Introduction and Criteria
Coming to the thirty-year mark, we've certainly had several very impactful and memorable sets — and this isn't where we'll talk about them. Since complaining about Magic is as fun as playing it, today I'm going to play the role that these releases didn't do for themselves: let's remember the seven weakest and most forgettable sets of the game.
To try to make the list less subjective, we will adopt two criteria:
— Power Level: And to define its power level, I was based on the impact it had on constructed formats, since this is where we can see it in action interacting with other cards from other releases.
I gave priority to the number of cards that impacted the formats, even if not so much, and I didn't consider cards that come in play in just one specific strategy.
— Monetary Cost: The cost of cards in Magic is usually based on supply and demand, that is, the price is defined by the relationship between the availability of a card and the number of people who want to obtain it. We carry this same logic to the set's price tag.
7 - Theros
As much as Theros has an interesting theme, being based on Greek mythology with a greater focus on enchantments, it didn't please many players at the time.
Gods are quite popular when it comes to casual Commander and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is a great card that is often used in Pioneer. We can also mention Anger of the Gods as a good overall removal. But other than that, we don't have any very relevant staples in the set.
Theros' strong point is certainly its theme and characters, making the sets certainly have its fans out there, but when we elaborate on the power of its cards and its presence among formats, it becomes deprecated. Its mechanics are quite interesting, heroic and devotion has its fans and its space in various formats, different from Bestow, for example, which has been lost over time.
6 - Guilds of Ravnica
Assassin's Trophy is definitely a staple, having shared the space that Abrupt Decay has conquered in several formats. Arclight Phoenix and Legion Warboss have their place in some formats and strategies, but require specific builds to appear.
As much as the release isn't a disaster, it is far from memorable, precisely because most of its good and mechanical cards are simply reprints! This takes away some of the identity of the set, which appears to be summarized in a Ravnica part three, which may seem obvious considering that its purpose is to be a revisit to Ravnica, but a quick comparison with the recent one Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty shows that there is no need for this support to its predecessor.
The idea was to give each Guild a different mechanic, but those mechanics were either uninspired (Mentor and Undergrowth) or versions of other mechanics (Surveil or Jump-Start, compared to Scry and Flashback) and so what's left is ... Convoke, being another signature ability of the original Ravnica.
5 - Torment
Torment is here for pretty much the same reason as Theros: its cards leave a bit to be desired, however much its theme is unique and interesting, so it is quite plausible that there are several fans of the set who doesn't let it fall into oblivion. Torment is a set based on the black mana and the history of the Cabal, a sect from Dominaria.
Almost as if by fate's irony, the most expensive card in Torment is very similar to the most expensive in Theros too, Cabal Coffers is a classic of the game and is mainly used in Commander, and although it's not popular in more competitive strategies, there is no way to say that it is a bad card.
The difference between the sets starts at second place, since Theros has other interesting cards to name, Torment boils down to Cabal Coffers. After that, the most noteworthy card would be Chainer's Edict, which is a Pauper staple, but not the most impactful card in the format either. Therefore, Torment is ranked lower than Theros, as Torment cares much more about Cabal Coffers than Theros is about Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
4 - Battle for Zendikar
Battle for Zendikar suffered while trying to somehow recreate the original Zendikar's Hidden Treasures, and resuming to the plane, Wizards created the Expeditions.
For context, Expeditions are promotional versions of some cards that had a minuscule possibility of being found in booster packs — which made the cards in the set themselves have their price reduced, since the real interest in the boxes was to find these promos which alone usually cost more than the entire set.
Even with this event having affected the price tag, Battle for Zendikar would hardly be considered a super impactful release, as its mechanics suffer from the same issue as Guilds of Ravnica: either they're not original or they're uninteresting.
Devoid is rarely impactful, it could be more exploited with cards that care about the colors of their permanents, but overall the most considerable change is just the frame. Ingest turned out not to be very popular and what remains are Landfall, which is a throwback from the original Zendikar and Sunburst, I mean, Converge! Yes, it is exactly Sunburst in another name.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the most expensive card. Even though it's not exactly a popular spell, it's certainly a powerful creature, but for its mana cost it's the bare minimum it should be. Some cards have already been played in eternal formats, like Bring to Light or the Manlands cycle, but that's about it.
3 - Saviors of Kamigawa
The Original Kamigawa wasn't the most accepted block by players, being released between two very impactful sets made it have a feeling of declining in power level In the first two releases we can even discuss iconic cards, now the final part of the block leaves a lot to be desired.
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant is excellent at specific scenarios, it's banned in Commander 1v1, and its history ends there. Its legendary land cycle is for sure... hm... it's a land cycle, right?... and perhaps Kataki, War's Wage is remarkable? Well, that status will surely change when the Johnnys discover the true potential of One With Nothing.
Kamigawa at least managed to turn things around with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and didn't have to end up in that fiasco that was Saviors of Kamigawa.
2 - Dragon's Maze
Once again, we see a revisit to an already established set that leaves something to be desired, which may or may not demonstrate that this kind of release needs more attention and identity so that it doesn't end up with that feeling of "another Fast & Furious movie". ".
Dragon's Maze is the last set of the Return to Ravnica block, which in itself was interesting, but with this somewhat tragic ending, this set is famous for being bad and, therefore, it was mandatory to be in our top.
It has long had its most expensive card being Voice of Resurgence, which is a good creature in general and was originally a staple on its release — the problem is that after the Voice, the most expensive card in the set was the Elemental token created by its effect.
In other words, Dragon's Maze was limited to this card, which isn't all that either, it's not like it broke any format or created new decks or strategies. In fact, it is practically no longer seen in any format and has had its prominent place in the set taken over by Maze's End, which is a popular card for anyone looking to make a fun (and usually non-competitive) Gates deck.
1 - Homelands
Homelands is such a bad set that while it was in Standard, a rule was made requiring a deck to have a minimum number of cards from all legal sets. This was because there was no reason to use the Homelands cards, so nobody bought boosters, and as a result, the company didn't make a profit.
The best card in the set is Merchant Scroll which was printed as common. Serrated Arrows has also seen play and after that, there are no good cards left in Homelands. The best compliment we can give is that some of them are worse versions of other cards, this goes even for the ones I mentioned above.
We are talking about a game, its purpose is to provide fun for those who play it, and fun is one of the most abstract concepts there is. So don't be offended if you love playing Homelands sealed or if you have a Maze's End Deck!
Did you disagree with me at some point? Do you think another set should be at the top? Are you curious to complement the top? Please comment below and let's interact! Thank you for your presence and attention!