Spawn Of Mayhem And Why It’s Going To Kill You

It seems this Ravnica Allegiance set is doing what Ravnica sets do: giving players tons of cards they want! Speaking of which, Owen wants to get his hands on Spawn of Mayhem, and today, he’s telling you exactly why!

Spawn of Mayhem. Is. Awesome

I fully expect Spawn of Mayhem to be a major player in Standard, as it’s an
interesting card if you don’t try to play to its strengths and merely
accept a four-mana 4/4 flying, trample, and whatever you want to call that
final ability. But like everyone else, when I saw Spawn of Mayhem, I saw a
deckbuilding challenge to get it on to the battlefield on turn 3 via
spectacle as often as possible.

If my main goal is enabling spectacle early in the game, this likely means
a Mono-Black Aggro shell with Diregraf Ghoul and Graveyard Marshal, or I
could easily see wanting to be Rakdos Midrange to splash Bedevil. If I were
to try to add Spawn of Mayhem to an existing strategy, I think this card
would fit perfectly in Golgari Midrange. I think cheap “throwaway”
creatures are one of the best ways to enable spectacle, and specifically,
Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger can produce value for you before
they get into combat and enable spectacle.

Three mana for a 4/4 flier with trample is already a great card, and that
doesn’t factor in its final ability enabling spectacle in all subsequent
turns. Not only is it enabling spectacle but it’s also just dealing direct
damage to each player outside of combat. When you read Spawn of Mayhem, you
leave with a feeling that it’s this awesome cheap 4/4, which it is, but the
fact that it deals that extra one damage turns it from a five-turn clock to
a four-turn clock, then even faster once you factor in that it’s also
picking up extra +1/+1 counters later.

For Standard, Spawn of Mayhem strikes me as a remarkably powerful card
against Jeskai Control. Living through Deafening Clarion is already a
massive upgrade on many of the three-mana creatures black has in Standard,
but the interaction I enjoy the most is the benefit you gain from having it
on the battlefield. Usually if you have a huge creature and your opponent
has mana available for Settle the Wreckage or Seal Away, it’s a tough and
problematic situation since you want to force the issue and deal as much
damage as possible, but there’s always a fear against control that playing
into their reactive cards allows them to be mana-efficient.

On the flipside, waiting around can be worrisome since all control wants is
time to develop. Spawn of Mayhem helps quite a bit since by not attacking,
you still have the option to passively deal one damage per turn. This may
not seem impressive, but I believe it’s highly relevant for this particular
matchup because it allows my aggro deck to have a cheap threat and a direct
damage burn card if the situation calls for it.

I could almost feel the light bulb appearing above my head when I read it
for the fifth time and realized its final ability is rewarding Spawn of
Mayhem’s controller for having a low life total, not the opponent. This is
slightly unusual, at least to me, intuitively speaking, since it’s a big
bad Demon and you’d think it’s bloodthirsty and the opponent’s low life
total would be the reward. But no, the Cult of Rakdos rewards you for
damaging yourself.

You could try all varieties of two-color aggro or midrange decks with Spawn
of Mayhem, but unless you’re truly mono-black, you could have a few
shocklands in your deck in Overgrown Tomb or Blood Crypt, which now have
added strategic value since if you play against control you could just pay
all your life to all your shocklands, almost like a Death’s Shadow deck
might to get below ten life and start picking up extra +1/+1 counters on
each Spawn of Mayhem you control. Maybe this exact interaction could end up
deciding who wins in a mirror match when both players control Spawn of

Obviously, I love Spawn of Mayhem, but there are still plenty of great
options to kill it:

Lava Coil, Conclave Tribunal, and Justice Strike all immediately come to
mind, and even just writing down the names of those cards I also felt
obligated to mention Mortify and Bedevil. And let’s not forget about
Ravenous Chupacabra, a card that Spawn of Mayhem is straight card
disadvantage against. It’s always tough to try and place an evaluation on
how good a creature is when the opponent doesn’t kill it or how powerful
the effect is if you only have it for one or two turns before it’s killed.

At three mana, Spawn of Mayhem is a totally acceptable if not an outright
good investment for an aggressive deck, and midrange decks should be very
careful. If I was a Rakdos Midrange deck and I had to choose between Spawn
of Mayhem and something like Rekindling Phoenix, it’s hard for me to resist
the insurance the Phoenix provides. I could easily be wrong and you could
easily see them played alongside each other, but I’m nervous for a future
with a lot of best-of-one competitive play where having a threat that’s
versatile against a wide open field may be better than short-term raw

Spawn of Mayhem reminds me a lot of Desecration Demon, a card that’s near
and dear to my heart. It’s not fancy and you don’t need some nuanced
strategy to win with it; it’s just raw power and stats paired with mythic
rarity and sweet artwork, and sometimes that’s more than enough to get the
job done. I’m excited to see which decks adopt Spawn of Mayhem, and I’m
incredibly optimistic about its place in the Standard metagame. It almost
feels like something crazy would need to go wrong for it to not be widely
played and successful. It has everything you might want out of a huge early
threat, and it even matches up well against Enigma Drake and Crackling
Drake, two cards that seem to be everywhere.

Like I said at the top – Spawn of Mayhem. Is. Awesome.