I’m currently plagued by what has got to be the lamest injury of all time – namely, an ingrown fingernail on my left ring finger that is causing me to a) type like a 85-year-old grandmother who has just recently happenstanced upon one of “these newfangled internet things,” and b) miss the championship SEASSI volleyball game later tonight, where Tim Gajah Gemuk (Indonesia – and yes, it does mean “fat elephant”) will no doubt trounce Means Of Production (the faculty team) in what will only barely be able to be dubbed a contest. Nevertheless, your loyal Chatter is fighting through his debilitating afflictions and the strains of Nationals testing to bring you the fitting conclusion to last week’s series on Eventide. Grade-A Customer Service, I tell ya.
Mise well go ahead and get started, so like the competitors in this video, we’re off to the races!
Remember, this week’s the multicolored cards, so for all the monocolored Eventide goodness, click that link right above my parasail-like cheeks*. And this is all about the less-obvious stuff… you know Figure of Destiny and the B/W God are ridiculous, so I won’t waste your time saying so. Onward!
I’d probably run this more for the Black side, given that the Mage herself is not a Kithkin. But when I mentioned the Crumbling Ashes deck from last week, that deck would be populated with this type of card – especially if, once in awhile, you could get a free 1/1 to boot. Sometimes he’s flat-out Nekrataal, of course, which is always incredibly solid, but against any deck with creatures he’s guaranteed to have a relatively major impact on the board. That’s not too much to ask from an inexpensive 2/2, especially in a world where Civic Wayfinder is already seeing play. The major drawback, of course, is the need to play actual Swamps, and that’s what I believe hinders this guy the most in the end. Still, if you need to maintain tempo while killing or gutting small-to-midsized creatures, you don’t have to look much further than the Gwylls.
A couple of months ago I began to extol the virtues of early-drop threats in control decks, even if those threats didn’t contribute much to a deck’s overall gameplan, just because they demanded to be dealt with. Blue doesn’t have many creatures like this guy. Wake Thrasher is certainly larger, but the problem with that guy in a control deck is that he doesn’t gain initiative. With Puca, on the other hand, there just aren’t that many creatures who can swing into him profitably, so when you cast him you have an at least reasonable chance of buying yourself an attack step. From there on out he can effectively become a 4/4 if you need him to be, and (especially in Block, where there’s no straight-up Terror) he can be particularly difficult to remove. I’m a fan of this guy.
I know I’m a bit behind on this one by now, but right after I moved to Madison Sam Black and I were talking about how insanely difficult it was in Block to get a Doran off the table. Inside Out seems tailor-made to do just that. Two mana, at instant speed, and you draw a card? While doing nothing else but answering Doran is certainly a narrow niche for a card to fill, those perks just might make Inside Out worth it anyway – especially against a deck with other targets like Birds of Paradise and Wall of Roots. Even if all you’re doing is inverting a Kitchen Finks, the opportunity cost of doing so is very low. I expect this card to see a surprising amount of play, if still not tremendously high.
Okay, I know, I know. Seven mana. But the opponent is just dead so fast. If only there was Sneak Attack!
Oh, there is.
See, when you were Sneak Attacking back in the day you ran Endless Wurm, and this guy is just bigger. It’s also not inconceivable to cast him, especially with Smokebraider, and the guys you have to pitch are all coming back with Reveillark anyway. Finally, it’s not irrelevant that if you’re up against a Red Deck or something you can always just gain ten life and win with your other guys (or man-lands, or etc.). This is not a card with an obvious home, but there are a lot of inherently powerful things going on here, and I wouldn’t let the hefty price tag automatically detract from the trappings of a potentially game-swinging spell.
I might be betraying my true colors here, because everyone knows I love me a Ravenous Rat. The Green ability might actually be more powerful, but I hate giving my opponent an entire turn to know what’s coming. The other trouble in both of these colors is again that you want many, many nonbasic lands, and so netting either ability (much less both) is very ambitious. Still, it’s worth noting that there are at present many ways for a Mono-Black deck to net both tempo and card advantage on turn 3.
I mention this card principally because I have a personal soft spot for it. In my very first article for this website, I wrote about Olivier Ruel then-new CAL deck in Extended, and one of my pieces of “technology” was Svogthos, the Restless Tomb – a card that would go on to trounce me at GP: Charlotte a few weeks later. This card would go directly into the Svogthos slot in that deck, but also could potentially be insanely powerful as a one-of in any variety of Loam deck to ensure that the opponent dies quickly once your combo gets going without having to force through a single spell. Seismic Assault, while completely broken with Loam and cycling lands, does have to resolve. You’d still run Assault in a Worm Harvest strategy, but it is certainly nice to be able to just throw land after land at the opponent and make them counterspell each and every one, only to have Loam bring them back once you’re out of gas. The fact that this can make a reasonable number of blockers is also relevant; if you’re a couple turns away from Assaulting someone out, you can make six or seven guys, block such that you don’t have to die, and then push with the rest of your men to finish the opponent off more quickly.
