I’m giving you two cards of the day today because the first one doesn’t move me much. Our first card of the day is M13’s Mark of the Vampire. I never played this card, not even in M13 prereleases or drafts. And, as an aside: I really don’t like limited drafts or sealed. They basically degenerate into whoever has the biggest bomb, or who can get their planeswalker into play first. I don’t find that they involve much actual play skill. But I digress.
The only thing I find interesting about Mark of the Vampire is that this card is yet another example of the nerfed Spirit Link functionality. This card, and every other card which grants lifelink, gives the life to the creature’s controller. Back in the day, we used to use Spirit Link to effectively neuter a creature because it gives the life to the controller of the enchantment, not the creature. I realize that sort of ability wouldn’t really fit a card like Mark of the Vampire, but it still makes me a bit sad that lifelink is so much worse than Spirit Link.
Our second card is Uktabi Faerie from Mirage. This brings me back to the day when flying was a green ability. Actually, flying was originally a green ability. Alpha included green flyers in Scryb Sprites, Cockatrice, and Birds of Paradise. Of course, Alpha also include Hurricane so green hadn’t quite made up its mind how it felt about flyers at that point. Green had flyers fairly regularly early on, but they were generally pretty bad. Wizards even recognized this with the Kyscu Drake in Visions (rearrange Kyscu and see what you get).
Green is now firmly anti-flying. Reach is an ability given to green spiders and other creatures to try to neuter flyers. In fact, there’s not a single creature which is solely green and flies in Standard today. There are a two Simic creatures which fly, Drakewing Krasis and Horizon Chimera, but mono green cards tend to be things like Plummet or Shredding Winds, cards that kill flyers.
So Uktabi Faerie is truly a throwback. It even has the ability to destroy artifacts, something green still enjoys. But now it has to destroy artifacts without creatures that fly.