Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Magic

In which Tim explores the world of Magic: The Gathering one
card at a time, courtesy of Gatherer's "Random Card" button.

Plaguemaw Beast (Mirrodin Besieged, 2011)

Ladies and gentlemen, Plaguemaw Beast!

clap clap clap

How are you, Mr. Beast? It's been a few years since you were in the spotlight. What have you been up to?

Well, Jim, it's been a rough few years, but I'm hanging in there.

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

Yeah, you know how it is. That's the way the world works: if you're a Magic card, even a good one, you really only get one shot. If you're lucky, you're good in limited, which means you get a year or so in the spotlight. If you're really lucky, you see a little tournament action. Only a few folks get to stick around for too long after that.

You do have an advantage over most green Beasts, though - you've got a very popular keyword on you - Proliferate.

clap clap clap

That's true, but honestly, Proliferate is as much a gift as a curse. Sure, people love it. They love being able to use me to sac tiny guys to put more counters on their Planeswalkers or their opponent's poison total. That's fun. Problem is, Proliferate - it was pretty powerful. Players like it but design has problems, you know. Not a lot of design space left, they say. Don't look at me, I don't know these things. And even if they did bring it back, they'd want to bring back something flashy like Thrummingbird. Not a five CMC Beast that dies to a Lightning Bolt. But hey, I'm not terrible. I even won a few games, back in the day. Say, for instance, you've got your opponent up to nine poison counters, but you've only got one creature - me. I can swing for four damage, yeah, but without another creature to sacrifice, I don't have Infect or anything. Your hand is empty. You opponent's itchy because he knows the game hinges on the next draw - then BAM you pull a card, slap down a Chimney Imp, tap me and BOOM, the fat fuck opposite you is poisoned.

Why . . . why would anyone be playing a Chimney Imp with you? No one plays Chimney Imp. You weren't in the same block as Chimney Imp, so you're implying someone would choose to construct a deck years after the fact with both you and Chimney Imp in it.

Look it was just a figure of speech, you know? That's what my ability did: no matter how crappy the card, I could bury it and Proliferate counters. Any counters, not just poison.

Also, in that scenario, couldn't you just sacrifice yourself to yourself to get the Proliferate effect?

. . .

What was that?

Next question.


I don't like to remind people I can eat myself to get the effect. Some guys forget, and that's OK with me.

Oh, I'm sorry if it's a sore -

It's unpleasant, you know? I've had to do it a bunch. It feels weird. It's not fun.

Well, er, let's move on then!

clap clap clap

Ah, which brings me to my next question - you've known some Planeswalkers in your time, haven't you?

Yeah, I knew 'em. I was in Standard with Zendikar, so I -


Jace. Yeah. Everyone asks about Jace.

Is it a sore subject?

No, no. Jace is a nice guy. Real down to earth, you know? You wouldn't think so, I mean, being the first banned Planeswalker. The guy dominated. Dominated. People were hocking jewelry for a foil playset of that guy, you know? That's not the type of stuff that happens anymore. He still does well for himself, you know. Not very many cards get to go on to Legacy. I saw him a few weeks back, he dropped into the office to say hi to the old gang.

Of course, you weren't in Standard with Jace for long.

Nah. It's a shame, really - they should have known. Him and those Squadron Hawks and Batterskull - it was trouble waiting to happen. I mean, don't look at me, I don't have a lot of experience with tournament decks. It's Greek to me. I'm five mana so I don't usually get out until at least turn five, but those Caw-Blade decks . . .

It was a rough time.

Yeah. The ban wasn't a surprise, but at the same time, they should have seen it coming. Me, I still don't understand how those Hawks carried those damn Swords in their beaks like that. I mean, I've carried some equipment in my time, even though I don't have hands, but I'm big enough I can make it work. Gimme a sword and I can hold it in my mouth. Put an invisibility cloak over my shoulders, I'll make it work. But those birds, they're just too small. I don't get it. And now I see they're printing four-ability Planeswalkers again - it's like playing with fire. They never learn.

So what does a day look like for you now?

Well, some days are pretty quiet. It's cool, I took up gardening a few years back. I'm from Mirrodin, so you know, everything's metal there. It's a nice break to go home in the evening and put my feet in the soil. Soil that isn't filled with pieces of jagged steel because, you know, did I mention that Mirrodin is made of metal? I still see some action. Poison decks will always need something to fill out the mana curve in the mid-game. Maybe some idiot puts me in a green Superfriends deck - I mean, come on, let's be honest here, if you've got a mug like me defending your Superfriends, you're probably going to lose, but who am I to say. I do what I'm told. I eat little creatures and crap out counters. It's a living.

clap clap clap


Andy said...

Hi Tim,

First of all, let me start by saying I enjoy much of your writing about comics! I wouldn't have come upon this article (or the other Magic articles) if I didn't follow your blog. And I know these articles are just for your own fun.

But nearly every single Magic card post you make (that I've read; I stopped reading after the Wrath of God post drove me crazy) has blatant factual inaccuracies that are so bad that they retroactively have taught me to distrust anything you state as fact in any of your comic-related writing as well.

In this case, in the very first paragraph with content: development doesn't hate proliferate, *at all*. Where did you get that idea? I don't even know where that came from. Then, later in the same paragraph, when your opponent has nine poison counters and you've got a Plaguemaw Beast: you win immediately! Sacrifice the Plaguemaw Beast himself! That's more forgivable to me, though, not knowing the rules, rather than just making up other people's well-documented opinions.

Tim O'Neil said...

Thanks for the corrections. I'm not being facetious, sincerely - even though I've been playing on and off since ICE AGE I remain a TERRIBLE player. One of the reasons why is that it honestly never occurs to me to do stuff like sacrificing a creature to itself. I tend to avoid sacrifice mechanics for just that reason, I've lost more than one game because I could have sacrificed a guy to himself for an effect.

Also: I misremembered something MaRo said on his Tumblr - it wasn't development, but design that had the problem with Proliferate, if I recall, because even though it's a popular mechanic it's just not very deep in terms of unexplored space after SCARS block. I think that's what he said, at least.

I fixed the piece to reflect the criticism! Thanks again.