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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set had a lot going against it. Firstly, it was a return to the plane of one of MTG's most infamous sets, and many within Wizards initially thought that they couldn't return to Kamigawa without both raising the ire of those who hated the original block while still appealing to its handful of fans. Secondly, it was a radical stylistic departure from every other Magic set before it, having sci-fi Magitek aesthetics influenced by both cyberpunk and anime, and neither Magic's classic high-fantasy look nor the original Kamigawa's Japanese-influenced art style. The sci-fi look alone caused a massive fan outcry, with many online fans declaring their intent to skip the set. It ended up being a smash success, in no small part because it still acknowledges the original block's storyline and doesn't completely reject feudal Japan aesthetics, both selling well and being well-reviewed by players, with head designer Mark Rosewater saying that its success gives them both a precedent and a template for how to "give a makeover" to poorly-received worlds.
  • Anti-Metagame Character:
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    • The metagaming nature of decks tends to fall into three "categories" - Dominant, Counter, and Rogue. Despite steps taken toward balance with each block, there always arises one or two dominant "tier 1" decks. As they become dominant, "counter" decks are created with the specific goal of defeating the dominant decks. As these two balance each other out, there then arises "rogue" decks which will be beaten by the dominant decks, but can defeat the counter decks which are so specialized for countering the dominant decks that they cannot adapt to the new threats posed by the rogue deck.
    • Due to "netdecking", it is extremely common in high-level tournament play that two extremely similar decks face off. Most players in these circumstances keep "silver bullet" cards strong against their own deck in their side-deck for just such matchups.
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  • Awesome Art: Hell yes! Magic The Gathering’s card art is consistently detailed, vivid, and gorgeous, painting epic, vast worlds that are one of the game's main draws. Even simple cards like basic land cards may get eye-catching art that you wish you could expand and put it on your wall. In fact, many artists are so well known that they do sell larger prints on their personal websites. So you can put it on your wall.
  • Awesome Ego: Nicol Bolas is one of the most evil characters in the setting, but there's no denying his arrogance makes his dialogue a lot of fun.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jace Beleren. Some people are fine with his multiple appearances in both card form and plot form, while others remember the days where Jace the Mind Sculptor dominated every format and hate every incarnation of Jace since. It doesn't help that Jace — cerebral and socially awkward — was intended as an Audience Surrogate, and therefore has been a main character in several major storylines, causing many fans to feel like he has overstayed his welcome. This seems to have died down circa 2017-18 due to the changes to his personality that have surfaced as of the storyline of Ixalan block; he's also been Demoted to Extra, having appeared in one set after War of the Spark in mid-2019.
    • Nicol Bolas. Some consider him a valid Big Bad and an interesting take on "Dominaria's most ancient evil". Others consider him a to be an overly powerful villain who gets shoehorned into every storyline and isn't as interesting as other villains, especially Yawgmoth or the Praetors.
    • Nahiri. The entire fanbase seems divided between those who think the writers screwed up extremely by turning her evil, "ruining" her character completely, and those who think she's a monster that deserves to die.
  • Better Off Sold:
    • The series has many "Junk Rares"; cards that are indeed rare but have no real competitive value. Their rarity means they can still be sold for a pretty penny, but they usually go to collectors looking to fill out their collection rather than competitive players seeking to actually use them.
    • In the Shandalar computer game, this is the only realistic source of early-game gold; always accept cards when winning a battle, then find the nearest town and sell the bad ones.
  • Broken Base:
    • Examples include "non-interactive" mechanics (cards that limit how other players can react to them). The "Hexproof" keyword ("this card can't be targeted by your opponents") in particular draws a lot of contention from both sides, as satirized in this comic strip.
    • The Companion mechanic from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is the subject of intense debate/loud arguments, touching on whether having a card that can be played from outside the deck is too strong, if Wizards balanced them adequately for any given format (particularly the eternal formats), whether the deckbuilding restrictions for them are properly verifiable, and so on. In the end, Zirda, the Dawnwalker and Lurrus of the Dream-Den were banned in Legacy, and the latter was also banned in Vintage, the first card to be banned from that format because of its power level since 1996! note 
    • The banning of potentially culturally insensitive cards from constructed formats was this to some players. While few people are opposed to bans that could make the game more inclusive, some concerns were raised over the precedent set for banning cards for non-gameplay reasons, especially when some were seemingly innocuous. That said the ban only affected seven cards in total, none of which were very good anyways, so the community at large moved on fairly quickly.
    • The Sixth Edition rules change created a permanent rift between those who preferred old Magic and those who preferred the new. The same happened with the 8th Edition border change.
    • The "Universes Beyond" program, a series of Crossovers with various other series and univereses. Both "Secret Lairs", usually containing 5-10 new cards, including crossovers with The Walking Dead and Stranger Things and larger products like Warhammer 40,000 Commander decks and a full fledged The Lord of the Rings set. Many fans of other series were excited to see their favorites ported over to Magic, as well as the prospect of getting new players not familiar the game being introduced via crossovers of series they loved. Others were upset at the concept of Magic no longer being a standalone universe, fearing how ridiculous the game will feel after years of crossovers and perhaps even Product Placement eventually.
    • The infect mechanic has been cited in official articles as very polarizing. It has many fans who like how it works with Proliferate and how you can pump an Infect creature for some pretty quick kills. However, it also has a lot of detractors who dislike it for reasons like being too insular (infect cards don't have much place outside of an infect deck) or not very interesting (due to the similarities with normal damage). In Commander in particular, it's also divisive because it still only needs 10 infect damage to kill despite the higher starting life total — one side thinks it's too easy to die to an infect player, while others argue that increasing the threshold will make it almost impossible for the infect player to win. The mechanic did not return for Phyrexia: All Will Be One; while its divisiveness was a strike against it, it was the insularity issue that got it replaced with toxic.
  • Cliché Storm:
    • The Innistrad block (purposefully) plays every Gothic Horror trope to the hilt. Restless geists, zombie apocalypse, demon cults, vampire lineages, rampaging werewolves, cackling mad scientists, humankind besieged by unholy darkness... and then the return trip (The Shadows Over Innistrad block) plays every Cosmic Horror trope to the hilt, right up to Emrakul being the block's version of Cthulhu.
    • The Scheme cards from Archenemy are purposefully over-the-top. For example, Behold the Power of Destruction's flavor text:
      "I'd call that a successful first test. Golem! Rearm the Doom Citadel!"
    • Thrones of Eldraine is another purposeful Cliche Storm, this time built around Arthurian Legend mixed with fairy tale tropes. While Magic has touched on both themes before, they haven't been played up to this extent.
  • "Common Knowledge": It's widely "known" that Crovax from the Weatherlight saga is of the Windgrace family, information that even appears on wikis and other popular storyline sites... but nobody who's looked has been able to find any source for this, only a line about Crovax admiring the planeswalker Lord Windgrace (who is also from Urborg, but otherwise unrelated, being Cat Folk).
