The Top 5 Unplayed Standard Cards That Are Close to Being Broken
Hello everyone! Today I’m sharing the results of a practice I do right before every spoiler season is that I go through the complete Standard card pool, identify cards that see no play, but have a lot of potential. Furthermore, if you identify what the card is missing to shine, you can find a lot of the new great synergies much faster than the rest of the field.
Obviously this won’t always yield in finding the next great Standard deck and the card may continue to see no play, but I still think it’s worth the effort. For this set, I narrowed it down to my top 5 (which is kind of 7!) best cards that currently see no play, but I think could easily be great. Let’s dive in.
HONORABLE MENTION: OSWALD FIDDLEBENDER
I have a good feeling most of you had to reread this card to even know what it did, despite being so new. Are the odds good that Oswald Fiddlebender is going to see Standard play? Realistically no, but I think he’s closer than most suspect! A functional Birthing Pod for artifacts is a potent ability that has already seen some play in older formats to reasonable success. You may think we don’t have nearly enough artifacts in Standard to support this, but we’re closer than I expected.
We unfortunately don’t have any 0s, but: we have Excavated Wall and Pithing Needle for 1s, Eye of Vecna and Spare Supplies on 2, a bunch of mana rocks on 3, Lithoform Engine and Myriad Construct on 4, and Forsaken Monument on 5. Realistically combining all these together isn’t going to make a cohesive plan, but if there were a few more really strong artifacts printed, it wouldn’t be impossible to build a deck around them. Again, odds are low, but you never know.
I’ll admit this listing is a little bit of a cop out, but it does fit the prompt! I lumped these two together since they’re similar-ish cards and need similar things to pan out for them. For Champion of the Perished, it’s obviously a Champion of the Parish analog that is similarly powerful. For Vampire Socialite, it’s a more situational 2 mana lord, but has a better body and permanently buffs the creatures rather than temporarily. Both are extremely powerful in their respective tribes and obviously both need more tribal support from future sets to see play, especially in the 1 drops section.
Champion of the Perished is already on the precipice of playability as their is a solid amount of Zombies, realistically 1-2 more is going to push it into playable territory whether it’s another solid body, or better yet, another payoff. Vampire Socialite on the other hand is going to need a bit more help to get there. There aren’t an excess of good vampires right now and there’s only one good Vampire one drop, Falkenrath Pit Fighter, and even that’s not the best. At a minimum, Vampires is going to need another playable 1 drop and ideally another Vampire payoff since Socialite is really the only good one right now.
Curse of Leeches is a super interesting design and an absolute house in Limited. Funny enough, I would even contend that Curse is better in Constructed than Limited as many Limited games become board stalls that the 4/4 half can’t do much on while it’s rare a 4/4 won’t have some sort of impact on the board. It’s a great midrange tool that I think its powerful on either end as long as your deck is looking to pressure the opponent.
So why hasn’t it seen play yet? I think the card doesn’t really need anything but a less hostile metagame. It seems solid against both slow and fast decks which makes it such an appealing option, but right now those decks are super polarized in both directions making it hard for a midrange deck to even exist. Curse of Leeches isn’t seeing play because it’s no good enough, but any deck that could play it has been hated out by the metagame! If midrange comes back into swing, I can see this being a very reasonable option for Black decks.
This is definitely my most biased pick on the list, but I think Thermo-Alchemist is really, really good. I played with it a lot when it was first in Standard and in Historic Burn and both times it’s been an absolute house. Adding 1 damage to all your spells, dealing 1 a turn when you don’t cast any instants or sorceries, and blocking small creatures is just a lot to pack onto one card, and it still doesn’t see play!
Overall, Thermo-Alchemist can be great if either more cheap Red spells are printed or more burn spells are printed. Thermo works best when you’re casting a lot of cheap spells (which lets it work in Izzet shells as well) or if your spells are already killing the opponent, so realistically you don’t need much to make this card much better.
If we get anything that’s even remotely analogous to Light Up the Stage as well (which wouldn’t be that unreasonable considering that’s somewhat a Vampire mechanic like it is on Florian, Voldaren Scion) this card shoots up in power level. Lastly, if there are some Standard bannings, the power level of everything else will rocket up and Thermo is definitely one of the cards I would look to first to see if there’s a good enough shell. As I said I’m definitely higher on this card than most, but I would not sleep on it.
2. MONK CLASS
This is probably the saddest entry on the list as Monk Class is a fantastic card that’s close to being a great option, but so many things have gone wrong for it to not see play. First of all, there’s this awkward issue with the cheap spells you’d want to play with this. Sure you can play a bunch of 1 mana White creatures to help fuel this, which is something I actually tried. Although this card was great, it wasn’t good enough to justify not just playing Monowhite with the same cards, even though when I got to cast this it overpowered. On the other hand, If you try to play a bunch of Blue 1 drops to fuel this, you’re going to find yourself coming up short on good playables.
Second, this is an excellent tempo/midrange card, as getting a mana advantage on your spells, bouncing something, and then having a psuedo-Phyrexian Arena are all very powerful abilities, while all of them being fairly costed. However, that game plan isn’t supported right now as either you’re playing an Izzet deck or a super fast deck to punish Izzet, not much in between. Lastly, If the mana was a bit better for Azorius as well, this could be a more viable option in a more aggressive or more interactive deck, but i would need another dual land realistically. I’m near positive this is going to see play at some point as it’s such a strong card, it’s just a waiting game.
This is a card that I’ve seen functionally no discussion on, but can be obscenely powerful in the right scenario. Any card that looks anything like Unburial Rites should be examined thoroughly, and I think this card is much less abusable, but very close in power level. We actually have some reasonable set up for this card as well whether it’s cards that produce Pests that can easily die, Decayed tokens that do the same, and self mill enablers.
What is this missing? Once again, this is an extremely hostile metagame towards any sort of slower fair strategy so even if the support was there, it’d be extremely doubtful that this would see play. Beyond that, it isn’t missing particularly much. We’d be happy to see another self mill card or a really big payoff for Reanimator, but I could see this card getting reasonable play once the meta is shaken up a bit. Considering this can pretty easily be a 2 mana Rise From the Grave without putting in that much work, I’d be very surprised if we don’t see a good Reanimator deck before this rotates out.
Are there any cards you think I overlooked? Which one are you most excited to play? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading!