Ten of the Dumbest Cards on the Reserved List

Nick Wolf • March 13, 2024

Mwonvuli Ooze by Zina Saunders

When it comes to the Reserved List, you either love it or hate it. 

And every Magic player will feel a certain way when the Reserved List (RL) is mentioned. To paraphrase Modest Mouse, opinions are like kittens, everyone's giving them away. Isaac Brock was singing about the Reserved List (don't look that up). 

We're not here to rehash those debates. A cursory Google search about the topic can uncork for you more ink spilled on the merits/faults of the Reserved List than you can possibly absorb, and at this point, there's no gain in adding to that puddle. However, have you ever really looked at what's on that thing? 

Sure, there are dual lands, Power 9, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Juzám Djinn, et cetera. But there are also some really, really dumb cards. Those stinkers are the subject of today's discussion.

Soraya, the Falconer by Dennis Detwiller

What is the Reserved List, anyway?

In short, it's a list that Wizards of the Coast has pinky-promised never to reprint. That promise was made to collectors and vendors in an effort to allow secondary market values of those cards to maintain value. What's the point dropping a mortgage payment on a Mishra's Workshop if it's just going to show up as in the next round of Commander decks? At least, that's the logic there.

That promise was made almost exactly 28 years ago, on March 4, 1996. Accompanying that promise was the Reserved List itself, appearing for the first time in print. The policy behind the RL was revised twice, in 2002 and 2010. 

The first revision explained that from Mercadian Masques onward, no new cards would be included in the Reserved List, which is why we've seen reprints of Black Market as recently as a week ago, or why Food Chain suddenly looks like something found in the Dumpster of the last Blockbuster.

A bunch of common and uncommon cards were also removed from the Reserved List during that 2002 revision, most notably Sol Ring, Demonic Tutor, Basalt Monolith, and Commander powerhouse Dwarven Demolition Team.

The second revision, in 2010, was much more controversial. In that year, Wizards declared that while no Reserved List cards would be reprinted "normally," the list itself did not apply to "premium exclusive" cards. Hence why Mox Diamond, Karn, Silver Golem, Masticore, and Memory Jar were contained within the From the Vault: Relics supplement released in August of 2010. 

Proponents of the Reserved List at the time took this as an affront to the spirit of the agreement, a loophole used to drum up perceived value of a supplementary release, like From the Vault, and syphon some of that profit from selling Reserved List cards.

Those most against that 2010 revision made their opinions known (loudly), causing a reversal of that policy the following year. Would we today have a Secret Lair containing cereal box versions of Guardian Beast and Gilded Drake, or a Diamond Valley reprint as a Special Guest in Outlaws of Thunder Junction, if not? We'll never know.

Currently, there are more than 500 cards on the Reserved List. If you've been playing Magic for even a little while, you likely know of several. But even the most veteran players can't name all of them. That's why we're going to make fun of some of the stranger choices today. 

Hazduhr the Abbot

The Reserved List spans from the start of Magic, with Limited Edition Alpha all the way through Urza's Destiny. That's a lot of sets with a lot of very good cards. It also contains Homelands. 

Thanks to its status as a Reserved List card, Hazduhr the Abbot has only been printed once, and is currently featuring a pricetag of 48 cents. I have a personal connection to this particular questionably coiffed old clergyman, as I happen to own an Artist Proof with custom Dan Frazier art on the back. It was a gift from Dan himself after I interviewed him a few years ago

It's also worth noting that in Hazduhr's surprisingly comprehensive lore, it's stated above almost everything else that he's old, ill, and will probably be dead in a couple years. Some might see that as a metaphor for the Reserved List itself, but we're not here to make judgments. That's Hazduhr's job.

Soldevi Golem

Many of the cards on the Reserved List demand hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a single copy. Technically, that's what the Reserved List is for, and to that end has done its job well. 

But just because a card's on the Reserved List does not mean it's automatically expensive. The card has to also be desirable outside its artificial scarcity. That's why something like Chains of Mephistopheles is so pricy (because people like to pretend they understand what it does), and Soldevi Golem is straight-up worthless. 

Despite having a solid piece of art courtesy of Anson Maddocks, Soldevi Golem holds the distiction of being one of the least valuable Reserved List cards in existence. And don't let the price fool you: it's a rare, hence why it's on the RL in the first place. 

According to EDHREC, Soldevi Golem is featured in 60 decks. That's six-zero. Out of 3.6 million. It's probable that most of those decks are created by weirdos who built Ice Age theme decks around fellow RL occupant Skeleton Ship

And fun fact: Soldevi Golem has the highest combined power/toughness value of any Ice Age artifact creature (granted there are only six of them). Walking Wall was so close. 

Ogre Enforcer

The ultimate answer to your older brother's Pestilence deck in 1996, Ogre Enforcer has resided comfortably on the Reserved List thanks to its status as a Visions rare. 

Back in '97, instead of Commander decks, there were Theme Decks, preconstructed 60-card Standard (or Type II at the time) decks you could buy instead of booster packs. Those started with Tempest. For Visions, Theme Decks were digitally created retroactively in 2005 for Magic Online. Ogre Enforcer was actually one of the two featured rare cards in Visions Theme Deck "Wild-Eyed Frenzy," along with Kookus. If you were playing Magic Online at the time, you could have purchased this. You could have also picked up the Theme Deck "Savage Stompdown," which had a Natural Order (notably not on the RL) in it. I'm not saying there was a right and wrong choice, but if you went with "Wild-Eyed Frenzy," you were wrong.

To its credit, Ogre Enforcer is played in 19 Commander decks according to EDHREC, out of 1.7 million lists playing red, indicating that people still find it when searching "Ogre" on Scryfall, sorting by EDHREC rank and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

Wandering Mage

The most expensive card in Alliances is Lake of the Dead, a Reserved List land. The second most expensive card is Force of Will, an uncommon and not on the Reserved List at all. 

But did you know that besides Lake of the Dead, there are 40 other Reserved List cards from Alliances? It's true. There's Phelddagrif, Lord of Tresserhorn, Ritual of the Machine, Phyrexian Devourer, Helm of Obedience, Kaysa; all iconic cards to one extent or another.

There's also Wandering Mage, a card that only the most diehard Alliancesophiles would remember. The card itself is actually pretty interesting, as it's the first-ever time that the creature types "Cleric" and "Wizard" were directly mentioned in the rules text of a card, and has actually since been updated be a "Human Cleric Wizard" instead of just "Cleric" as printed. Its design, along with Phelddagrif, later inspired the Apprentices and Masters of Invasion with its multiple abilities paid for with allied color costs.

It's also really bad. Only 35 decks on EDHREC play the card, and pretty much all of them are "Party" related, featuring Burakos, Party Leader or Nalia de'Arnise alongside it in the 99 of those 35 decks. 

Sometime around the release of Streets of New Capenna two years ago, Wandering Mage experienced a buyout and as a result, the price spiked to around $20 per copy. Is that dumb? Yes. But speculation makes people do crazy things, and its status as a Reserved List card only compounds that. Hopefully you weren't one of the people who bought this card for 20 times what it's worth today.

An-Zerrin Ruins

Let's time-travel back to 1995 for a minute. You're sitting down to do a Homelands Sealed event, which you're told is really fun and is a great format and you can't wait to try it out. 

You open your packs (which only had eight cards at the time) and put together a nice little blue-white flyers deck, a classic archetype, featuring Serra Aviary and Giant Albatross. You're feeling pretty good about yourself. You pop the lid off your Snapple Rain and gulp in sublime satisfaction.

It's the first round, and your opponent sidles into the seat across from you. They plop down an unsleeved stack of cards with a smirk. "Hope you're ready for beef," says the player. "Because I've got the beef whistle."

You shudder. You can't contain the sheer value generated by the Beef Whistle. Why, oh why couldn't you have opened a single copy of Sea Sprite?! You curse the heavens, you curse Serra, you curse Feroz!

The first game is a rout. You're trampled underhoof. You'll see the word "Anaba" in your nightmares. Spirit Crafter? More like spirit crusher, you lament. But a twinkle of an idea glimmers in the deepest recesses of your brain. You opened an An-Zerrin Ruins! Quickly you add a few Mountains and slide that bad boy into your deck. Every game of Homelands Sealed takes 25 turns and an hour, so you're confident that you'll draw it reliably. 

You draw it. You draw a Mountain and a Koskun Keep. Tap, cast, victory. 

But you wake up. It's 2024, and it was all a dream. But you're still overcome with the urge to open up the website of your favorite online singles seller and snag a copy, for nostalgia's sake, despite this being a contrived, hypothetical scenario. Two bucks with shipping?! Oh, it's on the Reserved List. No wonder. 

Ebon Praetor

Before there was the cycle of Praetors from New Phyrexia, there was Ebon Praetor. It's not quite on the same power level of its descendants. 

One thing it has going for it that Sheoldred, Vorinclex and the others don't, however, is one of the more "WTF is going on here exactly" arts in Magic's history. So what is, exactly, going on here? I'll let the artist himself, Ann Arbor's own Randy Asplund-Faith, explain.

If you can't read his writing, it says "Enjoy the Magic and the Pookah Power!" It's that last part that is most relevant.

As Randy says it, Ebon Praetor's working title was "The Dark Judge," and wasn't renamed to what we know it as until after he had completed the painting. He frequently gets asked about why the hell there's a giant rabbit in the art, and he explains that it's not actually a rabbit at all, but a Celtic demon called a Pookah. As for the blue figure and the green figure, Randy is less forthright. 

According to EDHREC, Ebon Praetor is actually played in 194 decks out of the 1.9 million or so utilizing black. It's been errata'd to creature type "Avatar Praetor," so if you're really, really desperate an 18th Praetor after exhausting the three each of the Phyrexians (along with Gix and Guildpact's Sanguine Praetor, also errata'd), then there you go.

Despite being had for only five quarters USD, it's actually the 13th most expensive card in all of Fallen Empires. That's the power of the Reserved List, right there.

Frankenstein's Monster

A month or so ago, people were bamboozled by the fact that with the release of the upcoming Assassin's Creed Universes Beyond cards, there will be actual real life human beings in Magic: The Gathering. 

But what about one of the greatest scientific minds to ever live, Dr. Victor Frankenstein? I'm told by the Lame Stream Media that Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus is a fiction novel (written by a woman no less), but I see no evidence of that. Stop erasing our history. 

It's also true that Dr. Frankenstein created a bunch of monsters, not just one. That's how science works, trial and error. The Magic card here in The Dark is just one of those monsters, but it's a unique one. Still, to this day, it's the only card that specifies three different kinds of power/toughness altering counters in its text. 

Would Frankenstein's Monster be $10 if it weren't for the Reserved List? Who knows. But in a set full of weird cards, it's still one of the most memorable.


Avizoa is a 65-cent rare from Weatherlight that's most memorable for its flavor text of Tahngarth suggesting our heroes feed Squee to floating jellyfish things. 

On its surface, Avizoa is a terrible card. But in Weatherlight Limited formats, a 4/4 flying jelly that attacked every other turn was actually kind of good when you only tapped your lands for Disrupts and Abjures.

Is that enough to justify its position on the Reserved List? Who am I to say one way or another. We can say that the Paolo Parente art is very memorable, due in part to its use as one of the core marketing images of the day.

And in a fun little nod to such a weird, unique creature, we actually saw Avizoa referenced 25 years later with Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut in Dominaria United. The latter card had stone nothing to do with the former, other than the name reference, which was disappointing. I guess they really didn't want to have anyone questioning whether it was a possible attempt at reprinting a Reserved List card. 

At least through Nael, we get a little more information on Avizoa thanks to her lore, in that a group of Avizoa are called a "flock." Neat.

Teferi's Imp

Over the years, Teferi has been involved in many Magic stories, starting way back in Mirage. He's had a Curse, a Drake, a Veil, an Honor Guard, his own Realm and Isle, a Moat, a Puzzle Box, and a bunch of other toys. 

So what's the deal with his Imp? Perhaps he'd rather us just forget about that weird little guy, part cat, part bird, part nightmare. And that flavor text, just three words that convey such menace, akin to losing The Game.

Per EDHREC, Teferi's Imp is played in 144 of the 1.8 million decks playing blue. The two most common Commanders we see with it are Niambi, Faithful Healer, probably for Akosa Family Tree reasons, or Taniwha, likely about Mirage set theme reasons. 

Should the little rascal be on the Reserved List? Eh, why not. If we've learned nothing else so far, it's that the rules are arbitrary.

Mwonvuli Ooze

Another Weatherlight classic, Mwonvuli Ooze was the perfect card for people who didn't want to think much during a game. Just cast it on the second turn, then on the next turn pay the cumulative upkeep to make it a 3/3. On the fourth turn, who knows. That's a tomorrow problem.

And the card has since been errata'd to be clearer in how the whole thing works, with its power and toughness considered 1 plus twice the number of age counters instead of "last paid cumulative upkeep." None of this is interesting.

What is interesting is that glorious art, courtesy of Zina Saunders. Her own website makes no mention of Mwonvuli Ooze, or any of her Magic work for that matter, which encompasses 29 cards, including the iconic Portal Wind Drake

There's a whole story being told in that art. It's like a scene from an all-primate remake of The Blob. The foreground monkey just can't believe what it's seeing. It's green! It's ooze! We're in Mwonvuli (we assume)! Just look at it closely:

Couple the art with that perfect flavor text, and we really get a clear idea of the depth and breadth of emotion that elevates a simple Weatherlight creature that only ooze enjoyers remember. 

I at first considered this entry an indictment of Mwonvuli Ooze's inclusion on the Reserved List, but I am now forced to reconsider. A reprint would likely rob us of this, and that cannot stand.

Of all the cards discussed today, Mwonvuli Ooze is the most played in Commander, with 403 decks listed on EDHREC. It's a veritable staple. Something tells me the creature type of "ooze" might have something to do with it.

Gustha's Scepter, by Sandra Everingham

Do not talk to me of pigeons

That's good for today. Like our ongoing discussions about Oracle Text or Misprints, there are so, so many dumb entries into the Reserved List that we can revisit this topic at a later date

Until then, which Reserved List gems do you want to see featured? 

Or, if you could put one card printed after Urza's Destiny onto the Reserved List, what would it be?