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Creepy Awesome: Old Phyrexia started the trend and now New Phyrexia is running on this. Not only they turned Mirrodin into a hive-minded world that runs on Uncanny Valley, they have managed to compleat angels. And we love them for it.
  • Designated Hero: With Magic spanning over at least three decades' worth of media and many writers, it's bound to happen. Here's some special examples:
    • Jace Beleren in Agents of Artifice. Through most of it, he is a Nominal Hero, being primarily selfishly motivated and doing pretty much the same sort of nasty shit the antagonists do, yet the narrative paints him as having the moral high ground. He is not outright unsympathetic — far from it — but he is quite a ruthless person and not really benevolent by any definition of the word.
    • Venser, just Venser. In his first appearence in the Time Spiral Cycle, he is obnoxious, quite vitriolic, and more interested in getting into Jhoira's pants than the larger stakes. When he reappears in the Scars of Mirrodin block, he is triumphantly depicted as a standard hero and a personal friend of Karn, a person whom at best he was ambivalent to and at worst outright aggressive towards. To make matters more hilarious, in the actual novel for the set, Quest For Karn (incidently the last proper novel for Magic as a whole), he is a belligerent drug addict who spends most of his time bickering with his companions (albeit not without reason). When he gives up his life to save Karn, the audience is expected to see it as a Heroic Sacrifice, but most are left with a sigh of relief.
    • Sarkhan Vol during the Khans Of Tarkir shenanigans. The narrative paints his endeavors to go back in time and save the dragons as a good thing... except that the end result is considered by many to be worse, since the clans have been subjugated by the dragons and degraded into shadows of their former selves. Though Creative maintains that this was the purpose, the narrative in the player guides and uncharted realms (as well as the land art) clearly suggest that this new Tarkir is meant to be better. Only one dissenting voice is heard, Yasova's, but she is shown as being in the wrong.
    • Teferi, at least in the Dominaria set. While not a bad guy, his card from that set declares him the "Hero of Dominaria", which isn't really deserved. During the Phyrexian Invasion, one of the greatest threats to Dominaria's existence, Teferi decided not to fight the Phyrexians, and instead phased his homeland of Zhalfir (as well as Shiv) out of existence before leaving, despite Urza pointing out that doing so would mean Dominaria losing powerful allies in their war against the Phyrexians. In essence, in one of Dominaria's most desperate times of need, rather than aid Dominaria, Teferi decided only to save the parts he cared about most before leaving the plane to its fate.
  • Diagnosed by the Audience: Despite Yawgmoth's clear lack of empathy and remorse, he shows traits like obsessive dedication and capability for long term planning, which would clash with the profile of a sociopath. His sense grandiosity and entitlement could be related to narcissism.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: It's not uncommon to see Urabrask portrayed as a sort of saint and/or revolutionary leader in the fandom. While he's surely working against Elesh Norn, nothing ensures that his vision of constant reforging would be any better and he just seems to care about reaching his own goal without considering who his potential allies are and what they need or want, which can be seen more as selfish than anything else.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The pyromancer Jaya Ballard, whose funny quotes adorned many a burn spell (and who provided the page quote for Kill It with Fire). Finally printed in Time Spiral, and she was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that most believe that her card was the prototype for the Planeswalker type.
    • Yawgmoth, and Phyrexians in general. When they first appeared, they were barely a footnote in the flavor of the Antiquities expansion; eventually, they morphed into the main villain in Magic's Rogues Gallery.
    • The homunculus Fblthp, who is solely known from the art and flavor text of Totally Lost, became an unexpectedly adorable hit among fans. And finally, at the start of April 2019, Fblthp is revealed as a playable creature.
    • Riku of Two Reflections, one of the first official cards printed exclusively for the also unexpectedly popular Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander format. He's an attractive Bishōnen so nice, he exists twice. He quickly became popular with Magic's Estrogen Brigade; his Screw Yourself possibilities don't hurt.
    • Alesha may qualify, being Magic's first transgender character and getting an overwhelmingly positive response from the fanbase at her character (Doug Beyer himself thanked his readers on his Tumblr), but the real star has to be Jagun Wingmate, the nameless orc that gave Alesha her war name. Mark even acknowledged his popularity on his blog as well.
    • Halana and Alena swept the lore-loving Magic community by storm when they appeared in the story for the Shadows Over Innistrad block, because they're a pair of lesbian lovers who are resourceful, clever, and strong enough to survive the entire block, which is no small feat, considering the amount of Nightmare Fuel present. Avacyn didn't even survive it! Wizards eventually gave them cards in Commander Legends.
    • Similarly to Hal and Alena, another gay couple with a happy story are fan favorites, in the form of Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, who head the "Stalwart Unity" Commander precon deck.
    • Ajani Goldmane has gained quite a following since the publication of a story from his point of view in the Kaladesh block, Release. People are arguing that, despite the fact that he's going to most likely be the Token Non-Human member of the Gatewatch (Nissa notwithstanding), this story made him seem more human than any of the current Gatewatch members. Helping this is the fact that Ajani has a fair bit of badass cred from essentially becoming the Batman of Kaladesh since his last appearance in Theros, complete with his own sidekick, who has taken the name Shadowblayde.
    • Slimefoot from the "Return to Dominaria" storyline was a fandom darling from the word go, being a Creepy Cute commander for the fungus creature type, itself something of a darkhorse. Then it appeared in story and we discovered that it was an adorably friendly Silent Snarker and the fandom just about exploded.
      • The only character that gave Slimefoot a run for its money? Yargle, a legendary frog with no abilities beyond a terrifying 9 Power and laughable 3 Toughness. Foil Yargle cards became as valuable as standard Karn and Teferi Planeswalker cards as Commander players bought Yargle up to make Yargle Decks, just to see if they could make winning strategies around him. Wizards, apparently Pandering to the Base, released a Secret Lair set surrounding him, issuing older cards with art that just happens to include him.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Phyrexians (both old and new), the Eldrazi, and Nicol Bolas are generally perceived as being both interesting and complicated villains with their different flavors of Nightmare Fuel actions and art, their individual characterizations, and for being Purposefully Overpowered threats in card form that fans outright adore. Bolas and some of the Phyrexians having an Awesome Ego doesn't hurt, either.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Liliana Vess, a selfish necromancer obsessed with youthful beauty and loves to flaunt her skin.
  • Fan Nickname: Lots and lots of them.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Kamigawan garments are gorgeous, but wearing traditional pants and nothing else is something you would expect from Tibalt or Oko and not from Jin-Gitaxias.
  • Fountain of Memes: Elesh Norn has spawned more memes than the other Praetors combined. She's been compared to Lady Gaga, Pyramid Head, Lady Dimitrescu and many others. Her very recognizable figure, grandiose way of speaking and creepy ideology surely help.
  • Game-Breaker: Has its own page.
