Welcome to this special Tuesday edition of Windborn Musings! I’ll be looking at the Innistrad cards that I found interesting or tricky in Part Two of our non-mythic Innistrad review.
I was thinking about werewolves and Innistrad and stumbled onto an interesting thought. How do you kill a werewolf? Most people know you need to use a silver bullet. Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast has tried to avoid guns in all their sets, so how can you shoot a silver bullet without a gun? I’ll be watching to see if silver bullets show up as equipment in later spoilers. You have torches and stakes, so what about silver bullets?
Champion of the Parish
I want this guy to be good so bad. I could make all sorts of bad, “He is the Champion” Queen references, but when it comes right down to it, he just isn’t that good.
Your best case scenario with the Champion is that you get him out on the first turn, then play one or two humans every turn, making him this 7/7 beater on turn 5. However, even then, he is a vulnerable 7/7 creature. Now you need to give him shroud or hexproof, and make him unblockable or give him trample or flying. That is a lot of ifs.
First off, you need to play him right away. Playing him on turn 4 or later means that you will have to spend all these resources to get a creature that is barely as big as the other creatures on the board that people played by doing nothing other than tapping mana for a turn.
The Champion absolutely must be played in a Human deck. While this is something of a limitation, it is nowhere near as bad as you think. A Gatherer search turns up 1,278 humans, and that doesn’t include any of the humans coming in Innistrad. Just looking at white, there are 562 humans. I’m betting you already have a white deck that is mostly full of humans already. Your soldier deck is probably mostly human soldiers.
Public Service Announcement — Public Service Announcement
How many of those 1,278 humans actually have Human listed on the card as a creature type? I’m not sure, but I’m betting far less than half. Get comfortable with Oracle texts folks, we are going to need them for your older cards (Catapult Squad anyone?). As a general guideline, if the card has a human in the picture, it is probably human, but no guarantees. Enjoy!
End of Public Service Announcement — End of Public Service Announcement
The Champion also does not have first strike, or trample, or hexproof, or shroud, or flying, or protection from anything. This means that on his own, he just isn’t good enough. You’ll need to give him a Sword, or Lightning Greaves, or something that helps keep him on the board and doing damage.
He is the Champion, my friend, and he’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end. Unfortunately, his end will probably be far sooner than you want.
So this is the first of the transform cards I’m going to look at. I figured that since I’m such a cultured, well-heeled individual, who shares a passing resemblance to the Scholar, that I’d include the card.
My wife tells me that in the evenings when I don’t get enough sleep, I look like the Homicidal Bruce.
Enough of the lame sight gag, and back to the review!
Ludevic’s Test Subject/Ludevic’s Abomination
Ludevic and the Scholar are included in the article, not because I think they are awesome. I don’t think anyone who plays multiplayer would look at a 13/13 trampler and turn it down. The reason I’ve included them here is because they are the type of transform card that you want in your deck. You control when these cards transform. You can determine when you want to flip the card, and you can perform the actions necessary to make that happen. While other players can do things to stop you, what they can do is nothing more than what they could do with any other creature in the game. If you want the Civilized Scholar, then don’t attack with the Brute. If you want the Abomination, then you spend your mana on hatchling counters, or proliferate like crazy once you get a counter on the Test Subject.
Instigator Gang/Wildblood Pack
Then there are the transform cards that you have little control over. This card, like most of the werewolf cards, relies on your opponents either doing something or not doing something to transform them. I don’t think I want a card that gives that much control to my opponents. Do I really want my opponents to determine whether I get a +3/+0 bonus on my attackers or a +1/+0 bonus? When looking at these cards, they are already starting with a negative in my mind.
Another limiting factor is the mana cost. Invariably you are paying too much for the Day side of the card, but getting a decent deal for the Night side of the card. This means that you are likely going to want the Night side of the card more often, but again, you are letting your opponents determine when that will happen.
For multiplayer in particular, let’s consider the scenarios. In multiplayer games with simultaneous turns, you are going to be in trouble. In a Two-Headed Giant game, if either of the opponents cast two spells, you are getting the Day side of your transform card. In a multiplayer Chaos game with several players getting turns, it seems likely that your werewolf will transform a few times. Let’s look at a sample game’s turns:
Your turn: Cast Instigator Gang.
Player A: You played the Instigator on your turn so it does not flip. Player A plays a spell, and says go.
Player B: The card stays on the Day side since there was a spell played on Player A’s turn. Player B however, is hosed and has nothing good in hand, so passes the turn. No one looks to play an instants.
Player C: Your card transforms since no one played a spell last turn. Player C is left with trying to cast two spells to get rid of your Night card.
So what can you do to make these transform cards better? Well, you can’t stock up on instants, since you’ll end up flipping your own creature. What you can do is put on the diplomat hat and start talking to the guy on your right. If he thinks you are going to attack someone else, he would probably be more inclined to do what it takes to ensure you have the Night side working for you. This is a dangerous game for him, since he ma have to pass the turn without advancing his board position to give you what you need. He is possibly being forced to leave himself open and hope you are a Civilized Scholar about the whole thing. It will be up to you whether you are going to hold to your word or become the Homicidal Brute, but a good relationship with the guy on your right is probably very important to maximizing the potential of these out of control transform cards.
In a review, everyone wants you to just say that you hate or love a card. Everyone wants your view to be black or white, so they can tell you that you are full of it later on when it turns out the card you said was useless was awesome because it has some corner case interaction.
Normally, I’m happy to oblige, but with this particular card, I’m just not sure. Unlike Kessig Wolf Run (see below), this card is only going to go in decks that have a high creature count. I love giving my dudes +1/+1 counters more than most, but even I will be reluctant to pay 4 mana and tap this land (so realistically, it is costing you five mana) to put counters on my dudes if I don’t have a lot of dudes. Green and white are generally happy to oblige as far as giving you plenty of dudes. Between fatties, weenies, and token creatures, building a deck with enough creatures to make paying five mana for +1/+1 counters shouldn’t be a problem. I just see this as a narrow card, built just for those types of decks.
I’ve mentioned this in other articles, but I’ll say it here as well: if it is looking like this card and its ilk are becoming popular in your metagame, start looking seriously at Kulrath Knight. Abe Sargent has recommended it many times, and you can put me on the bandwagon for it too.
Generally, I try to avoid reviewing cards that are obviously good. What am I supposed to say about:
WotC is Crazy
WotC is Crazy does 13 damage to each creature.
This card would just be obviously good and there wouldn’t be much to say. Well, we just got that card, and they printed it just for multiplayer! While the tournament guys are going to have to run Blasphemous Act in combo to afford the mana cost, any player in a multiplayer game even splashing red can reliably play this as a one mana sorcery board wipe. As long as there are 8 creatures on the board, you are paying R for this. Even in three player games, you’ll have 8 creatures on the board. If your games are lousy with Wrath effects, things are about to get worse. If your games have minimal Wrath effects, expect to start seeing more.
Other Wrath effects are generally something you need to carefully time. You are going to spend four mana to wipe the board, then everyone else is going to start putting creatures on the board before you get the chance, since the Wrath likely cost you half or more of all the mana you had available. That is no longer a problem. The player who waited for eight mana before casting their Wrath to ensure they wouldn’t get hosed afterwards, now doesn’t have to wait.
On top of that, this card does a crazy amount of damage. I’m sure you can figure out a way to use all that damage to your advantage.
Think of all the crappy creatures you used to run in your decks. It wasn’t until you got in the games that you realized that your Craw Wurms and other green fatties were just getting blocked by your opponents’ 1/1 dudes. It was such a let-down. You learned that vanilla dudes may be cheaper than other creatures, but a 6/6 with trample is almost always better than a 6/6 without trample.
Kessig Wolf Run is coming to save those crappy decks. You attack with your crappy fatties. Your opponent declares his blocks. You look at the blocks and give one of your dudes trample and +X/+0 until the end of the turn. Good times ensue!
While Skaarg, the Rage Pits offer up the +1/+1 and trample at a better rate than Kessig Wolf Run, it is the +X/+0 that can cause problems. While giving trample is the primary benefit, Kessig Wolf Run forces your opponents to do flips while working out combat scenarios. Skaarg is difficult to deal with, but Kessig Wolf Run is a nightmare. You only need to keep your mana open, and your opponents will piss and moan while they try to figure things out.
As if the card isn’t already good enough, if you don’t sink anything into X, the creature still gets trample. This is good all by itself. You can leave mana open and your opponents are picturing you tapped out with a bigger creature with trample, but instead you can leave mana open for instants, or to make your opponents believe you have other stuff you can do on their turn, even when you don’t. Just keep messing with their minds!
Keep your mind open to the possibilities this card provides. The card doesn’t say “your creature,” just “creature.” Don’t hesitate to mess with your opponents when one of them is attacking another! This is your chance to beat down on an opponent when you don’t have the creatures to do it, or to take out a blocker that your opponent values because they forgot that you can pump up any creature. The flexibility of this card is amazing.
The flexibility is in the mana cost as well. You can run this with minimal effort in a G/X deck or even a R/X deck.
I will be getting as many copies of this card as I can get my hands on.
So that wraps up my review for today. Seedborn Muse will be in his usual Wednesday slot to finish off our non-mythic review of Innistrad. Thursday will be a special Muse Vessel 3-writer combo, as we look at all the spoiled mythics from Innistrad. Finally, my usual Friday spot is supplanted for the Muse Vessel’s special preview card! Be sure to check in all this week for the reviews and Friday preview card!
 Other reviewers will focus on the fact that this is a level-up card. Spend 1U and add a level counter. At level 5 you get the Abomination. Having this as a transform card only makes sense in that you get more real estate for different pictures. Other reviewers will spend time complaining about the stupidity of transform cards and how they aren’t worth the annoyance cost or not worth removing the back of Magic cards just for an ability which could easily have been represented in another way, such as level-up. Other reviewers would go on and on, spending all this time discussing what is really a moot point for most of us. We want to play with the cards before deciding that transform cards are a disaster. Lucky for you that I don’t spend all this time discussing this point endlessly, droning on and on. I know when writers start doing that, you can often catch them because they start to get off point and discuss other topics that aren’t related. Thankfully that is other reviewers and not me. I like to stay right on point, like a laser focused in on the issue at hand. Never a waver. I will discuss that one topic until I am finished with it, then clearly move on to the next topic. I’ll leave that wandering from topic to topic up to other reviewers on other sites…
 If you know you are going to play a deck with these cards, try to sit to the right of the control player. He is the one most likely to pass his turn and give you what you want. Of course, he is also the one who is likely going to bounce your creature if you try to attack him, but you take the good with the bad.
 The real reason the card is in the review is because I love the art. I am a land junkie and the art in this card is spectacular. While I don’t mention it at all in the article itself, the art for the entire set is amazing. For me though, this card is particularly amazing. Peter Mohrbacher does some wonderful work here.