Ten More of the Dumbest Cards on the Reserved List

Nick Wolf • April 23, 2024

Timmerian Fiends by Mike Kemble

Full of Fire and Smoke and Light

Exclusivity breeds resentment. 

That's as true in life as it is in Magic: The Gathering. No one likes to be told that an arbitrary decision prevents one from experiencing something. But what if the arbitrary exclusivity isn't preventing you from anything, but rather is preventing Wizards of the Coast from reprinting Aboroth?

There might be some designer over at WotC that really, really wants to reprint Aboroth. Maybe it's their favorite card. To be fair, that Brom art is pretty cool, and a 9/9 for six mana was once a very interesting array of numbers. So what if it melts faster than a sundae on Zegema Beach? 

Well, guess what, they can't. Aboroth is on the Reserved List.

What is the Reserved List? In short, it's around 570 cards that Wizards of the Coast has promised never to reprint in any physical form. For more details about what led to that decision, go check out the first part of this series of articles. It's a good deal: you get some interesting information, I get an extra click. Everyone wins. 

I'm going to assume you clicked that link and have since come back here to continue our journey into the absolute most ridiculous cards that are enshrined into the Reserved List forever. Will "forever" truly be forever? Time will tell. But until that day comes when the Reserved List is abolished, these cards will never appear in a pack again. And for most of them, that's a blessing, not a curse. 

Timmerian Fiends

Inside of each of us is two Timmerian Fiends. One's a gem-encrusted skeletal ghoul and the other's just a fuzzy little guy with antlers and an underbite. Who you are as a person depends on which of the two Timmerian Fiends you let take the lead. 

Timmerian Fiends is truly one of the cards of all time, not likely seen much by anyone due to the word "ante" featured in the text box. You see, way back in the early days of Magic, players were intended to raise the stakes of a game of Magic by including a mechanic that put their real, physical cards on the line. That was ante, and when people joke that casting four Dark Rituals into a Drain Life was "Magic the way Richard Garfield intended," they're wrong. Because ante was Magic as Garfield intended. Unfortunately, ante was also wildly unpopular almost immediately and also opened up Wizards to possible lawsuits since technically, an organized Magic tournament with ante cards is gambling. 

Timmerian Fiends, printed in Homelands in 1995, has the dubious distinction of being the very last card ever printed that featured ante as a mechanic. As a result, it's banned in Legacy, Vintage, Commander, and Oathbreaker, and not legal in any other official format. It's almost as if no one ever plays it or is even legally allowed to. That's some real skeleton-face energy, there.

Also, is there a place in Ulgrotha called Timmeria? Nothing in the lore says so or refers to such a location. Or are the Fiends actually able to traverse planes? Is Timmeria actually Emeria but misheard? Are the Fiends actually from Zendikar? Is "Timmerian" some form of an adjective other than a demonym? Does any of this matter?

Golgothian Sylex

This $40 bowl has had a very interesting journey though the canon of Magic. It's on the Reserved List, but it's also on a much more exclusive list of cards that mention expansions in their text, dubbed the "expansion hosers." Other than Sylex, there's City in a Bottle and Apocalypse Chime, both also on the Reserved List as well. There's also Crux of Mirrodin, but if we start expanding our rigid partitioning and categorizing of cards to include Unknown Event test cards, what are we even doing here.

And just so we're clear, that list of expansion hosers is different than the list of "they said the title in the thing" cards, like Throne of Eldraine, Rise of the Eldrazi, The Brothers' War, Weatherlight, Urza's Saga, Mirrodin Besieged, Future Sight, Conflux, Hour of Devastation, March of the Machines, Conspiracy, Planar Chaos, Morningtide, Time Spiral, Onslaught, Torment, Apocalypse, Prophecy, Cold Snap, and Visions. That's a different list.

More contemporary players might know this not as the vessel from which you'd eat Dominarian Froot Loops but rather the artifact Urza used to end the Brothers' War. It's even depicted in the art of the card Brothers' War, as seen a paragraph ago. It was fished up out of a river, passed through the possession of Feldon and Loran before stolen by Ashnod, who gave it to Tawnos, who gave it to Urza. It's had a lengthy provenance. 

Lore value aside, Golgothian Sylex needn't be on the Reserved List by any means. It's very unlikely that the average player will be so beleaguered by Ashnod's Altars, Strip Mines, Ornithopters, and Triskelions that they need the bowl version of the Manhattan Project to solve the problem.

Warping Wurm

There was a time when phasing as a mechanic was never, ever going to come back. If you told the average player in 2015 that a mere half-decade from then, the words "phases out" would appear on a newly printed card, that player would laugh and say, "Who cares, I have 12 copies of Tarmogoyf, I'll be rich by then."

