The twenty years of Magic can be subdivided into many eras of design and gameplay. The game has changed a great amount from Alpha until now, and it has always been defined by a select number of cards and strategies considered the greatest in the metagame. In celebration of Magic's impending twentieth anniversary celebrations, I would like to look back on the most beloved and most reviled cards of its past - the ones that headlined tournament-dominating decks, that warped formats, that inspired a million nicknames and as many counterstrategies. I'll start from the beginning. Defining the early era of Magic loosely as the time beginning with Alpha's release in 1993 and ending with Alliances's in 1996, just before the block system began in earnest with Mirage.
In those early days, white was considered a color for griefers in some sense. It was much more control-oriented in general than it is today (although, to be fair, the entire game skewed that way), and it had a monopoly on a number of lockdown and mass-destruction effects that made it difficult for opponents to even play the game of Magic.