Library of Alexandria – Arabian Nights
Date Reviewed: June 16, 2022
Commander [EDH]: Banned
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
This is one of the most powerful and weirdest Magic cards ever printed – weird because it’s basically the actual Library of Alexandria, which once stood in that city in Egypt. If stuff like that weirds you out, check out the Legends version of Presence of the Master and see what it does to your heart rate!
Seven cards in hand sounds like a hurdle, but in practice, it turns out to be a lot less inconvenient than you might guess. Even back in 1993, you could hold back enough cards early in the game to get a few extra and thus make a difference. In modern Vintage, you have ridiculously flexible card-drawing and hand-management cards ranging from Gush to Brainstorm, and you can actually arrange to have seven cards in hand even when you are playing spells (hence the Library still being restricted). In many casual situations, you can get by without it, and nowadays there are also places on Etsy where you can order playtest versions with alternate art if you just want to try it out. So to most people, it’s more a part of Magic’s history than a part of their day-to-day experience, but it’s a very powerful and tantalizing part indeed.
Limited: 3/5 (I know it was in a Masters set, but I’d love to hear from anybody who actually tried to draft Arabian Nights)
Commander [EDH]: Banned
Library of Alexandria is banned in Commander.
Library of Alexandria, a card that goes for $7000 or more on the secondary market, has often been called the 10th member of the “Power Nine”. It’s not hard to see why it’s so powerful: it’s a free additional card each turn for the deck that has it in there, and the requirement of having seven cards is workable if you’re playing with this in mind. Back in the days where this was legal, you could run the Library in multiplicate and chain the activations to get four cards on the spot! Of course, it also taps for a colorless mana if you need it to, and being both card advantage and mana in one card is part of what made this nutty. Admittedly, it sees minimal play in Vintage, but that’s a combination of it being both limited to 1 copy in the format and not slotting neatly in a lot of decks like other powerful lands do.
Constructed: 5 (it’s never getting unbanned or unrestricted)
Limited: 3.5 (more often “just a land” in its one Limited outing, Vintage Masters; it’s still powerful, but nowhere near its best here)
Multiplayer: 4 (one free card can be nice, but I’m actually not sold on making this the busted engine card it was known for with a lot of players to throw things off)
Commander [EDH]: lol
One of the best cards ever made in the entirety of Magic the Gathering. Library of Alexandria is an expensive card today that allows you to get a free card every turn if you have a full hand size. This is pretty easy to do in eternal formats like Vintage, and worst case scenario you have a colorless mana to use as you see fit. The artwork is beautiful and captures that old school Magic feel, this is a card that would never be printed today. Free card draw every turn is just way too good in this game, especially with all of the X and blue draw spells that have been printed since Library of Alexandria was printed that allow you to draw a specific number of cards.
Limited: 5/5 (If you find yourself with enough packs of Arabian Nights to draft you should put a down payment on a home instead of drafting)
Commander [EDH]: 5/5
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