Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Narcolepsy and Leaden Fists: FIGHT!

Elder Dragon Highlander time! Two auras enter the Thunderdome, only one will leave. Who will rule Bartertown?

First: Leaden Fists.

Up until Rise of the Eldrazi, Leaden Fists has been my go-to creature-nullifying enchantment. For 2 and a blue, you make sure a creature next untaps (naturally) ever again.

In a pinch you can make one of your own creatures beefier at the cost of never attacking…but I've never run into a case where I've wanted to do this. Might eventually happen. I suppose if a creature had vigilance…but again I have never run into the situation.

Usually I use Leaden Fists on an opposing General. This locks them into a form of blue-aligned purgatory, sealing them away from the command zone and preventing all attempts at re-casting. Unless they have a sacrifice outlet.

Of particularly delicious importance, Leaden Fists has Flash…enabling you to cast it during your opponent's end step.

Next: The challenger…Narcolepsy.

Opening my Rise of the Eldrazi sealed deck pool, I quickly came across newcomer Narcolepsy. A similar blue aura, it also appears good for keeping opposing EDH generals from having too much fun. I had such a good time de-clawing enemy Eldrazi and levelers at prerelease, I started to wonder if Narcolepsy was the new and improved version of Leaden Fists.


There are a few really good things about Narcolepsy, two specifically:

1. Costs 1 mana less! Getting the same effect for a more efficient cost is never a bad thing. Even in a format where people are routinely slinging 6 mana spells, leaving 1 more land open will invariably have an upside.

2. Automatically taps the targeted creature. If your target has Vigilance, they get tapped down by Narcolepsy. If your target is mostly defending and never taps, it still gets tapped down by Narcolepsy.

3. It won't give your target +3/+3, which can sometimes come back to haunt you if they somehow get tricky. General damage is something to be truly feared in EDH, and Leaden Fists has the consequence of increasing this vital statistic. What a horrible world if they should find a way to untap their creature!

Now for some negatives:

1. Narcolepsy doesn't have Flash. You have to cast it during your turn. It leaves a temptation to pro-actively decide on a threat before it actually attacks you. In a multiplayer game this is definitely a weakness. You never want to get involved in a spat between 2 other players. It also forces you to use mana during your own turn, leaving less mana to respond to actions in other people's turns.

2. Narcolepsy's tapping part is actually a triggered ability, and can be responded to every time it happens. Leaden Fists bestows a characteristic to a creature and can only be responded to at the moment the spell is cast.

At the beginning of your turn, you process 3 tasks. Untap. Upkeep. Draw.

During Untap, you untap all your creatures. Then, at the beginning of the upkeep phase, Narcolepsy puts a trigger on the stack that says "tap this creature".

The delayed trigger unfortunately leaves a window of time between the Untap and Upkeep phases where the targeted creature is actually untapped and ready for business. A window large enough to drive a Mack truck through. How many Generals could exploit this window?

'bout 92.

Of course, some of these are far more effectual than others. I've only ever faced off against two critters who could take advantage of the Narcolepsy window. Experiment Kraj and Mayael the Anima. And to tell the whole story, I have faced a general who could certainly sneak through the much smaller Leaden Fists window…the infernal Merieke Ri Berit.

In fact, Leaden Fists is probably the worst thing you can cast on Merieke Ri Berit short of Apathy. The Merieke player already has many ways to untap, and Leaden Fists makes the 1/1 into a much-more resilient 4/4. My Electrolyze is useless!

So you see, there are positives and negatives to each card. It will be a tough decision.

Ok, I've decided. Leaden Fists stays.

Once the factors were all laid down, it was actually easy. Leaden Fists has Flash. You are able to respond with an immediacy Narcolepsy lacks. And I am more worried about aggressors who attack me, instead of defending "walls" who do me no direct harm.

And in a pinch, Leaden Fists can neutralize any tapping "utility" creature, preventing it from generating mana, destroying other creatures or just being a nuisance.

In more situations, Leaden Fists is going to be the more effective, more powerful and more fun response. Not to mention, it makes for bigger creatures, something the EDH format should be about anyway. Even if they are completely ineffectual bigger creatures. Another loophole!

Hope you enjoyed my analysis. Any reason to talk about Leaden Fists.

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