7/3/2013 LI: "The Gravy"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
No 'gravy train' joke?  Marsh, you're slipping!

Seriously, though, I feel like 2/3 for 4 is decidedly on the wrong side of the Vanilla test.  All of the Black 2/3s for 4 have substantial upside, with maybe the worst being a 2/3 forestwalker for 2UB - and even that's an evasion ability.  If there are enough enchantments to get the ability, then that might be one thing; but the enchantments are definitely not just gravy; I would never consider running this guy as a 'vanilla' 2/3 for 4, and it would probably take aboutz 4 enchantments in my deck before I'd be happy - and I'd start being a little worried on different grounds (enchantment-to-guy ratio) if I had more than 4, unless a card like Dead Weight is in the set.  Really, the upside here seems not worth the astonishingly mediocre body you're getting for it, and I suspect I'll be actively unhappy with this guy 95% of the time he might make my deck.
You will be most likely happy about it,all cards from this column have been solid in limited as far as I remember.
This card will certainly be solid in Limited—but only with a decent number of enchantments. Without any, a 2/3 for 4 doesn't really pass the Vanilla Test as anything other than a bottom-of-the-barrel 23rd card when a draft doesn't quite go your way. Evem with 1 or 2 enchantments, it's a marginal card that will occasionally surprise you by being very useful, but more often than not it will be a quite underwhelming vanilla creature.

Luckily, M14 looks like it has a good enchantment subtheme, so if you want to, it should be easy to pick up enough enchantments to make this guy quite good. Honestly, more than a solid creature for a deck, this seems closer to a build-around-me card like Burning Vengeance, pushing you toward a controlling enchantment-heavy black deck when you get it early.
Rules Nut Advisor
Interesting card. I think one thing you missed (in the article) was that it costs just one black, so it's easily splashable. I can see slower blue decks with their Ice Cage-esque cards using this to great advantage. If there is anything like Fertile Ground or Verdant Haven in the set, it could be great for green, as the fixing will help you get it out, then later the fixing will not be a dead topdeck, but instead a removal spell! All in all it seems pretty good, but a lot depends on the speed of the format.

Multiples would be crazy?!
That is a really strange way of evaluating cards.  You must not have liked Cloudgoat Ranger, and especially not Beguiler of Wills.

That is a really strange way of evaluating cards. You must not have liked Cloudgoat Ranger, and especially not Beguiler of Wills.

The Vanilla Test may seem simplistic to a veteran like you or me, but the thing is, we actually do something very much like the Vanilla Test in our heads automatically whenever we see a new card. Like, when I saw the Zarichi Tiger, I automatically thought, "it better have a good ability to make up for that overpriced body," and I decided that "1W, Tap: Gain 2 life." was probably not enough to make up the gap.
It's not a bad idea to teach that heuristic to new players.

And obviously it doesn't apply to creatures with very powerful abilities like Beguiler of Wills or Gigantomancer or Meloku the Clouded Mirror. Although you could still apply it to Cloudgoat Ranger by considering it a 6/6 or a 5/3 flying.

I think the point is that it's a good first heuristic to apply. A creature that passes the vanilla test might get into our final 23 just on those merits alone: then anything extra really is just gravy. A creature that fails the vanilla test needs a porportional amount of upside for us to even give us a second look.

"Proc" stands for "Programmed Random OCcurance". It does not even vaguely apply to anything Magic cards do. Don't use it.

Level 1 Judge as of 09/26/2013

Zammm = Batman

"Ability words are flavor text for Melvins." -- Fallingman

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