Okay, back to stuff from 18 years ago.
Whippoorwill is a card I've tried to build decks around since the very beginning. I have a few of them. Since The Dark was selling for $10 a pack in my golden years, this probably means I traded some good cards long ago in exchange for sliding a couple of these flightless birds out of the binder of someone far better informed.
Today's Whippoorwill does a number of interesting things. Unlike many cards from that period, the oracle wording is approximately the same. Just a few template changes.
Target creature can't be regenerated this turn. Damage that would be dealt to that creature this turn can't be prevented or dealt instead to another creature or player. When the creature is put into a graveyard this turn, exile the creature.
Let's take a closer look.
1. Whippoorwill does target. So creatures with shroud are unfortunately protected, no matter how much we hates them.
2. The targeted creature can't be regenerated. Bye, bye Will o' the Wisp! The Wisp was actually one of my initial reasons to start working with the card…always getting stalled out against some jerk's Wisps. Unfortunately, this technique never seemed to work. There are fewer Wisps now, but they do occasionally pop up in the royalty of formats…Elder Dragon Highlander.
3. Damage dealt to the creature can't be prevented. Bam! This wording doesn't seem like much, since when people hear "damage prevention" they tend to think of spells like Healing Salve. But, as I explained in a previous post, preventing "damage prevention" is essential to fighting the Beast with 4 Heads…protection! With Whippoorwill in play, no longer will protected creatures block with impunity.
4. Damage can't be redirected to another player or creature. In the olden days, this effect was seen primarily in Simulacrum. But in recent years we've seen the introduction of much more efficient spell in Harm's Way. Whippoorwill stops this spell cold. So if an annoying white player is giving you the "stop hitting yourself" routine, here's a way to flip him the "bird". Yeah, I said it.
5. When the creature is put into the graveyard, exile it instead. Once upon a time, you worried primarily about Resurrection and Animate Dead. Over the past decade or so, the graveyard has become a much, much more temporary place. And there are even cards that work while they're in the graveyard. A creature targeted by Whippoorwill will never trouble you again, no matter how many recursion effects your opponent's hand is packed with.
So there you go. As the design space of magic cards in general have increased, the abilities of Whippoorwill have grown slightly more relevant. 5 different ways to foil your opponent's carefully laid plans, packed into a 1/1 for 1. Of course the ability is double green, which is annoying.
One ability Whippoorwill has NEVER had…and believe me I've tried…is the ability of flight. Despite the clearly depicted wings, Whippoorwill merely hovers slightly above the ground. You'll never equip it with a Loxodon Warhammer and send it sailing over the heads of an army of blockers. It just sits there and disintegrates dead bodies somehow…like feathery quick-lime.
Believe it or not, there is a poem about the "wings" issue. I read it today and it tickled me enough to write all about this poor, unloved bird. Thanks very much to KingRamz for putting Whippoorwill's plight into the limelight all anew.