With spoilers fully revealed for Ravnica Remastered, the first MTG set of 2024, it’s easy to tell just how close we are to leaving 2023 behind us. There is certainly a lot to look forward to in the coming year. From Universes Beyond sets like the MTG Fallout to a unique murder-mystery set in Murders at Karlov Manor, 2024 has a ton going on. As we look forward to all the wonderous things MTG has to bring us in 2024, though, it’s important to reflect back on 2023.
2023 brought us a ton of extremely powerful cards. Sets like Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth are rather infamous for just how format-warping a handful of the top cards were. Today, we are going to look back on the best cards from the last year for Constructed play. Notably, we will specifically be focusing on mechanically unique cards that were printed in the last year. This means that powerful reprints, such as Force of Will from Dominaria Remastered, will not be in our rankings. With that in mind, here are the MTG best Constructed cards from 2023.
#5 Knight-Errant of Eos
Knight-Errant of Eos is an exceptional Convoke payoff printed in March of the Machine. It has seen extensive Standard and Pioneer play, and even appeared in Modern from time to time. In Standard, this card has been utilized in Azorius Soldiers, a tier one deck for much of the year. In conjunction with lots of one-drops and Resolute Reinforcements, it’s easy to Convoke this out on turn three. From there, the value this card generates is incredible. Getting to find multiple Creatures to further advance your board is quite strong.
In Pioneer, Knight-Errant of Eos is utilized alongside Venerated Loxodon in Boros Convoke, one of the strongest decks in the format that relied on this printing. Cards like Ornithopter and Thraben Inspector make Gleeful Demolition a reliable card to cast, making three tokens for only one mana. This makes it rather easy to Convoke out one of these elite five-drops on turn two and overwhelm the opponent with a powerful board.
Given this card’s multi-format impact, we decided to rank it above the likes of Geological Appraiser, which, while banworthy in Pioneer, had minimal impact elsewhere. It also impacted Pioneer for a very small period of time, while Knight-Errant of Eos has been a staple for much of this year.
Read More: MTG Rocks’ 2023 Card of the Year Awards
#4 Atraxa, Grand Unifier
Next up, we have Atraxa, Grand Unifier. Atraxa is one of the best payoffs ever printed for decks that like to cheat big Creatures into play. In Pioneer, we’ve seen various strategies over the year make great use of this card. Whether cheating Atraxa into play with Neoform or Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, Atraxa is going to dominate the battlefield when it sticks. Not only that, but it completely refuels your hand!
This payoff is so strong that even Legacy Reanimator decks have adopted this card, despite already having access to Griselbrand. In a Standard environment where things are a bit slower, it’s also perfectly reasonable to ramp into this monster and hard cast it like normal. No matter how you slice it, this massive value generator with Lifelink is bound to take over the game when it hits the board.
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#3 The One Ring
The One Ring is one of the cards from the Lord of the Rings set that players quickly realized was absolutely absurd. For four mana, you get full Protection from everything, mostly guaranteeing that your opponent can’t attack you to death after you tap out for this Artifact. From there, you get to start drawing cards, which spirals out of control over time. The downside of the card was supposed to be that the more cards you draw, the more life you will have to pay on each of your upkeeps.
The problem is that, as a legendary Artifact, you could simply choose to draw a bunch of cards, find another copy of The One Ring, cast it, and use the Legend Rule to sacrifice the original copy. This thereby resets the burden counters on The One Ring and gives you Protection from everything all over again. Seeing The One Ring be great in multiples is rather ironic from a flavor standpoint, as we’ve seen tons of different Modern decks make great use of the card.
#2 Up the Beanstalk
When this elite uncommon was spoiled, there was a lot of hype around it. We expected the card to be quite strong, but it was certainly not on our ban radars. As it turns out, this card was so powerful that players were using it INSTEAD OF The One Ring! Multi-color Leyline Binding decks in Modern typically played a playset, while many players went further and used Shardless Agent to help Cascade into Up the Beanstalk.
Up the Beanstalk draws a card right away, but then draws you a ton of extra cards throughout the game if you build your deck right. Between Leyline Binding, Solitude, and more, you can trigger Up the Beanstalk even when paying little to no mana for your spell.
Just recently, an Up the Beanstalk control deck won a massive Legacy event, making use of Force of Will in the mix. As a simple two-drop, this card is more efficient than The One Ring.
Additionally, Up the Beanstalk isn’t legendary, so you can have multiple in play and start drawing lots of cards at once. This card is just unbelievable and deserved the Modern banning.
#1 Orcish Bowmasters
Orcish Bowmasters is a premier multi-format staple that sees extensive Eternal format play. In Modern, the card helps keep cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in check with its ability to ping opposing Creatures and provide a roadblock on the ground. That alone is solid, but Orcish Bowmasters does a lot more. The fact that your opponents get punished for each extra card they draw besides the first in their draw step makes the card truly insane.
In formats like Legacy where Brainstorm reigns supreme, Orcish Bowmasters has the potential to singlehandedly take over the game. There’s a reason the card sees play in Delver of Secrets decks, Up the Beanstalk decks, and sometimes even Reanimator decks alike. Orcish Bowmasters also wreaked havoc on MTG Arena for a while, before being ultimately nerfed. You can still play the original version in the new Timeless format though, where the card remains very strong.
Much like Up the Beanstalk, this card is almost always decent, and in some instances, completely takes over the game. Bowmasters’ immense presence in powerful Eternal formats, though, including the recently unveiled Timeless format on MTG Arena, has earned Orcish Bowmasters the highest spot on this list.