Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tapping and Untapping

For Christmas, one of the very thoughful gifts I received was a Zendikar Intro Pack, specifically "Pumped Up". To everyone out there(me, mostly), Intro Packs are pretty fun to open up. I didn't get a Black Lotus in the included booster pack, which I had sort of envisioned, but one of the cards definitely gave me ideas...specifically the foil Hellkite Charger featured on the front of the box.

Hellkite Charger has some interesting text: "untap all attacking creatures" which got me thinking again about pit-fighting wizards and my Niv-Mizzet EDH deck. There's nothing better than wizards coming in for the beat down…then untapping and coming in again! Magus of the Arena's got your number, pal(hopefully Loxodon Brokenhammer in hand)!

In a real no-rules street fight, I imagine a Wizard discarding his useless wand for something akin to a broken-off table leg. Perhaps a slightly enchanted table leg, hexxed with whatever the inebriated mind can most come up with in short notice before the beats start coming. Rune of Bashing, or Mark of Haymaker.

But sometimes a Wizard will be just shrewd enough to use his god-given magical powers to indeed smite from afar. Even better than wizards drop-kicking some punks I enjoy the idea of them blasting the crap out of things...which (you know, the usual crowd of "pingers") they have to tap for.


Hellkite Charger unfortunately only untaps attackers, and this really seems like a poor limitation. From beating to blasting and back to beating again, I want my wizards untapping fresh for more damage-doing, so I decided to do a search over at magiccards.info (the best lil' ol' magic card search engine EVER) to see what I could come up with.

One of the best I found was Aggravated Assault. A typical red "berserker" card with hidden deeper implications if ever I saw one. You've probably already fully explored this card, but I was blown away by it all anew.

1. You untap all creatures you control (not your opponents!) regardless of attacking status.
2. You get another attacking phase, as well as a main phase to do more damage in
3. You can use Aggravated Assault as many times as you want just by paying the activation cost: 5 mana each which in EDH will eventually provide at least 2 activations, guaranteed!

Breaking Wave seems like a good card to cast right after you declare attackers, but before your opponent declares blockers. So you get to attack and blast all at the same time. This is basically the Hellkite Charger's ability, but Breaking Wave also allows you to untap non-attackers, which is slightly better. What makes it WORSE is that it's not a repeatable ability. I like repeatable abilities.

Faces of the Past seems particularly good because

1. All of the creatures are wizards, fufilling the tribe-centric part of the ability.
2. There is no mana cost so you can do it again and again at the cost of 1 dead wizard. Hey, wizards know all about the circle of life, particularly chaff "comes into play" guys...talk about expendable.
3. My EDH deck has plenty of sac outlets, and is always looking for more. I love sacrificing creatures.
4. It's a pretty low casting cost, I imagine being able to cast this and go off with it in the same turn.

Insurrection has the same untapping function bolted onto a mass steally power everyone is probably already familiar with. Sheldon Menery LOVES this card, and there is little reason to see why not in a game where you are guaranteed to eventually reach it's massive mana cost.

Riptide Chronologist offers the same power of Faces of the Past in a creature. But non-repeatable...and costing a massive 5 mana for a 1/3! Thanks and no-thanks, this is not a dude I am interested in.

Intruder Alarm is a well-known combo enabler when used with creatures coming into play. It works best in a deck built around it, where you can put creatures into play (I'm looking at you, Elves!) and tap them for mana to then cast/draw more creatures. Doesn't tickle my wizard-bone in quite the same way as some of the ther cards.

The last card I wanted to mention is a bit of a doozy, just because it contains so many ways to win. The card is, of course, Savage Beating. "Creatures you control gain double strike until end of turn; or untap all creatures you control and after this phase, there is an additional combat phase." And it has Entwine.

I see this as either a weak 1-use untapping ability like Breaking Wave, or else a card that basically just wins the game with attacking wizards. Versatile enough I have determined I must get it and use it in all its ways. Plus it's called SAVAGE BEATING.

If there's nothing pit-fighting wizards love more, it's a Savage Beating.

Food for thought!

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