by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
The original Sorin Markov is a nice card. His +2 ability is certainly useful, as it deals 2 damage to a target creature or player and gain 2 life. You tend to lose a lot of life in black decks, especially with Vampires, so it’s a welcome gain of 2 life with perhaps a little removal added in there. If you happen to have an opponent at 1 or 2 life just barely hanging on, which can certainly happen, it’s also quite useful.
The one thing that makes Sorin really good for Vampires, and really why he was created in the first place I think, is the -3 ability: Target opponent’s life total becomes 10. This is important since key vampire cards have abilities that activate at 10 life, like Bloodghast’s Haste, or deactivate as with Vampire Lacerator which makes you lose 1 life each upkeep unless your opponent is at 10 or less life. But Sorin rarely saw Constructed play back when he was in Standard. These two abilities always seemed enough of a reason to me to run a copy or two.
His -7 or so-called ultimate ability is sort of nice, too. You get to take over your opponent’s next turn, obviously to set him up for an easy picking on your next turn.
The one major issue with Sorin Markov is actually quite obvious. He’s a 6 drop. The 3 required black really isn’t a problem, but in a deck that was once extremely competitive like R/B Vampires, Sorin was just going to muck up your hand and took up slots better used for removal. He’s a nice card, but he ended up being relegated to Vampire deck builds that could occasionally win FNM’s and other local tourneys, not top 8 at Opens or a Grand Prix.
Today, though, he’s still a 15+ dollar card, even with his Magic 2012 reprint, a widely distributed Core Set. The main reason he remains so valuable is how nasty his -3 ability is in Commander. Taking a player from potentially 40 life (or even more) down to 10 can put said player in kill range. Since Sorin begins with 4 loyalty, it’s not impossible that Sorin can do this a couple of times in a Commander game while he’s on the board. With mono-black Devotion now a thing since the release of Theros, Sorin's 3 black mana symbols make him very useful for fueling Devotion effects. It took awhile for Sorin to find a home, but he’s going to be a valuable card for a very long time.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Scute Mob is a fun little creature card from Zendikar that can get really big, really fast. When this card first came out, I can remember that they were going for something like $5 a copy. They remained well above bulk rare status for a long time because they were played in some Jund decks alongside Bloodhall Ooze from Conflux (now that’s a fun card!)
With how fast mana acceleration was with the release of the Zendikar fetch lands, this little 1 drop became a 5/5 very quickly, and it only grew stronger with each of your succeeding up-keeps, as long as you still controlled five or more lands.
With all the removal that’s come around since this card’s release, however, it’s just not as solid a card as it used to be. It definitely sees some play in Commander, though. I myself actually used to have it in my Ghave, Guru of Spores deck when I found it was an amazing one-drop to upgrade my pre-con Counter-Punch deck with.
It’s one of the more flavorful cards of Zendikar, and if it survives for one of your upkeeps, you get a 5/5 for 1 mana, that can become a 9/9, then a 13/13 and so on. Talk about value! It’s a card I’ve seen some people try to brew with in Modern, and some crazy Budget Zoo decks can certainly use this guy! It’s all about keeping him alive, because if they don’t Bolt him immediately, the game gets rough!
by Phoenix Desertsong
The Zendikar block had an interesting cycle of Quest enchantments. While the Quest for the Holy Relic is not by far the best of them, it’s an interesting card. This Quest only costs 1 white mana to cast. Whenever you cast a creature spell, you get to put a quest counter on the Quest. Once it has at least five quest counters, you may sacrifice it. When you do so, you search your deck for an Equipment card and put it onto the battlefield attached to a creature you control. You then, of course, shuffle your library.
There are certainly equipment-based Commander decks that love this card. These include decks that rely on their Commander beefed up with multiple Equipments swinging in for Commander damage. The Commanders that utilize this one-mana Enchantment the most include Kemba, Kha Regent and Nahiri, the Lithomancer.
While it’s not the most efficient tutor for Equipments, Quest for the Holy Relic is cheap to cast and fairly easy to trigger. It’s an investment of only one mana, and it gets you an Equipment onto the board and attached to a creature for that minimal investment. Any Equipment-based deck in Commander that runs White should at least consider it. Heck, Quest for the Holy Relic has even seen occasional play in Modern. It's a good card, but its effect is usually a bit slow to develop for Modern. Still, Quest decks were fun back when it was legal in Standard, and they're still fun to build and play.
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