But here we are in the year of our lord two-thousand and twenty four, and things are phasing in and out every which way. What's next, banding?

Now, if you want to be pedantic, the "phasing" aspect of our friend Warping Wurm here has not made a reappearance and is technically a different thing than "phases out." But that doesn't change the fact that the Reserved List isn't saving anyone from a 1/1 for four mana over two colors that requires a 100% mana value investment every turn to keep it from fading into the ether. The RL is, however, depriving people from seeing a reprint of this classic Scott Fischer art.

And to be fair, it's not like the Reserved List makes this card completely impossible to find. There are plenty out there, most less than a buck. According to EDHREC, Warping Wurm is used in 39 decks across all logged into the site, out of the 845,457 that are playing both blue and green. I've never been a math guy, but 39 is technically greater than zero. If you're the owner of one of those 39 decks, please identify yourself, because I have questions.

Floodwater Dam

Alliances was a very strange set. You had dudes riding giant dogs, Walter from Fringe as a Renaissance painter, a really crappy counterspell (look at that negative card advantage, pah!), whatever's going on here, and of course, a winged purple hippo. This was in a time before things like "cohesive visual storytelling" was a thing.

In the midst of all that weirdness, there was also Floodwater Dam. It wasn't a flashy name for your typical Alliances artifact, like "Aesthir Glider" or "Phyrexian Devourer" or "Soldevi Steam Beast." It was just a dam, for floodwater. But it had a crab man on it, which was a little odd, since one would assume that crab men, more than anyone, wouldn't mind water just going wherever. Then there's the flavor text, which implies that said crab men stuff random animals and people into the dam like mortar. "We have a leak over here coming from a hole that's roughly the size of a human child, hand me that human child so I can stuff it in the human-child-sized hole." That sort of thing. 

Mechanically, you're paying six mana before you tap a single target land, which interestingly enough is roughly the same initial cost of Mishra's Helix, a far better card that is not on the Reserved List. And in an interesting coincidence, EDHREC shows that Floodwater Dam is also in 39 decks, just like Warping Wurm. However, the difference is that, while the Wurm is two colors, Floodwater Dam can technically be played in any deck, so that 39 is actually out of around 3.9 million.

Also, I want to point out that Floodwater Dam doesn't do a dam thing to Floodwaters, which honestly is terrible storytelling.

Auspicious Ancestor

We can't talk this much about the Reserved List without discussing how the RL interacted with the very strange era of Magic card secondary market prices known as the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was trapped at home in quarantine, many with pandemic-related monetary disbursements issued to them, burning a hole in their pocket.

During much of 2021, we saw the prices of a lot of cards inflate to ridiculous levels due to demand. The cost of Commander staples, old-border foils, and, yes, random Reserved List cards all spiked hard, and now in 2024, we've seen that spike invert and a lot of those cards are now worth very little. In other words, there was a COVID bubble, and that bubble burst. 

Yes, stuff like Mox Diamond or Gaea's Cradle are still obscenely expensive. But other things that saw a spike, like Auspicious Ancestor, went from around 40 cents in 2019 to 40 dollars in early 2021. And today, it's 40 cents again. I hope you didn't buy one in 2021, is all I'm saying. 

And if you had a stack of Quarum Trench Gnomes you received as hand-me-downs from an older sibling, I hope you sold them when they were $300 during those few glorious months of Summer '21.


We'll go from one extreme to another now. Give ol' Pyramids a read, then explain to me in the comments why it's a $170 Magic card. You pay six mana to cast it, then an extra two mana to get one over on your Wasteland-obsessed friend. But hey, according to the art you're getting two pyramids for the price of one. A steal of the century of which Napoleon would be jealous.

It's that expensive because, and only because, it's on the Reserved List. The card serves no other purpose than to be old and hard to find. Back in pre-COVID days, Pyramids would have cost you around $10, but for a minute there during the height of the WFH craze known as the global pandemic, it hit heights of nearly $1,300. It's settled since then, obviously, but at a level much, much higher than it was originally. 

It was alleged at the time that a single mysterious buyer was behind the price surge, as they were supposedly buying up every single copy they could find online in 2020 and 2021, and since it's an objectively terrible card, when this mysterious buyer was waggling a few 20-dollar bills at you for your copy, you sold it without a second thought. Is there a person out there sitting atop a pyramid of Pyramids? I really, really hope so.

Karn, Silver Golem

When it comes to the Reserved List, one is justified if they assume that a card on the RL has only ever been printed once in paper. That's kind of the entire point of the Reserved List, after all. But Karn, Silver Golem has been printed five times.

