Leveling up – rares that should have been mythic

If you haven’t read it already, check out my evaluation of mythics and let me know if you agree or disagree. Overall, I found I was pretty happy with the hit rate on mythics feeling like mythics.
The corollary question, of course, is whether any rares feel as if they ought to have been mythic instead. With that in mind, I did the same set-by-set run through of rares (from those sets that also have mythics) with an eye toward identifying rares that push my ‘mythic’ button.
Fascinatingly, I noticed that my emotional response to most rares during this review was either “meh” or “seems good.” That is, a rare either doesn’t interest me or strikes me as a good, functional card. Sometimes I found myself thinking, “Yeah, this clearly needs to be rare for Limited,” but I almost never found myself thinking “This card is awesome!”
To be clear, I think some of the rares are very good, or even amazing – Stoneforge Mystic comes to mind. But they don’t trigger the “awesome” response that I’ve noticed I tend to attach to mythics. It often feels like rares are rares for the sake of Limited, but mythics are mythics for the sake of awesomeness.
So, applying the same, “Is it exciting to open this card?” standard, which rares really should have been mythic? Click through to the extended entry to find out.

Rather than write up a clunky list of all the rares, I’m just going to note those rares that stood out to me as potential or definite mythic material. As before, this will be done on a set-by-set basis.
Shards of Alara
The ultimatum cycle – Brilliant, Clarion, Cruel, Titanic, and Violent Ultimatum all feel like clear mythic candidates to me. Clarion and Brilliant are Johnny-Timmy cards, Titanic is a pure Timmy card, and Cruel and Violent are Spike-Timmy cards…but they’re all marked by that gut punch of awesome that makes you glad to have cracked a pack. Consider the standout of the bunch, Cruel Ultimatum — it’s an eight-for-one. That’s Spike porn right there. It seems ridiculous, and that’s a good sign that it is a solid mythic candidate.
Realm Razer – This is on the edge of mythic. The low toughness makes it a little dodgy, since it’s clearly meant to eat all kinds of removal, but the effect is splashy and a little bit impractical. The Razer feels like it ought to be a build-around-me card, and is somewhere in the Spike-Timmy to pure Timmy ballpark.
Blood Tyrant – A flying, trample, 5/5 vampire lord that bleeds your opponents whether you attack or not and that actually has the text “Whenever a player loses the game” on it. This just calls out in Timmy-tastic awesomeness, and is a surprising inclusion at the rare level.
Obelisk of Alara – It’s the Obelisk of Alara, it does five powerful things…this one definitely feels like it’s on par with other Mythics from the set. Once again, this is a good Spike mythic, in that the promise of power is dramatic, but the practical impact is that the card is ‘good’ but not ‘crazy good.’
Djinn of Wishes – Three free spells. Seriously. Three free spells. And it’s so flavorful, too – probably more so than the mythic Sphinx in the same set.
Traumatize – This one really caught my eye the first time I saw it. Even though it turns out to not be a competitive card at all, the appeal of nailing half of your opponent’s library with one card is profound — out of proportion with its value. If you’re a casual player, how exciting is it to hit your Traumatize and tell your shocked opponent to bin half their deck? Right.
Warp World – The card that does exactly what it says it does. Warp World is a super crazy, build around me card. In fact, it’s basically the standard-bearer for “If only I could make this work!” Johnnies everywhere. Have you noticed how many people are discussing Warp World Eldrazi decks these days? This is the Johnny banner, and if it weren’t so recently a rare, I think it might have been shifted to mythic.
World Queller – If this were a legendary creature, it would be a perfect mythic. As it is, it’s pretty close, evoking a “Really?” response when you first read it.
Terastodon – This is another splashy bit of excitement that genuinely crosses all three demographics.
Rise of the Eldrazi
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief – She’s a vampire that eats creatures and gets huge doing it. The flavor and power both align to make this an exciting card to find in a pack. Not at all coincidentally, Aaron Forsythe has suggested that Drana would have been a mythic if they hadn’t wanted to put her in one of the Rise precons.
Eldrazi Conscription – This is crazy, massive, win-now card. I am genuinely perplexed about it being a rare, and I keep forgetting and assuming it’s a mythic. It’s far more exciting than many of the rare Eldrazi, on a pure gut-response level.
Pestilence Demon – With a more creative name, this would be a shoe-in at mythic. Ridiculous slowness aside, it feels like a card that will let you dominate a game…and it’s a 7/6 flier as well.
Spawnsire of Ulamog – That second activated ability is almost the definition of the insane, unrealistic promise of victory that makes you excited about pulling a mythic. The art is unexciting, as is the name, but the idea that you can just pay some amount of mana and flood the board with Eldrazi is tempting beyond all reason.
Once again, I feel like Wizards has a pretty good hit rate here. However, I find I’m more confused by the rares-that-should-be-mythic than the mythics-that-shouldn’t-be-mythic. Cruel Ultimatum and Eldrazi Conscription are such exciting cards…why are they simply rare?
As a side note, I did figure out pretty quickly why Hive Mind isn’t mythic even though the similar Maelstrom Nexus and Cast Through Time are – it’s universal. Changing how the game works is a fun trick for Johnny to play with, but changing how the game works for you alone is Johnny crack. Sure, it takes away the challenge of generating asymmetry, but it also lets your mind go wild with the possibilities without having to worry about how your opponent will use your weapon of choice against you.
Overall I’m happy with the rares — they feel like rares, in the sense that they are good, functional cards, but not splashy in any particular way. Rares are workhorses whereas mythic are show horses. Some of the misses in this category feel like they were clearly grandfathered in under their old rarity, so as not to annoy players who opened them as rares in Tenth Edition only to get them again as mythics in M10. Otherwise, the others are judgment calls, and I’d be interested in hearing the logic behind placing some of these at rare instead of mythic.
For the record, the point of my opening pair of images is that I think Conscription is a great candidate for mythic rarity, but It That Betrays is perfectly fine at rare.
Even if its name makes it sound as if it should be a legendary creature. Seriously, so the inhabitants of Zendikar have to run around saying, “Look! There’s an It That Betrays! Right by that other It That Betrays!”
Or would that be “Them That Betray?” No idea.

3 thoughts on “Leveling up – rares that should have been mythic

  1. I’m glad you liked them. It was an useful experience for me, as it made me realize just how effective most of the mythics are at seeming “mythic” to me. The rare versus mythic distinction really stands out to me after going through all the rares and mythics in Standard, and I feel I have a better appreciation for the logic behind mythics now that I’ve done so.

  2. I’ve also liked both of these mythic articles. Good job on isolating that one particular aspect of whether mythics are meeting the stated objective. Reading your thoughts has helped me sort through my own.
    Deathless Angel seems a bit mythic to me. I wish it was rarer as it’s such a drag to see across the table in limited.
    I agree that the cards designated as mythic successfully impart the visceral OMG, but I’m not sure that they need to be extra rare to do so. Maybe if I was opening a lot of packs I’d better appreciate the rarity of the mythic but as an occasional pack-opener they just seem like exceptionally cool cards in the rare slot that cost a lot as singles.
    I riff on It That Betrays a bit here:

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