I have a lot of interest in Bazaar of Baghdad

{T}: Draw two cards, then discard three cards.

I know how powerful this card is in a Dredge deck in Vintage and thus why it's banned in Legacy, but since the Dredge mechanic has been introduced in the Ravnica block in 2005 and Bazaar is a card printed in 1993 in Arabian Nights: what was the purpose of that land?

I suppose there must have been another use other than "create a card disadvantage for me" (even One with Nothing had one!), so I'm wondering how and how much was Bazaar used in those twelve years and if its price has risen so much only after Ravnica: City of Guilds.


2 Answers 2

  1. You get to draw two cards. This (at the time of printing) was 5% of your deck. At worst case, the two you drew were not as good as what you had in your hand and you will get rid of them, and chances also are that you had one card you would be willing to get rid of, or at least would be worth the risk.
  2. You get to discard AFTER drawing the two cards. If the two cards you drew were crap, you don't have to keep them. It would be much worse if it was {t}, discard three cards: draw two cards.
  3. You don't have to draw the cards you drew later. Key to the design of magic is the ability to make a comeback win, and this comeback typically comes with a top-deck bomb. Sometimes there's only one or two cards in your deck that can allow you to win, and the rest of your cards are just to keep you alive until this bomb gets on the board. So in that sense, this card could be {t}: draw two cards, then discard cards from your hand until you have one card left in hand. and it would probably still be sought after for that purpose. (Actually, the dredge crowd would salivate over this card even more if it did that...)
  • 1. I didn't know that the deck size has changed, very interesting! 2. While I agree that discarding three cards as a part of the cost would be worse, I think that if you find two crappy cards and discard them you still lose one card in your hand 3. Tutors and cantrips are better in accomplishing this goal but I understand your point
    – Mangusto
    Jan 24, 2014 at 1:16
  • 2. If you find two crappy cards, you got unlucky admittedly. But most looting requires you to discard first, then draw because of how much more powerful it is than Bazaar. 3. Tutors are a whole different ball of wax and really can't be compared. Cantrips cost mana and aren't repeatable like this is. They also only draw 1 card at a time, which is twice as slow as Bazaar.
    – corsiKa
    Jan 24, 2014 at 2:12
  • 2. In a 40 cards deck (but in my opinion this is true also in a 60 cards one) having at the same time more than one useless card in hand is poor deck buildin. Or at least ssomething that happens once in a while thus not worth having a specific card to help you. If you draw way to many lands once in a tournament, it's ok; if it happens half of the matches the deck needs improvement, not Bazaar. 3. I agree they can't be compared
    – Mangusto
    Jan 24, 2014 at 8:14
  • @corsiKa actually, most looting doesnt require you to discard first, its a relatively new form of looting, predominantly in red, that requires the discard before the draw. discarding after drawing is also quite unfortunate for dredge (although you are right, its only the fringe case of dredge that its a benefit for), if the discard happened first I would expect dredge to be a turn 1 deck in vintage as opposed to a turn 1-2 deck.
    – Patters
    Jan 29, 2014 at 8:55
  • @Patters If I am not mistaken loot refers to "draw then discard" and the opposite, "discard then draw" tends to be called rummage - named for [mtg: Rummaging Goblin]
    – Andrew
    Aug 15, 2021 at 15:28

Bazaar of Baghdad was designed as part of the Arabian Nights set, this was a very flavor driven set with many cards designed around characters from the 1001 Arabian Nights stories, and others from general Arabian history or legend.

Bazaar of Baghdad obviously follows in this flavor, and the mechanics of the card attempt to evoke a feeling of getting something you want, at a price. It was designed to give card selection: at the cost of 1 card (and obviously a one-time cost of one land drop), you could trade your 3 worst cards for 2 others. In a world of massively high-powered cards amongst dross, this would be a hugely important effect. For decks aiming to build up a combo of 2 or 3 cards, often all other cards in the deck can safely be discarded while searching for the remaining pieces.

This card was one of the first attempts at giving players a way to trade bad cards for better ones. Cards like Faithless Looting and Careful Study are more recently printed cards with a very similar tradeoff (3 cards in hand for 2 new cards) as a single use, both have seen use in legacy dredge lists, as well as some other archetypes (reanimator and other graveyard strategies).

I can't answer for how (if at all) it was used before Ravnica block, or what decks played it, or what happened with it in the years leading up to the printing of the dredge mechanic.

  • Attunement is another older card (Urza's Saga) with this mechanic. It can be reused over and over, like the Bazaar. Jan 23, 2014 at 17:01
  • 1
    Mostly what I was going to say, but I would go further: I don't think this card was 'designed for anything' in the sense that we now know the term at all. Magic design was in its true dark-ages infancy, and plenty of cards were crafted from a pure-flavor perspective without any sense whatsoever as to how they would help a player. Bazaar, I strongly suspect, was one of these. Jan 23, 2014 at 22:08
  • @StevenStadnicki Nice thought, it might just have been designed to be a nice flavor card with no actual use (although a nice use has been found later!)
    – Mangusto
    Jan 25, 2014 at 0:50

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