Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just Plain, Simple Garruk

Prerelease was an edge-of-the seat affair…with me falling off the edge (in game terms) more than once. The few times I remained firmly planted, it was while enjoying the endless riches produced by everyone's favorite planeswalker, Garruk Wildspeaker.

I like sealed events a lot because not only do you get new cards out of the deal, but you get to PLAY with new cards. In this case, I was pretty fresh to the whole planeswalker experience.

Hard to believe? Sure, I've faced off against the dreaded new card type plenty of times. I could never excape them all together. But with both a universal "mythic" rarity and a distrurbingly rabid fanbase, I have never had the chance to either open one accidently or even purchase one from my local card shop proprietor.


The world changed when I opened Garruk. What once was a normal pack of random M11 cards resolved itself into a definite set of outcomes. An explosion of light and sound. I might have fallen out of my chair (in chair terms).

Part II:

"But with great power comes great responsibility." Mel, the Cook on Alice

I may have pulled Garruk from his humble foil-wrapped sarcophagus, but could I USE him?

This would actually be my undoing. Because, seriously, planeswalkers are a lot harder than they look. Not only did I have to defend him from every conceivable attack, but I had to make sure to use his as efficiently as possible.

Here he is:

Here is the rough explanation for planeswalker cards.

Rules Lizard: Once he's on the field, you can "use" the planeswalker once during each of your turns. Abilities happen at sorcery speed, and add or subtract "loyalty" counters. If a spell targets an opponent, you can choose to redirect any damage from that spell to the planeswalker card. If you attack an opponent you can choose to attack the planewalker instead. In both of these cases, the "loyalty" acts like life and the card goes away if loyalty goes down to zero.

Short Story: There's not a lot of removal out there that can affect planeswalkers directly. You can't Terror or Disenchant a planeswalker. But you can certainly hurt them with damage.

Part III: A growing FEAR

As soon as I was "down with Garruk", I'm pretty sure I saw a lightning bolt hiding behind every folding chair.

 I would tap my 4…my eyes would swept the room…and suddenly my forehead would be slick with sweat.

At one point, I untapped my land "to take Garruk out of Lightning Bolt range," as I explained to my opponent, before noticing he wasn't even playing red. Hopefully this wasn't too big of a "tell." At least I wasn't bleeding from my eyes.

And then there's the problem of blockers.

In a lot of games, blocking really isn't a winning proposition. But all that changes with Garruk. While I sweatily searched for phantom damage coming to me in spell form, I unfortunately would leave my attack phase with all creatures tapped. Note to self: planeswalkers are not creatures, but they do interact with them.

In hindsight, this is how I should probably have played with Garruk.

1. Use his "untap" abilities to get all my good stuff onto the field faster.

2. Once I have all my good stuff, use the "make a beast" ability to make even more good stuff

3. Win

Having gone through about 6 solid hours of paranoid fever dreams regarding all the ways to kill planeswalkers, I'll just wrap up my post with 6 ways to get rid of a troublesome planeswalker, 1 in each color followed by an artifact. Are these good ways? I don't know how I came up with them.


Anybody who plays with white already knows all about Wrath of God style effects. Planar Cleansing takes more mana, but also conveniently gets rid of things like planeswalkers and much, much hated Searing Meditation.


Blue has plenty of creatures with flying. Send in the flyers and slap him silly! The prime threat to a planeswalker is in fact creature damage…never forget!


Nothing wrong with creature damage. Few folks have anything to block Dauthi Horror, allowing you to nip problems in the bud!


I hear they use Earthquake in standard for this exact purpose! Not only do you get rid of some (probably) annoying creatures, but you can also redirect the player damage into the vulnerable underbelly of your hated planeswalker.


And if Earthquake does something, chances are Hurricane is going to do it too! In this case, you are also blowing up annoying flyers, instead of pesky utility creatures.


With Ferropede you don't even have to redirect the damage. You ding your opponent for 1, and you also ding his planeswalker for 1…simultaneously!

Hopefully this all helps. As I type this, I'm also finally getting around to listening to Mr. Suitcase's coverage of the St. Louis Star City Games Open. Very entertaining! Apparently in legacy tournaments people have the same problem with foreign cards I do (note: once again, all questionable comments I make about foreign cards are inapplicable to my Russian Blood Crypt!). Judge!

Good luck with all your planeswalker killin'…just don't come after my Garruk!

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