  • Growing the Beard: The game's early installments had severe balance issues, but things started to get better with Fourth Edition and Ice Age. By the time Mirage debuted, Magic was relatively stable. Invasion created a design aesthetic that ran until Dragons of Tarkir, 14 years later.
  • High-Tier Scrappy: The most powerful cards and decks, as players grow tired of seeing the same cards at the top tables of every tournament. Victims have included:
    • Blue was infamously the most powerful color for much of the game's history, and arguably still is in Legacy and Vintage. This is because many of the color's core mechanics (card draw, counterspells, artifacts matter, etc.) are difficult to balance and can become Game Breakers if not thoroughly playtested, and early in the game's history the power of card draw and countering was frequently underestimated. In particular, of the Power Nine, six are artifacts and three are Blue, and the color has a significant number of high-profile bannings to its name. Thankfully, Blue's power level has been reined in over the years and is overall much more manageable, but its reputation haunts it to this day, and its effects are still useful enough that decks of other colors sometimes still splash Blue spells when they can.
    • The Lorwyn-era Faeries deck.
    • Mirrodin's infamous Ravager Affinity deck, which was so overpowered that it resulted in multiple card bannings. Not only was it extremely powerful, but it could set up so quickly that it couldn't be countered.
    • The Jund deck that dominated Standard after the release of Alara Reborn.
    • Jace, the Mind Sculptor's unprecedented price tag (about $100 at its peak), combined with his status as a staple in multiple formats, has earned him a lot of unpopularity among some segments of the player base. It got to the point that Wizards had to ban Jace from decks.
    • Similar to Jace, Primeval Titan became a key card in the then-dominant Valakut Ramp (and to a lesser extent, Eldrazi Ramp) decks, leading for calls to ban the Titan and Valakut. Soon afterwards, however, ramp decks fell out of favor, mostly ending Primeval Titan's Tier-Induced Scrappy status until the Wolf Run Ramp deck brought it back.
    • Tempo-control decks built around Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage after the release of Innistrad quickly became the bane of players, eclipsing Wolf Run Ramp's status as a High-Tier Scrappy even after attempts to depower such decks.
    • The so-called "Eldrazi winter" caused this for the Battle for Zendikar block. In a nutshell: the preponderance of cheaply-costed Eldrazi, a tribe that was previously known for being giant (and costly) Eldritch Abominations, broke a number of cards printed the last time the tribe was around. A land that passively reduces your Eldrazi mana costs by 2 doesn't look so bad when the cheapest tribe member costs 8 mana. But once Eldrazi of 2-3 mana started to show up, Modern quickly became Eldrazi.dec, the format.
    • The Kaladesh block had...problems. Many problems. This video does a good job explaining all the problems that lead to such a lopsided format, which included a number of bannings — including the game's second-ever emergency ban.
    • Throne of Eldraine brought a number of cards which achieved Scrappy status due to their ubiquity, but the chief of them was unquestionably Oko, Thief of Crowns, which distorted the majority of formats it came into contact with to a massive degree. In particular he provides very powerful effects for a very easily-achievable amount of mana while being able to accumulate enough loyalty and set up enough defence that you need very, very specific cards in order to take him out... and then your opponent will likely play another one, because he's just that good. After noting that they'd dropped the ball in playtesting because they hadn't considered that the "turn a creature into a 3/3 Elk with no abilities" would be used on opponents' creatures to interrupt their play, WotC bowed to the inevitable and banned him from Standard and several other formats.
    • Extra turn cards tend to be hated for shutting down player interaction and WotC constantly attempting to print new ones despite how format-warping they tend to be. Notorious examples include Nexus of Fate and Alrund's Epiphany, which both got banned in Standard.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The September 2016 promotional art for Saheeli's Artistry depicts Saheeli making several cat constructs. When Aether Revolt was released four months later, it introduced the Felidar Guardian, which strongly resembles the cats in the promo art and has an unintended combo letting Saheeli make infinite copies of it.
    • The method of assimilation Phyrexia uses is called "compleation". This is a book that was published in 1982. Now imagine Yawgmoth or the Praetors giving relationship advice.
    • On 2011 April Fools, Wizards announced a new product Duet Deck: Liliana with Gideon. At that point, the game's story arc portrayed the two as so utterly different that the idea of them being together is obviously laughable. Fast forward a few years later after the Amonkhet block, Liliana and Gideon do begin a more friendly relationship, even culminating in Gideon sacrificing his life to save Liliana, resulting in her Survivor's Guilt.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Nissa and Chandra have a number of close interactions, with Nissa opening up to Chandra more than to the rest of the Gatewatch and Chandra turning to Nissa for comfort and emotional stability. Furthermore, the Kaladesh storyline ends with Chandra sleeping with her head on Nissa's lap. This is fleshed more in Amonkhet story, where Nissa thanks Chandra for being with her, and with the War of the Spark novel.
    • Also Chandra and Liliana, especially when working together in Kaladesh (mostly Liliana encouraging Chandra to cut loose more). Especially blatant in the artwork for Diabolic Tutor and the flavor text for Furious Reprisal.
      Liliana: Now that’s the Chandra I’ve been waiting to see.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: A common critique levied at the new white planeswalker from Core Set 2021, Basri Ket, is that he is essentially Samut's backstory with Gideon's personality.
  • Low-Tier Letdown:
    • This applies to the Homelands expansion. Almost all of the cards were too weak to see any play, even outside of tournaments, giving it a reputation as a set consisting of nothing but useless junk (The Duelist once admitted the only worthwhile card in the set was an ok anti-weenie card, and people only played that when there were block rules that required decks to contain cards from every expansion in the current rotation; later, Merchant Scroll gained some popularity as well). Packs of Homelands cards were still available in stores for next-to-nothing long after it had "officially" gone out of print.
    • Fallen Empires, too, for about the same reasons. Although it did have several cards that saw tournament play, its best cards (such as Order of the Ebon Hand and Hymn to Tourach) were common, so players didn't need to open many packs to collect all the cards that they actually wanted. It was also massively over-printed, with almost six times as many cards printed as any expansion set before it (approximately 350 million cards, compared to the 62 million of the preceding set, The Dark) and almost as many as the then-current base set, Revised Edition (estimated at 500 million cards over its lifetime.) This imbalance between supply and demand kept the price of Fallen Empires packs very low for a very long time. Even today, booster packs are very inexpensive for a set that was released over twenty-five years ago, with packs running at around $3.50 for a pack of eight cards, comparable to the price of a booster pack of a current set.
    • After the overpowered Artifacts and Rath cycles, the Masquerade Cycle was deliberately underpowered to help re-balance the game. Unfortunately, the result was a weak block that did nothing to stop Rath and Urza from dominating competitive play, and its popularity dipped further after the premiere of the following Invasion cycle, a fan favorite that changed the metagame without being broken. Even worse, bland mechanics and character designs meant it just wasn't fun. One big problem with Mercadian Masques was all the reprints of weak cards. (Kyren Glider < Goblin Glider, Moment of Silence < Festival, the return of storage lands from Fallen Empires.)
    • Kamigawa block tried to do the same thing after the the insanity of Mirrodin, and fared about as well. It was followed by Ravnica to boot, a reasonably powerful set that's been a fan-favorite since printing (even the less powerful cards are considered fun).
    • In Commander/EDH, Red has generally been considered the weakest color, since its core strategy of gunning for quick wins with fast, cheap creatures and burn spells doesn't work as well in a format with more players and higher life totals resulting in longer games which encourage long-term strategies, politics and collusion. In addition, the few things Red could viably add, other colors usually did better. Later sets and commander decks did give Red more tools to succeed, such as more multicolored commanders with Red, giving it more of a presence in the metagame.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Urza is the most infamous planeswalker in the history of Dominaria whose millennia long crusade against Yawgmoth and Phyrexia forever shaped the world's history. The greatest artificer who ever lived, Urza spent his mortal life building advanced machines to wage war on his brother Mishra to control the legendary Mightstone and Weakstone only to ignite his spark when their final battle leveled a continent and started an early ice age. Discovering his brother was corrupted by the mechanical abominations of Phyrexia, Urza masterminded the Legacy Weapon to destroy them. After accidentally causing time rifts at his Tolarian Academy, Urza used them to advance his project in record time by creating the silver golem Karn to travel through time to find Phyrexia's weaknesses, the legendary Skyship Weatherlight to travel between planes, and the Bloodline Project to use eugenics over generations to create the perfect human. Urza formed a great army as well by uniting all the nations of Dominaria and fathering a race of magically enhanced super soldiers. When Yawgmoth's invasion finally occurred, Urza united eight other planeswalkers to decimate Phyrexia and anticipated one's betrayal to use him as a battery for a superweapon that destroyed the entire plane. Ultimately, Urza sacrificed himself to ignite his Legacy Weapon, obliterate Yawgmoth, and avert the apocalypse to save all Dominaria.
    • Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, is the most ancient planeswalker in the Multiverse who dedicates his existence to defend all against powerful threats like the Eldrazi and his twin Nicol Bolas. Ugin's youth was spent learning wisdom and patience while Bolas learned to manipulate and dominate humans, and ignited his spark when he discovered his brother never truly loved him and saw him as a pawn. Wandering the Multiverse, Ugin made the Meditation Realm his own and allowed Bolas to kill him there to become the Spirit Dragon. Later learning of the threat of the Eldrazi, Ugin allowed them to devour entire worlds to learn their weaknesses and finally enlisted the aid of fellow planeswalkers Nahiri and Sorin Markov to seal them away on Zendikar. Next planning his brother's defeat, Ugin is ambushed and killed by Bolas but ensures his own resurrection by guiding Sarkhan Vol to his corpse and presenting a piece of his soul. Spying on Bolas through the gem in his horns, Ugin guides other planeswalkers during Bolas' harvest on Ravnica to ensure his brother would lose his spark and his power. Spiriting a comatose Bolas to the Meditation Realm and fusing with it, Ugin explains that he has utterly defeated him by stripping him of all his power, leaving all his schemes in ruin, and Bolas himself trapped forever alone with his failure.
    • Nahiri is a master earth elementalist and Kor planeswalker from Zendikar who worked alongside Ugin and Sorin Markov to stop the eldritch Eldrazi from ravaging the Multiverse. Nahiri herself personally spent decades to craft the hedron network that served as the border of the Eldrazi's prison and stayed behind to maintain the seal and protect her home. Going to sleep for a time, she awakens to find the prison nearly undone and confronts Sorin on why he didn't return to help. Their confrontation leading to violence, Sorin seals Nahiri in the Helvault for a thousand years where she stays sane by plotting her revenge. Eventually freed by luck, Nahiri finds Zendikar being ravaged by the Eldrazi and gets her vengeance on Sorin by luring the titan Emrakul to his home plane of Innistrad. Also corrupting Sorin's angelic creation Avacyn, Nahiri hurts Sorin by forcing him to put down his creation, in the process allowing Emrakul to fully manifest and ravage Innistrad. Her vengeance consumated, Nahiri ultimately returns to Zendikar to use an ancient artifact to restore the damage the Eldrazi caused, only to be stopped at the last minute when it's revealed Zendikar would die from the massive change to its ecology.
    • Liliana Vess is the sultry yet vain planeswalker from Dominaria whose spark ignited when the enigmatic Raven Man tricked her into cursing her beloved brother Josu when she sought to cure him. Learning necromancy in her mortal life, Liliana gained godlike power which she lost in the Mending and brokered a contract with Nicol Bolas to serve four demons in exchange for her youth and lost power. After gaining the Chain Veil on the order of one demon and seeking her freedom, she used its power to kill him and later engineered the freedom of another from imprisonment in the Helvault to slay him as well. Seducing fellow planeswalker Jace and joining the Gatewatch, Liliana manipulated them into facing Bolas so that she could slay a demon serving him, and rebounded from their defeat at Bolas's hand to track down and slay the final demon and finally give her brother peace in the process. Now forced to serve Bolas as the contract holder, she helps to lead his harvest of all planeswalker sparks yet ultimately turns against him and helps to ensure his defeat. Ultimately seeking redemption, Liliana finally frees herself from the Chain Veil and the Raven Man to atone for her past.
    • Elesh Norn has so far proven to be the most successful Praetor of New Phyrexia. Coordinating her siblings' actions in the name of unity during the Mirran war, she ensured the victory of their faction and the capture of an angel leading the resistance. To celebrate the angel's loyalty and tenacity, Norn asked the other Praetors to collaborate (with only Urabrask refusing) in the compleation of the angel into Atraxa, a powerful steward of Phyrexian ideals. Despite failing to corrupt Karn into becoming the new Father of the Machines, she managed to defeat her rivals Sheoldred and Urabrask by exploiting their factions' lack of organization, while maintaining a sincere Villainous Friendship with Jin-Gitaxias and playing Vorinclex like a fiddle, sending him to Kaldheim to retrieve a sample of tyrite. Truly believing that her philosophy can bring peace and unity to the Multiverse, Elesh Norn intends to use her position as de facto Mother of the Machines and the newfound access to planar travel to "bring Phyrexia's magnificence" to other worlds.
    • Jin-Gitaxias is the adaptive and calculating leader of the Progress Engine. During the Mirran-Phyrexian war, he oversaw the contamination of Quicksilver Sea with glistening oil, using the vedalkens' natural curiosity to have them exposed to the substance and accelerate the infection. Delving into other sources of mana to expand his philosophy of the Great Synthesis, Jin-Gitaxias uses the Silver Etchings as well as Sheoldred's visions, takes part to the compleation of Atraxa and has the elf leader Ezuri turned into the Claw of Progress. His position strengthened after Norn's rise to power, he travels to Kamigawa with Tezzeret, showing none of the latter's sadism while experimenting on kamis. Despite suffering a heavy wound from the Wanderer, he successfully returns to New Phyrexia with Tamiyo, welcoming her as the first compleated planeswalker and assuring she won't be the last.
    • Lazav is a shapeshifting telepath and the current Dimir guildmaster. Rebuilding Duskmantle after Szadek's downfall, Lazav linked his mind to that of the whole guild, gaining direct access to the whole web of spies in Ravnica and awakening sleeper agents infiltrated in the other guilds. Kidnapping Jace, Lazav extracted information from the living Guildpact about the Implicit Maze and tried to turn the champions against each others, failing only because of Jace's timely intervention. After finding and eliminating spies sent by Nicol Bolas, Lazav was willing to endorse Isperia's plan of collaboration between guilds in the face of a bigger threat and, during the War of the Spark, proved his loyalty to Ravnica by helping the Gatewatch deactivate The Immortal Sun. He also tricked Dovin Baan by impersonating Chandra, eventually blinding the planeswalker, and collaborated to Niv-Mizzet's resurrection, taking advantage of Bolas's defeat to further his plans of infiltration. Preferring mind alteration to outright murder when he has the chance, Lazav stands out in the nuanced world of Ravnica for his intelligence and pragmatism.
  • Memetic Badass: As the main driver of the story during his time, Urza has a reputation among the fanbase as the most powerful planeswalker of all time. While he did have godlike powers, being a pre-Mending planeswalker, Urza's primary strength was not in feats of physical or magical might but cleverness, inventiveness, and extensive planning. Among his planeswalker peers he was nothing special, power-wise, and Urza has been known to have a tough time in fights against even non-planeswalkers like Gix and Gerrard.
  • Memetic Molester: Despite being biologically asexual, the Praetors have a strange tendency to become this when targeting planeswalkers. Vorinclex in Kaldheim puts his own "seed" into Tibalt, Neon Dynasty infamously turned Jin-Gitaxias into a pervert weeb in the eyes of the fandom due to compleating Tamiyo and Dominaria United is continuing the trend with Sheoldred compleating Ajani and thus being considered a furry.
  • Memetic Mutation: See here.
  • Mis-blamed: Mark Rosewater is the head designer and is essentially the public face of Magic design and development. If something goes wrong, it's his fault. Even if he had nothing to do with it, it's always MaRo's fault. People often mistakenly call him the head of Magic R&D as a whole. The game's inventor, Richard Garfield, seems to have escaped this.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In over 20 years of media, Magic has as many pinnacles of atrocity as there are actual black holes in the universe:
    • During his exile, Yawgmoth visited several civilizations and ended up destroying them all with plagues he brewed up himself. In one case, he did it just to see what would happen.
    • Urza has many, many potential moments, but the destruction and genocide of Sardia in The Brothers' War cements him as willing to do anything it takes. Should you forgive anything else he has done since that, from betraying allies to eugenics programs, his unconditional surrender to Yawgmoth out of appreciation for his pneumagogs truly has been far gone.
    • Heliod's petty, spiteful, traitorous murder of Elspeth, his own champion, just because he was offended by the existence of planeswalkers. The sheer loathing he evokes means that getting to kill him will be incredibly satisfying.
    • Nicol Bolas and his corruption of Amonkhet. The people of an entire plane erased save for the infants; the corruption of its Gods; the perversion of the traditions of Amonkhet, all for the (so far known) purpose of creating an army of powerful undead to serve him on later conquests.
    • Nahiri might have been justified in feeling betrayed by Sorin. However, her revenge was ultimately the genocide of an entire plane by Eldrazi assimilation — part of which resulted in the angelic guardians of the plane turning into twisted monsters slaughtering those they once protected, a gravity that has had them described as the biggest victims of Shadows over Innistrad — just to get at one person. This moment was pivotal into turning her into a Fallen Hero.
    • Tezzeret has been an accomplice to many monsters throughout his history, but the thing that's put him completely beyond redemption is his actions in Neon Dynasty. Where he not only starts working for the Phyrexians, but kidnaps poor Tamiyo to be Compleated, and is implied to be the reason why the Praetors can suddenly go from Plane to Plane.
  • Narm:
    • The titular Magic Story of the Oath of the Gatewatch set. Gideon, you can see two mountain-sized Eldritch Abominations from up here, is now really a good time to swear your fealty to protecting the multiverse?!
    • The Eldritch Moon spoiler story for June 20, 2016 has the people of Innistrad getting corrupted by Emrakul, which is scary and disturbing enough until they start tacking Emrakul's name onto every other word in their sentences. Kind of hard to take the situation entirely seriously when people are saying things like "I'mrakul! We are'mrakul!"...
    • While some Magic novels are actually good, most are infamous for being bad. Here's a tumblr documenting some of the worst excesses, which range from kor titty milk to poorly inserted muscle fetish.
    • Due to Magic restriction on firearms New Capenna had to resort to other means of portraying mobster weapons. Some use violins (fairly clever)... others point fingers. This looks especially ridiculous in the art of Ob Nixilis murdering Xander; a monstruous planeswalker killing an Affably Evil major antagonist shouldn't look like a kid's game where he's going all pew pew.
  • Narm Charm:
    • "Ach! Hans, run! It's the Lhurgoyf!" is redundant, goofy, out-of-the-blue, and offers absolutely no explanation about what a lhurgoyf is.
    • Ixalan as a whole. Yes, it is a plane designed for your inner twelve-year-old, with dinosaurs, pirates, merfolk, and vampire conquistadores duking it out in over-the-top ways. Yes, it's still awesome.
    • Jin-Gitaxias' traditional Japanese pants in Neon Dynasty look nothing short of ridiculous, particularly in the manga and anime-like trailer (which are arguably also Narm in a meta level). In spite of this his return is considered genuinely badass and his card is broken.
  • Popular with Furries: Some characters became popular with the Furry Fandom, such as Ajani Goldmane (a Leonin Planeswalker), Kemba, Kha Regent (a Leonin member of The Mirran Resistance), Nashi (a ridiculously adorable nezumi adopted by Tamiyo) and Ink-Eyes (a Nezumi ninja). Scaly fans also appreciate dragons, like Nicol Bolas and Ugin.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Magic 2010 replaced the old familiar Grizzly Bears with Runeclaw Bear. The ratings speak for themselves.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Green was considered the weakest color for many years, due to being a creature-centric color in a metagame were creatures weren't too useful compared to the explosive spells of old. As the power of creature spells went up while spells were gradually nerfed, however, Green started making waves, and especially after Green in general was buffed, it ironically took Blue's place as the strongest color in Standard.
    • Atog was a scrappy thanks to being the most printed card other than basic lands for a few months after Revised, but by the time Mirage made atogs an iconic race, not only had the haters disappeared in a puff of apathy, but the people who liked the atogs' goofily-large toothy grins and power in decks built to feed them were more plentiful than ever.
      • The original Atog did see use in some experimental and not-very-effective decks based on cheap artifacts, graveyard recursion, and/or card-drawing.
      • Chronatog - which allowed its controller to skip their own turns - ended up as a key component in Stasis/Kismet decks, where it was used to avoid paying the upkeep cost on Stasis while the opponent was unable to do anything productive on their infinite turns.
      • The most infamous of them all was Psychatog, which was combined with Upheaval to make the dominant deck type of the 2002 world championship.
    • "Bands with other", a variant of the banding mechanic, which was ridiculed for years due to being incredibly unintuitive. "Bands with other" would be followed by a quality, such as a color or a supertype, which most would reasonably assume means that a creature with that ability would be able to form a band with other creatures that had the listed quality. Except the way "bands with other" actually worked is that it only allowed the creature to band with other creatures with the same ability, regardless of whether or not they had the listed quality. This article explains the problem of "bands with other" in detail. The ability eventually received errata in Magic 2010 so it actually worked intuitively. Banding and "bands with other" are still scrappies, but at least after the errata, "bands with other" is no longer the notoriously unintuitive mess that it was previously.
  • Rooting for the Empire: One of the most prominent fansites used to be Phyrexia.com, and is themed around the plane of Phyrexia, complete with the forums being named after each of that plane's layers, users calling themselves "Phyrexians", and it being an unofficial rule not to write the name of Yawgmoth. For those unfamiliar with the setting, we would like to remind you that Phyrexia is a hellish biomechanical dystopia occupied by always lawful evil Body Horror monstrosities and ruled over by a Complete Monster Evilutionary Biologist turned Omnicidal Maniac God of Evil.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
  • Banding. Banding is easier to understand than "bands with other" and many times more versatile, but it's still complicated and unintuitive, and has been the butt of many jokes over the years as a result.
  • "Affinity for artifacts," although often acknowledged as a fair mechanic in a vacuum, gained infamy through its association with the "Ravager Affinity" deck that dominated the format at the time, so much so that its key cards were banned from tournament play. The backlash was strong enough that when Scars of Mirrodin revisited Mirrodin, the designers chose not to bring it back in fear that its new incarnation would inherit the Scrappy legacy of the mechanic.note 
  • Cards that require a coin flip have consistently been among the least popular cards in their respective sets, according to Wizards of the Coasts's market research. Head Designer Mark Rosewater explains.
  • Countering. A countered spell or ability simply fizzles. All the cost of it must still be paid (and sometimes, that's much worse than just mana), but the user gets nothing. This is very frustrating and the methods to get past it are rarely obvious to new players. This is a big reason the scrubs mentioned below say "no blue". In fact, countermagic is so unpopular that R&D has deliberately been reducing its effectiveness.
  • Land Destruction, or land removal in general, even if temporary. Due to land cards being of limited supply in any given deck, and that players must get those lands to actually play their cards (a major problem for any unlucky player), plus that normally a player may only play one land card per turn, destroying those lands will render a player having to wait several more turns to regain their land cards, by which time the opponent will have already have far more lands to play their actual game-winning cards without opposition. Similar to countering above, and perhaps to a much greater extent, land destruction as a mechanic has been significantly reduced in number and effectiveness, with more emphasis placed on destroying or otherwise nullifying nonbasic lands.
  • Ante is the worst one by far. It was removed a long time ago for running afoul of gambling laws, but even without the legal troubles, the single most common House Rule was "no ante", so it would have been scrapped for the hate alone anyway. Searching Blogatog for "ante" shows pages of posts like this one:
    Q: which is more likely in a supplemental product: ante or bands with other?
    A: Neither, but if I have to pick one, bands with others.
  • The Nephilim cycle of creatures not being legendary is a major irk to a lot of EDH players. While Awesome, but Impractical in every other format, their large colour spread and bizarre yet powerful effects would make them a perfect choice for a commander if only they were legendary. "Legalizing" them is one of the most ubiquitous house rules among groups, with many wishing that Wizards would simply say "screw it" and errata them already. Somewhat mitigated by the 2016 Commander supplemental set releasing five decks with four-colored legendary creatures.
  • Devoid is considered to be one of the larger missteps Magic Design has taken. The keyword makes certain Eldrazi-related cards colorless, despite still needing colored mana to be cast. While such cards can be noteworthy for some specific deck types, the set it was introduced in, Battle for Zendikar, had insufficient support for those sorts of interactions, so the keyword was seen as a mechanic that doesn't do anything. It has since become one of the go-to complaints about the block.
  • Landwalk, Intimidate, and Fear. All three prevent your opponent from blocking based on the colors they are playing. Depending on your opponent, they're either incredibly powerful or completely useless, with no in between. In addition, they are completely determined the moment your opponent chooses their deck, which means there is little either player can do to make the mechanic more/less effective through skillful play. All of them are no longer printed on new cards as of 2015, with the more universally useful Menace replacing Fear and Intimidate.
  • Landhome, which prevented a creature from attacking unless the defending player controlled a land of a listed subtype, and also sacrificed itself if its controller didn't control a land of the same subtype. Landhome was an answer to the question of how Blue's iconic sea creatures were supposed to fight when there was no sea, as Landhome almost always showed up as the Islandhome variant. While this might be a flavorful solution, it turned out not to be very fun for players, with most future sea creatures released without these restrictions. Landhome was such a scrappy keyword that it eventually ended up losing its status as a keyword entirely, with its effects listed out as rules text on the cards that it was on.
  • Among "joke" mechanics (ones which only appear in the parody sets), Gotcha is by far the most hated. Cards with this keyword allow the user to say "Gotcha!" to return them from their graveyard to their hand whenever the opponent says or does something that the card forbids. The most aggravating of these is a cycle of five cards whose Gotcha ability triggers when the opponent says one of several words related to core gameplay actions, such as "life," "spell," "creature," "destroy," and "damage," prompting players to clam up and play in silence in order to counter them, which Mark Rosewater noted ran contrary to the goal of "fun" sets. Only appearing in Unhinged, this single mechanic is widely blamed for the set's commercial failure and the thirteen-year wait until the next silver-bordered set Unstable. Gotcha was so bad that it ended up naming the "Gotcha Scale," a version of the Storm Scale specific to parody sets.
  • Scrub: As always, in contrast to the "Stop Having Fun" Guys: any card that the Scrub's deck can't deal with is "cheap", and anyone using it is trying to ruin the game for everyone who wants to play real Magic. It's common for people seeking casual games in Magic Online to put something similar to the following in the description:
    No blue, no land destruction, no goblins, no elves, no nonbasic lands...
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: New players may be mystified as to why certain famous/infamous cards have such a reputation. Sometimes this is because of their still immature grasp of the game, but other times it's because those cards were simply good in their particular metagame, making their dominance a matter of context. Or even that the rules of Magic have changed so that whatever made them good in the first place doesn't work anymore.
  • Serial Escalation: The announcement that the War of the Spark set would have no less than thirty-six Planeswalkers, and every booster pack would contain one. For reference, each set is carefully balanced to have no more than 4-6 Planeswalkers (counting the ones that come in the premade decks).
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Between Chandra/Gideon shippers and Chandra/Nissa shippers, both pairings have gotten plenty of ship tease over the years, with the former starting up earlier with Gideon's introduction in The Purifying Fire and the latter starting with the formation of the Gatewatch in the Battle for Zendikar block. This was not helped by War of the Spark: Ravnica torpedoing the latter ship in a hamfisted manner to support the former while also killing off Gideon, leaving both sets of fans unsatisfied.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: As strong a force as the scrubs. Usually found battling against anything perceived as making the game easier.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow:
    • The Red/White clans had the least amount of synergy and development until the first Ravnica block. One poll on Magic's website, which polled players' favorite two-color combinations, has Red/White as dead last. And to make it worse, "I'd rather play a monocolor deck" ranked just above it.
    • White in general has gained a reputation of being drastically underpowered compared to the other colours of the pie. While White is a powerful support colour, it is often held back by lack of access to card draw and being limited to dealing combat damage to kill a player, while the other colours have gained steady access to card draw, acceleration, and alternate means of winning the game over the years.
  • So Bad, It's Good: A handful of cards, particularly from early sets such as Legends, are so thoroughly useless that they're regarded with a degree of affection by players. Chimney Imp, for example, is a particularly iconic one, attaining a status of Memetic Badass on the official forums.
  • Squick:
    • Uktabi Kong, a card (tap two apes to produce an ape token) which invokes a number of sex tropes, but especially:
      • (Tap an ape token with one of its parents, or two ape tokens since they're likely brother and sister)
      • Homosexual Reproduction (tap Ape A and Ape B one turn, Ape A and Ape C another turn, and Ape B and Ape C a third turn: You have either one or three cases of this.)
      • It's also an Homage to another card, Uktabi Orangutan, where the background art has two monkeys who look like they're going at it in the jungle sense.
    • Living Wall, which was actually banned for its disturbing cover art.
    • Kor cheese. No, seriously.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Neon Dynasty is this to the original Kamigawa block. The latter had popularity in the fandom thanks to it's setting, but the cards from the set were highly malaigned from a design standpoint and it was not nearly as successful as Wizards hoped. For the longest time many fans thought the closest they'd get to a return was the presence of Tamiyo, a planeswalker from Kamigawa. Then Neon Dynasty was announced, with the conceit being one that combined elements of Cyberpunk, tradition vs innovation, and more modern tropes from Japanese works. While the science-fiction setting is still debated on, there's a large number of players surprised by how much they like the set on both a flavor and mechanical level, and Mark Rosewater has even said that the positive reception means a return is much more feasible now than it was before.
  • That One Rule:
    • "Banding" and "Bands With Other" were so complex that they are among only a stark few keywords that they simply stopped printing entirely. It's quite telling that on the Storm Scale, which rates mechanics on how problematic and unlikely to be reprinted they are with Storm being the definitive 10, "Bands With Other" is rated 11.
    • "Phasing" as well, due to the unusual and unintuitive ways that it works (permanents phase in or out on each of their controller's untap steps, and the rules have changed multiple times as to whether this triggers "enters/leaves the battlefield" effects or not. Currently not.)
    • There's also the rules about continuous effects and layers, which are relevant in every format and even more complicated.
    • To a certain extent, regeneration. In the Limited through Fifth Edition versions of the rules, it worked exactly the way you expected it to: a creature died, you regenerated it, it came back to life. Then Sixth Edition rules came along and regeneration had to be implemented via a Rube Goldberg machine involving forcefields and replacement effects.
    • "Protection from X" was originally described as just "cannot be affected by X", which caused a HUGE amount of confusion over what "affected by" meant. This definition was replaced with a more detailed and specific one sometime around Revised Edition, and everyone has been happy ever since.
    • Ante. It required all players to put a random card up for offer in order to raise the stakes, with the victor getting whatever cards were placed. Not only was it an extremely unpopular rule among players, since said card might be extremely valuable, but it had to be removed because of how ante could be considered gambling, which is illegal in some jurisdictions.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Several times.
    • Too many times to count. Examples include the rules changes introduced here, but the game has to tweak itself a little every year, and each year brings a plethora of complaining, along with the beeping of cash registers to drown them out.
    • The major rules overhaul with Sixth Edition caused a massive outcry among players at the time.
  • As of the M14 core set, both players may have a copy of a legendary creature. Cue cries of how this cripples clone decks.
  • The crossover with The Walking Dead (and most subsequent Universes Beyond crossovers) received a lot of complaints from people who didn't like the idea of Magic's flavour and identity being weakened by the addition of elements from other franchises, and even some who were okay with crossovers felt that The Walking Dead was a poor match for Magic. Concerns over the cards being mechanically unique only added fuel to the fire. Wizards only said they'd reprint the Walking Dead cards in the Magic universe following the backlash.
  • Un-cards, sillier and more light-hearted cards intended to be enjoyed in casual play and kept out of formal play, used to be silver-bordered and released in silver-border only sets. Unfinity changes this by not only featuring both un-cards and cards legal in eternal formats, but removing the silver border in favour of giving un-cards an acorn stamp. This move was criticized by players who felt that the eternal legal cards were too silly to belong in eternal formats (while they were intended to avoid impacting on these formats, Wizards have misjudged power levels before), and because the small acorn stamp makes it harder to tell at a glance whether a card is eternal legal. There are also people who just think the silver border was cool and iconic, and are sad to see it go.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The Reveal that the force pulling the strings in Innistrad (which was 'hinted' at all throughout Shadows over Innistrad) was, in fact, the Eldrazi. This was a complete non-surprise, as the previous block was all about fighting the Eldrazi and they went out of their way to mention that one of the Titans was missing. If the return to Innistrad had happened before the return to Zendikar, this would have been an incredible surprise.
    • The previous set featuring the Kenrith twins before Strixhaven, Throne of Eldraine, ended with Garruk making a Heel–Face Turn and swearing to protect the twins as they travelled the multiverse. Strixhaven itself features the twins meeting and learning under Liliana Vess, the person who was almost directly responsible for Garruk's initial Face–Heel Turn by cursing him with the Chain Veil and has since also made a Heel–Face Turn. And to top it off, she's teaching under Witherbloom, Green/Black, which would match her with Garruk's colors. Despite all of this, Garruk is instead completely written out of Strixhaven and never appears, nor do the Kenrith's mention him to Liliana.
    • Edgar Markov has long been The Ghost on Innistrad — never appearing directly despite his massive influence on the Plane as the progenitor of all vampires and Sorin's grandfather — to the point where some assumed he was dead. That is until Crimson Vow, when he finally has a role to play in the story... as Olivia Voldaren's mind-controlled puppet. More than a few fans, particularly fans of Sorin, were disappointed that such a long-awaited appearence has him as basically a Living Macguffin.
    • One of the many criticisms directed at the War of the Spark story was that characters who had actual personal history with Bolas, like Ajani and Sarkhan, were sidelined in favour of the already-divisive Gatewatch, leaving arcs feeling unresolved at best. Particularly egregious was Vivien, who was literally introduced to the story as an archenemy for Bolas and whose entire purpose for existing as a character was to hunt him down in vengeance for destroying her home plane, and yet she contributed basically nothing to his defeat.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: While not universal, this can occasionally happen in the backstory due to a fumbling of the Morality Kitchen Sink of the factions. While white is traditionally the color of "good" and black is traditionally he color of "evil", no color is entirely good or evil. Unfortunately, some writers put too much focus on showing that white has an evil side, while forgetting to then make the "Bad" colors (like Black) more sympathetic to compensate — creating a setting where Light Is Not Good, and Dark Is STILL Evil.
    • The overarching story arcs can also feel like this. The multiverse is always doomed, and in every big storyline, there's always at least one beloved character who gets killed off. Meanwhile, on the antagonist side, any villain that isn't specific to one plane won't. Freaking. Stay. Dead. No matter how crushing a defeat they may suffer in one story, they'll be right back at it another 8 years or so of real time later, seemingly no worse for wear, while the fallen heroes are never seen again (unless they're lucky enough to die on a plane with an explicit afterlife). The general Crapsack World-ness of most planes does not help matters.
    • The Phyrexia storyline from 2021-23 has also gotten this. Previously, Wizards of the Coast has specifically said that Phyrexia would never be able to travel between planes because that would simply make them take over the entire multiverse. Then they started compleating planeswalkers, and then they created the Realmbreaker, rendering that limitation null and void and leaving readers wondering why they don't simply spray every plane with glistening oil and let it run its course, other than that it would violate the Theory of Narrative Causality. Only the Author Can Save Them Now. (The numerous Idiot Ball and Too Dumb to Live moments in the Phyrexia: All Will Be One story have not helped the criticism in the least.)
  • Too Cool to Live: Venser and Elspeth, among others. Though Elspeth doesn't count anymore....
  • Too Dumb to Live: The writers of the Guildpact, for deliberately creating a tenth guild whose legally stated purpose is to oppose the Guildpact. As a bonus, the Guildpact also bans everyone from acknowledging that the group dedicated to destroying them even exists. This means that when the leader of House Dimir was arrested for trying to destroy the other guilds and take over, it shattered the Guildpact's spell and threw the entire plane into bloody chaos. Dimir was supposed to oppose the Guildpact, so trying to destroy the other guilds was perfectly legal - but admitting that they even exist by arresting the leader wasn't.
    • In the Ixalan saga Azor himself appears, being revealed as a Planeswalker, and it is indeed confirmed that the various systems of law he makes for each Plane he visits, while seeming good at first, inevitably break down as soon as he's no longer there to personally oversee them, frequently leaving whole Planes in anarchy and destruction.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: In the Innistrad block story, Sorin Markov is waylaid by Tibalt. This occupies him for the entire arc, thus contributing nothing to the situations around Avacyn's disappearance (which is very bad news for Innistradi humans) and her subsequent release from the Helvault.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: In the original document for Ulgrotha Baron Sengir is described as "though he has dark tendencies, he is not evil - just practical and rather direct". However, considering his actions range from a hostile takeover to feeding his horsemen to his horses, most audiences consider him a bit on the pro-evil side. For what's worth, modern Creative seems to have embraced him as one of Magics's signature villains.
  • Underused Game Mechanic: Transform, originally introduced in the Innistrad cycle - essentially, cards that transform have rules text and art on both sides, and have certain conditions to change into these forms, and possibly change back, in the case of werewolves. It's a distinctive mechanic that brought a lot of identity to Innistrad - the lack of it in Avacyn Restored is often cited as to why it's considered disappointing. It returned in the Shadows over Innistrad block, And the Fandom Rejoiced. It's started making appearances outside of Innistrad - several cards in the Ixalan block could transform into lands.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • When the Odyssey cycle first came out, many players complained that it was underpowered and too focused on the graveyard. Since then, several of its cards have become staples in Legacy, and it's appreciated for introducing the idea of the graveyard as a resource.
    • The Kamigawa block was much maligned at launch for being underpowered compared to Mirrodin, as mentioned above. However, it has more legendary creatures than literally any cycle in Magic history, and with the rise in popularity of the Commander/EDH format (which requires a legendary creature to be your deck's commander), its legends are being looked towards as viable in this format. The Japanese folklore- and mythology- inspired flavor has also gotten praise. Nowadays, while opinions on the cards themselves vary, the setting is one of the more popular ones, and was brought up as a candidate for being revisited enough that eventually it return for Neon Dynasty.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While Magic is marketed as a kids/family game, it all but crosses the boundaries that come with it perpetually, with violence - often involving blood - being frequent, as well as quite a few flavors of horror and complex and thought-provoking themes that a majority of kids wouldn't understand. Combine that with a long list of intricate gameplay rules, with each block only introducing more complex mechanics to follow, and an equally-elaborate story and lore in-universe, and you've got a game that, realistically, should be targeted more at teens and adults than most children.
  • Win Back the Crowd: A number of intensely unpopular sets have laid a heavy burden on the sets that followed... some of which have risen to the occasion. Some examples:
    • Urza's block stood for 20 years as the most powerful block of all time, resulting in unprecedented bans. The following block, Masques, overcompensated and created a low power, low fun environment. But Masques was followed by Invasion, a block that was so well-received that it became the template for future block design (to whit: a unifying theme for the whole block that the first set introduced, the second refined, and the third twisted and keyword mechanics that all intersected with the theme).
    • Mirrodin and Kamigawa followed the same overpowered/underpowered dynamic a few years later. As before the crowd was won back by Ravnica block. Interestingly, Ravnica was structured with similar themes to Invasion, but deliberately reinterpreted to feel different.
    • Throne of Eldraine may have displaced Urza's block as the most overpowered release of all time; special mention goes to Oko, Thief of Crowns, the first card to ever be simultaneously banned in the Standard, Historic, Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy formats. The next two sets, Theros Beyond Death and Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths, weren't as blanket powerful as Throne, but had standout cards that hit the same heights. The following year led to a conscious desire to power down Standard (and the above mentioned formats as well, since Standard cards kept getting banned in them). The reception to Zendikar Rising and especially Innistrad: Midnight Hunt has gathered praise across the board for cards that are powerful and fun without eclipsing all previous Magic design.
    • The joke set Unhinged has long been derided as the game's most unfun set of all time (mostly focusing on the set's emphasis on mechanics that interact with player speech, motivating players to play in complete silence). It was so unpopular that unsold booster boxes were destroyed and there were no new silver bordered (i.e. joke) sets for thirteen years. Unstable broke that streak, and was so well-loved that it's led to Unsets becoming part of Magic's regular rotation, appearing roughly every other year since.

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