Sandals of Abdallah – An Old School Magic the Gathering Card Review

Arabian Nights is one of the most expensive classic sets in Magic the Gathering history. From Bazaar of Baghdad to Diamond Valley, there are some great long-term investments in the set, as most cards are on the Reserved List. This means that they are never to be reprinted again – unless Wizards one day changes their policy which is highly unlikely. But, one that you may not think about that’s on the Reserved List once saw a mini-buyout on TCGPlayer. It’s called the Sandals of Abdallah.

These were the early days of artifacts when there was no Equipment. So, the Sandals are an early form of equipment. Being able to give a creature Islandwalk (making a creature unable to be blocked if the defending player controls an Island) is not at all bad, especially in the context of the time this was printed. Many of the best decks back in that time ran Islands because of all of the Power cards that were in Blue.

There is a drawback, though. If the targeted (equipped) creature is destroyed before the end of the turn, you lose the Sandals – presumably in the desert sand). So, just pay 2 mana for each creature you want to walk over Islands with and make sure none of them get destroyed, right?

Alas, there is an Oracle errata:

{2}, {T}: Target creature gains islandwalk until end of turn. When that creature dies this turn, destroy Sandals of Abdallah.

In those days, it was supposed to be understood in the rules that Mono Artifacts were artifacts you could use once a turn. So, they were required to tap in order to use their abilities. But, this not being explicitly printed on the card confused a great many players, who I’m sure used the card rather incorrectly. 

Some years later, Wizards decided to simplify a lot of rules text and created the Oracle wordings for every card in Magic. Because of this, quite a few cards were given errata that made once decent cards into pretty forgettable chaff. The Sandals were among these that were changed, but it actually was just a clarification in this case.

An activation cost of 2 mana was just fine. But, with a need to tap, the Sandals aren’t really an efficient card to play. It costs 4 mana just to put on the board, but with 2 mana and a tap to use its ability, it’s a one-shot effect per turn (barring any untap shenanigans). Losing the Sandals in the sand, thus, is a pretty annoying drawback.

When this card was originally printed, many players probably thought that a tap was not initially required to use the Sandals ability. Just paying 2 mana for each creature you wanted to give Islandwalk would still be borderline Legacy-playable. Alas, that is not the case, which is why the Oracle errata was necessary. Somewhat hilariously, those who happen to own a copy sometimes will throw it into a Sea Creature Tribal Commander deck, such as Lorthos, the Tidemaker. Even then, it’s more of a fun inclusion than an optimal one.

Being on the Reserved List, though, it’s not a surprise to see that serious Magic collectors want this piece of Magic history. If it didn’t have that pesky tap requirement added to it, this would actually still be somewhat playable. In any case, they won’t be printing this card again, so it’s an Old School Magic rarity for good.

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