Granted, one of those times is an oversized version from Commander's Arsenal, so not too many people would cry foul. But the other four times? Well, there's the original Urza's Saga version, a foil-only Arena League 1999 promo, the remarkably controversial From the Vault: Relics version, and a gold-bordered World Championship Decks version. 

We covered the controversy of From the Vault: Relics in the first entry into this particular series, which you can find here (clicky clicky) in case you don't want to scroll up. But if you're being withholding, the short story is that decision-makers at Wizards of the Coast saw the Reserved List and said, "sure, we won't print those cards again...unless?" 

The "unless" in that case was in a premium, non-pack way, like a From the Vault, the one with Karn dropping in 2010. That led to a reaffirming of the solemn promise of the Reserved List after pro-RL people out there threw a big stink about the loophole. No more sneaky circumventing of the Reserved List (for now, at least). There was also that clandestine meeting, the content of which is unknown aside from the Reserved List being the topic.

Karn might be mildly frustrating to some players because its status on the Reserved List has led to its slightly inflated price. Like many RL cards, it too saw that reliable COVID spike in 2021, jumping to around $70 for a minute before settling where it is now at $15. That's not outrageously expensive, but it's still a lot for many people, especially considering that Karn's the eighth-most popular colorless commander, according to EDHREC. And if you want that old-border foil Arena League promo, you'll be shelling out more than $100. 

Thunder Spirit

Quick, name any other 2/2 flying, first strike creature that costs three mana. Did you name Sky Spirit? Because that's literally the only one other than Thunder Spirit. 

And that's not a coincidence. One of the things about the Reserved List is that not only is Wizards of the Coast unable to reprint the cards on the list, they can't print anything too similar to RL cards, either. That would be in bad faith. There's a reason they haven't printed an unseasonably chilly version of Tropical Island and called it a snow island forest land.

Sky Spirit is dangerously close to Thunder Spirit and is an obvious homage/ripoff, but being a multicolored card is far enough away and it was long enough ago that Reserved List supporters could only muster a disconcerted grumble. Then there's Voiceless Spirit, which is a 2/1, and there's Hobgoblin Dragoon, which is a 1/2 and a hybrid card. Also, all those pale imitators are worth pennies, while Thunder Spirit is around $150.

They've gotten dangerously close with functional reprints with other cards, too. Gauntlet of Power looks pretty similar to Gauntlet of Might, for example. Is it a case of the frog not realizing the water's getting hotter? Or will the Reserved List promise never get tested again beyond the occasional wink wink of an "homage", like Echo of Eons?


Does anyone have any insight on how angry Wizards designers were that they couldn't reprint the original Brushwagg in Outlaws of Thunder Junction? He's just a little (or big, depending on cyclopean defiance) guy, and the inspiration for Ikoria's Almighty Brushwagg and, more recently, Ornery Tumblewagg. But as they print new variations on the spiny sphere, it's probably a pain point to know that the original b-wagg will never again see the light of day.

The one interesting thing about Brushwagg is that even on the card itself from Mirage, its creature type was simply "Brushwagg," even after the Grand Creature Type Update that occurred in 2007. As many, many older creatures with bespoke or idiosyncratic creature types lost them in favor of more uniformity, Brushwagg continued on being a Brushwagg, and being such a strange subtype, it was even the butt of the joke on Unfinity's Embiggen.

It's also canon that Brushwaggs can read and write, so make sure you factor that into your Brushwagg fan fiction.

Boris Devilboon

There are 19 legendary creatures (and one legendary land) from Legends that are on the Reserved List. Some of them, like Angus Mackenzie or Hazezon Tamar, are very expensive and very playable in modern day. Some of them, like Boris Devilboon, feature barbed wire in the background and have a little mustache.

There are a number of Legends legends that could have occupied this spot in the article. Ur-Drago, Jacques le Vert, and Gosta Dirk are all pretty dumb cards and the fact that they'll never be reprinted probably doesn't cause anyone to lose sleep at night. But Boris Devilboon holds a special place in my heart because just look at the guy. He's just trying his best out there in the world, and despite thirty years gone by since Boris has been printed, there still isn't a Minor Demon token. And trust me, I've asked several artists to make one. So consider this a Call to Arms: get on social media and decry the lack of a Minor Demon token. Promise that if an artist out there makes one, you'll go to their website and buy a dozen. And if that artist draws a Demon with a little flashlight helmet and a pickaxe, tell 'em you'll buy two dozen. 

Reserved for those in power

And with that, another ten cards from the Reserved List discussed. Some of those ten cards were probably discussed more today than they've been in years. 

Any RL cards you're hoping I cover next time? Should I write 57 of these articles to ensure I cover them all? Anyway, we'll talk next time.

Ten of the Dumbest Cards on the Reserved List