Clearly, if you can untap with this guy in play, and you’re any kind of self-respecting Red deck, you’re not losing. The question then becomes, “who can afford to spend five mana?” The Storm strategy could obviously use this man in concert with storage lands, but the problem is that playing him allows all of an opponent’s spot removal to go live. Asking for the five mana to cast this guy and for enough mana to burn your opponent out through a removal spell is a little ambitious. It seems, then, that the best spot for this card is as a sideboard card for Red Deck mirrors, in the vein of Rorix et al. He’s big enough to make him hard to kill, and presents an unparalleled threat should you keep him in play for more than a turn. Just don’t walk him into Threaten or Unwilling Recruit!
One of these days, I’m going to stop talking about Hedge-Magi. When I first saw this guy my mind immediately jumped to Cube, but he probably has application in real Constructed formats as well. The White ability is outclassed by Nikko-Onna, but Red has been looking for a Viridian Shaman for a little while now. Moreover, because of things like Ram-Gang, Demigod, and Flame Javelin, Red decks have plenty of incentive to run actual Mountains. The main problem with this guy is that he’ll be competing with the excellent Smash to Smithereens for sideboard space, and the format isn’t yet shaped as such to need to maindeck anything like this. Also, it doesn’t (usually) hit Lotus Blooms. Still, the ability is far from useless, and I would expect to see this guy occupying many a sideboard slot, especially come Extended season.
I only really mention this guy in concert with Volcano Hellion, but he’s another card that could be quite potent in Red mirror matches while coming out a turn sooner than most “trump-threats.” Even against something like Kithkin, there are very few profitable means of attacking into this guy. It’s also relevant that he can effectively serve as an “unblockable” 3/3, even when matched up against a substantially larger threat. In a nutshell, there’s a deceptively high amount of range offered in this package.
The problem is that there’s such good competition for maindeck slots, even in Standard, but plenty of decks used to sideboard either Dark Confidant or Shadowmage Infiltrator as early card-advantage investments, and those cards most frequently came in against Blue decks. With the Merfolk decks sporting eight Lords to truly enable this guy to get out of hand, I would at the very least expect his existence to cause people to be more conscious about the number of Islands in their Blue decks.
People ought to be playing this at Nationals in their Faerie decks as one of the format’s best answers to Chameleon Colossus, but the MTGO-ites might not even pay attention to it, which is a true shame. Still, I’m probably running Elves, so anyone who doesn’t want to pack this spell is fine by me. I’m just saying, I’m scared of the thing, so when I trounce you for eight and you sit there staring at your handful of Terrors, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
(Yes, I know Damnation exists. That is a card I can play around. With Form… well, I can’t Thoughtseize you at instant speed.)
Here’s a deck I really wanted to play at Nats, but the sudden emergence of Aussie Swans put this (and any other board-control-oriented tempo deck) on the back-burner:
4 Ancestral Visions
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Wake Thrasher
4 Selkie Hedge-Mage
2 Wistful Selkie
4 Sower of Temptation
4 Cryptic Command
3 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
3 Faerie Conclave
Basically, if you really want to, you can bounce 1-2 permanents per turn, and that’s not even considering something like Surgespanner that may very well want to be considered. Man-O-War was completely insane, and while this guy is substantially worse at pushing through damage, he’s also a Merfolk. We take our tradeoffs where we can get them.
I have a completely inordinate amount of love for this card. I want to put it in all decks. Sure, it’s no Kher Keep, but really, what is? And you can play four! Okay, all hyperbole aside, do you understand how much card advantage cards like this gain you? I don’t mean the 0/1 tokens, I mean the extra draw steps you get to enjoy because you’re not dead. Nice Chameleon Colossus. Also, the lifegain and the pseudo-storage-land effect are far from negligible. I would pick these up while everyone else still feels like they’re a joke.
That wraps it up for Eventide. Hopefully, by this time next week, I’ll be a National Champion, and I hope to see some of y’all in Chicago. Until later!
* Incidentally, [email protected] DeGraff was not the first to point out that I look at least 100 lbs heavier than I am in real life in my ScG picture. Moreover, my ScG picture looks alright when it’s not cropped. If anyone wants to prowl through my facebook galleries and select something more suitable for me to send to Craig, please feel free to do so.