The annual "Core Set Survivor" post has come and gone, and now we find officially that Giant Growth will not be in the M12 Core Set.
I was 100% sure Giant Spider would be the one to leave. I even had a headline picked out…"Step On Spider" in homage to the They Might Be Giants song. But it was not to be!
I have opened many Giant Spiders in my packs. And it looks as though I will continue to open many more.
There are a couple of theories floating around about what card will be inserted into the set in Giant Growth's place.
1) Might of Old Krosa - This provides a similar pump and also clearly illustrates a difference between casting your spell during your main phase or casting it at the very last second during combat. Then again, why would we want to encourage beginning/inexperienced players to cast their Giant Growths during the main phase?
2) Primal Bellow - Pumps creatures in a similar way, with a heavy emphasis on Forests. Makes you want to go "all-in-green".
3) Rancor - The perenial favorite guess for reprinting, always submitted by seasoned magic card optimists. Racor will come again, but no man on this Earth knows the time or place. We must be always ready for when it arrives.
4) Shrink - I have not seen this speculation anywhere…so I thought I would just make it up. Shrink is like the opposite of Giant Growth, only it doesn't affect toughness. Kind of a bummer, actually, the more you think about it. This thing was in Homelands, people.
5) Unnatural Predation - A Scars of Mirrodin variant, Unnatural Predation just gives a bump of +1/+1 but then gives your creature trample. Green loves trample and smashing into things. The one thing I don't like about this spell is that it was made obsolete by a Charm spell printed 9 years ago.
6) Brute Force - I like the cut of this piece of speculation's jibb. Putting the color-shifted version of Giant Growth in the core set would throw the balance of power completely out of whack. Who knows, maybe red will be the color of pump spells from now on. Just like how Prodigal Pyromancer moved the "pinging" ability of Tim over to red for the duration. What's the only thing keeping this idea from getting more traction? Evidence. Copious amounts of evidence from every expansion set just about ever…they always have a green pump spell. They turn up like those pine-scent air fresheners in cars.
7) The Runclaw Bear scenario. There was a huge hub-bub when Grizzly Bears was eliminated from the M10 core set. What could possibly replace it? Turns out the replacement was Runeclaw Bear. Giant Growth could get the same treatment, with an identical green 1-mana instant called something like "Biggerize". I would cast that.
8) Something completely new. They haven't worn out all the different versions of green pump yet. Perhaps they have a slightly tweaked new card in the works. Always possible.
Finally, here is my personal completely unsubstantiated prediction
NINE) Battlegrowth. Did you feel the ground shake just a little bit?
Battlegrowth isn't super impressive. But it has a couple things going for it. We just visited Mirrodin, and Battlegrowth was nowhere in sight. Instead, we got the aforementioned Unnatural Predation. Why?
Battlegrowth adds a permanent +1/+1 counter to a creature. The new Mirrodin/Phyrexia block featured the "Infect" mechanic which bestowed -1/-1 counters. The Wizards designers have said previously they never mix +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters in the same block for simplicity's sake. But as the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor dichotomy has shown us, they LOVE putting them in adjacent blocks.
Will M12 be using +1/+1 counters? YES. We already know this because Bloodthirst was spoiled. Bloodthirst…+1/+1 counters…Battlegrowth. Connect the lines and the pattern's been there all along.