two damage to you and all your creatures as long as it’s legal.
The idea is that you can force some tricky blocking situations under the threat to your opponent’s that you might swap them around. But the predictability combined with the two damage to your creatures just makes it ineffective and weak overall.
#3. Alabaster Leech
Alabaster Leech is a 1-mana leech creature that… makes your white spells more expensive. Yep, more expensive, not less. And all white spells you play. There’s no reasonable upside here, and I’d almost never want this card on my side.
Normally this ability would be there to make up for insane stat lines, like a 1-mana 3/3 flier. Not this time, though. This just isn’t good.
#2. Common Cause
Common Cause may not seem very bad, but you realize how bad it truly is once you learn that it either hits all artifact creatures or none of them. If your opponent has even one of a different color, or god forbid you do, it’s just going to fizzle.
#1. Apocalypse Chime
Last and certainly least is Apocalypse Chime. This 2-mana artifact can tap and be sacrificed to destroy all cards originally printed in the Homelands expansion if you pay the two mana.
You read that right. This card destroys all the cards from a specific set. Homelands has very few cards that are highly played, especially now in formats like Commander, so good luck putting this card to use!
Coma Veil | Illustration by Dan Scott
That wraps up my analysis and ranking of some of the worst cards in all of Magic. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and maybe you’ve found a few incredible bombs for your equally as incredibly niche EDH deck.
Now, listen. I’m sure you can find cards that are equally bad as my worst card. I’m also sure you can find hundreds of other really, really bad cards that are equally worth criticizing. I encourage you to comment what terrible cards you’ve seen people playing at your LGS, or come talk about it over in the official Draftsim Discord.
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