My Least Favorite MTG Mechanics
I love Magic. Magic is the most fun game I have ever played in my life due to the thousands of cards and hundreds of mechanics that have been printed. This doesn’t mean that every single game of Magic offers endless bounds of joy, as we all hate losing in our own special ways. My most miserable games of Magic have come from a few mechanics that I believe should have never been printed and I hope will ever be printed again. I’ve ranked what I consider to be the least fun.
- Fateseal – This is the ability to look at the top card of an opponent’s library and decide to put that card on the top or bottom. Nothing feels worse in Magic than someone looking at the top card of your library and saying, “You can keep that.” The game is nearly 100% lost, but it’s technically not over so you have to keep playing onward with faint hope. The one thing each player is guaranteed every single turn of every game is an untap step and draw step. Taking one of those away removes the ability for that player to participate in the game. Playing in a game that you can’t meaningfully impact is not enjoyable.
- Hexproof – Imagine the following scenario: Your opponent casts a creature on one of the early turns of the game. Then every single turn until the game ends your opponent empowers their creature with Magic’s most powerful enchantments until you submit in defeat. Normally dealing with a large creature like this wouldn’t be an issue. Trade a removal spell for the creature and the enchantment taking your two-for-one to the bank of value town. Hexproof completely stops this and makes you feel like your entire deck has no way to interact with your opponent’s strategy.
- Shadow – Shadow is a retired mechanic and thank Nicol Bolas that it’s gone. On occasion, cubes will contain creatures with shadow and it only plays out in one way: The player with a shadow creature cannot block with it, but neither can the defending player unless they also have a creature with shadow. Both players having a shadow creature is extremely rare so it means the only part of the combat step that’s being participated in is the attack step. Games generally come down to a race where both players wait to see who dies first. Not my favorite idea for a game.
- Annihilator – This might be the most feel bad mechanic to lose to, but it’s ranked much lower on my list due to the game generally being over before it actually happens. The thing I hate about Eldrazi is exactly what I dislike about Annihilator: They’re colorless monsters and they’re coming for all your stuff. Having to sacrifice permanents during the declare attackers step means that no matter how good your blocking creatures are it’s guaranteed the turn will end badly for you. Losing multiple permanents for free by just having your opponent attacking is the definition of a “feel bad” mechanic to me.
- Cascade – This is a mechanic that nearly cracked my list of most broken mechanics of all time as well. The only thing that kept it off that list was the fact that it has primarily seen success in somewhat fair, interactive decks. The unfun part of the mechanic isn’t that your opponent gets an advantage by just casting a cascade spell, but the randomness involved in doing so. We’ve all experienced the pain of playing against a Jund opponent who casts Bloodbraid hoping to hit that needed removal or discard spell when nothing else will do and crushing you. Magic is already a game with lots of variance and I find that some of that fun is taken away when variance is added. Cascade is right up there to me with flipping coins and rolling dice and I hope Wizards learns from this mistake in the future.
Until next time,
The author recommends:
Daryl is known for his love of all things Temu and can normally be seen waiting for standard tournaments to end so he can indulge his real loves for both Modern and Legacy. This normally is not the best strategy for a Magic player, but it has proven somewhat successful, resulting in multiple Pro Tour appearances as well as a handful of top 8’s on the SCG Open circuit and Grand Prix stage.