irst off, today's title is a respectful and final salute to Brian Jacques, who passed away two days ago. The epic books of Redwall should be a focal point of any psychological analyzing documentary made about my childhood (and all the other –hoods, too.) RIP.
In case anyone's unaware, "Eulalia" was a battle cry popularized by the series. There aren't many other phrases that make my blood charge through my veins, not just flow. I may be slightly biased towards the furry warriors of Salamandastron, though, so I'm curious: What's a favorite battle cry of yours? (Fictional ones obviously apply.)
Battle cries can be heard all over the battlefields of Mirrodin nowadays. With the evil and oily Phyrexians invading, Mirrans everywhere have joined together and sounded their barbaric yawp. (No words on whether it has reached the roofs of Mirrodin ... I'll double-check my Cloudposts.)
Battle cry, as Mark Rosewater pointed out in his Monday column, is merely one of many combat-oriented mechanics created over the years. Combat, being a fairly steadfast aspect of Magic from the get-go, naturally inspiring a lot of interesting mechanics, each with their own identity. To see what I mean, juxtapose battle cry with exalted, the most recent block exclusive combat mechanic that comes to mind. Both abilities are powerful in their own way: One likes a ton of creatures attacking, and the other prefers a ton of exalted creatures, but just one attacking.
But exalted was so 2008. Let's get into the thick of the Mirran forces!
Cries of ... Battle
That highly straightforward section header can only mean ... a slightly straightforward deck! I mean, give me a break. Johnny can only do so much with combat abilities without submitting to the straight and narrow. Still, there are some various tricks to be pulled.
Let's begin with one of the two mythic battle criers, Hero of Bladehold. This Knight not only has the standard battle cry ability but another, Preeminent Captain-esque ability. (Even the Soldier part matches up! But I digress.) The obvious trick with the Hero of Bladehold is to stack its triggers so that you get the Soldier tokens onto the battlefield and attacking first. Then by the time Hero of Bladehold sounds her battle cry, those fresh tokens will inspire it and be inspired by +1/+0! Awesome!
Token-making sounds like a perfect sub strategy for a battle cry deck. The more little creatures we get, the bigger the battle cry bonus will be. But you know what's hysterical? Scratch that, actually: this is just silly. Mirrorweave a bunch of your tokens into fellow Heroes of Bladehold! Getting one battle cry bonus is fun by itself; getting six in one attack is just insane, especially when you consider each Hero's individual token making ability.
Let's examine some other battle cry cards I want to use in this deck. Signal Pest has been a flitting bleep on my radar for a while now. It's nearly impossible to block and it hits the field as quickly as possible. I predict Signal Pest will join the ranks of the classic annoying 0-power creatures—up there with Ornithopter and Memnite (another new inductee.)
Accorder Paladin is definitely nice as well. It was here in the process that I realized both the Paladin and the Hero of Bladehold are Knights! Cue the de facto Knight lord, Knight Exemplar! (Kinsbaile Cavalier once held this title. As a consolation for being nudged into second place (de fictiono?) he makes the deck as well.)
I mentioned tokens already, right? Knight-Captain of Eos joins the party, becoming the second Knight to create Soldier tokens, which is intriguing. Riftmarked Knight has always been one of my favorite suspend cards, and Knight of Sursi definitely wants to tag along as well.
Finally, any combat related deck worth its salt is packing some form of Relentless Assault. The Assault or any of its combat-step-creating kin is perfect in a battle cry deck, simply because you'll get another combat phase (which means ... another battle cry activation!) Since we're mostly white here, I'll go with the retraceable Waves of Aggression.
The four pack of Scout's Warnings can't hurt; either pop them for a harmless cantrip or blow your opponent's mind by sneaking out Knight Exemplar in response to a burn spell on your Hero of Bladehold.
The Other Hero
Now let's check out the flip side of the mythic battle crier coin. Although they both cost four mana and have battle cry, there's a striking difference between the two. Namely, Hero of Oxid Ridge has that all-important word of text: haste. So you could have a small army, lulling about, when suddenly your Hero of Oxid Ridge appears out of nowhere and charges down the Mountainside, inspiring the rest of your troops.
Hero of Oxid Ridge also has a third ability (probably the one that prompted the mythic symbol.) Whenever it attacks, creatures with power 1 or less can't block this turn. Hopefully your opponent's creatures fall within that category, but if not, a Lignify can help your guys get through.
Let's leave the Hero of Oxid Ridge alone for a little bit (he's moody) and talk Dwarves! You heard me, dwarves. Yes, as in Dwarven Bloodboiler. I'm a huge fan of flavor text, and when I typed "battle cry" into some card databases, this angry Dwarf showed up and demanded I pick him as a build-around card. I love introducing another element to a deck and watching the result warp into a fusion of sorts, so let's go battle-cry Dwarf deck!
A pretty awesome all Dwarf combo is Dwarven Bloodboiler and Duergar Mine-Captain. Attack with all your creatures, and then use the ability on the Mine-Captain to basically battle cry. Promptly tap him back down to give something +2/+0 with the Bloodboiler. Repeat, generating a heck of a lot of attack power amongst your team.
Since its Battle Cry Week, I had to find room for Goblin Wardriver, but apart from him and Hero of Oxid Ridge, everything else is a Dwarf. Dwarven Recruiter finds Dwarves of all shapes and sizes, most notably the changelings from Lorwyn. It was fun to look through old Dwarves as well. I figured Dwarven Berserker actually wouldn't be half bad, as he'll be big either way in this deck. Spark Mage was another oldie but goodie.
Bloody Battle Cry Beats (With Dwarves!)
Radha, Heir to Keld is a fun singleton. Chameleon Colossus can be fetched with the Dwarven Recruiter, and small battle cry bonuses can build its power, making its last ability that much better. Lignify and Branching Bolt just seemed like fitting removal, especially Lignify for the Hero of Oxid Ridge's final ability.
Let This Be Our Final Battle ... Cry
Well, I think I've exhausted all the potential battle cry combos that currently exist. Lame. I guess I'll type "battle cry" into Gatherer and see what I get. I got the underwhelming Battle Cry, which, as a combat trick is just odd.
However, I also uncovered the fascinating Gerrard's Battle Cry. This card was a little before my Magic time, but I know it as Leonin Sun Standard. Both of these cards are ideal mana sinks for an absolute ton of white mana (if not infinite white mana.)
My first idea was to use an infinitely recurring Battle Cry alongside the correct creatures to get infinite mana to sink into Gerrard's Battle Cry. Fitting, no? Sadly this unwieldy duo didn't hit it off. I replaced Battle Cry with Roar of the Kha, which definitely qualifies as a battle cry, so I'm satisfied. Wait, how am I casting Roar of the Kha over and over again? Easy: Isochron Scepter.
Here's the combo: Aphetto Alchemist + Viridian Joiner + Noble Hierarch + Isochron Scepter (with Roar of the Kha imprinted) + Gerrard's Battle Cry + eight lands. Start out by initially tapping your lands to activate Gerrard's Battle Cry twice (making Viridian Joiner a 3/4.) Then tap your creatures for four mana () and use your final two lands to copy Roar of the Kha From there, go infinite, untapping the Scepter with the Alchemist each time. Your Joiner will get big enough to cover all the mana except for the lone W that Noble Hierarch provides. Eventually swing with your three infinitely powered creatures!
The deck is a Bant-tinged deck that wants to control the board until you can get your pieces out. From there, go to town.
Yeah, it's clunky, but there is definitely room for improvisation if this idea should call to you.
That's about it for Battle Cry Week for me! Until next time.