Friday, March 5, 2010

Random Card of the Week: Elite Archers

Today's random card is Elite Archers, a rare card you might find in any bulk bin or 25¢ box at your local hobby store. Originally printed in Urza's Saga, and a couple core sets after that.

The original art is pretty good, and done by the British comic book illustrator Greg Staples. You may have seen his work in the pages of Batman, Spiderman and Judge Dredd.

The main problem with Elite Archers is the cost. 6 mana for a 3/3 is pretty bad. The bad stats are counterbalanced by a repeatable Lightning Bolt effect you can only use on attacking/blocking creatures.

For good or for ill, Elite Archers are going to end in a "Soldiers" deck. Soldiers are one of the main "tribes" of magic, and you are going to find Solider-themed cards in just about every set since they started paying more attention to creature types.

So you might negate the cost with cost-reducers like

Ballyrush Banneret
Daru Warchief

Or "cheat" your Archers into play with the well-timed machinations of

Preeminent Captain

3 points of damage assigned before combat damage is definitely a boon, especially in a Solider deck where First Strike is more the norm than the exception.

But here's a question…why use bows when you could be using CATAPULTS?

Notice that in this case, the target can be any creature…regardless of attacking status. And believe me, if you are playing solders, you will certainly have at least 5 on the board.

Your target could be a blocking Wall of Spears. OR it could be a completely uninvolved Grim Lavamancer, at home in his favorite rock chair, enjoying the latest issue of Lavamancer Monthly. No one is safe!

If you have a large collection of single cards, say in a Soldier-themed EDH deck, then Elite Archers really starts to shine. In a big, chaotic multiplayer game, Elite Archers becomes a cheap, reusable "rattlesnake"…subtly suggesting other players point their Sygg, River Cutthroat or Bog Wraith elsewhere.

And EDH helps with the casting cost as well, slowing the game down so you can build up your "castle" proper before the barbarians start pounding. If you're looking for EDH Soldier fodder, look no further (except for more Soliders). If you aren't…leave Elite Archers in the bin where it belongs.

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