I am trying to write more. Now that I've moved I want to write a little, every day. Some days I know I will need a prompt, and this series will hopefully serve to aide that. I am going to examine the existence of commons through the light of the parameters I set out here and others that strike my fancy.
I wanted to get started and couldn't think of a good topic on my own so I went to Gatherer and hit "random" until a common of some interest came up. That card: Teroh's Faithful.
Since this card comes from before the advent of New World Order, I think it is important to look at that element first. With regards to on board complexity, Teroh's Faithful is actually a fantastic card. It has an enter's the battlefield effect and then sits around to act as a Horned Turtle. This is an ideal execution of the NWO. The card is elegant in design and execution but I wonder how it lends itself to repetitive game play. As Mark Rosewater often opines, Odyssey block draft was one of the Spike-ist formats of all time. Given the repeat factor of Magic Online one wonders if the four life boost by the Cleric would be too much when taken at a macro level. This is mitigated somewhat by being a common in the middle set in what is likely to be an underdrafted color due to the black heavy theme and draft order placing the White incentive later (that is unless you're Zvi).
Tweaking the knobs and making this a slightly smaller creature for altering the mana cost to 1WW might affect the replay value, but all things considered (given the color diversity of the block), I feel that Teroh's faithful, from a pure limited perspective, is a fantastic common.
It also hits the right notes for a casual card. Players of all stripes love lifegain and this one comes in a respectable package. It also makes a fine defensive creature and has a relevant creature type in Cleric. While Teroh's Faithful might not be a stellar build around for a kitchen table affair, it does enough to provide solid game play value to warrant inclusion in brews of all kinds. it is also a high impact card, meaning that a player on a limited budget could always have one on hand to thwart that pesky red mage.
What about selling the world? Well, Odyssey did have some world building issues (namely resetting major creature types) but this one does some important things. First, it establishes white's role as a religious high ground in the set while also alluding to the character Major Teroh. The issue? This card has little to do with the actual Teroh and a player might not ever know that Teroh is a bird (would it be too hard to provide some avian iconography on those robes?). The flavor text also does not do a great job of highlighting the nature of the set as black heavy, but it is very hard to ask one card to do that, so it gets a pass.
So what's the verdict? Teroh's Faithful is more or less an ideal common. While it might need some massaging the current world of MTGO drafts and reduced limited complexity, it would not seem out of place (at least stats wise) in a modern block.
But that's what I think- what about you? Tell me what you think about Teroh's Faithful and some other commons you'd like to see examined.